LTJ Bukem and MC Conrad, understood to be the pioneers of the drum and bass world, played in Shanghai as part of their Logical Progression/Unlucky for Some World Tour. In their less than 48 hour Shanghai experience, (arrive, sleep, sound check, sound check, gig, left in the morning) they managed to squeeze in a short interview just before the gig itself. The low-down of the night was Siesta warming up the crowd superbly, before Bukem (playing mostly white labels) and Conrad kicked off just before midnight and powered on through until past 3am-ish, when Haze took over with a harder set that kept people packed in for another two hours. They said it was an amazing night and are looking forward to returning.
Did you have a good year in 2005?
Bukem: The last two years have been good. I’ve had more gigs than I’ve ever hoped so I’ve been gigging alot. Last year I took a year off and went on a holiday. I’m always working non-stop so to simply not do any work is a holiday to me.
Any special events in 2005 that are worth mentioning?
Bukem: Carl Cox was always asking me to go to Space in Ibiza and I did. We had about four and a half thousand people in Space. And on 23rd of December, we celebrated Logical Progression’s 10th year anniversary at Fabric. We got the same people from the 1st Logical Progression … Fabio, Grooverider, Taylor, and Goldie was there as well. Three thousand people turned up and it was a fantastic night.
What are your favourite tunes from 2005?
Bukem: It’s hard to say. I liked Golden Girl (Makoto and MC Conrad). It’s difficult to say because music comes so fast. I listen and then I move on to something different.
Do you think D&B is still very underground?
Bukem: D&B is underground. Until you have D&B MTV, sell over 50,000 records and the music played on BBC daytime, then it will not be.
You play the piano, drums and trumpet. Have you picked up any other skills lately? Maybe a mandoline?
Bukem : A mandoline? Erm, no.
What makes a good DJ?
Bukem: That’s a difficult question. Being technically good is crucial, I must say. Mix-DJing is like story-telling and you make it sound like yours. Put people in the same direction. And selection. Be someone who believes in what he plays and not play whatever everyone else is playing. It’s hard to say too. Me and Giles Peterson are good mates and he can’t mix. But everytime I watch him play he’ll play something different that blows my mind. It’s about educating and he educates.
If you have all the time in the world you would … ?
Bukem: Write music and write music. Enjoy life and do things that I’ve missed out on doing. Get married and have kids.
An Asian producer, Kiat, just got signed with Metalheadz. He’s been DJing for 15 years and has been learning production, whilst maintaining his job at the same time. And only now — 10 years later — his track is out. What advice would you give to budding producers with regards to getting their music out there?
Bukem: That’s the way to do it. He got it completely right. You don’t drop everything you’re doing to make music. You have to pay the bills. Write music when you have spare time. But ultimately, write 10 tunes that everyone wants to play. Make that three. Write three tunes that the top 10 DJs will want to play. Tunes that they cannot leave in their record bags. Forget life. Go write the best three tracks ever, that labels will want to sign you on. Then you can choose to have your music signed to the best label or the label that you want.
I’ve been DJing for some 20 years now. I was working shifts as a chef. Fifty hours a week. Every single chance that I had I DJed. I had no life. There’s no easy way. Hard work, like everything in life. Some people will make it and some won’t. For me I’d rather try. If I don’t succeed at least I tried. I’m a man who likes his questions answered.
Tell me about your relationship.
Conrad: Love/hate. We fight alot.
Who is Golden Girl?
Conrad: Golden Girl is all the girls that have been to our gigs.
It’s hard to pin-point the origins of D&B. In the future, what do you think music will sound like? Will it bear resemblance to what we are hearing now, or will it be completely different?
Bukem: I think it will bear resemblance.
Conrad: Yeah but there will be new ways of listening to music. There’ll be new sounds that sound like old sounds.
Bukem: Music hasn’t changed. Everyone wants to hear something that means something.
Conrad: Just add water. The music, melody and grooves will all be the same but made with new instruments and with new technology.
Bukem: I used to love hip-hop. Nowadays hip-hop and R&B is all about a million pounds’ worth of MTVs and girls shaking their booty on TV.
True. But isn’t the production really good?
Bukem: Oh, don’t get me started. When you have a big studio and huge equipment like that … I think musicians from the 50s, 60s and 70s, people like Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis and James Brown … these are the last true musicians of our time. They had no deadlines to meet, no MTV to produce and they were free to write music. It’s unfortunate but it’s true. Snoop Dogg … just a bit of dshh-dshh and a million pound MTV and it’s a hit.
Why don’t you guys try making music like that for the sake of it?
Bukem: What? Making cheesy music?
Conrad: We tried in the studio but we couldn’t do it.
Bukem: Yeah each time we’ll be like “what if we put this in?” and “what if we do this?” and it becomes different.
Conrad: We can’t do it. Outkast, yeah? I wouldn’t say I like them or their individual songs but when you listen to their album they’re different. It’s funky and jazzy.
When is your next event in Japan?
Bukem: We’re supposed to be playing there now! (laughs and slaps his hand)
Which clubs have you played at in Japan, and what was the scene like?
Bukem: We played at a lot of different clubs … Liquid Room, Club Yellow … Japanese are very receptive and are very into it. They’ve got a good music culture for young music. A lot of Japanese are into jazz and hip-hop and all genres of electronic music
What about Shanghai? What are you expecting tonight?
Bukem: I don’t have high expectations in life because it can be disappointing. If I have a wicked night then that’s great.
With thanks to Otorok for the interview.
Images from andreas.de, source7.net and fantazia.org.uk.
Interview is a regular feature on Shanghaiist. Know someone in Shanghai you think would make for a good interview? Email tips(@)shanghaiist.com.