Time Well Spent - a Conversation with Luka

March 21 2017


Time Well Spent is a new interview series, exploring how interesting and talented people spend their time well. Over the course of the series, we’ll venture knee-deep into questions of time, contentment and eccentricities as we probe Bulbul friends, partners and affiliates on how they go about enhancing their time through rad projects, useful lifehacks and on-point perspectives.


First up, we have talented, Berlin-based producer/musician Luka, a profilific creative whose timeless, beat-driven, etheral music has been featured in international music-and style bibles like XLR8R, I-D Magazine, The Fader and Nowness. Currently honing the output of his dance music project, RIP/Swirl while managing the imminent release of his new band, Birthday, on the LA-based Weditit label, Luka also spends a significant amount of his time developing wave-making jams in his Berlin apartment where he lives with his photographer girlfriend, Iga , and their cat, Coco.



But how and when does Luka spend his time to best of his ability? We had an afternoon Skype beer with the rising producer/musician in the efforts to wise up on Luka's time-spending ways.       


Hey Luka, could you start out by telling us about your current projects? 


Yeah, I just finished a video shoot in Amsterdam with my band, Birthday. It went really well. Did I tell you about the story?

I don’t think so? 

OK well, the story features Iga and me. It was supposed to be me and this actress, but that didn’t work out, so it was just us and that worked out really well. The story is that we’re at this holiday house outside Amsterdam and we go on a blind date. Then we drive around in a car, shit like that. She then takes me back to her place and she spikes my drink with poison. After that we go to bed together and I die. It’s supposed to look a bit like an 80s horror movie. So that’s the vibe.

Sounds pretty cool - did you guys produce and direct it yourselves or did the guys from Wedidit have some input?

My friend Felix Aaron directed it, so he came up with the whole idea. The Wedidit guys just let us do whatever we want. That was really cool because they had budget for a video and just let us do our thing. I’m super excited about our forthcoming stuff on their label, actually.

Are you guys doing an EP with them?

It’s actually an A/B single, so that’s two tracks. Then we’ll see how that goes and take it from there. I’m very curious as to what the Weditit fans will think of us. Soundwise, I think Birthday shares a certain aesthetic with the label.


Other than that, I’m focusing on getting my new live set together. Because before I performed as Luka and now I’m doing my first gigs with RIP/Swirl, the dancier stuff that I produced. I have this Moog, which is a synthesizer, but also semi-modular, so it’s a bit unusual, but I’m trying to find some way to integrate it into my live set. With my older stuff the beat structure is less flexible, but with my newer, more dancy stuff I can go really crazy and that’s just so much fun. 


Photo: Iga Drobisz

You’ve also started playing the bass?

Yes, I bought myself this Fender Jazz bass on Ebay. I was really lucky with it, actually. It was like this Japan exclusive. I guess the bass is just another way of approaching songwriting. I know how to play the bass a little bit because I play the guitar, but I’m not trained in it or anything. When I get a new instrument, the first few months are really interesting because there’s no muscle memory. You just learn new things all the time. 


Muscle Memory. That’s an interesting concept. Could you elaborate?


Yeah, I mean when I pick up a guitar, I instinctively know what chords to play and what sounds good. Whereas someone who doesn’t have a clue can actually come up with all this really cool stuff. I guess it’s both good and bad in that way. It’s a subconscious thing. When you perform live you want to utilize it because you just want to be free to focus on other things that getting your chords right. You need to play a song without even thinking about it. In the studio, you don’t really need it, though. You want to be free to experiment, like a blank page. If you want to get around muscle memory, there are ways to do that, like tuning your guitar in weird ways and whatnot, so that you can’t play in your usual way. With a synthesizer, you can just not play the keyboard and use the sequencer instead. I sometimes user these little tweaks to get around muscle memory.




Going back to regular memory, could you name some of your influences and inspirations?


Hmmm, that’s always a hard one. But right now, I’m listening to a lot of these old Japanese guys. There’s this one dude called Shigeo Sekito. His stuff is amazing. I’ll send it your way. There a Mac Demarco song called Chamber of Reflections, which is actually a cover of one of his songs from 1975. Some people claim that Mac Demarco ripped him off, but I actually think it’s more of an homage. Another guy I really like at the moment is Mort Garson who made an album called Plantasia in 1976, which is music for plants. This is the vibe I’m into these days. With my whole lo-fi thing, it’s a great source of inspiration.

Is living in Berlin inspiring?

In guess it is in certain ways. People are much more relaxed here than in Hamburg where I’m from. I think that filters in to the music somehow. With RIP/Swirl my dance music project, I don’t really think Berlin is an inspiration because I hardly ever go out. When I do I only go to bars. I think that when a lot of people go to Berlin they get really into the techno scene. That didn’t really happen for me, though. But yeah, I guess the mentality is inspiring. Not so much the dance music scene.



Would you say that you and Iga influence and inspire each other creatively?

I think we do that quite a lot, actually. The way that the apartment is set up now is that we have two big rooms. I have all my music stuff and Iga has all her photography stuff. Obviously, we’re in the same space, which is an influence in itself. Also, she’ always the first person I’m showing my work too. It’s great because we have similar taste and we listen to a lot of the same music. More importantly, she also knows what’s important to me in music.  


 In terms of new projects and releases, what have you got coming up?


Well, there’s the Birthday release on the Wedidit label and then I have some RIP/Swirl stuff coming out. The management is currently talking to some labels, but I think I might just self-release it actually. Like I told you, I’m thinking about doing my own label. About how to make the transition a bit smoother. Because when I was in Amsterdam, I played at Red Light Radio and it was so much fun. I could play all my new music live to a lot of people, which was great. It got me thinking that I’d really like to do my own radio station –like NTS or Red Light Radio. I also have so many friends who never get to play live and never release their music, because of so much stuff with labels. I’m thinking of calling it Swirl FM. The good thing is that it doesn’t cost anything except the time you invest in it.


The theme of this interview series is ‘Time Well Spent’ – which begs the obvious question: How does Luka spend his time well?


My favorite time of the day is when all the offices close, it’s dark outside and there’s silence. After midnight, basically. That’s when it’s fun for me to make music. I do this every night, so I think that’s a really good way to spend my time. I don’t know what it is, but that time of day just makes me really productive. Maybe it’s because it’s the only time I’m really by myself. Usually, I don’t really like to be by myself all that much, but when it comes to music it’s fun times. I just forget about everything else.

Luka, thanks for the Skype beer.

Luka: You’re welcome.

Keep up with all the latest from Luka over on his Soundcloud.