Interview: LUCIANBLOMKAMP talks his three-part album and working with 6LACK
The Melbourne musician's trilogy of mini-albums finishes with a bang ahead of a joint tour with Two People this year.
Over the last 12 months, Melbourne musician LUCIANBLOMKAMP has been sharing his third album Sick Of What I Don't Understand in the form of a trilogy of mini-albums. Each one vastly different from the next, the three-part series gives a guest-heavy, genre-varied range of twelve songs that among them, stretch from subdued moments of minimalist beauty right through to charging house breakdowns - such as Endless' climactic ending - that together, showcase LUCIANBLOMKAMP's well-documented knack for being a producer worth messing with. This has become something internationally recognised too, with the musician flexing his production and writing skills with artists such as 6LACK, while back home, working with everyone from Kult Kyss' Rromarin to Eliott and Jace XL - and that's just on Sick Of What I Don't Understand.
Ending with the third part's release last week, Sick Of What I Don't Understand is an album that demonstrates LUCIANBLOMKAMP's versatility and dexterity, documenting moments of transformation and self-realisation as it moves from darker moments to light as the collection draws on. "Over time and through particular collaborations, I’ve begun to feel far more comfortable expressing other sides of myself," said LUCIANBLOMKAMP when he released the first part of the album. "The three parts to Sick of What I Don’t Understand essentially document this change over time." The first part, which arrived in October last year, documented the first part, using Rromarin and UK Grime MC Trim to bring off-centre pop and rolling British rap alike. Part two, which led with the charging and potent Endless, shows the "initial transition from dark to light," while part three, arriving a year after the first, is an optimistic and uplifting conclusion centred around love and resolution.
Across October and November, LUCIANBLOMKAMP will be touring with BIGSOUND highlights and Snakadaktal off-shoot Two People in what's sure to be an unmissable east-coast tour. Ahead of the shows, which you can find more details to HERE and below, we caught up with LUCIANBLOMKAMP to talk his three-part album, working with 6LACK and T-Pain and the next frontier:
Before we dive into Sick Of What I Don’t Understand, let’s go back a bit further – I understand you’re from a super creative and artistic family. Can you tell us a bit about this? Do you think that having an upbringing surrounded by so many creatives may have influenced what you’re doing now?
It’s hard to tell because while there are a lot of creative people in my family, I wasn’t so in tune with this growing up. I nagged my mum to give me violin lessons when I was six and music has just been a constant thing in my life since then. It was only later on in life where I came to appreciate art that other Blomkamp’s were creating. At an early age it really just came down to my mum’s constant support more than anything else.
Sick Of What I Don’t Understand was released over three parts as a concept album of sorts. What was your thinking behind breaking the album up into three sections, and was there anything in particular that spurred this decision?
It really just came out of realising how dramatically I had changed over time. I wrote the album over a period of about two years and during that time, a huge amount of things had changed. I was in a much better place by the end of the process and by then it became clear that the music I was creating was split up into clear, defining moments. I could have released them as three separate EPs that didn’t share the same name, but I thought it’d be stupid to discard the process of how these tonal changes occurred.
I’ve interviewed other artists who have taken a similar approach in the past (e.g. SG Lewis), and many of them mentioned that they feel like breaking down the album into parts makes it more digestible – which is something I think that a lot of electronic artists struggle with when it comes to albums. Do you think Sick Of What I Don’t Understand would work as a standard, 12-track album? Why/why not?
I personally think it works as an album. I set out to make a traditional album first and foremost. It was only later once realising this huge tonal shift had taken place it became more clear that these different stages should be released separately. So yeah, I think it does make it more digestible as these stylistic ebbs and flows may have gone unnoticed if it were all released as one traditional album.
There’s also a real collaborative nature to the album, with a lot of the guest features being your own friends and people you’ve worked with in the past. Is there anything that draws you to these people creatively, or is it just easier when you have a prior relationship with the artist you’re collaborating with?
Regardless of if they were people who I had worked with in the past or not, they were, more importantly, all people who I really admire. I mean it’s obvious, but I wouldn’t reach out to someone to collaborate if I didn’t think they’d bring new life to the music I was making. On top of this, everyone really delivered and I’m super happy with how the features turned out.
You’ve got a strong relationship with 6LACK, who’s one of the biggest names in R&B right now. What’s the most surprising thing about working with an artist like that?
In regards to working with 6LACK specifically, I’d say the most surprising thing about working with his team is how little the writing process changes. I guess when I started out and was pretty naive, I assumed projects of this size involve some sort of specific professional/magical process. In reality, it’s really still just about sharing ideas, most of which are ideas that aren’t too different from what I’d be writing for myself anyway.
Following from this, you’ve worked with a lot of different artists in the past. Is there a difference in the approach to writing music for yourself vs writing music for others, or for you personally, does it start out the same way?
Yeah, I’d say it more or less starts the same way. Very little about the process is actually different other than obvious time constraints when working with another artist. Only other thing I keep in mind is keeping myself from going on some weird stylistic tangents that I might do in my own music. Other than that it’s a surprisingly similar process.
You’ve produced a mountain of music for yourself, worked with some of Australia’s (and the world’s) best, and even scored films and adverts. For an artist like yourself, what’s the next frontier? What’s something you haven’t accomplished that you would like to one day?
Sounds like a letdown, but nothing specifically. It’s really just about learning from mistakes and growing as an artist over time. I’ve never set out to accomplish something specific, whether that’s with my own music or with someone else's. Maybe I shouldn’t be so naive about this growth process, it just seems to be what inevitably keeps things fresh. I’m sure in a few years my artistic trajectory will unintentionally change once again but only time will tell.
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