Listening to Lapalux, at its lowest effectiveness, is a sensational experience. At its maximum effectiveness, Lapalux is a transcendental experience.
Essex’s Stuart Howard, the man behind such moving rhythms, was fittingly recruited into Flying Lotus’s coveted Brainfeeder family, where he released his debut album Nostalchic in 2011.
Now, he gives us his succeeding album, Lustmore. To Howard, he’s just messing around and having fun, but what we get is a brilliantly cinematic, imaginative, and sophisticated work of contemporary electronic music (embraced by jazzy, hip-hop, and R&B undertones).
I had the pleasure of chatting with Howard about the unique inspirations behind this project, as well as throwing out some fun, offbeat questions.
EARMILK: First and foremost, a huge congratulations on the release of Lustmore. When I got my hands on it, it was all I listened to for about 3 days…waking, driving, smoking, thinking…your music turned ordinary tasks into sublime experiences…
Stuart Howard: Thank you!
EM: How was your launch party in London?
SH: It was really good actually…had a party, lots of people there, went down really well…It was a lot of fun.
EM: Do you get nervous before shows?
SH: Kind of. It’s alright when you’re on a tour and it's easier to get in the vibe and just do it…but when you haven’t been back there in a while, it’s a bit of nervous experience…when you’re trying to do something different and new, it’s always a bit nerve-wrecking.
EM: Do you have special visuals prepared for your upcoming shows?
SH: Yea, totally. Me and Marielle Tepper have been working out live visuals for a while now, and now we have this guy, creative coder guy, to design an app for the computer that racks sound and this crazy data moshing thing…but it looks really really cool! We tried it out Friday night [at the launch party].
EM: Ok, so what goes on in the mind of Lapalux? What interests or ideas are you preoccupied with?
SH: Hmm, I mean, just general day-to-day things…all the bits in between being in the studio really. The only things I really focus on these days are making music and trying to think about different way to approach music, working with different people, and branching out further than I did before...because I don’t want to keep repeating myself and doing the same thing over and over again…So, that sort of things remain as a constant…but outside that, I guess visual stuff…I don't know, general stuff.
EM: What do you do to keep things fresh?
SH: Haha, I don't know, shower?! Musically, just approach songwriting in different ways…step it up constantly…I like to set myself these kind of experimental goals...I like to sort of venture out and record different things, and think about recording strings and different vocalists…that sort of experimentation and mixture of different sounds and using different soundscapes I wouldn’t necessarily use, refreshens the whole experience…Each song is different, you know. Each song I make is a different process. I keep it that way because if I kept doing the same thing, it would bore the shit out of me, to be honest.
EM:How did you get started in music? Can you talk a little bit about your musical background?
Probably when I was about 10, 11, and 12, I started playing guitar…Actually, I started out playing violin as a really young kid, but I didn’t like it too much, so I dropped out of that, and then picked up guitar…but I was never that focused on learning guitar traditionally, in a classical sense. I was more trying to work out how I could play around with it in an experimental way, so I never really stuck to any guidelines with instrumentation. I just messed around until I found something cool…After that, I moved onto learning on computers, how to manipulate sound, reversing stuff, real simple editing sounds, but that was where I was really fascinated and where it started...around 13-14, messing around in Cubase and other recording software...manipulating guitar, people’s voices that I recorded, and a general progression after that.
EM: You've stated that Lustmore was based on the concept of hypnagogia, a sort of transition limbo between waking life and sleep. Speaking of, have you seen the film Waking Life?
SH: I have actually…the one with rotoscoping...
EM: Have you ever experienced lucid dreaming?
SH: Oh yea, for sure…I don’t have it too often, but I've been through periods of time, usually at high-stress times, or when I haven’t slept for a few days, and it starts to get really tense and nightmarish and stuff like that…Especially when you’re on tour, you never really reach a deep sleep, you’re always at that almost-conscious level, which messes you up for a little while…Sometimes, I have a bit of control in the dream world…
EM: Could you share a bizarre or interesting dream you’ve had?
SH: Haha, hmm..I don't know really…They usually just disappear after I wake up…and I’m just left with the feeling of the horrors it kind of left behind…
EM: Since each song is intended to portray a kind of storyline, characters, and emotions….What are some of your favorite stories? Or who are your favorite fictional characters?
SH: Wow, that’s a good question…fictional characters, hmm…I usually think about Paris, Texas, that guy that is just walking around aimlessly, trying to find his wife…and that kind of desperation...at all costs, try to find his mind again and come to his senses…I’ve watched that film about 2-3 years ago, and that still stuck with me…I can’t remember the guy’s name, but it was for sure an inspiration for me.
EM: Ok, what about the first record you bought…and the most recent record you bought?
SH: Oh man, first record I bought…It was something really bad…I think it was like Bran Vran 3000. The most recent one was Earl Sweatshirt’s new record (I Don't Like Shit, I Don't Go Outside). I haven’t had a chance to listen to it yet, but looking forward to sitting down with it.
EM: What drives you as an artist? What would be the Lapalux mission statement?
SH: Hahaha in what way…
EM: Just a kind of one-liner bio, or your motivation and purpose as an artist, I suppose…
SH: Oh man, I think the main thing would be to just scrap it and listen to the music. I think the music speaks for itself…If I had my way with things, I wouldn’t say anything and just release it…see what people think of it., rather thank give a one-line, short quip about what it is to be me or make music in the way that I do…I think a lot of people will come to their own conclusion about things with my sound, and a lot of people get it right most of the time…So, I think that speaks for itself.
EM: Right, I think music sounds the best when it’s…inexplicable, in the way it makes you feel…just personal.
EM: If you weren’t doing music, what would you be doing?
SH: I don't know, I always thought I’d always be an electrician hahaha…I was always interested in messing around with electronics and like hands-on, making circuits, taking things apart and putting it back together in weird ways…taking old radios and cassette recorders apart…Not an electrician in the usual sense, but some sort of creative electrical engineer…but I think a lot of patience is involved in that, and skills maybe I don’t possess, but I still have fun doing that stuff to this day.
EM: Last few questions, than some random fill in the blank...Can we expect music videos to come out?
Uhh, I don’t know whether I can talk about it…but yes...
EM: We’ll just have to wait and see…
SH: It seems like it’s going to be pretty amazing!
EM: You haven't announced a tour yet, right?
SH: I’m still in a transition state...I’ve moved countries from London and again from where I’m at in Prague…So, it’s kind of difficult to work out where I’m going to be at a certain time..but for sure, probably start off in the states, and then do the rest of the world…more towards the end of the year…maybe summertime.
Fill in the Blank
EM: That feeling when…
EM: That awkward moment when…
SH: You say hello to someone that you thought was someone else.
EM: One word I had to urbandictionary was…
SH: Haha, I’ve got a few of them…What was the most recent one, shit…I love urbandictionary, hang on…
EM: What about a word you want to know of that you don’t already…
SH: Hmm, well, there’s a ton of London slang that is completely over my head most of the time…Selfie stick is slang for one’s own Johnson, apparently.
EM: Hahaha. What?? Selfie stick in UK?
SH: Yea, I think so..there’s two urbandictionary things…one is just a selfie stick, and one is slang for one's penis.
EM: It’s not a party without…
EM: My weakness is…
SH: Staying up for too long…not enough sleep...
EM: What’s the longest you’ve gone without sleep?
SH: Oh man, like 3 days…
EM: Were you working on music?
SH: Yea, kind of…maybe in small periods of time..but yea, when I start writing music and I’m in the mode, I can be awake for a few days, for sure.
EM: The romantic comedy I secretly liked is…
SH: Hahaha…I have an absolute hatred for all romantic comedies. There’s not one I like, they’re wayyy too cheesy…I’ve seen a bunch for sure…
EM: What’s one you wish you didn’t see?
SH: Probably like Love Actually…there’s a ton, they're always on TV in England…and it’s like ugh, depressing! Haha.
EM: 3 things on my bucket list are…
SH: Go to someplace like a complete paradise, clear water, scuba diving, white sand, no one around…So #1 paradise. #2 To work with someone like Bjork, or someone high up there…someone really big, but not shit big... #3 Score a movie. Yea, that would be fucking dope…
EM: What kind of movie would you want to score?
SH: Some kind of sci-fi film, like new age sci-fi, weird Vangelis-vibey, Blade Runner kind of thing…that would be dope!
EM: And final question: If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, I would want to know…
SH: Hahah..Am I still going to have a music career in a few years?
EM: Alright, that's it..Thank you! It was really nice to talk to you.
SH: You too. Thank you very much!
- April 7, 2015