Our most recent Breakdown feature shone the spotlight on Lukid’s 2012 track ‘USSR’. We caught up with Luke to discuss his thoughts on our analysis, the problems with reading your own reviews and his ‘chunky’ new music.
Attack: What was your first reaction when you saw we’d analysed ‘USSR’?
Lukid: I was happy!
How did we do?
I think you did very well, thank you very much. Although some of the specifics what you talked about weren’t necessarily things that I was thinking about when I made the track, I think you got the overall thing I was going for: something pretty simple and immediate and full of emotions and that.
How does it feel to be subjected to that kind of analysis? Presumably for some artists it’s commonplace but I guess it’s less common for underground artists to be scrutinised in that way.
It feels good. Honestly it’s just nice to know that there are people who take the music that I make half-seriously. There can be a nagging feeling when you’re making music on a computer in your bedroom that what you’re doing isn’t ‘real’ music, so to see things like this pop up is very nice and reassuring.
That’s really interesting. In what way do you worry that it’s not ‘real’ music? Just the fact that it’s made on a computer in your bedroom?
Yeah, there’s a bit of that. Perhaps when you’re listening to a piece of music that’s been recorded on hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of equipment and utilises the talents of several genius-level musicians and you’re simultaneously staring at your ten-year-old Dell laptop and a few three-note melodies scrawled into the edit screen of Cubase SX, you may start to doubt your own worth. But I think unless you’re a psychopath it’s natural to have doubts about what you’re doing, whatever line of work you’re in, especially when it’s something you’re doing alone, off your own back and without a client telling you what they want.
One of the common criticisms of this type of piece is that deconstructing a track in that way picks out things the artist didn’t necessarily have any idea they were doing. Were there any things which you didn’t realise you’d done until we pointed them out? I’m thinking mainly of the impression of 3/4 time from the synth part, which seems like the kind of thing you might play instinctively rather than really planning it. Were there any parts where you thought, ‘I didn’t do that on purpose’?
I think when it’s more of a clinical analysis like this one it doesn’t matter whether or not the artist was aware of what they were doing, you can’t really argue with something being in a certain time signature or in a certain key. In fact it can make it more interesting to know that the artist didn’t do it intentionally and that it was instinctual. The 3/4 thing, for example, is definitely not something that I considered when I was making the tune, and to be honest it’s not something that I can even really hear now, but a couple of people have mentioned to me before that they thought ‘USSR’ was in a funny time signature – I guess your article gets to the bottom of why that is.
I tend to make music pretty instinctively and there’s really not much programming involved. Most of what I do is playing around on the keyboard until something catches my ear, so I don’t analyse my music in that way while I’m making it or after. ‘USSR’ was one of the quicker tunes I’ve made – I got the ideas down really quickly and bar a few details the tune was made in less than an hour probably. That doesn’t happen very often to me, but it’s an amazing feeling when it does; all the hours of frustration are forgotten.
I tend to make music pretty instinctively and there's really not much programming involved.
On a similar subject of analysis of your music, do you read your own reviews? How do you find that?
I do. Too much. I find it mostly really depressing, but I still hunt down reviews like a crackhead. The problem is even when they’re positive reviews I’ll find fault in them, like, ‘Well, that person also likes X so they clearly don’t know what they’re talking about’; or I’ll find the one negative in the review and obsess over it. It is an entirely unhealthy pursuit but one that I will continue because I am very needy.
Is it hard to avoid seeing reviews? You must get tagged in every social media post about your music, whether it’s good or bad.
Well the easy way to avoid all of this is to avoid social media and the internet, which we all pretend is a hard thing to do but it really isn’t. You just don’t go on it. But I do. Again, because I am very emotionally needy.
How do you feel when critics interpret your music in ways that you didn’t intend? In terms of your motivation or the creative process behind the music…
It can be annoying but it’s the nature of reviews, I guess. Someone’s trying to sum you and your work up in a couple of paragraphs and it’s not always going to be to your liking. I think the problems arise when the review’s presented as an explanation rather than an interpretation.
I hunt down reviews like a crackhead. It is an entirely unhealthy pursuit but one that I will continue because I am very needy.
Are you ever tempted to correct them? You sometimes see artists who can’t resist jumping into the comments section.
Yeah, definitely, and I have done that before, but I’m starting to realise that it’s better not to draw attention to the negative reviews and comments. Just now I had to stop myself from replying to some bell-end on the Lukid Facebook page. Gotta keep the spin positive.