Lubelski brings the modular jam to Black Book Records with ‘Synth City EP’. Percussive, eclectic beats and analogue funk swarm the three-track record, showcasing the synthesist’s signature playfulness and embodying the pulse of the dance floor.
The project transcends the gap between mainstream and underground with support from vinyl-digging heads like Liquid Earth to mainstage titans like Claude VonStroke, Benny Benassi, Vintage Culture, Jamie Jones, Paco Osuna, and many more. DJ Minx, a respected legend of the Detroit club scene herself, throws in a slunk back, heads-down-hands-up rework straight from the streets of the D–primed and ready for peak time.
We grabbed some time with Lubelski to chat about the EP & more…
Hey Lubelski, how has your year started?
It’s been great. I finally decided to start the year off not hungover, which was awesome. I’ve just been working on music for the most part. So pretty damn good.
You are back into it early with your first release of the year on Chris Lake’s Black Book just dropped on 12th January, can you tell us about it?
I’ve held on to the title track for nearly 2 years now. So it feels good to finally get it out into the world. It’s a bit of a whirlwind of a track because of the structure of it. Basically if you haven’t heard it, it’s a sort of disco groove with a raging arpeggio over the top for about 8 minutes. The B side is a bit more uppity. It was also something that came together pretty quickly. It was pretty cool how it got signed to Blackbook. Mikey Lion shouted me out on twitter saying Synth City is one of the best dance records he’s heard in the last decade and Chris said he needed to hear it. So I sent it to him, chatted on the phone with him about it, and the rest is history.
The shift from a modular synth setup on your previous album ‘Happy Accidents’ LP to an all-in-the-box approach for the Synth City EP is quite intriguing. Can you share the reasons behind this change and how it influenced the creative process?
There wasn’t much thought put into it to be honest. I was just on my couch at home with my laptop. I’d say the biggest difference in the creative process is that I jammed it out on a mousepad instead of a synth. When I don’t have all my synths in front of me and I am limited to one “machine,” it forces me to really push what I can do.
In the realm of plugins, could you let us in on your go-to ones and specifically what you utilized for crafting the ‘Synth City’ EP?
I used Massive to make almost all of the synth sounds in this track. But I think the real MVP was the stock arpeggiator on Ableton. With some quick math BPM to millisecond conversions, I messed around with the freeform LFO until I had this wild jam. Chopped it up and viola! Synth City was established.
For aspiring producers out there, could you share a couple of key production tips or techniques that have significantly impacted your sound or workflow?
Live in the jam. You will need to become one with the groove. By entering a meditative state and arming yourself with curiosity, you can explore the realms of sound that only exist in the jam. The jam will provide all the sound jelly you will need to spread across your proverbial song bread. Basically fuck around as much as possible. It may sound cliché, but trust your gut. Go with what you like. But listen to everything, so you know what good music sounds like.
Despite the shift, do you still find yourself making music with modular gear? And if so, could you provide some advice or tips for those looking to venture into the world of hardware and modular setups?
There’s no shift. Whether it comes to drum machines, synths, effects pedals, any piece of gear really, it’s all just a palette to suit the mood I am in.If you’re looking to get into it, Youtube is a great place to start. There’s tons of information on that website. People who review modules, demo modules, connect mushrooms to modules, you name it.
The ‘Synth City’ EP seems to straddle the line between underground and commercial, gaining support from a diverse range of artists. How do you navigate this balance, and was it a conscious decision to appeal to both ends of the spectrum?
I don’t think it was ever a conscious decision to straddle that line. I listen to a lot of different kinds of music so maybe eclecticism is to blame here. I love trying to make experimental music under a more palatable lens, niche but accessible. But honestly I just make what I like and it usually just depends on my mood at the time.
It’s interesting that the title track of the EP doesn’t have a radio edit and runs for a solid eight minutes. What led to this decision, and how do you see it impacting its reception on platforms like Spotify and in radio rotations?
Radio edits are a tough subject for me. With Synth City, it just felt sacrilegious to shorten it. I put a lot of time and effort into making the track into what it is. I felt like it was a piece of work that I wasn’t willing to compromise on. So we will have to see how that impacts the release.
Speaking of Spotify and streaming platforms, how do you perceive their role in the music industry today, and how does this influence your approach to creating tracks and deciding on radio edits?
I think it really depends on if you want to play the Spotify game. There are tons of artists that do well that also don’t have huge followings on Spotify. I will say it’s pretty unfortunate that it’s a numbers game in the US and Spotify, in my opinion, is a huge contributor to that. If I am releasing a more mainstream leaning tune, I am more likely to make an edit.
Collaborating with DJ Minx on remix duties adds another layer to the EP. What drew you to work with her and ask her on the remix?
I’ve played a few shows with DJ Minx and I love her energy. I remember playing Synth City at a festival and she was in the booth like “woah!” So when Black Book asked me who I wanted to remix the track, Jen came to mind. She’s a legend and just one of the sweetest people ever.
The lyrics of “Tear The Roof Off” paying homage to Parliament Funkadelic is a nice touch. Can you share the inspiration behind incorporating these lyrics and how it fits into the broader narrative of the EP?
I discovered funk music on my own when I was a kid and Tear The Roof Off was one of those tracks. It just had such a fun slick vibe. I loved the way that intro came in. When I was making the B-Side I was messing around on the mic and it came to mind. Lately, the world seems to be a pretty dark and chaotic place. So I wanted to make something fun and trippy. So I felt the lyrics were a perfect match.
Your previous releases on labels like Club Bad, Crosstown, and Classic Music have gained substantial support. How has your journey through these labels shaped your sound, and what have been some key takeaways from the experiences, especially with the Happy Accidents LP receiving support from notable figures like Dixon, Damian Lazarus, and Dusky?
Interesting question. My sound has always been shaped by exploration. It’s been cool to find homes for songs with a wide range of labels. The biggest takeaway is that every label operates a little differently, but it’s always nice to work with a label that knows what they are doing. I am really fortunate to get the chance to work with teams like Black Book.
How do you enjoy and spend your downtime? Do you have other hobbies that help take care of your mental well-being and mindset/outlook on life?
I like to make sure I’m getting my essentials like sleep, exercise, food, and water. I rock climb, bike, walk, etc. I try to get out in nature at least once a week. I also love to read and play chess.
Looking back on your own journey, what are five essential pieces of advice you would give to your younger self, especially in the early stages of your career in music?
Record everything, stay organized, don’t take yourself too seriously, snacks in the studio are a must, drink more water.
‘Synch City’ is out on Black Book now, you can grab it on Beatport