‘I like the element of being able to fuck up’
Wednesday’s James Blake show at the House of Blues has the feeling of a massive double bill thanks to the presence of Drew Lustman AKA FaltyDL. Hardcourage, his third full-length released earlier this year on Ninja Tune, felt like an acclimation, legitimizing the Brooklyn-based producer amongst his peers on the vaunted London imprint. I spoke with the man last month while he was home prepping for the forthcoming tour.
I quit. Yeah, well actually I’m on an electronic cigarette, at times.
So you didn’t go cold turkey?
No, I didn’t. There’s no way I could. I tried that. Wait, where have you seen me play that I smoked? I must’ve been outdoors or something.
Yeah, I saw you at Camp Bisco. I’ve seen you in Brooklyn a couple times, too.
Oh, okay. Yeah, Camp Bisco was fun. Those weren’t all cigarettes either, but yeah, I smoked a lot up there.
Alright, I want to talk to you about your most recent album [Hardcourage]. A lot of the press leading up to it mentioned your relationship and how that’s where a lot of the album’s inspiration came from. Was there ever any reluctance to reveal your private life in that manner?
Well, you know, it’s funny. I sat in a meeting with Ninja Tune and I mentioned to them what was going on, just as friends. And then by the time we were compiling the album and the track ‘For Karme’ came around, a little bit of a story started to develop within that. And I don’t regret it, but it’s one of those things that you start talking about.
I think people want some sort of story when they buy an album, you know? I like that, at least. When an album sort of tells a story and there’s something more behind it, more than just a collection of tracks.
So we kind of decided, why not? Let’s just roll with the story. And I was okay with it because like, that’s not even her real name and it’s not publishing the finer details of my life. I’m happy to talk about that, it doesn’t spoil the music, it’s not too personal.
Well, that’s my only question regarding that, so you don’t have to talk about it anymore. I wanted to ask you a little bit about Ninja Tune actually. Is there ever any inherent pressure on you with releasing on a label that’s so esteemed?
Oh, not so much. I just remember at the end of the day that they signed me. Every label I ever released with, I’ve been totally honored to work with them, however small or big they are, and I’m not just saying that.
Like Swamp 81 is a much smaller label than Ninja Tune. It’s got a lot of hype behind it. But putting out a limited 500 12″ with Swamp or putting out a full album with singles and music videos and artwork and t-shirts on Ninja Tune, I mean, it all feels the same to me. It all feels like I’m just so honored that someone can help me do this. I’m getting to a point where I want to do it more on my own. I’ve started my own record label, Blueberry, but I’ve really sort of dropped the ball as far as getting it all together.
I think I’m starting to realize how difficult it is to run a label and make music at the same time and tour and have a life.
I saw on Twitter recently that you mentioned that you have some tracks on the way under your actual name. Is there going to be any between those and what you would release as FaltyDL?
Yeah, there is. I mean, when I’m making music, I’m not really thinking, “This is FaltyDL or this is Drew Lustman or whatever.” But I think the first Drew Lustman 12″ that’s going to come out is going to be on this label that’s called 2000 Black that’s run out of the UK by Dego from 4 Hero. And I’ve just been in touch with him for a while, trading tracks.
He called me one night saying he was going to play a couple of them out, and I was like, you should release them, jokingly. And he was like, I will! [laughs]
And I was like, okay, let’s do it. But I’m pretty much signed up with Ninja Tune under the name FaltyDL. And this is a way of getting around that contract so I can just release more music. And I mean, everyone’s happy with it. Ninja Tune’s cool with it, so that works.
A big part of the album roll-out was these singles that included massive remix packages. Were there any amongst those that really stood out for you?
Yeah, I think the Four Tet remix was really great. It really sort of solidified the campaign early on cause I didn’t think I was going to get it. And then Kieren [Hebden, Four Tet], who’s been a friend of mine for a while, was just like, “Alright, alright, I think I can do it. I think I can finish it in the next two days.” And when he delivered that and I heard it and then I heard it out, someone played it out at a big rave, and I was like, “Wow, this is really dope.”
I think that sort of made me really excited about it. The Gang Gang Dance remix, and a Martyn remix, and a 2000 Black remix, I mean, they’ve all been really amazing.
Actually, my favorite was the MikeQ remix.
Oh, hell yeah! That’s my favorite, too.
Yeah, I really like that one a lot. I think he’s incredible.
When you hear other people’s interpretations of your music, is there ever any head-smack moments. Like, “Maybe I should’ve done that,” instead of the direction you took?
I mean, always really!
If I’m asking someone to do a remix for me, they’re someone I respect a lot musically because I’d love to hear what they could do. Because they could do something with it that I couldn’t do.
Like when I asked Gang Gang Dance to do a remix, I knew I was going to get something completely different than anything I would ever do, and they totally did that. So hopefully, if they’re good, I’ll always have that sort of head-smack, face-palm reaction, you know?
Right. So are you on the entire James Blake tour? Or just Boston?
No, I’m on most of it. I’m on like three-quarters of it. I’m not on the first week, which is sort of Coachella and then two gigs in between. I start on April 23 and end on May 9, so I’m doing about 12 or 13 gigs with them.
Have you ever met James Blake before?
Yeah, I have actually. We met about four years ago or so. We were on the same remix 12″ for Mount Kimbie. Back in like 2009, or something. We played a gig together somewhere in Europe, and I think we met and have known each other since then.
There’s no way he’s as gloomy a person in real life as he is on his records, is there?
No, not at all! I think he’s incredibly sweet, actually. I think he’s so talented, man. And it’s really so funny because he’s really just shot into this realm out of coming out of this same sort of background as myself or other dance music producers in the last five or six years.
And he’s just become so massive that he’s under this crazy microscope and people sort of pick apart what he does. But at the end of the day, the kid is just so fucking talented. You really just can’t deny that.
I mean, it might not be your cup of tea, you know? But the kid can mix down a record, that’s for sure. And I say kid because he’s young! He’s like 23 or 24. I mean, I’m going to be 30 next month, an old man next year.
Yeah, I’m up there too, so…
Yeah, I mean, it’s great, but it is what it is.
Are you gonna be playing a live set when you come to Boston?
Uhh, yeah, it’s the same sort of thing I’ve been doing for a while now. I’ve been DJing a lot more these days. But yeah, it’ll be these earlier set times. I’ll be playing around 8 or 9, or as late as maybe 9:30. So it’s not exactly jacking house hour. But who knows, I might work in some weird stuff as well.
So when you play your live sets, how much of it is preplanned and how much is on the fly?
A lot of it’s on the fly. I think the term live has been used loosely lately, by a lot of people, including myself. Basically, I’m playing in Live, in Ableton Live, so I have the freedom to bounce around a lot of tracks. But sometimes when I DJ, I feel like I have more freedom than that, to be honest. It’s kind of planned, but I leave enough up to chance that I’m sort of entertained when I’m out there. I don’t want to just hit a space bar, watching 50-minutes of music just roll out of my laptop, you know?
I like the element of being able to fuck up, for some reason. It makes me feel like I’m not a full fraud.
OPENING FOR JAMES BLAKE
HOUSE OF BLUES
15 LANSDOWNE ST.