‘I enjoy being impulsive and spontaneous’: Talking Tech with LUXE

Electronic production came relatively naturally to LUXE. The London-based producer, DJ and musician’s background in composition and creating scores meant the logistics seeped in quickly, and the results prove just that: they’re slick, crisp and considered but show her willingness to try new things.

The sounds that have been ever-present in her energetic DJ sets – which have taken her to cities and festivals across the UK – mirror the influences in her own output: a no-holds-barred cocktail of jungle, breakbeat, UK bass, trance and techno. Since she started producing, she’s shared a handful of self-released tracks, edits and contributions to compilations, and now her debut release is out there – a three-tracker titled Belonging on HAAi and Alice’s label Radical New Theory.

Off the back of her first full production outing we chatted about pathways into production, the importance of a tidy workspace and learning to be considerate to yourself.

What’s your musical education?

I studied music and learned instruments from a young age up to studying music at university. The flute has always been my first study and I also play the piano and sing. At university I was doing a lot of neoclassical composition, a lot of it by hand on manuscript or creating my own graphic scores. As soon as I got to grips with Ableton and electronic production I realised that it came a lot more naturally to me and excited me a lot more, and I never really looked back. 

What was your first ever set-up, when you started making music? 

I’ve dabbled in making music of different kinds since I was young, playing around with instruments and composing different kinds of stuff, so I guess it was just that to begin with. When I started making electronic music in about 2018 I started using my laptop with Ableton Live, some KRK Rokit 4s and Audio Technica studio headphones. 

What was the first serious piece of kit you bought?

My laptop with Ableton Live!

Thanks for taking some photos around your studio. Could you give us a little walk through the main components? 

I do the vast majority of my production in the box, so day to day I’ll just be on my Macbook Pro with Ableton Live 10, using my Roland A-500 Pro Midi Keyboard, Yamaha HS7 monitors, or my Audio Technica M50X headphones. Ableton alone is such a powerful tool, I’ve not yet felt the urge to invest in hardware. Maybe one day when I have room for a more dedicated studio space I will, but right now I’m really enjoying exploring the seemingly never ending limits of what you can do in the box. 

Where is it located and do you share with anyone else?

At the moment I work in my living room and so the space is shared with my partner and housemate.

Was there any method to the way you’ve laid it out and have you made any special non-musical touches to make it feel like a productive workspace?

I guess it just needs to be as space efficient as possible as well as being neat and tidy. A tidy space is key for me to be able to relax and get into my flow. I have a lot of plants in my house – greenery and as much natural light as possible really helps with my productivity, inspiration and overall feeling like my mind is fresh and my creativity blooming. 

What’s been your method for creating this studio? Has it been a gradual accumulation or a bulk purchase? Any key inspirations in pulling it together?

As I said, the vast majority of what I do is in Ableton. I have gradually accumulated VSTs and plug-ins over the years which obviously add a lot to the process and what I create. 

Are you always seeking to experiment and develop your studio, by changing or adding equipment? If so, what warrants a change? 

I’m not too bothered about having the latest toys in terms of hardware at this moment in time but would love to prioritise upgrading the functionality of my setup. I’ve recently moved into a new house so my next move will be to get some new speaker stands and a laptop stand as well as a new desk chair! I’ve learned that posture massively affects what I’m doing, so ergonomic tweaks such as this definitely aid things flowing the best when you’re deep into a tune. When I’m in a position to be able to have a dedicated studio either in my home or somewhere else, I would like to perhaps start building a collection of hardware that will aid more experimentation. I’d also love to be able to sound treat a space and get the sound super flat.

If money were no object what would you add?

I’d love to get some gear to be able to work on a live show – an ableton push would be great and some delay and fx pedals for my flute. 

You must have a most treasured bit of equipment. If you had to keep just one piece, what would it be?

My laptop with Ableton on it! Don’t think you’d get that far without a computer.  

Before you head to the studio, is there anything you do to prepare or get in the right headspace?

I tend to try and get out of the house first thing in the morning for a walk and a coffee as the first thing that I do, it clears my head and makes me feel energised and ready for the day. I’m most productive and energised in the morning before lunch so I like making the most of this time. I’ve also got into the habit of writing a really detailed list of what I’ve done at the end of each day, and then write what I want to do the next day the night before. This has helped me get through so much more stuff and feel more inspired as a result. 

What’s your creative approach when you’re in the studio? Do you go in with a concept in mind or is it usually an impulsive exercise?

It varies loads. Sometimes I start writing something after being inspired by something specific, sometimes I am super impulsive and get into a flow with nothing in mind before. I love both approaches equally as they’re rewarding in different ways and I would say that the output and music that comes out of them differs quite a lot which is cool. I probably enjoy being impulsive and spontaneous with it a lot more than going in with a concept in mind. It’s more freeing and I would say that my approach is a bit more experimental as a result. 

Are you someone to labour over a track until every crease is ironed out, or do you prefer a raw, instinctive approach without dwelling too much on something?

I would say I try to keep a healthy balance and tread a fine line between the two. For instance I have definitely spent days and days on a mixdown before but also have started and finished a whole track in a morning or afternoon. It really depends on the circumstance! I do think that labouring too much over something that’s arguably not going to make a huge amount of difference can suck some joy out of the process and I try to avoid that. It’s so important to me to keep things in forward motion and my perspective on the work I’m doing fresh. I never want to end up feeling resentment towards something as a result of labouring to the point where my ears are tired, my brain is mush I’ve had enough. I’ve definitely done that a bit in the past and it’s something I’ve learned to avoid. For me, it’s a matter of learning to be considerate to yourself as funny as that may sound – at the end of the day I’m creating for myself. 

Where do you go or what do you do when you have writer’s block? Anything to reset the mental hardware?

A walk somewhere green; taking myself out for a coffee; cooking up some nice food; listening to something completely different not electronic or dance related; catching up with friends. 

What inspires you outside the world of music?

Food, cooking, eating, restaurants. People, new places, travelling. Art, fashion, clothes. Being surrounded by nature, I also love animals a lot. Interior design, furniture, antiques, bargain hunting, markets!

What would you say was the most important piece of kit in the making of your new release, and why?

Ableton / my laptop. 

What else is on the horizon this year that’s getting you excited?

A lot of exciting collaborations with some great artists! Also I’m working on a live show that will be built off a bigger body of work that I’m also writing at the moment. 

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