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Da Luka [Interview]

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Hailing from Albania, Da Luka emerged from his country’s electronic music landscape a decade ago. Whether operating in solo capacity or alongside frequent production partner Jorgio Kioris, Da Luka’s creative vision would summon the praise of progressive music tastemakers Cid Inc, Guy J, Eelke Kleijn, Hernan Cattaneo, Nick Warren and more, in turn leading to releases via Droid9, Juicebox Music, Movement Recordings and WARPP. This week finds Da Luka launching his new roku imprint (in conjunction with Jorgio Kioris) with the much anticipated single 'Mythical Creatures' from himself and Aman Anand.

Progressive Astronaut caught up with Da Luka to learn more about the release of ‘Mythical Creatures’, the launch of roku, his studio process, future plans, and more. Enjoy.

Hi Luka, thanks for joining us. What is your current mood and what was the last piece of music you listened to?

Hello and thank you for having me. I'm very busy lately and because my mornings start very hectic I listen to different music every morning and it is hard to remember what was the last piece of music I listened to.

How’s your year start to the year been so far? And what are your plans for the coming week?

The year started very well and I am already invited to a few events in Greece in the coming months which makes my schedule quite busy in the coming weeks as I need to prepare for the coming events.

Do you consider yourself a DJ or producer first? And which do you enjoy more and why?

I enjoy both very much because each one has a different set of skills that you need to have and each one comes with its own experiences and thrills.

Talk to us about growing up and living in Albania, it’s not a country you hear much about in terms of electronic music so how did you discover the music and how has living there affected your musical taste and the music you make?

It is true that Albania in the last 10 years has been integrated in the electronic music scene. I discovered the electronic music scene when I moved to Greece when I was around 15 years old and listening to great Greek music producers it has made me to better myself and hone my skills through the years to reach where I am in this moment of my life, as this has always been a dream of mine since I was a child and with hard work and dedication all these years I achieved my goals.

What are some of your best memories from first going to clubs? Were there specific nights or sets that really made you feel you wanted to pursue electronic music?

I have a lot of experiences and memories from going to clubs and it is hard to describe all of them. Between 1999-2000 were those years from going to clubs that made me want to pursue electronic music.

If you were a tour-guide for nightlife in Albania, what would be the clubs you’d take the people to see and what local DJs do they need to hear?

There are a few clubs that I really like what they are playing but I would prefer to take them to the clubs that my DJ friends would play.

If you are not DJing or socializing at clubs, where do we find you? And doing what?

You will usually find me in my hometown at Berati. I spend most of my time in the studio making new music.

When you were first getting started in production did you have someone help you or are you completely self-taught? And what would you recommend new producers do to help with the learning curve of production?

I was self taught, buying my first production program, Ableton Live in 2008. The only help I got was from some tutorials that existed in those years on YouTube.

Yourself and Jorgio Kioris have just launched your own record label ‘roku’. What led you to start the label, why did now feel like the right time to do it and is your first foray into running a record label?

Since the beginning it has been our dream to own a record label and finally now we feel ready for that. Owning a record label allows us to control the distribution and promotion of our own music. Our plan is to run a record label that allows us to be creative and gives us the chance to shape the sound and direction of our roster of artists. Additionally, finding new and innovative ways to reach audiences and build buzz around our artists.

Please tell us who is involved in the day-to-day operations of the label and what each person’s role is.

At this moment, we are trying to work on everything step by step in a combination between us both but we have already decided in the future that I will be the main A&R of the label.

In terms of DJs and artists who would you say are the biggest sources of inspiration for roku?

Biggest sources of inspiration. Hmm I could name 10 just off the top of my head! Like Hernan Cattaneo, Sasha, Colyn and more.

What advice do you have for artists hoping to get signed to roku?

Be authentic. Don't change your approach to gain sales, popularity or acceptance. You will never do your best work if you do.

Is big DJ play a factor in signing something? From someone like Hernan Cattaneo for example.

It sure helps but it is not the point for us. If we like it, we get it signed.

What is your thought process behind remixer selection on a given project and how many is too many in your opinion?

In this moment, the right project selection method for me is to choose options that are both feasible and beneficial to our record label. First of all, each remix we would like to be different on its own. Our plan is to build every release with 2 Originals, and 1 Remix in every track.

You have a new single ‘Mythical Creatures’ written in conjunction with Aman Anand out this week as the first roku release. Tell us about the track and how this collaboration came to be.

Our first collaboration started when Aman did a remix for me and I had the idea to work together on further tracks and this is how everything started. The name Mythical Creatures came to me from the different effects, Stabs, Pad and sounds that Aman had created and we agreed to name it this way and based on what Aman created I was very much inspired and I put my finales touches and we created the track.

How did you go about choosing the remixers (both of whom have done a sensational job). Particularly the Golan Zocher & Kamilo Sanclemente remix, was the collaboration something you suggested to them?

I did a guest mix for Golan and I informed him about the label. He suggested to do a collaboration together with Kamil for the remix I asked for.

What does your set-up like? Do you favor physical gear over digital? And what studio tools featured heavily in the writing of ‘Mythical Creatures’?

During the creation of Mythical Creatures, we worked only with digital VSTs. As for my Studio set up, is very simple similar to other producers and I prefer both physical gear and digital but physical I believe always has a different feeling when you make music with them.

Let’s talk about production for a moment, where does the impulse to create something come from for you? What role do often-quoted sources of inspiration like dreams, other forms of art, personal relationships, politics etc play?

It depends on the day and the more time you spend in the studio the more inspiration you get. It doesn’t really matter where I am or what I see, it usually depends on the kind of day that I am having. There have been days that I have been in the studio for weeks with no inspiration so I usually take a break and occupy my mind with something else and when I am ready to come back to the studio I usually have an idea or some mellows on my mind.

Do you have certain rituals to get you into the right mindset for creating? What role do certain foods or stimulants like coffee, lighting, scents or exercise play in the process?

I enjoy to relaxing or travelling with my family, that really sets up the mood for me.

What is the task you enjoy the most when producing and what would you prefer someone else to do?

I find the whole process very inspiring and I really like doing everything myself from start to finish. You could say that I am a perfectionist.

What would be a musical extravagance for your studio you would pay for, if you were very wealthy?

Well…If I were very wealthy I would buy a couple of analogue synthesizers which is a dream of mine, but they are very expensive and I cannot afford them right now.

Now let’s talk about DJing for a moment, it’s a unique discipline at the border between presenting great music and creating something new with it, between composition and improvisation to an extent. How would you describe your approach to it?

I draw a lot of inspiration when I am DJing especially when the crowd loves your music and dances to it, this inspiration I bring with me to the studio and I use it to create some music ideas.

Can you tell me a bit about how your work as a DJ has influenced your view of music, your way of listening to tracks and perhaps also, your work as a producer?

Of course I get a lot of inspiration during my Dj sets. After playing 3-4 hours at a festival or in a club, either in some small bars going afterwards to the studio I draw a lot of inspiration from the tracks that I have played.

If you could set up an event with a line-up of five artists of your choice, who would you book and what set times would you ascribe to the artists?

I have done a lot of events in my life and I had the honor of sharing the dj booth with some great artist such as Hernan Cattaneo, Guy Mantzur, Miss Monique, Sebastien Leger, Roy Rosenfeld, Khen, and more, And I think I would invite one of those names and of course I would put them in the right order that each one should play and according to their music.

What’s a book you’ve read or film you watched that has left an impact on you, and why?

To be honest, I don't have time to read books and when it comes to movies I usually watch what is on TV the moment that I will turn it on.

What’s a superpower you wish you had and how would you use it?

Well...The superpower that I would love to have is to touch everything and turn it into money so I can travel to all the events in the worlds :) I think this is everyone's dream out there =)

If you could travel anywhere for one day, all laws and limitations void, where would it be?

I would love to travel to Japan because I love the culture and that is why we have given a Japanese name to our Label ;)

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

My family...

What does 2023 hold for you? Anything you can share with us?

I hope our label succeeds, especially in these hard times because the music industry has changed a lot in the last 15 years, and to have health above all =)

'Mythical Creatures' is available now via roku: https://bit.ly/3XLHkF7

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