Ahead of his set this Saturday with Skream at Exchange in Downtown Los Angeles, Crosstown Rebels boss Damian Lazarus shed some light on a number of interesting topical subjects, with a bit of info on his new album out next year, a busy summer festival schedule, and a positive outlook on the future of underground music.
If you’re in LA this weekend, make sure to pick up tickets to Damian & Skream here, and read on for the interview below.
Lets start with the recent news…your new track “Lovers’ Eyes” with Ancient Moons was just featured as Pete Tong’s essential new tune on BBC Radio 1. How did the track collab come to be and are you happy with the big premiere?
Lovers Eyes is a cosmic love story about a boy and a girl meeting and in the process their four eyes join to become one where they can see into other dimensions. I discovered the legendary Qawaali vocalists Fareed Ayaz, Abu Muhammad and their nephew Hamza Akram after watching a movie that they appeared in, I was thrilled when they answered my request to collaborate on some music. I gave them the idea for the record and we set about creating a fresh and unique modern sufi- trancelike track. Myself and James Ford (Simian Mobile Disco) worked tirelessly on this new project together and I’m super thrilled that the initial reaction is so strong.
Speaking of this track, its our understanding that its going to be included on your forthcoming album. Can you let us in on any other collaborations on the album? Or is it all your own original production?
James and I worked with various incredible artists and musicians for the album, more of which we will reveal a little later. I am just finishing the album and it will be released in early 2015. I don’t want to say too much but I can tell you it’s the most exciting project I have ever made and Damian Lazarus & The Ancient Moons will be coming to live setting near you sometime next year.
You’ve got some major festival and club appearances from North America to Europe and back again. Where do you see your biggest crowd reactions to your sets?
It’s funny because up until a few years ago I was never a big fan of festivals; especially when there are so many dis being packed into one stage with not enough time to express themselves properly. But then I got asked to curate a number of stages and headline others and I started to feel the energy a lot more. Nowadays I love to hang out at festivals for a couple of days when possible but next weekend I have a crazy schedule where I play Lightening in a Bottle, Movement Detroit and EDC New York all in one weekend, so we’ll see how that goes. I’m very fortunate in that crowd reaction to what I do as an artist doesn’t seem so different in different cities around the world, I think I’m the kind of artist that people will come and see because they feel safe with me. I always give 100% of my energy and focus and I love what I do plus I guess people are still discovering me these days so personally I’m happy to play anywhere right now.
Speaking of, do you prepare different sets for different countries you play in? Or do you just go up there and have fun every time playing whatever you want?
I just do what I do. I don’t change my sound for any event but sometimes time restrictions may affect how deep and trippy I can go.
Let’s talk Crosstown Rebels. What’s forthcoming on the label that your excited to release? What about any label events over the summer?
The label is firing on all cylinders right now – this year we are getting prepared to launch the new albums from Ali Love, Kele Okereke (Bloc Party), Subb an, Aphrohead, Francesca Lombardo and we have the most amazing new Get Lost compilation album virtually ready, we will announce who has made this very soon. There are so many killer singles also coming on Crosstown and on Rebellion.
With electronic music as a whole breaking into the mainstream across the globe, are you excited or concerned about the future of deep house and techno?
How could I be concerned? Providing the producers, djs and artists maintain their sense of respect and honesty and do not get too excited and try and take commercial routes for a quick fix just because there are more people listening, we will be good. Bottom line is, this was bound to happen, this music is too damn good to ignore for much longer. I see it as a positive thing that there is more awareness of decent intelligent dance music and that the edm bubble is bursting due to greed and in many cases lack of talent and integrity.
You’re finally back home to play Exchange LA this Saturday. What’s your favorite thing about playing in Los Angeles?
That I can walk out of the club into the sunlight knowing the real heads and music lovers of LA have had their fill of proper music.
You’re co-headlining alongside Skream. Can we expect a different energy in your set because of this pairing?
You can expect one of us to probably fall over during the party – it’s going to get messy in there.