A few weeks back, we had the pleasure of interviewing one of the most knowledgeable and humble producers out there, Lucky Date. Jordan has been producing for many years and is best known for his incredible YouTube channel where he gives in-depth production tutorials to his fans and aspiring producers. Accompanying Excision on The X Tour, Lucky Date brings a diverse blend of house and electro, something quite contrary to what Excision fans might expect to hear. Nonetheless, his tunes are eloquent and effective, giving any party goer a reason to move. Read about our conversation after the jump!
Raw Goodage | Electronic Music Blog – Exclusive Interview w/ Lucky Date
Last February you played Avalon, how was your LA debut?
It was great, loved it. It was really exciting. Especially I think for my first show in LA. It blew my mind, that club is amazing; the energy, the vibe. The people that throw it are really nice. Everything was perfect about that night, I loved it. I also had Propellerhead there with me, who makes my software They filmed it, which was also really exciting to have them there.
How do you think that the electronic music scene is different in Chicago from Los Angeles?
Its very different. Chicago is all Chicago house music (where it came from) and tech house music, so it’s smooth, sexy. After hours music here is what you get there all the time. Electro doesn’t fly, dubstep doesn’t fly, heavy stuff does not go down there. There’s like a couple monthly parties that happen like, for the kids, that we’ll do that, but no clubs would ever play that stuff there. There’s no Avalon, there’s no weekly… there’s no electro parties that are anything like that, although I think things will start to change. But right now, it’s still pretty old school, which I love that. It’s very different. I listen to more tech house than I probably listen to electro. That exists in LA, but it’s also a lot more diverse. There are places for younger kids who want to hear heavier stuff.
What is it like doing 50+ shows in just over 3 months?
Doing shows back to back to back… it’s hard work and even though you aren’t doing much during the days. I put a lot of energy into my sets, so I’m tired. And the rest is very important during the days, especially when you get a little sick like I am. It’s a lot of work. A lot of people think touring is just partying, drinking every night, getting crazy, but it’s pretty mellow on this tour. Every gig has been great and I put all of my energy into that and for the rest of the day, I work on music or I sleep or I do stuff like this.
On the topic of tours, what is the worst thing that has happened to you on tour?
The worst thing that’s happened was at a club and the promoter let like a thousand girls on stage to cover up the stage, he picked the hottest girls to come on stage because he thought it would make me look cooler. One of the girls was really drunk and she put her elbow down on the play/pause button on the CDJ I was playing off so the music totally cuts off, and then she goes and spills her drink on the CDJ and fries it and it was just like these two things within 5 seconds… it was just horrible!
Done deal, right? Too much to handle…
And then other than that, a technical malfunction that was my fault actually happened on my first paid gig ever. I was 18 and, it’s probably not that exciting now, but for me it was like the most exciting show of my life, I got to play for maybe 60 people or something like that. But, I go up on stage and I was using Traktor at the time, and I try to plug in my box and I can’t figure out the cables for the life of me and I just can’t get one of the decks working, so I just have to do the entire set for an hour playing one side, fade out and fade into the next song and it was so embarrassing. It was around other local DJs who I looked up to at the time, and so the next day, I actually went and bought CDJs and said “fuck this, I’m gonna learn how to actually DJ.” So, I learned the standard. And now I moved to Serato just for the ease of use with traveling, but it’s pretty similar to a CDJ.
Your music tutorial is what you’re obviously very known for, they’re among the most popular and well rated on YouTube. Lots of aspiring DJs and producers look at them; they get a lot of information from them. Do you think it’s important to provide this kind of information for the younger generation of people, especially considering the fact that dance music is making such an exponential growth right now?
Totally, I mean I think YouTube is such a wonderful way for you to learn how to do anything, from learning how to blow your nose the best way to learning how to build a car, you can learn anything on YouTube for free. I think if you’re interested in any hobby, it’s a great way to learn, so I think I learned a lot from YouTube and I still do for making music. So I like to share what I know and let other people learn, so I think I’ll always do that. And I actually plan on starting to do weekly tutorials instead of every couple months now; I’ll actually start doing this a little more and start building more of a community.
On the same topic of tutorials, why do you think it is that people tend to want to learn how to make sounds from their favorite producers before learning how to create on their own?
Well, I think it’s really important for learning how to make a sound just through copying what you like. If you copy something you like, you learn a lot about how they did that and throughout that process, you’re going to get ideas about what you can do to make something your own. I wouldn’t ever say it’s a good idea to put out music that sounds exactly like someone else’s, I don’t think that’s a good idea, but I think it’s really important if you’re at home in your studio and you really love a song, try to recreate it – that’s gonna teach you a lot about production. That being said, even if it is the same synth that’s in another song, you can use it in a completely different way and people won’t even know it’s that same sound. So, I think that’s one way that you can use it and I think it’s a really big part of the learning process – recreating synths and trying to create stuff from where your inspirations come from.
Do you think that because you can show people that it’s not so hard to make something that this huge DJ made kind of makes it a little better for them and they feel like, “oh, this is actually possible,” that it’s not so far out of grasp?
Yeah, totally. I do. Yeah. *chuckles*
Like you were talking about earlier, you obviously used Reason, you’ve had a really intimate relationship with Propellerhead pretty much since you’ve been producing, how does it feel to have been pretty much embraced as a family member by them? What is that like for you?
It’s a dream come true for me. I mean, I love that company. They’ve been great to me lately and I always loved them before I had any relationship with them and I’m just really glad that they’re helping me out and they’re supporting me throughout this because they are all a great group of people. If I need to talk to them about something, I always get a response very quickly. They send me all of their latest stuff to try out; I get to test out their stuff. It’s a wonderful relationship to have and I’m very thankful for it because I think if I had learned on a bigger program, like a huge one like ProTools or Logic, I don’t think that you have the same relationship between company and artist that I get with the Propeller Heads, so I’m very thankful for that.
On the topic of production and the studio, do you prefer software over hardware, especially now that you can do so much with just software?
Well actually, I’ve never used hardware at all. I’ve played around with friend’s hardware in studios just for fun, but I’ve never owned a piece of hardware. Is Virus considered hardware? I have a Virus but I never use it, it just sits there. Someone gave me a Virus and it looks cool in my studio, but I don’t have the cords to set it up.
Supposedly if there’s one synth you need, that’s on the list. People tend to like it. They have different ones. I think they have one that actually is a midi-controller, and they have one that kind of just like a synth…
I think it’s just the synth because he said you’re not able to run midi through it.
Being a self-taught producer and with the emergence of more young, self-taught producers, what do you think about the important of formal music education? You once mentioned, you know, like “oh, sometime in the future I’d love to go and learn it properly”?
Well, I’ve actually been talking a lot with some of my roommate about this. We’ve all decided, were all DJs and producers, that when I have kids, I’m going to force them to take piano lessons and I used to hate when my parents were pushing me too hard to do drum lessons, but it was really important and it gave me a great sense of rhythm for this. But if they had pushed me to do piano, my life would be so much easier and I think even if they don’t end up wanting to be musicians, having that skill has become so important in many ways. In life, it just makes you understand, music is such a beautiful thing. And I would never force my kids, that a little too strong of a word, but I really hope to push my kid from a young age to learn piano and I think that’s a really good thing to do, because I know, I’ve tried to take piano lessons recently, and it’s hard to learn when you’re old… you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
It’s funny because even if they didn’t want to do it or didn’t appreciate it at a younger age they definitely will when they are older.
Totally, that’s how it was with Stranger. He said when he was young his parents had him taken lessons from a very young age and he ended up being a prodigy pianist. Now he’s a producer and that comes into his music, especially his more ambient stuff. I could go on to countless artist who have played from a young age and countless artist who wish they had. I don’t know anyone who knows how to play and is like, “I didn’t need that.”
CDJs or Laptop?
I’m fine just on CDJs, the only reason I like to have a laptop is because when I travel I never know how good the booth monitor situation is. You never know, it might be a big venue with cool promoters yet no booth monitor. When that happens its good to have a visual aid to make sure you are on beat. Serato is a good secondary visual aid incase you need it.
Absolutely, I think that being able to see the waveforms is one of the most important things for DJing and the new CDJs do make it easier.
The only thing they need is for the new CDJ-2000’s to have minute markers, if they did I would probably just spin on them. I use minute markers for everything. Almost everything in house is set in increments of fifteen seconds, thirty seconds, forty-five seconds, minute, drop. When you know where those minutes are, you can know when to drop anything. Break to break, build to build, anything. That is why I love the waveforms in Serato. If that were on the CDJs it would kill it for me. Or even if Pioneer ripped off Seratto, and they made the screen on the 2000 mixer with the waveforms side by side with the lines, that would kill it.
Do people even use the digital EQ on the 2000s?
I’ve never seen a 2000 at a club, ever. They wanted to make the 2000 the club standard, but it was a little too confusing and too expensive.
All clubs should have the 900 to be honest. I still have an 800 and it is my favorite piece of gear. I would be happy with it forever. Your Remix of Spencer and Hill’s “Dub Disco” is one of our favorite tracks and Porter Robinson plays it in every set. What is the relationship like between the two of you?
We were label mates with Big Fish, originally. That is when I first got in contact with him. It was right after “Say My Name” and we were giving each other feedback on tracks, sending each other promos. I first met him in person when I opened for him at a show from Santa Cruz last year, although we didn’t talk much. Last year at SXSW is when we met and got to have a good conversation. That is when we became good friends, and we’ve been friends ever since.
Do you have a favorite track/Bootleg that you have worked on?
The most fun I’ve had on a bootleg was one I haven’t put out yet, “Kick out the Epic Mother Fucker.” My favorite song that I had fun while producing was “Discofukkr” remix by Lazy Rich. My favorite song that I have produced hasn’t been release yet.
“I Got You” was a remix, and “I Want You” was an original.
Do you have any new releases coming out?
I will be doing a remix for Excision on Mau5trap, but I can’t say which song yet. The “King Kong” [by BARE and Datsik] remix Is still yet to come out. I also have a couple of originals I cannot talk about yet.
Do you have a favorite track right now that you’re playing in every set?
Artist wise Marcel Woods has been killing it for me, and I didn’t even play his stuff until about four months ago. John Dalhback is probably my favorite producer right now. I don’t play his stuff that much on these type of shows, but when I play club sets its like I could do a just John Dahlback set and I’d be happy.
Producers and DJs sample, remix, and play each other’s music in ways that don’t happen in other Genres. How do you think this unique characteristic helps define and shape electronic dance music?
I think it creates a community amongst musicians that doesn’t really exist in other forms of music. The only time you get that is when artist collaborate, like a rapper collaborating with another rapper. But in dance music when another DJ plays your song it is a serious sign of respect that they respect you as an artist and like the work you are doing. Because most DJs play other people’s music, you are getting that all the time. It is such a tight knit family, there is such little hate between DJs it is ridiculous. I have friends in the band world and the rap world, and there is constant beef between rappers and stuff, but I rarely see that. You would have to be a complete dick for someone not to like you in the DJ world, it is never because they are jealous; everyone is always really happy with each other. It is like a really cool family.
You’ve mentioned before that you are friends with Zedd. Can you tell us a little about how Zedd has impacted your career?
We were both in a remix competition on Beatport for Wolfgang Gartner’s “Latin Fever” before either of us had any releases out. He emailed me saying that he liked my remix and I thought his was killer too. I feel like we were the only two good ones in the whole competition. He said would you mind remixing a song he had just made, “The Anthem,” when he signed to Big Fish, and I said sure. I asked him if he would remix “Ho’s and Discos,” which was the song that I had just made. We swapped remixes and he helped get “Ho’s and Discos” signed with Big Fish, and it all went from there, we’ve been good friends since then. He’s just completely blown up, it’s amazing; I’m very happy for him.
What do you think about artist putting out multi genre albums?
I think it is great, because I have always been someone who thinks you have to make what comes from the heart, not what people want of you. It is good to see artist brave enough to reach out to other styles and do what they love. The only time when I feel like that isn’t a good thing is like when a house artist feels he needs to make a dubstep song because dubstep is the big thing. They should only do that if they want to.
You’ve mentioned before that you want to travel and see the world, and obviously being a DJ is a good way to accomplish that. Is there someone that you would like to visit that you haven’t yet?
South Africa. I would like to go to everywhere in Africa, but there is only really a scene is South Africa. I can’t wait till I finally get to Europe. I always thought Europe would be the first place that I played out of the states, and I feel like someone is joking with me that I will never get there. I have booked everywhere else but Europe. Australia was really exciting for me; I loved going there. Asia is amazing.
Do you have a favorite venue?
I’ve only been once, but Club Heaven in Sol, South Korea, was so dope. The energy was just so great and the club was the most futuristic club I have ever been to. It had a rotating circular stage, and had a compete LED wall backdrop in the middle of the circle. The DJ was set up on one side of the circle, and the other DJ was on the other side. One DJ would be playing as the next one goes and it would rotate and the other setup would come. Pyrotechnics, the whole experience. I mean it was really dope.
I love Indian food, Thai food, Japanese food; I guess that is all Asian food.
What did you end up naming your Iguana?
Toastyzilla. ‘Zilla’ because he’s a little Godzilla, and ‘Toasty’ because the promoter in Costa Rica said there was a cereal named Toasty with a Iguana mascot.
We always ask, do you have a favorite drink to start off the night?
Well, it used to be Jameson. I don’t have any alcohol on the rider for this tour, but when I played gigs before this I would always have Jameson. Jameson on the rocks is my favorite drink.