Friday, August 27, 2010

Interview: Peter Christianson & Luke McKeehan - MVP

MVP is a brand new collaboration between Peter Christianson from LawnChair Generals and Luke McKeehan from Nordic Trax, and marks the first release on the LCG Music imprint not to come from LawnChair Generals themselves. Individually Peter and Luke are recognised as major players in house music so it was a honour to get the inside track on the new release and a chance to ask the fellas a few questions about all things housey and beyond!

Collectively the pair have decades of experience at the cutting edge of house music – Peter’s music has appeared on the finest labels including Om, Aroma, Amenti, Dust Traxx and of course Nordic Trax, while Luke’s label is one of the most respected in the industry, established in 1997 and going strong ever since thanks to an elite roster including Jay Tripwire, JT Donaldson, Gavin Froome and Morgan Page. He is also Vancouver’s most prominent house music promoter, bringing the world’s biggest names to the city.

Peter and Luke have known each other for years, having worked together on projects including Alexander East’s ‘Believe En Me’, LawnChair Generals’ ‘Around The Block’ album and countless DJ performances. The MVP project and ‘Music’ came about while Luke was touring the east coast of the US and stopped in to Washington DC (where Peter was living at the time) for a show and a few days off. After too many drinks and too many conversations about music and golf they made their way to the studio. They took a simple and free-wheeling approach to the music, make it sound great and make it fun. Luke and Peter say “we really wanted to give the tune a tracky feel with a big pay off, one that sneaks up on you when you least expect it.” Music certainly doesn’t disappoint on that front with its Mr Fingers style bass causing dance floor devastation wherever it has been played so far.

MVP - Music (LCGM009) by LawnChair Generals

Being behind such established labels what do you think the secret of their successes is for all those smaller operators out there?

Peter: I could say hard work, perseverance and a dash of skill but I think those are things all label heads put into their labels. I think the real juice is a combination of luck/timing and staying true. I think that as long as you truly believe in what you're doing, releasing, supporting etc., that success in some form will always follow. It may not be in a monetary form or notoriety but in the long run, if what you are doing is true to who you are, people can see that and will respond to it. Now if you could give me my crystals back and point me towards the closest pyramid I'll be on my way.

Luke: Try not to follow the fashion of dance music, do your own thing, but also stay current with the standard of production.

Who were/are the biggest influences on your DJing/Producing styles?

Peter: Influences constantly change. When I was younger (I won't how long ago that was ;-) it was all about New Order, Happy Mondays anything Factory or 4AD really and the classical music my dad was always playing around the house. As I grew up it changed into early techno, house, rock, pop and just about everything you can imagine. The college years had me ass deep in jazz and scotch.  I've hit a point now where I find it in everything. From the early 90's R&B my girlfriend won't let go to the cutting edge bands that Carlos (Carlos Mendoza LCG) is always emailing me. I seem to find something in all of it all the time. It's like I've got the ADD of inspiration.  Maybe I should go back to the scotch.  

Luke: For deejaying, a few Toronto college radio djs from the 80s and mix tapes from Chicago.

What’s best - vinyl, CD or Digital DJing?

Peter: I love vinyl. It's been a part of my life for all of my life.  From my fathers collection of opera box set to the thousands of titles that literally surround me in the studio. Just looking at them makes me feel at home and smile. DJ'ing to me will always be vinyl. That being said, "time marches on, never ending."  I'd be lying if I said I don't enjoy the fact that I can carry ten times the music in 1/10th the space. That I can re-burn, re-edit and re-cycle the same cut over and over and over. Vinyl is still the most fun mechanically but digital opens up realms artistically that could never be done with vinyl and I'd be remise to not participate in that. Did I successfully not answer the question?

Luke: I play on cdjs and just got a cdj2k for the home studio and love it. I do miss playing vinyl out, but that's more a case of nostalgia. I don't miss breaking my back carrying wax around the world. And the reality is, with the digital formats, you can travel with and play so much more music, so it's expanding people's options, not limiting them.

If you had to play one last club, event, gig, place where would it be and why?

Peter: Hands down Sub Club in Glasgow. Easily the best show I've ever played. Educated, enthusiastic audience, perfect booth, stupendous club owner/promoter and what could be two of the best resident dj's

Luke: Vancouver, free party, for friends & supporters. Because this is the city where my deejaying took off and the label is based, a no brainer really.

You must get to hear a stack of new material every week - which up and coming producers/labels are you looking out for?

Peter:  It's kinda hard to call them up and coming but I'm a huge fan of Pets Recordings.  

Luke: Baker Street is one of the only new-ish labels I find with a sound & identity that is fresh. Typically play and enjoy most of the stuff I get from them. Same goes for Drum Poet Community, which is of course very consistent. Producers: Jay Shepheard, Scope, Pete DaFeet & Neighbour always deliver, but there are so many great producers out there right now, it's hard to choose only a few.

What's in your pockets right now?

Peter: Nothing, totally empty. I function better with nothing in my pockets.  

Luke: wallet, blackberry bold

What is the greatest track ever made?

Peter:  Wow! That's a bold question. I don't know if I have the right personality to answer that. I might say Willie Nelson's, "Always On My Mind" or Cat Steven's, "Wild World" or Emmylou Harris's, "'Til I Gain Control Again" or Joy Division's, "Atmosphere" or, or , or , or, see I suck at this.

Luke: Hate this type of question, but since you ask, I have to go with a classic: George Benson 'On Broadway' does it for me everytime, and has done so since I first heard it when I was a kid.

You’ve just released your collaboration ‘Music’ under the MVP name. Tell us a bit about that and what you think marks the MVP sound out from other artists?

Peter: Luke and I have known each other for years and liked each other for at least two or three of them, so it only made sense that we'd try writing some tunes together. We realized that we had a similar attitude towards music and what we liked and didn't like. Other then the groundbreaking collaboration of a Canadian and an American I'm not sure it is all that different. I can only speak for my self on this one but I just wanted to write a tune that was fun and to the point.

Luke: Well even though I suppose I may be known for the deeper, more musical stuff, I really like percussive tracks that simply work on the dance floor without a lot of fuss. MVP was a way for Peter and I to both not be held to some of the conventions that dominate too much (deep) house, and focus more on a bigger room sound. In the end, either you'll play the track or you won't, no one's going to buy it just b/c it's LCG or NT, and that's somewhat liberating too.

How is being in the studio together, especially as it's a new partnership as opposed to previous collaborations and remixes etc?

Peter: Luke's a blast in the studio, easy going and open to all ideas.  Having known each other for years made it really comfortable to sit down and be creative. Plus he always comes proper with beer.  Working with someone else can be difficult at best sometimes, I've been very lucky in that all the people I've worked with have been a god fit. Carlos (my partner in LCG), Ken ECB Christensen, Luke McKeehan and Fred Everything (I've just finished a new record with Fred) have all been very easy to work with as well as very talented.  

Luke: Very cool. Peter is a great engineer and even though we both use the same software and set up, he's way better at it and thus I could just get out of the way on that tip. As well, even though we've known each other for ages, it was the first time we've worked on music together, so I feel that there was a comfort level there that's not typical of a first collaboration.

As the industry utilises more and more technology to promote itself, how are you finding the challenges of engaging audiences on social networks and the like?

Peter: I suppose technology has made it easier to get your music to the people but at the same time it's made it far more crowded on the road there. I always say that in a work week I loose at very least 40% of my time to non-creative endeavors. Whether it's updating countless sites and profiles, promoting new projects, hunting down contractors or accounting it all takes away from writing music.   

Luke: It's a double-edged sword, you can connect with your supporters directly, which is great. But then wouldn't it better if we were all just working on better music? not having to waste so much time on Facebook and the like. I'm glad Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Wonder had more time to make the music they did, but then kind of like the digital vs vinyl debate, with social media the cat's out of the bag.

Luke - you're a big Arsenal fan, where you going to finish this year? Ha!

Luke: We'll we're due for some silverware, so I have to say top of the table don't I. Next to that as long as we beat Spurs lol...

What would you say was the style/sound of LCG Music?

Peter: LCG Music was created as an outlet for records whose contracts had expired or remixes that never saw the light of day. Carlos and I created it so that we'd be able to digitally release stuff that had run its course on vinyl. For a long time the sound of LCG Music has been that of LCG. It's only been in the releases this year that we've started to introduce new sounds. Remixes from Fred Everything, Giom and Rhythm Plate have begun to create a sound that is unique to the label. MVP's, "Music" is the first release not accredited directly to LCG. As we move forward we'd like to introduce more new sounds from a variety of artists both new and established, letting the LCG Music grow as we do.

What are the goals for the label in the future?

Peter: Really fairly simple. I'd like to see LCG Music contribute to the growth of house music. I want it to be the kind of label that gets artists to push themselves. So when you grab a release by your favorite artist on LCG Music you hear it and say, "Wow, not entirely what i expected, but i love it."

What are you listening to at home these days?

Peter: I have been listening to a crap ton of Japan lately, that David Sylvian, it's like he's in my head.

Check out more from Peter and Luke here:

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