Lunice is as an absolute legend. There’s simply no way around it. As half of TNGHT, alongside Hudson Mohawke, he helped to birth the electronic trap genre with timeless classics like ‘Higher Ground,’ ‘Goooo’ and ‘Top Floor’. At the height of their popularity and with trap exploding into the festival scene, the pair decided to take a step back, turning down immensely lucrative offers to pursue other passions. To most outsiders this may seem crazy but Lunice didn’t allow the momentum to be squandered. His resume is one to be lauded despite his humble nature. From working with Kanye West to touring with Madonna, working with Nike and Cirque Du Soleil, Lunice has done things in the past few years that most artists would dream about for an entire career. He also found time to unleash his debut solo album CCCLX in 2017. As if all that wasn’t impressive enough, Lunice and Hudson Mohawke revived the TNGHT project last year, delivering another groundbreaking body of work in II.
Despite the success Lunice remains down to earth, friendly and thankful. Delivering a 30 minute guest mix and in-depth interview, Lunice showcases his talents and gives fans a true look into who he has an artist and as a person. The mix fits his signature sound moving between vibey soundscapes, rap heaters, and heavy-hitting trap. He takes listeners on a journey through his sound, exploring the many facets that make him so unique. Our conversation serves to do much of the same. We discuss the source for his positive energy, the importance of minimalism, self-care, what to expect from TNGHT and more. Check both below.
Tell us a little bit about the guest mix. Where are you taking listeners with this one?
I generally make my mixes similar to how I make my music. I don’t have any predetermined plan, I just go in with no concept in mind and just work with my own instinctive reaction to what I hear at that very moment. So in that sense, the listener has the freedom to go wherever they see fit. I love giving people their space and time to think for themselves – I generally just want to give them a stepping stone to self-discovery. Whether that discovery is liking what I do or not, I’m just happy they gave their time and energy to look into it.
You seem to possess an infectious positive energy. Where does that energy originate? What feeds it?
That’s something I’m still, to this day, exploring about myself. I think a lot of it shaped itself in my childhood. I grew up financially broke with my Mom working 2 jobs (day and night shifts) taking care of the whole family and my father not being in the picture (though I’ve forgiven him over the years with the notion that there’s no real guide to “life”). And she always found a creative way for us to feel “normal.”
I’ll always remember that quote Dave Chappelle’s dad told him as a kid: “Poor is a mentality very few people recover from. You, Dave, are financially broke.”
So in that context, my mother is mentally wealthy but we lived a financially broke life for most of my childhood up until I started to do shows full time at 21 years old. So I can heavily attribute my positivity to the idea that I decided to work on my mental health more than anything else.
I never fully attach myself to the music I make. I see it more in the way that if I work on my life more, the side effect of working on your mental and physical health will translate to how your art will be expressed.
Minimalism seems to be a key to your sound. Can you speak to the importance of this approach in your music? Does this outlook expand beyond your music into other elements of your life?
It absolutely expands beyond my music. Everything I do does. I never fully attach myself to the music I make. I see it more in the way that if I work on my life more, the side effect of working on your mental and physical health will translate to how your art will be expressed. That’s why I can never create anything if I’m in the process of grief, sadness or depression. I’d much rather listen to my body first and let it go through the process naturally and then I’ll re-assess my situation in a more cognizant fashion. That’s when my best artistic expressions come out.
Irish Poet Oscar Wilde wrote in his novel in the 1880s: “An artist should create beautiful things, but should put nothing of his own life into them. We live in an age when men treat art as if it were meant to be a form of autobiography. We have lost the abstract sense of beauty.”
So in a way I’ve always lived my life in the reverse that it’s my life that affects the art I express rather than the art defining what my life should be. That’s all too external in concept, I just want to create momentum and passion from within. It’s the main reason why my stage presence stays the same for 10,000 people or 1 person. I’m not looking for the crowd’s energy, I have it all within me.
From touring with Madonna to composing for Cirque Du Soleil, working with Kanye West, Nike and more, you’ve achieved some pretty incredible things to date. What goals are at the top of your list currently?
I honestly stopped thinking of any “top goals” long before I ended up working in so many different fields. I’ve always had this belief that I must expand not only “up” but in all directions at all times with no end. Similar to the universe in the way it forever expands in all directions in the infinity of space. I like the idea that there’s no “end goal” but more an “never ending goal” to this life. I find it liberating in a way that I can let go and fully be the creative I see myself as without the constraints or stress of popular culture’s narrative of “being on top of the world” or “being #1.”
I sort of gave up on the traditional idea of “networking” and changed it to the idea of genuinely talking to people with a goal of wanting to understand the world around me more than the goal of gaining more “clout.”
You seem to have a knack for landing incredible opportunities. How have you curated your life to set yourself up for such a wide array of opportunities?
Haha thank you, I’m grateful you think that! I’m just as baffled as you are really. I rarely would go out to events to “network.” I sort of gave up on the traditional idea of “networking” and changed it to the idea of genuinely talking to people with a goal of wanting to understand the world around me more than the goal of gaining more “clout.”
This self-discovery of wanting to be my most genuine self has attracted a wide range of creatives from Virgil Abloh to the Black Keys. It’s all absolutely fascinating and I’m still trying to wrap my head around why this is happening on a deeper level.
In your interview with Sidewalk Talk you said, “There’s no normal, there’s just time moving forward.” 2020 has been one of the most unique and challenging years for our generation. How have you been approaching it and moving forward?
The most unique indeed. The moment everything became more serious back in March, I automatically went into self-care mode. That involved going deeper in my yoga, meditation routine with a mix of weight training to strengthen myself further mentally and physically. It’s essentially a full body movement routine to keep my cortisol down and my testosterone up and practicing gratefulness to keep my serotonin levels up as well. I try my best to not feed my dopamine levels that’s why I never was fully engaged on social media in general. Even pre-outbreak.
With that kind of structure for my life, I’ve been able to create in general. Even made new TNGHT with Hudson Mohawke remotely which is something we’ve never done.
Ideally this year and the next. No more 4-5 year long breaks haha!
What can you tell us about the upcoming TNGHT? When will fans get to hear it?
Ideally this year and the next. No more 4-5 year long breaks haha!
The TNGHT project seems to have a love for the uncanny when it comes to imagery. What inspired this?
We both have similar humour, we just love totally far-fetched weird concepts because we love the weird feeling it gives us and the uncanny valley is the best place to feel that. We’re all human with a wide range of emotions. We just like to explore these emotions and express them for ourselves.
You’ve been integrating incense into your sets to deepen the connection and experience. What kind of scents do you use? Does it differ depending on the set?
For now I’ve been using frankincense. It’s the same scent they use in churches. I’ve been only using that because it’s an easy cost effective way to use and find frankincense and it’s a very familiar scent that everyone knows about so it’ll bring out really deep memories because of it. I love to overhear people’s reaction the moment the scent hits them.
You said in your interview with Willy Joy that there are more than the 5 accepted senses, can you expand upon this idea? What are the senses beyond the key 5?
We have five basic senses: touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste. I remember reading a book about design (forgot the name) saying that if you can design a product using 2 to 3 out of the 5 basic human senses then you have yourself a solid idea. Other than those senses we also have the sense of space which is your brain making sense of where your body is in a particular place. There’s the sense of temperature, balance and motion but that’s when things start to become more nuanced where people debate if those are actual senses or just a combination of different senses giving that perception.
That’s why I just stick with the basic 5 human senses for design.
Where do you see yourself in the (electronic) trap history books? Do you feel you get as much credit as you deserve for helping define the genre?
I can see myself fit wherever the public decides. I can’t control the public’s narrative, only they themselves can. Only thing I can be is absolutely grateful they gave their valuable time and energy to even look into my artistic expression.
I feel like I’m starting something new every time I get into creating art even after being in the industry for 10 years. That’s all that matters to me. Keeping my self-discovery fresh and new.
What’s next for you musically?
Anything and everything. I won’t be able to pinpoint what exactly, all I can confirm is that I feel like I’m starting something new every time I get into creating art even after being in the industry for 10 years. That’s all that matters to me. Keeping my self-discovery fresh and new.
TOKiMONSTA – For My Eternal Oh Dream My Treasure (Lunice Remix)
Hologramme – Berlin (Lunice Remix)
Jacques Greene – Drop Location (Lunice Remix)
Lunice – Why O Why
Soudiere – Kinda Paranoid
TNGHT – I’m In A Hole
Lunice – Bubble Step
Lil Uzi Vert – For Real
Lunice – Partout
Django Django ft Self Esteem – Surface To Air (Lunice Remix)
Lil Wayne – Mama Mia
G Jones & Bleep Bloop – Mind (Lunice Remix)
Lunice – Tha Doorz