Lewis Dobbs Interviews Luke Hess
Monday 24th January 2022
Monday 24th January 2022
First off, I’d like to talk about your signature sound. You evidently pay attention to the finer details of classic Detroit tropes, but are there any other genres you take inspiration from?
Beyond the obvious and vast Detroit techno inspirations & the never ending genres of electronic music in general - I’ve listened to a lot of dub reggae, instrumental hip-hop, jazz, trip hop, psychedelic rock, classical, ambient music, & just simple emersion in the sounds of nature.
Lately, I seem to find more inspiration from these other genres of music, mixing styles, engineering techniques, and just experimenting with analog gear & trying to create fresh sounds than I do listening to strictly techno or dance oriented music.
I’m also really curious about your inclusion of field recordings embedded in your tracks. Whether it’s distant chirps or flowing rivers, it adds a subtle human element. Does nature regularly play into your music production process?
Several years ago I spent quite a bit of time with my field recorder. I would complete long recordings in various settings for underlying noise in the background of my music, and spent a lot of time recording various sounds that could be cut up & use as percussion. I recently purchased a simple Zoom H6 & plan to get back to this process again while writing my 3rd album.
There is no substitute for God’s musical creation!
In the ongoing debate between using hardware or software in production, do you think there will ever be a favourable method? Or is it down to the creator themselves?
There are many producers who are heavily trained in software only & make incredible music.
Personally, I need all the time I can get away from screens. I use software for sequencing, mixing, & engineering.
But I need to get my hands on equipment to bring my sound ideas to life.
The longer I make music, the further away I want to get from software all together.
From my experience (and maybe because I never spent enough time with VSTs) I just seem to get a thicker, richer, warmer, & rawer sound using analog gear. When experimenting with various VSTs I seem to spend way more time trying to shape & mold sounds than necessary, and often times software just seems to sound thin.
There just seems to be more character, human interaction, & perfect imperfections while using analog gear - and this is the process I enjoy while crafting sounds.
You’re a regular collaborator, both in live sets and studio releases with the likes of Omar S, Patrick Russell and, more recently, Simoncino. Does this cooperation allow you to approach your own process differently?
Collaborations are a huge inspiration for me.
They expand my sound palette and understanding of music creation & production techniques. Also, sometimes it’s a nice break to spend time with friends in the studio and share creative moments - knowing that soon other people will somehow share in this moment on a dancefloor. There is a time for solo production & a time for collaborations - I think a balance can be heathy for every artist.
After a swift Instagram browse, I can see you’ll be setting Detroit ablaze again in the TV Lounge very soon. How does it feel to perform like this once more, as restrictions begin to ease?
Yes - January 28th is a DeepLabs party at TV Lounge with Thor, Delano Smith, Norm Talley, my brother Jeff Hess (who will be performing his first all analog & modular LIVE PA), & myself. Everyone involved is super excited to start sharing music and getting involved with the community again. It’s essential.
Despite live shows returning, do you think the pandemic has introduced live streaming as a means of performance for artists including yourself?
In my personal opinion, Streaming is no substitute for a personal community experience. However, streaming does have many benefits & will continue to grow as a platform for artists, instruction, creation, & inspiration. Streaming definitely has its place to help expose artistic talent, but in my opinion it should not be the focus over physical interactions or hard work in the studio.
And finally, in your view, what are the main things that fuel the Detroit underground scene and make it the thriving culture it is today?
I believe in hard work, community interaction, mutual respect, support & mentorship.
Understanding the history of the music & having a zeal for the future of underground music is key.
Underground in my opinion is still where the best music is created & shared.
Underground is an escape from the main stream, where money, fame, & pride can‘t destroy creativity & a where there is genuine pursuit for something beautiful, pure, and new.
Detroit has a very strong musical & artistic community. In my opin
ion it’s the best place to live if you love music!
Lewis Dobbs is a voluntary writer from npm. You can follow him on the links below