Published Mar 15, 2011Drew Lustman's FaltyDL has been bubbling up with a busy run of singles since 2007, though from the neck-snapping breaks of his bass music, you'd never guess that he's been honing his chops in NYC and not South London. His excellent sophomore album, You Stand Uncertain, is a paean to the post-dubstep circuit that's on fire right now. But instead of sounding like the work of a distant follower, this is a record whose complexity and attention to detail actually push FaltyDL to the forefront of a crowded genre. Like Toronto's Egyptrixx, whose equally original Bible Eyes also staked out terrain not yet claimed by others, You Stand Uncertain separates itself from the pack by deftly incorporating a very personal outlook on a wide range of influences. The breaks here may be inspired in equal parts by UK garage and two-step, but there's also a strong melodic element, due in part to the warmth of the keys and vocalists at work here, adding a dimension of soulfulness to the tracks. What's more, FaltyDL isn't afraid to make a sentimental statement. As a result, You Stand Uncertain is one of the most engaging and cohesive bass music albums to come out so far this year.
Can you tell me a bit about your formative years in NYC, how you came across the type of music that interests you and what kind of community was around to help encourage that?
My encouragement to listen to loads of different styles of music came from a few friends and my father. Unknowingly, at the time, he would put on all different types of records when I was young, and it would later blossom into an appreciation of many types of music. I grew up just outside NYC in a smaller town that had a lot of musical traffic between NYC and Boston. I would catch bands every week, really big bands at intimate, small venues. It was a convenient stop for them on their tours. It was a nice midweek excuse to get stoned and check out Burning Spear or something.
How did the connection with Planet Mu come about? Mike Paradinas and co. must come with a lot of experience. Do they give you any guidance at all with what you do with your music?
Mike is a funny guy; he sometimes has great things to say that help me figure out what I am doing, other times he is so busy it's hard to get hold of him. I once just took a train way out to the countryside of England, because I knew I would have a hard time meeting him unless I did that. Now we go record shopping when I am in London. Yeah, he is a cool guy and the other guys who help run Planet Mu are both amazing at what they do. It is a great home for music in general and the artists that make it.
One of the most impressive features of your work is the complexity of your arrangements, how they pull in a number of different styles yet mange to sound not only cohesive but also deftly melodic, funky and, at times, even sentimental. Could you share some thoughts on some of the ingredients that go into your productions?
I basically think my tunes are too busy. While I am making them I think, "okay, this needs to be here, this goes there, need more of this, maybe lose that bit and add these five things." I just pile and pile on layers of drums and atmosphere until it sounds like a Thanksgiving dinner. There are no secrets, no magical elements at play; I just lose myself in the process. That's the key: forget everything else in life or embrace it all. Or actually do whatever you want. I can't tell you how to do it. That comes with practice and just time.
With You Stand Uncertain, you've moved toward working with vocalists. How did you come to work with Anneka and Lily McKenzie?
Anneka has done some amazing tracks with a few other Planet Mu artists: Vex'd, Starkey, Milanese and some stunning work with iTal Tek. So the connection was simple for us to make a track together. Lily answered a call for vocalists from the label to find new singers for my album. It was really great working with both of them. They were professional and okay with the idea of sending vocals thousands of miles away to work with me. Because we simply couldn't get into the studio together, being that I am in NYC. I really want to do more with both of them.
How would you describe your rise out of the NYC scene and onto a more international platform? What connections or opportunities proved pivotal at the end of the day? Any setbacks along the way?
No setbacks or if there were any I didn't view them as a set back, just a hurdle to leap over. Connecting with Planet Mu and with Ramp Recordings in the beginning really helped me get a name in the UK. I am now working with Swamp 81 as well. Loefah has been a tremendous help with getting my tunes played in the UK and everywhere, to be honest. He is an incredible selector, if I do say so. (Planet Mu)