For this month’s feature interview we talked with Damian Lazarus, DJ, producer, label boss, A&R and farmer, who is just about to release his first solo album in a decade.
Damian Lazarus drops his new ‘Flourish’ album on 18th September, a glowing, shape-shifting ten-track collection that moves effortlessly between house, techno, breaks and more outré electronics. ‘Flourish’ is very much a lockdown album, entirely written and produced this spring. Speaking to us from his mountain top Italian farm, he gave us the details on the inspiration and process behind his second solo artist album. Lazarus is funny, frank and open, at times reflective and pensive, but always happy to delve into the details of how he goes about creating his music.
Attack Magzine: So first of all for our readers who might not be familiar with you, tell us who you are and what you do:
Damian Lazarus: I create a lot of my own music and other peoples music. I discover and release a lot of artists on my record labels Crosstown Rebels and Rebellion. I run a number of events including the Day Zero festival and Get Lost, a party which has been going for almost twenty years now, it was supposed to be the 20th anniversary of Get Lost this year in Miami in fact… Apart from that, I’m a father, a farmer and at times, a strange being.
You’re a farmer?
I live on a farm in the Italian countryside. We grow all our own vegetables and have a small vineyard, just enough to keep me in wine for the year. I’ve tried to make this place where I live sustainable in the event of the apocalypse – which is definitely on the horizon in the near future – I hope to be able to live off my land! Forgot to mention, I’m also a DJ – six months of not DJing that’s what it does to you!
And how has your lockdown been?
It started very creatively because I began work on this album. I had planned to start writing the album this year anyway as I’d had a very busy end to 2019 and January was flat out. I did 15 shows in 20 days in South America and I could see that it was going to be hectic, and I’d started to have ideas and feelings about wanting to write a new project. So I decided back then to take off all of February and most of March… I treated it like a full-time job: I was in the studio at seven every morning, working till around midnight, and just didn’t stop until I felt I’d got it finished.
So ‘Flourish’, it’s not just a collection of dance floor tracks; do you feel that lockdown has given artists like you a bit of freedom in what they can produce?
I’ve always been happy not to make music directly focused on the dance floor. I think with my Lazpod podcasts I‘ve tried to give myself a platform from which to not surprise people too much with what I make as a producer. Just the fact that I can do these radio shows and show people that I have this broad spectrum of musical loves and knowledge, it’s always allowed me to step outside the dance floor. When all this [pandemic] started to kick off, it enabled me to really just go with whatever I felt was necessary. And I actually think that this album was quite necessary: I was feeling pretty dislodged and displaced, starting to feel that there wasn’t much hope for the future really and this was starting to come out in the ideas I was creating. It wasn’t till a bit later in writing the project that it started to turn around and became a bit more optimistic.
The album’s accompanying text mentions your questioning of faith, religion and spirituality…
Yeah, I think I was starting to lose a bit of a grip on belief systems and trying to see where there was a positive future. There’s this one particular man that’s really disrupted most people’s lives around the world and he needs to be voted out in November. Then there’s so many people believing climate change is fake and yet we see it daily… It would be easy for me sitting up here on the top of my mountain with my tomatoes growing and just forget about it – but it’s impossible to do that. I just started to doubt the existence of God and spirituality. This was quite disturbing for me because for the past few years I’ve been feeing quite connected to the universe, feeling that there was a positive new day just around the corner and we’re all energy and we’d see these dark times though. But it started to dawn on me that maybe this was all bullshit and it could all implode and there’s no future – as the Sex Pistols said.