If you're into emotive, abstract productions, there is an excellent chance that you have experienced the work of Jeff McIlwain.
With a deep catalog of abstract electronica under his Lusine moniker (formerly Lusine IcI), Jeff has carved out a place of his own in the indie-electronic scene. A true veteran and long-time contributor to the ever popular Ghostly International label, he has been involved with the metamorphic shift that has taken place in electronic music's thriving underground.
In this interview, we discuss his tonal evolution, Sensorimotor, his film picks of 2017, and some of his production equipment.
Prox: Your music has shifted quite a bit over the years from a tonal perspective. Aside from a desire to try something new, what has changed mentally for you? What was your headspace like back then compared to recent years?
Lusine: A lot of it just has to do with finding inspiration in different styles. I think it has helped that I've always been very into the sort of “indie rock” side of things, so songwriting has been something I've wanted to delve deeper into from the very beginning, rather than just a minimalistic progression oriented electronic approach. I like to at least attempt to straddle that divide.
Prox: How does the culture and landscape of the Pacific Northwest influence your tracks? Is it a more upbeat atmosphere when compared to Texas and California?
Lusine: Not really. The rainy season definitely helps to focus though, and I don’t feel inundated with the entertainment industry here as I did with L.A. The vibe felt so competitive when I lived there, and there is much less pressure here. Of course I was also much younger when I lived there too, so that was a huge part of it.
Prox: There is a fair amount of genre bending in your work but what would you say is the backbone of your productions? Is there one genre that heavily influences you over others?
Lusine: I don’t think so. I suppose right now, I am usually going for something more organic, trying to blend indie influences with synth stuff. But, I guess my own tendencies bring it back to something more precise and programmed. The backbone would probably be the music that inspired me when I started making music. Music that came on in a subtle way, but grabbed hold. I guess somewhat introverted music from the 90’s.
Prox: For your latest album Sensorimotor, what was different about this project creatively from the rest of your catalogue? If you could describe the release in one emotion, what would it be?
Lusine: Controlled chaos I guess? I've been more interested in just randomness in music, and the beauty of somehow carving that into discernible shapes. I don’t think I'm quite there yet though.
Prox: Over the years you’ve been labeled as a gearhead. Has your stance changed on the importance of expensive tools as you’ve grown? What are some of the newest pieces you’ve gotten?
Lusine: Really? I think I'm somewhere in the middle. I've always liked my instruments, but I hate having too much choice. It can really be a detriment. So, yes, I do buy things, but it’s always for the purpose of finding different ways to write. I just bought this Rc-505 looper, for instance, so I can introduce loose multitrack recordings into my music. I bought a nord drum 2 on a whim, because it is just a really cool drum synthesizer. And I bought a nice Viola because it’s a great instrument that is pretty versatile in both my Lusine stuff, and my score stuff. It used to be about things that I needed and all-in-one type boxes. These days, it has turned into more niche items that fill an interesting gap.
Prox: You’re a pretty big film guy. Could you give us some of your top picks of 2017 so far?
Prox: Any new artists, books, music, or shows you’d like to recommend?
Lusine: Still really enjoying George Fitzgerald's Fading Love album from last year. I've also been into all of Douglas Dare's stuff. Really dig the Erased Tapes label. And Tom Vek, I guess that album Luck came out in 2014, but his stuff is so weird, interesting, and emotional. Jenn Champion, here in Seattle, put out a more electronic oriented single called No One that was a big departure from her older stuff (which was also great). So, I'm really interested in hearing what her new material is going to sound like.
Books- The Goldfinch is great..
Shows- I recommend Slowdive. That one was my album of the year.
Prox: Would you like to share some information on any upcoming releases you have on the horizon?
Lusine: Working on an EP for Ghostly. Will probably be out sometime in 2018.
Prox: Final Thoughts?
Lusine: Thank you!
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