We caught up with FaltyDL to talk about writer’s block, skipping school to smoke weed and a voice memo of his grandmother cursing him for 2 minutes straight.
When discussing Drew Lustman’s forthcoming album The Crystal Cowboy it’s difficult to work out whether you’re speaking to a musician or an artist in the more traditional sense. The New York based producer, better known by his former moniker FaltyDL, is as abstract, conceptual and expressive as any designer or painter – a symptom of the all encompassing passion he has for music and the fact that some of his closest friends in the Big Apple are sculptors. He’s previously released album trailers via PornHub, included self-authored poems in his albums and was once commissioned to design an ambient soundscape for director Terrance Malick. Since releasing his Into The Wild on Ninja Tune in the summer of 2014 he’s now dropped the alias and allowed himself the freedom to pursue a more experimental production style crafting the kind of tracks that he would ‘DJ or play to friends’. Debuting ‘Angel Flesh’ exclusively on Wonderland, we took caught up with the man himself to talk about writer’s block, skipping school to smoke weed and a voice memo of his grandmother cursing him for 2 minutes straight.
You’ve previously mentioned that you struggle to write music, is that still a problem? Has the change of direction helped you overcome that block?
I have said that, and usually I feel it right about now. After completing an album, I get this growing fear that my creative juices have been drained … but I don’t feel that today! In fact I made a new EP last week. I have been producing hip hop, jungle, and left field electronic (the general vibes of the album) for about a decade now. What gets released is often just a mere glimpse into what I made that year. The struggle in the past has existed as this pressure I put on myself to just be productive. It’s mental and the solution always seems to be the same. Just stop thinking.
Were you nervous about putting out an album under a new name or was it liberating?
I was excited, I am excited! There is a long lineage of electronic producers who act under different names. It feels like a right of passage and a luxury to be honest. I imagine most FaltyDL fans won’t have difficulty finding a Drew Lustman LP. Look at Luke Vibert, constantly releasing albums under about 4 names. Aphex did it, µ-Ziq did it. Mark Pritchard too, in fact Mark is a genius, he really compartmentalized different sounds into different names. I could have thrown FaltyDL on the cover of this album and I don’t think anyone would notice the difference! Truth be told back in 2009 right before Planet Mu and I were getting Love Is A Liability together, Mike Paradinas suggested we release it under my own name. Funny how it could have always been my name. But it was super fun to hide behind a production alias for so many years.
How do you want people to feel when they listen to it?
I hope energized. That’s probably the first feeling that if it didn’t get across on first listen I made a massive mistake somewhere! One of my favorite things about music is the personal connections we form with favorite albums, and how they grow over the years but remain very personal. Frankly, they don’t change very much after our first listen. Like I can put on Endtroducing and within the first 6 seconds I’m back in my friends car skipping school smoking weed and eating cheeseburgers. I honestly hope that one person in 20 years looks at my entire catalog, smiles, laughs, and goes OK I get it, this guy was funny and also put 100% of himself into the records.
Some of the tracks are quite abstract.
I am aware of the growing abstraction in some of my work, and trust me I look down at my feet not tapping in place as I am making some of these tracks and saying to myself, where the fuck did the dance floor go?! The key for me is to have patience. I seem to be having fun in that space where reliable dance patterns flirt with actual musical events. I love mind numbing repetitive druggy dance music as much as the next kid. The next album may include whale song or this voice memo of my grandmother cursing me for 2 minutes. She’s just berating me. It’s so good.
You mentioned that In The Wild explores sexuality. What does this album explore?
Well the exploration of sexuality certainly didn’t begin nor end with In The Wild. Truth is, it’s kind of gross to assume anyone wants to listen to your album and think about sex at the same time. When I was talking with the label about a month ago about how we were gonna handle this release I said something like “Why can’t people just listen to it?”. Basically I want the album to explore you, the listener! I wanted to provide next to nothing so you can interpret it or disregard it as you will. I recently read a great article about athleticism in the arts discussing how an artist just has to keep creating everyday and posting new work in order to maintain visibility. That’s crazy, but it’s sort of true. A lack of narrative was sort of my first idea for this album. This album is about being a cowboy. No, this album is like biting on a sour lemon right before you release your unborn creativity into a soft hotel towel.
Have you ever thought about trying something new? Sculpture or painting perhaps?
Yes. Most of my artistic pals in NYC are sculptors. I take music very seriously though, and have spent every day of my life thinking about it, so you won’t see a Drew Lustman bust anytime soon.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve sampled?
I’ve sampled porn and family members in the same song. That was in 2008 so it’s been a slow decline since then.
Is it fair to say the previous album was emotionally fraught?
I felt In The Wild had a very calming and soothing balance. It’s like each track was on the edge of sanity but resolved itself by the time the next song comes on. I think In The Wild is my record. It’s an album for the heads, no doubt about that. It wouldn’t do very well at the check out counter at a Target. Hardcourage was more direct and digestible. The Crystal Cowboy is honestly somewhere in the middle, perhaps slightly leaning towards Hardcourage. I think the last track on the album, ‘Sykle’ is the best I’ve ever made. Best production, emotion and vibes a plenty.
What inspired the name?
Tom the sculptor donned me The Crystal Cowboy one night while I was explaining the different crystalline strictures in this plant to him. It just stuck. I’ve never smoked meth – I haven’t even finished watching Breaking Bad – but when it came to me it was just one of those thoughts that gets into your head and doesn’t leave. I love the idea of a cowboy roaming through gritty NYC on a horse.
Words: Thomas Curry.