The Gaslamp Killer (or William Bensussen, if you want to get technical) is a Californian DJ making some of the best trippy psychedelic/hip-hop beats and mixes right now. No wonder his album’s coming out on Flying Lotus’ label Brainfeeder this month. Wonderland caught up with GLK fresh from his Boiler Room gig to chat about his vibe.
How did you get involved with Brainfeeder?
It was a natural progression. Lotus and I became friends through Stones Throw, we were both just starting out in LA and he was a fan of my mixtape, he was just picking my brain about what songs were on it. That was my first mixtape, it’s called the Gaslampkillers (Mix). It’s like, 10 years old? But um… basically, Peanut Butter Wolf told me, “I have this intern who’s making some cool beats, listen to this stuff”, and I listened to his beats, and I’m like, “What does he call himself? Flying Lotus? That’s interesting.” Then I met this guy again, and he was like, “Yeah, that’s me!”, and I was like “WHAT? You’re Flying Lotus?!” and he was like “yeah!”. Then we became friends and started working together. It was a pretty natural, more like a friendship that grew into an awesome working relationship.
A lot of your new songs are collaborations – do you think there are a lot of people in LA with the same vibe as you right now?
Yeah, I feel like there’s a lot of camaraderie going on in the scene, and maybe they don’t have the same vibe as me, but I ask them to lend their energy to my vibe. To just get evil – that’s what I told everybody, get in touch with their evil side. More moody, dissonant, emotional music than just like, beats, you know?
You once said you wanted your music to educate people.
Definitely. I am not just here to entertain, I’m also here to educate and bring the roots and foundation of the music that I grew up on into this new world of computer music.
So how do you go about making a track?
I stopped sampling as much but I’m still inspired by old records. I try to take that energy and find a way to translate it into the future.
To try and make it relevant today?
Exactly! Try and keep it really authentic and psychedelic and still have the Gaslamp Killer sound, not stray too far. A lot of people are used to me just sampling really awesome records, but instead of doing that, I’m trying to capture the vibe of those records on my own, live.
What are you listening to now?
I’ve been listening to a lot of Dimlite. Dimlite is my favourite producer right now, and I’ve been listening to the new Flying Lotus album and Tame Impala. My favourite band of the moment is called Connan Mockasin, that’s what I’ve been listening to on EP. They’re from New Zealand.
How have your recent gigs been? We heard you were at Burning Man…
I DJ-ed for Root Society, which was a camp I got randomly invited to. I went out there on a spiritual journey and I didn’t really think I was going to perform, but when this camp asked me to play, they made me feel very welcome and I felt like, “you know what? I need to do this, so…” So I played, but unfortunately it was during a sandstorm so it wasn’t the best time to get people to actually come to see me. But I still had like, a thousand people so it’s cool.
GLK’s new album Breakthrough comes out on Brainfeeder on 18 September. www.thegaslampkiller.com
Words: Julia Lichnova