LUKATOYBOY /// Q&A’s & MIX /// ENGLISH
This week’s mix could be one of the most exciting performances you‘ve ever heard – hip hop, ambient, folk, an a capella version of Basement Jaxx, a drum machine tutorial in Italian and many more electrifying moments in an auditory psychedelic journey out of reality.
The author is Luka Ivanović aka Lukatoyboy, the enigmatic enfant terrible of the Serbian electronic scene, whose music and sound are pretty difficult to determine; Luka himself has a difficulty to determine his own home given that he is in constant change of residence. Luka’s career is too dynamic for an internet story – introducing himself as a Game Boy-techno superstar and children’s Nintendo musical guru, he’s
done everything from newspaper article writing to
sound design and research. The following interview will shed some light on Luka’s engagement with sound and music, thus introducing his life and music philosophy.
What would be the perfect way to introduce yourself and your work to someone who’s never heard of you before?
Hey, I’m Luka and I’ve been engaged in sound design and electronic music for more than a decade.
Could you tell us about a few of your most recent projects?
Probably the most involved one I’ve done recently is part of the Sound Development City Artist Expedition during September 2015, which took place in Belgrade and Athens. My project consisted of three separate compositions – recording sounds in a taxi vehicle through free
improvisation and research of environmental sounds along with the analysis of Belgrade noise, then using the event score approach along with the method of outsourcing, and making private performances for one person only in Athens’ public transportation (including the airport and the flight itself). This experience led me to create the idea of private performances during all my flights.
Since 2014, I have been using walkie-talkies to broadcast a specific participatory live radio program, limited to an area within one to six kilometres in diameter and adapted to the given framework of the host, the surroundings, and the participants. The first set up was at the Club Transmediale Festival in Berlin, and the edited version was broadcasted on Deutschlandradiokultur, ORF1, SWR2, RTS3.
I have been collecting audio cassettes since 2010; these cassettes include various instructions on how to get warm, teaching disadvantaged children, how to use a Chevrolet Caprice, how to master a correct body position during horseback riding, etc. Unfortunately, I still haven’t begun the process of editing and/or adapting this collection into a form of a live act and/or sound installation and/or a musical edition.
Your projects are far from being simple musical performances; how would you define your work?
I tend to declare myself a sound artist, klangkünstler, given that I make more money from projects that deal with sound than from those dealing with music. Nevertheless, I am a regular in performing live electronic music, flying solo or in collaboration with other artists, mostly acoustic instrumentalists/musicians of the free-improv scene.
My performance is often some sort of an inner battle in front of the audience, where risk, absolutism and the joy of self-sufficiency are fighting to take over, thus affecting the audience’s (dis)pleasure. This also affects me as a performer; I find it difficult not to listen to my own solo or my performance in a group project as something that is happening on the outside.
I am not a studio musician; I only use it when the organizers provide it, as an option for a recording or editing session, including sound technicians. I am not interested in publishing my music even though there was a project called Blind Tape Quartets, a series of 30 editions, counting 120 artists, which made part of my modest label Blind Tapes, recorded exclusively on audio cassette.
You are one of the first artists who dealt with the process of musical education for children, thus introducing them electronic music and gadgets. Where did that come from? What was your initial idea? Was this project worthwhile; have the children taught you something?
Just like all other great ideas, this one also came out of nowhere. Back in 2007, I had a gig in Sarajevo and my performance included a bunch of toys; this made me start thinking about how children could contribute to electronic music, with their toys, which led to the idea of using the Nintendo DS game console as an omnipresent family device before the smartphone/iPhone domination. I bought the console, I found out about many musical programs, official ones for children, and some homebrew ones for parents, and I imagined this crowd of children performing with their DS consoles, just like Japanese children use them in math class. That was the time when the first Kaossilator, Korg Kaoss Pad was introduced only as a synthesizer/drum machine, but not a sound effector, which provided possibilities of intuitive manipulating of electronic sound by touch (Nintendo DS was one of the first mass-produced touch screen devices).
The first workshop in 2008 was a complete disaster; it took place in Warsaw and my taxi ride was a disaster as well because the driver couldn’t find the venue. However, the following project in 2008 was called Kids-Patch and made part of the Dis-Patch Festival. My workshop was actually a children’s public performance, which caught the attention of the local Serbian paper Politikin zabavnik and many eminent European festivals on which I performed later in 2009. Since that time, my methods and tools went through several incarnations – I excluded the touch screen. First of all, because I don’t use it during my performance, then because it became a family-friendly device and mostly because it’s hard for children to focus on a specific task – the never-ending clicking by touching the screen and this instant-satisfaction are a disciplinary target during the workshops and I am not a fan of authority and control.
Children still teach me about surprises and sensation; I now understand the (in)ability to adapt to a certain social group in real and limited time.
There is one more thing that defines your interests – the implementation and aplication of old, simple and forgotten devices for sound recording and sound emitting such as a walkie-talkie, a small portable gramophone for single records, radio receivers, etc. Does nostalgia has something to do with that?
Actually, it’s all about the possibilities, the price and the size. All of these devices are only theoretically forgotten or neglected, given that there’s an entire series of latest models, which were launched in the past few years. Radio is still a very provocative form; with its digitalization came many possibilities while a certain spectrum of frequencies will always be available for immediate and almost cost-free communication. The only nostalgic thing about my work includes some consumeristic statistics, such as annual top albums list or personal weekly top lists on last.fm.
Music or sound? Who sets the boundaries?
Music is younger and smaller than sound, while limits can be set only by people who seriously deal with the two.
Taku Sugimoto, a Japanese musician, once said: Is my recording of someone’s concert a sound material which I could publish as my own?, which happened a lot in the history of recorded and published exotic folk music. A live concert in the open also includes many surrounding sounds which can sometimes be louder and more dominant than the actual concert, which makes music only one of the channels, but certainly the most communicative one. Therefore, this is the reason why music is dominating the culture of sound, even though, in the last few years, the perception of sound art has changed a lot.
As someone who’s been around for more than a decade, I must say that your lifestyle is an integral part of your musical career and your projects. I would call it an international homelessness – you don’t have a permanent residence and you move all the time, along with your work. Does this make life easier or more difficult and how does this affect your work? Would anything be different if you were anchored somewhere?
I am fascinated by the fact that people find it interesting living in one place, which I actually did while working on Radio 949 in Belgrade, my dream job. I was trying to reach some kind of an extravagant life in Belgrade, and after a few years, I felt that Belgrade had nothing more to offer, given that my needs were pretty complex at the time. There was also this social and political background noise, which could not be avoided along with the failure in being anonymous in public places, which was the additional factor of the unstable sense of belonging somewhere.
This anchoring could be acceptable only in financial limits, using Berlin as a practical base, Madeira as a voluntary oasis and the rest of Europe as a cordial employer, who is always respectful and meets his financial obligations.
You also express yourself through DJ sets, which are quite specific; could you tell us more about your DJing concept and what can we expect from the mix you’ve recorded?
I find DJing a rather compromising profession, according to my standards, so I don’t really get the chance to go through my metamorphosis. Therefore, when I lower my standards or set them higher, the audience is either showing great admiration or is leaving the venue immediately.
The depressing fact that public DJ sets include less versatile music than playlist at private parties is really getting to me. Even though, I am sometimes surprised by the liberal concepts of some clubs/venues which are ready to host artists such as Powell and Russel Hasswell who, without mixing, are brutally shifting genres from hard-core techno to disco, heavy metal, acid and noise. These kinds of performances in a big club on a Friday night are truly promising when it comes to DJing, a world where the energy is more important than beatmatching, draught beer and track-ID fascism and fetishism.
What about your following destinations and projects?
November 5th Gretchen Blegen & Lukatoyboy – Live at Spektrum, Berlin
November 18th Biliana Voutchkova / Laurent Bruttin / Lukatoyboy – Live at the Greenhouse, Berlin
November 20th Live at Akouphene Festival, Cave 12, Geneve
November 24th Live at Lacier Festival, DKSG, Belgrade
November 29th 2015 to February 29th 2016 MultiMadeira, Funchal, Madeira
- Grupo Folclórico da casa do povo da Camacha - Cancāo dos Borracheiros (Discos Estúdio)
- Harmony Korine - You Girls Juss Suck Large Fat Penis (Trash Humopers OST) (Drag City)
- Chuck Persons - Untitled Locked Groove (Software)
- snd - Untitled Locked Groove #x (City Centre Offices)
- Daphne Oram - Ascending and Descending Sequences of Varying Nature (His Master's Voice)
- Cabaret Voltaire - Extract from the Soundyrack for "Chance Versus Casuality" (Rough Trade)
- Shabazz Palaces - "Barksdale Corners" On Palaceer Pusher Beat Circa Now (I Want You Magazine)
- Four Tet - A Joy (Battles Remix) (Domino)
- Mark Fell - C > (Raster-Noton)
- Telex - Peanuts (Polydor)
- Basement Jaxx - Romeo/Jus 1 Kiss Acapella (Atlantic Jaxx)
- Carlos Giffoni - Little Mornings (Key Lime High)
- Tronicdrum Disco Demonstrativo - Electronic Drums Prima Parte (Meazzi)
- Dimbiman - The Early Bird Hype (7Edit) (Perlon)
- Panda Bear - Surfers Hymn (Actress Primitive Patterns Remix) (Kompakt)
- Kim Hiorthøy - Sommaren Är Slut (Smalltown Supersound)
- 310 - Opposite Corners (Leaf)
- The Walker Brothers - Lines (GTO)
- Barbara Lewis - Hello Stranger (Atlantic)
- Antony and the Johnsons - Poorest Ear (Rough Trade)
- Mirror/Dash - Electric Pen (Ecstatic Peace)
- Les oiseaux d' Europe - Cochevis De Thekla (Sélection Du Reader's Digest)
- This Mortal Coil - Song to the Siren (4AD)
- Joe Colley - No (Intermittent Positive Negation in Two Syllables) (Crippled Intellect Productions)