MW: Thanks once again for agreeing for this interview. How are you feeling right before the concert?
GLK: I'm good! I just watched slowthai and The Comet is Coming's concerts - I'm inspired by their music, so it's nice to see them live. I wanted to come early as a fan and enjoy the music. Now I'm going to rest until the set.
MW: I also just came back from The Comet is Coming's concert. It was mindblowing! It's great to have you here, OFF Festival is the most important alternative music festival in Poland....
GLK: Yeah, it's a good curated line-up. Interesting music.
MW: I always like to ask the artists about their beginnings. This whole adventure with music - how did it all began for you? Was there any particular artist or maybe even a record that made you chose this path - of creating your own music?
GLK: When I was 12, I went to my first rave. I used to go to punk and hardcore and hip-hop concerts - but then, at this rave, I saw the DJ controlling the whole audience by himself. I thought that was amazing. Nobody in my neighbourhood played music, I wasn't involved in any bands - so I thought I'm gonna do what that DJ does. I started collecting records. My mom bought me a turntable when I was 14. When I was 15, my father bought me a needle that wouldn't skip. So I started using belt-driven turntable with the volume on my Amp - I had like a mixtape playing on my boombox. The other speaker was just for the vinyl. So I started messing around with it. When I was 16, I saved up enough to buy a new turntable. Then my dad matched it with another turntable. I borrowed a mixer from my friend, and when I was 17 I bought my own mixer. I was creating music in my room alone for years before I showed anyone what I was doing. Little by little, I started discovering more music from around the world - it started with hip-hop, rock, jazz, jungle, house music... And then I narrowed down my taste a bit - just for it to widen again. I play anything, Not really EDM though!
MW: That's what's amazing about your music - the "Breakthrough" album for example… It’s a mix of so many different genres, it’s incredible. On the official OFF Festival app your music is described as "instrumental psychedelic world beat music". What do you think of this description?
GLK: It makes sense to me. I don't play lyrics very often, maybe three songs per set have lyrics, the other 95 won't... It is very psychedelic, because I always put dub effects and echoes and delays. It is culturally diverse, because I play music from various countries, the countries of my ancestors - Turkey, Syria, Egypt.... I play music from Morocco, Asia, Mexico, Columbia, Brasil. And I play beats from Los Angeles. So the music I play is culturally diverse. I like that description!
MW: How do you find samples, the material to work with? When you're on the road, do you have time to do some digging?
GLK: Not anymore. I used to, we used to make it a point. Now I'm getting a little bit older, I need a little bit more time to rest. The way I find more music is sharing with other DJ's, like LeFtO, Jameszoo or J Rocc. We trade tunes. I also get a lot of demos from up and coming producers, who want me to play their stuff. The other day some kid sent me a link with his album on Bandcamp - it's blown me away, it's dope and it's new. And nobody knows about it.... That's the best part of digital digging - you get the music sent to you and you can "trade" music without having to pay for so many records and carrying the around. I'm here just for the festival this weekend, so I only have one bag. The first tours in Europe I carried vinyls with me everywhere - and it's a lot of work... Also, you can't bring them on the airplanes.
GLK: Yes, the airport services want to check your records - and they usually get destroyed during that. It happened to me a few times. The airline says the records are too heavy, you can't bring them... And they throw the records underneath the plane, without looking at them, so they crack. So I decided not to carry the records around anymore, I always have my computer with me. Also - I have 10 000 records, how many does a person need?
MW: Let's talk about your solo projects - first there were DJ Mixes, then the EPs ("My Troubled Mind", "Death Gate"), then in 2010 - the album you co-produced for Gonjasufi ("A Sufi and a Killer"), and in 2012 finally - your "Breakthrough". How did your creative process change over these projects? What were the challenges you had to face when creating your own solo work?
GLK: On the first EPs I used samples. I put the EPs on vinyl, 200 copies. On the Gonjasufi's album we got a little trouble with the samples used - so with "Breakthrough", I decided to start making music from scratch. That's what changed. I'm still listening to records, I'm still influenced by music and cultures from all around the world - but I'm trying to recreate it now, instead of just chopping up samples. I still have a ton of beats made from samples, that I guess I can put on Bandcamp or something - I can't stream them, because I may get into trouble. I respect that - somebody sampled my music and rapped over it. It was terrible, but I let it go. Now I understand the guys who made this incredible jazz music for example - I understand their pain, when someone “butchers” it. I get, why they might want to complain.
I love sampling, but now I understand both sides of it. So now I'm trying to create music from scratch. But I'm still inspired by my record collection, by the artists that I've listened to - that's why I'm "sampling without sampling".
MW: Both on "Breakthrough" and on your second album, "Instrumentalepathy", you've also collaborated with a lot of artists, like Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, Samiyam or Adrian Younge. Do you have a favorite memory of all these collaborations?
GLK: I think my song "In the Dark"... I've made it in 5 minutes, without even knowing what I was doing and it became one of my favorite songs I've ever done. I brought Tom and Elizabeth Lea, a brother and sister from my high school, to play strings and brass - we've never made music before - but it all came together so organically. And fast - it is the song I've recorded in the shortest time, but it may be one of my best.
And then "Nissim" of course - it's my big song, I've created it for in memory of my big brother that passed away almost 10 years ago. I've made that song in the studio with Amir Yaghmai, Daedelus, Bram Inscore, Andres Renteria, Mike Green - we were all playing Turkish records and riffing. We've recorded "Nissim" in one day, but we spent all day in the studio. It was magical, how it all came together.
MW: It also sounds magical live - as heard on your live album, "The Gaslamp Killer Experience: Live in Los Angeles"....
GLK: Yeah! That was the first time I've ever did it live... Going back - I still work with Amir Yaghmai and Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, and some dope players on my new stuff. It's the same crew as always - they're good people.
MW: What are the challenges you want to face musically?
GLK: I've never been classically trained. I don't know how to write music, but I have a good ear. I know what I like and I know what I'm trying to get in the end. So I guess the challenge is working with musicians without being able to say "D-sharp", "B-minor" and so on. I have to whistle it, sing it to them, play what I mean. I'm playing records in the background - "something like that". It's a really live process. We start with nothing, and then we put drums, bassline, some synthesizers, strings... It's a long process, some of my songs took 5 years of off- and on re-working. You can add to your songs and albums forever and never finish it, because you want to keep adding new elements to it. That is always a tough challenge for me as well.
MW: Let's talk about your plans for the future. This year you've already released an EP, "Break Stuff"...
GLK: That actually came out in 2014-2015 for Serato vinyl. It was just a break record for Serato to use with the signal tone on one side and my music on the other. Now I decided to digitize "Break Stuff" for streaming. I wanted to give the fans who stream only some music to listen to.
As for new music - I've been working on a new record, I'm taking my time with it. I'm happy with how it sounds now, and it also features the same crew, except for one difference - I'm working more with The Heliocentrics now, my favorite band live - they're incredible.
MW: Do you have any advice for young, up-and-coming producers, DJ's?
GLK: Press record and then forget you pressed it. If you have any hardware space, your computer is strong enough, you can press record and then turn off the brightness till the screen is black... And then just work. Work while you're recording - that's the trick. The magic comes when you're fooling around, not when you're trying to focus. As soon as you press "record", you go from having fun to doing a chore. I always press record when I start the day and then I just let it keep going. If nothing happens - I just erase the recording. And it doesn't waste space on the hard drive. Though nowadays it's pretty cheap to get the hard drives - I have a lot of them.... I have a lot of music that no one ever is going to hear - because I wasn't working, I was just fooling around - and then I never finished it. But that's OK - music is about fun, not work. It is a daily practice - but it should never feel like work.
MW: Do you have any last words for your fans in Poland, Europe?
GLK: Thank you for supporting me. I've been playing in Europe before I was known in America. People understand instrumental music, dance music and DJ culture. You don't need to have lyrics about falling in love for people to watch your show. I'm so grateful that I can keep coming back here to Europe - it's my thirteenth year coming here. I appreciate the love and energy. My label is called Cuss Records.
MW: Because the word "fuck" is a very interesting word in the English language?
GLK: Exactly! So I'll be putting out some stuff on my own label, Cuss Records, in 2020. Little by little I’ll be putting more music out - keep an eye for it. Buy music, don't just stream it for free!
MW: Thank you for the interview!