Truancy Volume 124: FaltyDL

A regular to labels such as Planet Mu and Ninja Tune since 2009 and 2011 respectively, FaltyDL has managed to carve himself a robust discography where quality rarely dips. His most recent outing, a return to Planet Mu, saw him adopt his own name Drew Lustman for The Crystal Cowboy, an album that he describes as being an examination of into what got him into music in the first place. We caught up with Drew for a quick chat: discussing his label Blueberry and forthcoming releases from Elysia Crampton, as well as talking about collaborations with Le1f and and creating music for film directors such as Terrence Malick. Describing making mixes as being somewhat like the job of a sommelier, his Truancy Volume is a contrasting but well paired affair, focusing on what sounds balanced well together instead of just using tempo as a mixing tool. There’s jungle alongside folk, and folk alongside footwork, all coming together in unity like “a warm bullet”. Clocking in at just under hour you’ll be working through forthcoming Blueberry records, as well as music from AFX, Traxman and Luke Vibert under his Plug alias to name a very few.

Hey Drew, thanks again for doing us a mix and taking time to answer some questions. It feels like a good start would be to talk about your label Blueberry Records. We wanted to ask if you feel you’ve achieved what you set out to do when you decided to start your own label? “That’s a really good question! I haven’t asked myself that yet. This is deep for 8am over here. I think I have, but the object of the label keeps changing, or rather I set new goals constantly. The first release was from Brrd whom I had demos from knocking around on various laptops for years. I actually tried to get him signed to a few different labels and when they all basically told me to release it myself I finally listened. I’m obviously glad they said that and I did. Then the goal of asking some heroes like Osborn, Vibert and Dego for EPs was simple but never guaranteed. What I hadn’t expected while releasing their records was the pressure of not wanting to fuck up your hero’s records! That was a trip. Luckily those dudes have such a great core audience it was easy to get the records to those people. Now it’s about real work, discovering new artists and breaking them through — if I can! Also signing a few more young acts, but time will tell with them. As for the future, I have no idea what the label will be. Maybe for me at some point.”

You’ve got the first full-length LP from Elysia Crampton coming out imminently. I feel like letting you talk openly about the LP might be better than me asking a question about it. “I started emailing with E+E about two years ago. I wanted a remix for one of my tunes and she happily obliged. That was the first communication. I had started Blueberry at that point so I asked her for some material but it seemed to be around the time when she was ending her work as E+E and figuring out her next steps musically. Months would go by and I would check in with her to see what she was making. We ended up having a few phone conversations where we were just chatting about music and record labels and how frustrating it all can be but also about our shared love of parts of the process, largely production and artwork. I think somewhere in there she picked up on how open and honest about why I loved her music and how I was operating Blueberry with complete control and how we can do whatever we want with the music. That seemed to resonate with her and she decided to release it with Blueberry. I was shocked and excited and still am to get it out the door. So close now, out Aug 7! It has made me slow down a little with the label and really enjoy the work more. Not scheduling loads of release at once allows us to really look at all the steps carefully and do it right. The press has been lovely and will start to trickle out soon.  I’m excited to read her interviews, haven’t seen them yet!”

I think one of the most surprising, yet standout releases that many people were eagerly awaiting for was something new from Luke Vibert as Amen Andrews. Having not released anything under this alias since 2006, we’re pretty keen to know how this came about? Don’t think I could find any written statements on this exactly. “So Luke is a big inspiration for me, but also just a complete dude; so kind and always down to go record digging when we are both in London. He once gave me a CD — actually it was the first time we met — and it had 200 unreleased tracks on it. Very trusting fella! So I have always had these unheard gems and when it came time to asking him for a jungle EP he decided to do it under that name. I asked for Plug at first, but was happy as I really enjoyed the LP he did on Reflex back in 05 or whatever. Same with the  Luke Warm EP. I get Luke cause he releases so much music like myself, he needs other aliases as to not cram his own release schedule. So it’s partly of necessity but also its just how he compartmentalises his styles. Kind of brilliant.”

Continuing on jungle for second, your influences from the genre are well documented, especially with the release of your recent LP The Crystal Cowboy under your real name, but in an interview with Dummy you mention that there’s only a small amount of jungle you actually truly love. The interview sadly doesn’t expand upon that so was wondering if you could fill us in on some of that ‘small amount’ and when exactly you were introduced. “Yeah I wonder what I meant when I said that, haha. Well the thing is it’s more of a time period — ’93-’96. I don’t really care for drum and bass too much you see, and hardcore before was lovely but some it it isn’t my taste either. I follow producers and periods for labels very closely. I love jazz and classical music so 4hero made complete sense to me when I first heard it. I grew up on a strict diet of east coast rap so all the same samples being flipped at that time all resonated deeply. It’s a true British art form and one I have studied for years. I came into it at a bizarre angle at first — through Aphex Twin and Squarepusher, only to truly have my mind blown thereafter by Remarc and Bizzy B, mostly through the releases on Planet Mu. It’s fun growing up thinking one person first mangled the “Amen” break and then realising it most definitely wasn’t them. Such raw power in jungle. Timeless.”

Speaking of The Crystal Cowboy, the idea of putting out an album under your own name has been one floating around since 2012 right? In a different interview after the release of Hardcourage you mentioned you wanted to wait a while with that. Care to explain why you felt this year was the right time. “This is sort of similar territory to what I mentioned about Luke Vibert, sometimes these things are legal decisions. But when using your own name you can’t escape some connotations of sentiment. The thing at play here was more about Planet Mu. It was the first label to really take a chance on me and for that I am forever grateful. The album was supposed to be under the name Shanghai Den, this weird one I did a 12” for R&S under a few years ago, but I sort of felt it wasn’t accurate. Mike Paradinas had always suggested I use my own name and if I had FaltyDL may have almost never existed! So I had these thoughts of, well, people are gonna see my own name and think I am all of the sudden singing on my music etc. The truth is the sounds on The Crystal Cowboy, the jungle influences and manic breaks on “Green Technique” and the electronic playfulness on “Sykle” are what hits most deeply with me. My beginnings if you will. So it’s an examination back into what got me into music in the first place with all the updated production techniques I have learned over the years. I actually didn’t let that get in the way creatively either. Those tracks all started out as just jams, and then were built later into full tracks. Compartmentalising and organisation are not my strong suits. I make a lot of music, and how and in what context it gets dropped remains a mystery to me until it gets released. I really admire people who take their time and form with the world around which the music lives in. But also fuck that, I need to get it out there so I can make more. It’s like releasing a pressure valve on top of my head, leaving them in too long drives me crazy.”

The Crystal Cowboy takes on a similar aspect to Hardcourage with the notable sole vocal contribution, this time from Le1f.  It’s some unexpected vocal work from Le1f too, in that I heard it was his first ever sung performance. Can you tell us a bit about how it was working together? “Le1f and I have been sending beats to each other for a while now and there is something in the works happening on our own time in between larger solo projects. He is the shit. I adore Le1f and think he can rap circles around most MC’s, just waiting for everyone else to realise that. Anyways I wanted him on the album so much and had this track written for him “Onyx” — I finally get the vocals from him about two hours before I need to hop on an international flight for a three-week trip. The deadline for the final track submissions is also in two hours, shit. I get to work, I make an edit, put it in an email to him and Mike Paradinas, hit send. Not a hit, so I rework it and hit send again. Nope, not yet. I take out the actual verse he provided me with and make him just start counting 1,2,3,4,5,4,3,2,1 over and over again, make it make no real sense. Just a meditation on numbers. I hit send and it’s dope and pops off haha This was right around the time of the Eric Garner case being thrown out the window and the climate was scorching in NYC. Le1f had written a verse about his experience and others feeling alone, some of that still comes through in the intro singing part. He is a genius and I can’t wait for his flipping LP to drop!”

You’ve ventured into the sound design aspect of production the last few years be it for people like Daito Anabe, artists over at the Creators Project or more recently that video for Audio Technica. What is it you find draws you into these sort of projects? “The Audio Technica one I am just an actor in ;)  I have done a lot of film work in the past two years, some for Terrence Malick and some other short films. It’s all great for letting me relax about FaltyDL. Basically I see all work other than my solo project as a vacation. Like my label peeps will ask me for beats for big artists, and I know what that could do for my career, but I’d just rather keep them for myself or use them with an unknown at first. It’s way more fulfilling that way and I find it’s so impersonal too, just sending beats to big people. But anyway, the sound design aspect as taught to me by Ahoy Twin, is just to freak people out! Don’t ever let them know where you are coming from. Hold their hand a little and then let go. The pocket I live in is familiar yet startlingly horrifying, and the marriage of image and sound, as best encapsulated in cinema, is breathtaking and maybe our greatest artistic achievement. I can remember hearing the dinosaurs move in the original Jurassic Park and thinking who the fuck made that noise? Cause those dinosaurs aren’t real, well not any more! Haha.”

So what can you tell us about the mix you’ve done for us? “I wanted to showcase some of Elysia’s album and a new thing from someone else but quickly realised how well they paired with the Johnny Greenwood piece and the other jungle. I find making mixes like being a sommelier. What pairs well together? Not just tempo-wise but what is contrasting and and brings out the best in each other? The Nick Drake and Phil Collin’s tracks aren’t things I would have mixed in a few years ago, so maybe I am getting more sentimental — emphasis on the mental — in my older years. I like a mix to be a journey stylistically, use jungle as a weapon, folk music as a warm blanket and use them all together. A warm bullet, you dig?”

Tracklist: 

Elysia Crampton – American Drift
Jonny Greenwood – Moon Trills
Autechre – Pro Radii
Boards Of Canada – The Beach At Redpoint
Untitled – Untitled
AFX – Serge Fenix Rendered 2
DJ Roc – I Don’t Like The Look of It
Traxman – See Things My Way
Defcon – Reach Out
FaltyDL – AFast 5%healthi
Plug – A Subtle Blend
Elysia Crampton – Axacan
Bogdan Raczynski – Your
Nick Drake – Pink Moon
Phil Collins – Take Me Home

Riccardo Villella
Riccardo Villella

OG at Truants / Graphic Designer / DJ as Melmoth Twitter Soundcloud

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