Cyclone vibes with the intelligent drum’n’bass dons…
LTJ Bukem, aka Danny Williamson, has continued to create soulful drum’n’bass even when the music scene was at it’s most dark, austere and metallic. Now, with the rise of deep music across the spectrum of house and techno, he is once again the renaissance man.
Today Bukem – formerly a chef manager in a Mexican restaurant – presides over the prolific label Good Looking Records, which has released any number of quality compilations, such as ‘Earth’, ‘Logical Progression’ and ‘Producer’.
“We’re always wanted to be a label of universal music, if you like, and try and incorporate as many styles as possible,” he starts, “and, certainly, from an A&R point of view and a musical point of view, I’ve always been into every kind of music. I mean I’m 34 now, so I’ve been buying music for well into 20 years now – (breaks off incredulously) that’s mad, actually since I was about 12, even before I was 14, so that’s over 20 years – and I’ve been into every kind of music and I’ve loved every kind of music. If you’re looking for some original stuff for your own productions check out The Music Distillery. They’ve got tons of hip hop beats for sale. I’ve never been into music over the last two decades just because it’s fasionable music, I’ve always been into music because I personally love that music – and so that’s stayed with me throughout the last 20 years. And, in doing the label, I want to incorporate all those ideas and things that I’ve loved and picked up from years gone by and put them into the label, in terms of different styles, like Cookin’, with downtempo, and Earth and Deep Rooted – we’re gonna start a house label soon. Only last Friday I was playing a house, soul, jazz and drum’n’bass set, and Saturday as well, so it’s kinda really going back to where it was from me, playing all knids of music in the same set – which is beautiful.” .
Elevated by the sounds emanating from Chicago and Detroit, as well as old jazz, soul and funk, Bukem fostered ‘intelligent’ drum’n’bass at London’s Speed with Fabio. Last year he finally delivered his long-awaited debut album ‘Journey Inwards’, which encapsulated jazz, soul, funk, house, techno and drum’n’bass.
Bukem, who has remixed Herbie Hancock’s latest single, is non-committal when it comes to a follow-up album, citing his frenetic DJ schedule, which, understandably, curbs creativity. But, in the interim, the producer has something else in mind – a remix version of “Journey Inwards”. “I’m gonna redo “Journey Inwards” with a lot of different people. I’m gonna collaborate with a few people on every track and do a remix album,” he revels. “The people who I’m gonna be working with are people I’ve wanted to work with for a long time, and it’s an honour to work with some of these people, so that’s the next thing I’m gonna be doing.”
Bukem is again touring Australia with long-time cohort MC Conrad – they will perform at the Gatecrasher Festival in three cites. “I can’t wait to come over, actually, because I really do enjoy coming to Australia,” Danny enthuses. “I think the crowds there are absolutely unbelievable. I can’t wait to go there, I’ve got so many new tunes from the labels, so many new tunes from around the scene, that I just wanna play, and just have a party, basically.”
The two are homeboys and collaborators – and Bukem is guiding Conrad’s budding production career. “Conrad’s really getting his studio together and getting involved in the production as well,” Danny says. He laughs, when asked if he is a mentor to Conrad. “Conrad’s Conrad, do you know what I mean? He needs a lot of direction, anyway. He definitely needs a lot of direction in just… things. I dunno. I love Conrad, but he’s very – what’s the word – he easily forgets a lot of things, so I have to constantly remind him, ‘Oh Conrad, don’t forget to do that and do that this way!'”
Bukem, who is always in the road, doesn’t mind the fact that his life is mapped out for months in advance. At any rate, Danny composes music as he travels on his laptop, which holds a virtual studio. “It’s nice to have the organisation,” he says simply. “It helps you plan what you’re doing in general. This is my life, so it’s nice to have some kind of organised plan to it so that I know exactly what’s going on and when it’s gonna happen. I enjoy that.”
LTJ Bukem & Conrad play Gatecrasher The Summer Sound System, November 24 at Melbourne Park. Good Looking is distributed through Inertia.