Getting To Know: LukHash
LukHash is the Polish-born producer now living in Edinburgh who has been making a name for himself with his fusion of 8-bit digital mayhem and ’80s inspired synth music combined with modern electronic music production and cyberpunk aesthetics. His new album ‘We Are Stardust’ went straight in at No.1 on the Bandcamp Overall Sales chart and he has also been going viral with videos showing him creating music with old Commodore 64 computers and hacked Nintendo Gameboys. We thought it was time to find out a bit more about this highly creative artist…
Hello LukHash, welcome to Data Transmission!
You make a fairly unusual style of electronic music. Please can you give us the lowdown on your sound? How would you describe it to someone who has never heard it before?
My inspirations come from wide range of music therefore my sound is a fusion of many different styles. Two of the most predominant are Synthwave / Futuresynth with a dark dystopian cyberpunk vibe and Chiptune which plays an important role in my overall sound.
Synthwave itself takes roots from movie soundtracks and popular music of the 1980s, while chiptune is a micro genre of electronic music that originates from an early era of video gaming and home computing where the sound is generated by a microchip. I also infuse this combination with elements characteristic to other genres.
We heard your recent album ‘We Are Stardust’ went straight to no.1 in the Bandcamp Overall Sales Chart. Massive congratulations! Can you tell us a bit about the album?
Thank you. It’s been amazing and I’m still stunned how well this record is doing.
‘We Are Stardust’ is a concept album that deals with strong themes of death and rebirth in a parallel universe. The title itself is a reference that everything originates from dying stars and that even our bodies are made of remnants of stellar explosions. This directly connects us to the universes that surround us.
I think that combination of dark 80s synthesizers with chiptune elements and cyberpunk aesthetics provides a great setting to bring these kinds of ideas into life while it also allows for a fresh take on the synthwave genre.
This might be the first time some of our readers have heard about you but you’ve actually released 9 albums and your music’s been streamed over 10 million times so far! What has your musical journey been like? Has it been difficult and has it all gone in the direction you intended?
Yes, I’ve been releasing music for a while now. It’s always been a constant source of positivity that allows me to pursue my creative passions. I never had a difficult experience as I never put any pressure on myself to do more than I feel up to. I think this is a key to success which I define as being able to do what you love. It’s always good to set yourself goals but if you push yourself too hard it can drain you very quickly.
I have to admit I never had a very clear path for this project other than incorporating retro sounds and delivering some basic waveform goodness in a more accessible way. I’m a type of hyperactive person that gets about 10 ideas per hour so I find it a bit tricky to follow a straight path. Of course, I try to set myself milestones that also give me something to look forward to, but these are rather short to medium term, a specific project or album related objectives.
You don’t just stand out for your music. You’ve been creating some mind-blowing videos on YouTube using old Commodore 64 computers and hacked Nintendo Gameboys. How did this all start, and can you explain exactly what you’re doing in these videos?
My journey with music videos which include 8bit technology started with one of these videos. At some point in late ‘00s I decided to finally upload a couple of videos of some jams with retro gear to my YouTube channel.
Response was amazing, so I decided to share my enjoyment of playing with old technology on a regular basis. I made some rather crazy videos incorporating retro computers and consoles that use beautiful sounds from the Commodore 64, NES, Atari 2600 and Nintendo Gameboy.
You use a lot of cyberpunk imagery in your artwork and videos. Why do you identify with this imagery and how do you think it fits with your music?
I think my music in its nature is rather dark with dystopian themes. It’s just a reflection of what sits inside my head. Dystopian cyberpunk is here and now. I’m adding some sci-fi ideas and present it in a bit of a cooler way with imagery that gives a nod to ‘80s aesthetics.
I have songs that sound bright and happy but in fact I’ve always been inspired by rather dark themes. My heart is also still beating fast to metal music and I think this has also been coming through in some of my work. One of my favourite quotes is from Joseph Conrad and is also tattooed on my skin: “We live as we dream, alone”. This particular idea is as accurate as it gets and it influenced a lot of my work. My music and everything surrounding it is just an outcome of how I feel inside.
In your YouTube and TikTok videos, you make chiptune, recreating old 8-bit and 16-bit computer gaming sounds. This sounds very niche but it’s definitely a sound that seems to be growing in popularity. Why do you think this is and could it get any bigger?
It’s a phenomenon that this kind of sound is on such an upward trajectory at the moment but it’s no surprise to me as I always knew of its coolness and beauty. Let’s take a synthesizer module of Commodore 64 (a.k.a SID) as an example. I think this particular microchip is capable of producing a sound that is both timeless and unique. It’s nearly 40 years-old technology capable of generating signals that sound more futuristic than they actually did in the 1980s!
I guess for older generations chiptune will often bring out the feelings of nostalgia which could become like a drug, however there are many younger people that fall in love with modern chip music. It’s amazing to see this happening and I’m proud to contribute and be a part of it in some way.
You’re signed to NRW Records who are renowned as the leading label in the synthwave scene. Do you feel any pressure to write music to please fans of specific genres? Are you thinking about fans and chart success when you make music?
Music making helps me escape many problems and express myself in a way I couldn’t otherwise. NRW Records is a very supportive and open-minded team of people that welcome fresh ideas, therefore, I’m not concerned about keeping within the boundaries of a specific genre. I just try to make stuff I enjoy and once the project is done, I send it across as a complete piece. My experience with NRW has been really great. It’s always good when the biggest player isn’t gatekeeping and allows for an artist’s creative flow and vision. I think it sets an example that helps genres to evolve. This type of approach can only lead to a long-term benefit.
I think the release of my last album has also been an eye opener. It made me realise what an important role my work can play in other people’s lives. You can have big numbers on streaming platforms, but these can often derive from playlists that don’t necessarily translate to thousands of real fans. It’s sometimes difficult to assess the true scale of your popularity this way. Being able to sell hundreds of digital copies and physical editions is actually where the magic happens. And this is what I’ve been lucky enough to experience. The chart success topped it all off and I’m not going to lie, it would be amazing to repeat that, but whether that happens or not, I already feel a great sense of accomplishment simply by doing the stuff I love.
What does the future hold for LukHash as an artist? More albums? DJing? Live performances?
I’m releasing my first ever pure chiptune album at the end of May which I’m very excited about. Everything has been done on 3 voice channels and 4 waveforms of a Commodore 64 SID chip with zero post processing. I want to spread some chiptune love as I can see a great opportunity for more people being exposed to its awesomeness. After that I’d like to continue back on my ‘80s synth journey, but let’s see what the future brings!
Thanks for talking to us today!
Thank you very much for having me 😊