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Understanding Waves: A few moments with Lusine
~interview by Adrian

Once in a while an artist steps up and really changes the way you listen to music. Such an artist takes the materials that the public has given them in everyday life and rearranges them to fit into a cast of their own making, transforming a style or sound to their own liking. Such groundbreakers often pave the way for others in their musical style and energy and are often looked to for inspiration. Jeff Mcllwain of Lusine is such an artist, someone who is both inspiring and inspired. The moment I received his new cd ‘a pseudo steady state’ I knew that my musical tastes were about to change for the better. Many new projects that have been coming out lately have often tried to establish themselves as ‘new’ or ‘avant-garde’, but few can actually wear that title and know that they have actually made something unique and artistic. Jeff has wonderful ideas and talent and I think that he is really on to something big with his music. IDM has come along way over the past year and with styles like atmospheric D&B, acid jazz, and house becoming a bit more sophisticated and user friendly, we are seeing the forerunners of a new movement as we speak.

SV: Explain the philosophy behind Lusine and the music.

L: I'm trying my best to work within the framework of dance music and make something different. Musically, I want people who might not know experimental electronic music to get it. I'm not really trying to break boundaries or anything, because I feel like I've seen the very far end of the spectrum of electronic music at Art school, and I don't really see the connection between the artist and the listener in most cases. That's really important too me.

SV: What is the history of Lusine?

L: I started playing shows around 97 in Austin and moved out to California in 98 to go to CalArts. I released the s/t LP on Isophlux in 1999. Most of those tracks were produced when I was still going to UT. I started tinkering around with stuff after my freshman year in college and finally got a computer in 95'. I didn't really make anything I think was any good for a couple of years after that. I used to go clubbing a lot and I think that had a big impact on my music.

SV: Your latest cd, 'A Pseudo Steady State' is out on U-Cover. How did you make the connection on that label?

L: I had been e-mailing back and forth with Don Funcken from Funckarma and he led me to Koen (u-cover) who's also the head of the electronix dept at Lowlands. He was familiar with the isop CD because they distribute it.

SV: How would you explain the style of music that you create? What style do you prefer to be called, if any?

L: Experimental dance music mainly.

SV: How does your newer sound compare to your sounds from your past albums?

L: I definitely got into working with acoustic instruments and players a lot more. I sort of got burnt out on the whole FM and granular sound and wanted to do something a bit simpler on the programming side, but with a richer sound and a little more musically developed. At least, that's what I was attempting to do. Although, there are a couple tracks that are totally electronic. My older stuff is still very much in keeping with what I would have wanted to hear on a dance floor. The newer stuff is kind of rock influenced or something. At least much more sample-based.

SV: When you play live, what kind of mood do you try to invoke and what is the difference between a live set and a studio set for you?

L: Very different. I really want to play to the crowd at a live set. It's got to really kick in at some point. But, I don't mind making people wait for it. It's a bit simpler live, but it's what I would like to hear at a live show. I don't like seeing people that do really ambient boring sets and I don't like DJ style sets that just keeps the beat going the whole time. I like crazy build-ups and lots of variation. I try to have a set that works as a big long progression rather than independent tracks. When I record in
the studio, I think sort of in the same way, but it has to be a bit more developed because your not as much in the moment as you would be at a club or something. You have to be more conscientious about the quality as well.

SV: Where does the name 'Lusine' come from?

L: Well, it's quite boring. The factory in French. I sort of just liked the ring to it, but I think the idea of the factory vs. the whole French artistic aesthetic has something to do with it.

SV: Who do you enjoy working with the most these days?

L: Who? Musically I don't really work with people too much. I'm going to work with a vocalist from CalArts and I got a lot out of a flutist named Sky Grealis for that last LP.

SV: Who are your biggest influences in your music and style?

L: Well, at some time or another I've been really into Speedy J, Atom Heart, Autechre, Wagon Christ, Aphex Twin, Amon Tobin, Two Lone Swordsmen, Locust, BOC, Blue, Sea and Cake, Yo La Tengo, Elliot Smith, New Order, My Bloody Valentine, Mouse on Mars, Reload, FSOL, the Orb, Xingu Hill, Susumu Yakota, Plaid, Tortoise...

SV: Any big regrets?

L: I don't think so. It's all one big learning process, so I can't say I would do without any of it.

SV: What's the one thing you would like to try to get across in your music?

L:I would like for people to look beyond the technical aspects of the music and just enjoy it for the mood. That's the type of music I like.

SV: How do you feel about the way music is going these days with all of the commercialism in everything that is coming out on major labels?

L: I think it's funny. I feel sorry for the artists because their commercial life span is very short, but I'm not at all connected. It's just marketing.

SV: U-Cover is known to be dedicated to keeping its style and sound as a label very underground. Is this where you are the most comfortable or will there ever be a break out into the mainstream if given the chance?

L: Depends. I don't really want to change my music. I think it's already quite accessible and I wouldn't want to make stupid music for lots of money, unless nobody knows it's me :) But, sure I would if they like my music for what it is.

SV: What are you listening to these days?

L: Just got the new Arovane "Tides" CD, really nice. The Susumu Yakota "Sakura" CD is beautiful. The Mark Van Hoen "Playing with Time" CD is really good. Languis "Unithematic", Xingu Hill's "Alterity", and Yo La Tengo's "And then nothing turned itself inside out" are all very good too.

SV: Any side projects or collaborations?

L: Lots of remixes (look for stuff on Dub, Darla, Eatthis, and Hymen) and I'll be working with a vocalist from CalArts to try to do some interesting stuff.

SV: Who are your favorite historical influences?

L: I think Steve Reich really takes the cake for what I'm interested in. Very concerned with process, but he really wanted to transfix the listener.

SV: Ok, thanks for your time and do take care!

L: Thank You!

http://shoko.calarts.edu/~jmciln/  - website
jmciln@earthlink.net  - email
http://u-cover.com/  -  http://isophlux.com/ - labels