Luttrell soars into his sophomore LP, 'Lucky Ones' [Interview]
In late 2016, Eric Luttrell departed from his OWSLA-aligned production duo The M Machine to journey on a fantastical solo endeavor that commenced with his debut effort, Need You. From the onset, Luttrell’s transcendent brand of melodic house and techno captured the attention of crowds and prodigious tastemakers alike, quickly becoming a centerpiece of his label residence Anjunadeep while earning Annie Mac‘s Hottest Record In The World with his track, “Intergalactic Plastic.” His debut full-length Into Clouds followed as a bountiful culmination of his investigation into an evocatively-crafted sound. Both the charts and the electronic scene reciprocated; Into Clouds peaked at No. 2 on the iTunes Dance Album charts in both the US and Canada while reaching No. 8 on Official UK Dance Album Charts.
Now, a year after his initial stab at a studio album, the San Francisco-native has delivered the next installment. Progressing from Into Cloud‘s transient features to an anchored lucidity, Luttrell’s sophomore LP Lucky Ones is steadfast in its holistically celebratory themes of gratitude and joyfulness in life. Exploring new sonic territories with the assistance of non-electronic muses from The Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana, the 11-track album lights a multi-faceted sphere of hope, inspiration, and celebration through illuminating layers, full-hearted percussion, and Luttrell’s own rock-based vocals. With alternative-styled anthems like “Lucky Ones,” the explosive “My Friend The Sun,” and paradisiacal house heater “Albanian Summer” marking just a few of Luttrell’s colored offerings from the package, the unfolding chapter of Lucky Ones will be one to watch.
Dancing Astronaut discussed Luttrell’s moments of celebration, his Mount Kilimanjaro experience, non-electronic musical influences, and more. Read the full interview and stream Lucky Ones below.
Congratulations on delivering your sophomore studio album Lucky Ones. How do you feel about its release?
Thanks! I’m super excited to have these new songs out. When I started this album, I really wanted it to make sure it would be an appropriate follow up to my first album, Into Clouds. I think I achieved that. It definitely builds on the sound of that album and goes into some new places for me, sonically.
Lucky Ones’ central theme is gratitude. What are some of the things you are celebrating?
The song “Lucky Ones” is definitely about gratitude and that’s why I decided to name the album after it. I think everybody has moments in their life when the stresses of everything force them to lose sight of how many great things there are to be thankful for. Sometimes you don’t see those things until something snaps you out of it. I’m grateful to be alive on this planet, and have a great family and a career that allows me to make music that I know makes a lot of people happy. I’ve gotten so many messages from fans saying how my songs have brought a lot of joy into their lives. I’m grateful for that.
Since the time between Into Clouds and now, what are the most significant changes for you (personal, artistic, technical, etc.)?
I’ve moved into a new apartment in San Francisco, so that was a big move. It’s only about six blocks from my old one though! I started using an analog synthesizer for the first time while writing this album, so that was a big artistic change. It’s not all analogue on this album, but a lot of it is!
The production work on lead single “My Friend The Sun” is quite a departure from your usual sound. How did you come to craft the drums, as well as incorporate the vocal sample?
Honestly, I’m not really sure where that came from, haha. I think it started with a bass patch that I ran through a saturation plugin called Saturn. It gave the bass this weird distorted rhythm, and I really liked it so I started building a song around that. The vocal is two samples I found in an old sample pack I’ve had for over a decade. It says “feel the” – “the sunlight”, hence the song title “My Friend The Sun.”
Did you test out any new techniques or creative processes for Lucky Ones?
The song “Lucky Ones” was my most ambitious in terms of recording my own vocals and singing. I tried to harness the vibe of some of my favorite rock musicians like The Smashing Pumpkins and Neil Young.
There are several personal influences on this album, notably non-electronic ones. How have those musical influences shaped your songwriting?
Totally. When writing this album I didn’t listen to a lot of other electronic music. I listened to a lot of alternative 80s, 90s stuff. Namely New Order, David Bowie, and The Smashing Pumpkins. I think having my mindset a little distanced from what is currently hot in the electronic music world helps me create something that will stand out and bring something new to the listener.
How did climbing Mount Kilimanjaro come about and what was the experience like?
One of my really good childhood friends invited me to go with her and a couple others. I had the best time. One of the most memorable experiences in my life. It’s such a cool trek because you start the hike in a jungle and you end the hike on a glacier. Our guides were also some of the nicest and coolest people ever.
Would you say Mount Kilimanjaro and the experience of adventure is a defining characteristic of you as an individual?
Adventures are important. Especially when they take you out of your comfort zone. I was pretty nervous starting out that nine day journey. But looking back I have so many excellent memories from that time. Tanzania is a truly beautiful and awe inspiring place.
What’s the inspiration behind the album artwork? Is there a story behind each visual aspect of the artwork?
I wanted to artwork to be a collage of some of the experiences in my life I am grateful for. So yeah, almost everything on there is a reference to an important place, or experience I’ve had in my journey so far. For instance, the Price is Right wheel is on there because I actually got on the show and won the whole thing back in 2005. I had watched the show every day during summertime since I was a little kid so I definitely had an advantage, not gonna lie :)
Photo Credit: Demian Becerra