Podcast and Interview with Lucy
Painting with the Primordial: Stroboscopic Artefacts head Lucy AKA Luca Mortellaro delivers a B-side-loaded mix on episode 078 of the podcast, while chatting to EDLX here about the importance of approach, process—and primordial techno.
Can you begin by telling us about this mix?
If you look at the tracklist it’s mostly labels who put out very dancefloor releases: Hotflush, Stockholm LTD, my own label (Stroboscopic), Prologue. I tried to concentrate on what I call the B-sides, so the palette of sounds that for me represent the first step and inspiration for then having a full shaped dancefloor track—kind of a primordial state of techno.
Most of the labels are quite well known in the techno scene and then there are a few others that are more concentrated on the experimental side, like Leaf and Warp. There’s even something from the BBC by Delia Derbyshire, who is a personal hero of mine. Delia was a pioneer of what we are doing right now. She was doing a lot of different things. Some just experimental sounds, some structured like songs, others commercial jingles. And the one that I have chosen for the mix is one of these, used to pass from one moment of the mix into another, like a break between two phases.
Polar Inertia ‘Indirect Light’ sounds like the first break here.
Polar Inertia sounds completely left field techno but actually whenever I play them it works very well as a tool in techno sets. When you use this kind of thing as tools, as patterns, over regular beats in a set you have one more element: unpredictability, which is very precious to me.
Everything of course always depends on the context. So in that context it is a tool, in this mix it is really a full shaped masterpiece, like a song. That is the main reason why making this mix was so interesting because when you have all these things usually in another context they are just tools, but here makes sense fully or lets say independently.
Can you talk about your Stroboscopic inclusions in the mix?
Silent Servant & Luis Farfan ‘La Negra Luna’ is taken from the Stellate Series, which is completely dedicated to the non-dancefloor side of things that for me, in a way, still are techno. Lets use the example of a painter. His paintings are fully shaped and structured, often under certain rules but in the end he has this palette where he mixed all the colours. This series represents the inspiration and basic, primordial state of music that after you shape into ruled sounds in a track.
Dscrd ‘Closure’ is from the latest Monad Series (Dscrd – Monad XII). Monad releases are often a couple of tracks that are very dancefloor-orientated, one broken beat and one totally out of the box—which is this one. And same for the Tommy Four Seven ‘Vayu’ track, which is coming out as Monad XIII.
What is the distinction between a normal 12” and a Monad Series release?
The vinyl series is very much free of any restraint or concept. It’s something like ‘I like it, I release it’. While the Monad Series is always structured in the same way: four tracks with a story—a beginning and an end. I consider them as mini albums, a mini techno album constructed into a four track EP.
Has Stroboscopic’s music policy on the whole shifted over the years or are you still chiefly concerned with delivering a hybrid of styles?
It is always shaping up in new ways, but that’s the way I like it. I manage it like this. I try to go for something people didn’t know they wanted, kind of playing around with the irony of expectations. We’ve always tried to have a very strong dancefloor output that is not exactly easy going, and at the same time—for example with the Stellate Series—have a platform that is dedicated to the experimental side. It is different steps that walk together, a bit like different labels in one. But that is again the way I like it. I don’t like to stick too much to one box.
In an interview with RA you talked about wanting a “general identity, not a sound identity” for the label. Do you feel this is something you have achieved with Stroboscopic?
For me it is about approach. Just sticking to a single genre makes no sense. When you try to move things a bit forward, pushing the limits of what the artists you’re signing can do, you start to lose that consciousness of genre-labels. House, techno, experimental—these things in my mind are not so clear, and I think this is good, this confused state.
Also, keeping everything in-house—from design to mastering—has helped you to forge a very strong identity that is beyond sound.
It’s about approach, doing things in a specific way that doesn’t mean sticking to a rule code in a style of music. The creation process is what is really important to me; it’s more about the process than the finished product. We live in such a speedy world right now that even talking about finished products in an art world (music included) doesn’t make much sense. Everything is a moving process right now and I want to respect this. I want to be conscious about living in this kind of world, and music is an expression about being in this state of mind.
Prurient ‘Cocaine Death’ seems like a random choice towards the end. Do you count industrial and noise as influences at all?
I know that my production sound sometimes appears to have a strong industrial influence but I never really listened to this kind of music. Mostly extreme experimental jazz, non-music or concrete music made up my background. But I think it is a good thing to have things coming from different sides because it gives you more density, more multi-layering.
Warp has been cited on several interviews as a big influence of yours.
Mainly old Warp, but I still respect the platform. When we talk about sound influence I would say Warp records of the early 90s. But if we talk about the management or how they deal with artists and how the label is structured then it is of course a huge influence for me, and even a mould to follow—the way they built up long-term relationships with their people. It is not easy at all to keep that level of trust.
I think, in some ways, Ninja Tune has progressed in a similar fashion to Warp.
Ninja Tune recently pushed things into a field that is very close to the techno scene right now. Tommy Four Seven remixing people like Emika made me think about where Ninja Tune is going. It is an example of labels, these giants like Ninja Tune and Warp, still taking an underground approach, which is something I really respect.
Sigha 'HF029B2' [Hotflush]
S100 'Repel' [Stockholm LTD]
White Noise 'Black Mass - Electric Storm in Hell' [Island]
Silent Servant & Luis Farfan 'La Negra Luna' [Stroboscopic Artefacts]
Mount Kimbie 'Adriatic (Klaus Remix)' [Hotflush]
Lucy 'Stellate Series Teaser 1 Soundtrack' [Stroboscopic Artefacts]
Emika 'Chemical Fever (Re-edit)' [Ninja Tune]
Gescom 'Bronchusix' [Leaf]
Ken Karter 'Kript 02' [Kript]
Polar Inertia 'Indirect Light' [Dement3d]
Giorgio Gigli 'Individual Unconscious' [M_REC LTD]
Planetary Assault Systems 'Railer' (Further Exploration)
Not From Earth 'The Origin Soundscape' [Prologue]
Aphex Twin 'White Blur 2' [Warp]
Prurient 'Cocaine Death' [Hospital Production]
Delia Derbyshire 'Time To Go' [BBC]
Svreca 'Utero (Regis Invisible Mix)' [Semantica]
Dscrd 'Closure' [Stroboscopic Artefacts]
Zhou 'Noboru' [Punch Drunk]
Pariah 'Among Those Metal Trees' [R&S]
Function 'Ember (Field)' [Sandwell District]
Tommy Four Seven 'Vayu' [Stroboscopic Artefacts]