music

“It’s all about imperfections”: An interview + exclusive mixtape with Lukan

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Lukan doesn’t wait for chances. His roots are in his small Indian hometown of Lucknow, but its size and relative ambiguity weren’t disadvantages – instead, it was a literal realisation of the luck in the now, which led him to draw inspiration from his surroundings. Even when it’s to the detriment of working other jobs or fitting in with the kids at school, he remains dug in.

Additionally, he’s a product of England’s ever-growing clubbing scene, which he discovered when he came to the East Midlands to study, but his discoveries are only a result of his active search for experimental music en lieu of over-perfect mainstream sounds. In fact, his musical depth alone is a testimony – it stems deep into the unknowns of the music world at large, meaning that every musical manoeuvre of his has been by choice, not by chance.

Nevertheless, it seems like chance is on his side: He’s about to embark on a tour with his latest EP, which has attracted some major music label-attention. Yet, having cultivated his passion for electronic music since he was little, he’s firmly planted in the notion of appreciating the small things as well as the big milestones – and never overlooking its flaws. In fact, it’s this fascination with imperfection that has grown his disdain for the predictable, polished; overpromoted and overplayed modern music that is often used by radios to define electro-house. (Haven’t we all.)

No: It’s the underlit and unsanitised underground clubs that does it for him – ironically, it is so much purer and honest to the art of music. It’s unpretentious; doesn’t give a toss about “blowing up” or “getting big”, but joins him in appreciating minor imperfections. It was here Lukan was introduced to authentic sounds, genuine people, and a world of discovery.

This, and so much more, is glaringly obvious in the live set Red Bus, which Lukan recorded exclusively for us at WisdomTooth. Listen to it above, like his Facebook page here and read the interview with Lukan, real name Nakul Mehan, below:


WisdomTooth: Can you recall how Lukan came to be?

Nakul Mehan (Lukan): Since childhood, I inherited two different hobbies from my father – one is electronics/technology, the other music. I am from a not-so-big town in India called Lucknow and these two things always appealed to me as the coolest hobby – as opposed to what the other kids were doing. Slowly, I discovered that music production and DJ’ing is basically a combination of these two skills and I started to work on it.

WT: Why did you choose Lukan as your moniker?

NM: Lukan is basically the reverse of my real name Nakul. I work not only as an artist but within other job roles too. I thought: As an artist, the identity of my other jobs should be kept separate – hence the small twist in the name.

WT: You’ve described your music as belonging to the house, soul and groove genres – how has your music evolved to arrive at the complex formula you are at now?

NM: About 7 years back, I actually started discovering underground electronic music. Before I was listening to more to the more commercial side of it – James Zabiela, Benny Bennassi, John Digweed, Sasha, Deep Dish etc. That said, these are the people who made me dig deeper till I went to the UK to study. That’s where things got more underground. Non-sanitised clubs, dusty dance floors, strangers turning into friends – the full vibe made me realise that there’s a lot more music which exists as opposed to what is pushed to us using huge campaigns.

WT: That’s such a good point – the silent, borderline black-market part of music is only underground because it’s overshadowed by over-promoted music.

NM: But it was because of bigger music that I started digging deeper for rarer records, started finding tracks that were being played at Berghain and other clubs. This is where I started getting influenced by raw and old school sounds.

However, I don’t like many of the new-age, futuristic sounding tracks. They are so clean and perfect. For me, it’s all about imperfections – slightly distorted kicks, offbeat hits, sampled detuned chords….This is the formula I try to implement in my productions. I try to tell this story, each time I write a track.

WT: What musical artists influence you?

NM: KiNK, DJ Koze, Rick Wade, Nina Kraviz, Jamie Jones, Nastia, Axel Boman, Martinez Brothers, Roman Flugel, Rampa….there are too many.

WT: Okay, and which artists influenced you as you grew up?

NM: The Police, Michael Jackson, REM, The Doors, Pink Floyd, ABBA.

WT: What artists! Did you have other influences, outside of music, which has affected how your music has turned out?

NM: I would say it’s my fascination with technology. I like to experiment with technology to create what I create. Another influence is a dozen of ‘Steve Jobs’ and ‘Bill Gates’ types documentaries I have seen which basically told me to stop living in a bubble of what everyone thinks is normal. It’s all about thinking out of the box. I refrained from taking any formal musical education so I was not told this is correct, this is not. It limits your creativity.

WT: Your latest EP, ‘Benaras’ – how would you define it? What does it represent for you?

NM: It’s a three track EP influenced by the holy city of ‘Benaras’ (Varanasi, India). Benaras is the most chaotic city I have ever visited in my life. It’s situated on the banks of the river Ganges. I’ve sampled all the chaos of the bells, the prayers, temples, horns etc which I will be using in my tracks.

WT: That theme of chaos and imperfections made a revival in your music – and I sense it in the mix you made for WisdomTooth. How did you compose the mix? What typically goes into your work and, since you are not a perfectionist, when do you decide a set or track is good?

NM: I first figure out the mood of the mix. I try to associate it with environments, locations, climates and colours. For this mix specifically, I thought about a sundowner on the London Bridge. Then I select old, new and unreleased tracks which go with this mood. The next step is to arrange the tracks in a manner of a movie script. What comes first, then what? I then record the whole set live either on turntables or on Ableton or a combination of both.

WT: If you had to listen to one song for the rest of your life, what would it be? (Choose more than one if you want).

NM: If I’m driving, then it has to be Roxanne by The Police but I don’t think there is just one specific track that I can listen to the rest of my life. I like change. It’ll probably drive me mad if I just listen to one track all my life!

WT: And finally, your tour – where are you going, what are you excited for, and what are you expecting?

NM: I have just signed up with AFE Management and Bookings this year. I am supposed to start my gigs this September. These guys are doing great work and booking great international Artists and programming the best venues in India. I hope to be playing along with some big names and slowly and hopefully reaching their level.

I’m also very excited to showcase my live sets which involve mixing, remixing and making music on the spot. It’s a lot more interactive and engaging than regular turntable sets, though they too have their own charm.

India is rapidly being educated about the real house and techno music; about things that don’t appear on Beatport Charts. People are digging and discovering hidden music. I hope to escalate this movement and make people smile when I twist a few knobs and faders. 

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