This week’s Waveform Mix Series sees Cari Lekebusch under his Mystic Letter K guise throwing down a serious electro workout. The Waveform Transmitter’s Ste Knight talks to Cari about H-Productions, electro artists, and the symbiosis of DJ/producer.
If you want an artist who is consistently bending genres and throwing styles together with great gusto, then you can’t really do much better than call upon the services of Cari Lekebusch. The Stockholm-based soundsmith has been killing it for years now, having started out rocking the decks with early electro hip-hop and progressing his sound to full-on electro and techno under numerous monikers, including his MLK alias (under which he has produced today’s Waveform Mix), Agent Orange, The Mantis, and Shape Changer.
He cites a great many influences on his sound, but harks back to his early hip-hop days, nodding towards the likes of hip-hop supergroup Ultramagnetic MCs, electro outfit Mantronix, and proto-techno pioneers Kraftwerk, to name but a few.
Not content with simply greasing the wheels, Cari has hundreds of solo releases under his belt, not to mention the mind-blowing number of collaborations he has formed part of. It is more than fair to say that Cari has been prolific in terms of both production and DJing throughout his career.
As we mentioned, Cari has come to us under his MLK guise to drop a blistering electro set for our mix series. First, though, let us see what he had to say to our Ste Knight when the two shot the breeze.
Waveform: Hi Cari, thanks for taking the time to talk to us! We should probably start at the beginning. What gave you that push to start DJing and producing?
Cari: It’s a pure pleasure! Thank you for inviting me and one of my pseudonyms Mystic Letter K. I became obsessed with music and beats at a very young age while excavating my parents’ huge vinyl collections. Basically, I grew up in a big room full of speakers and hifi gear since my father was an electro engineer and also the general agent for American Bose equipment.
Record players, amplifiers and what not were as natural as changing my diapers ha-ha! My growing interest in music led to producing my own stuff during my teens and also the production of my own events here in Stockholm. Me and my friends were breakdancing to Electro Hip-Hop and started to note what music machines would make the coolest sounds, and by the time I finally could afford some machines of my own it was no turning back. Techno was not a genre back then, so my first tracks sounded more like old-school Electro but also Techno-ish.
Waveform: And what made you move into running your label, H-Productions?
Cari: Guess it started with making and selling some mixtapes that I created when I was still back in school. Around 1986 I was messing around with the idea that some day maybe I could run a label of my own, so I used the remaining time in school to study business, trading and economics. This would most likely help me in any upcoming record label ventures, and it did – at least with the practicalities.
But it was in the early 1990s that it really started to swing into motion. After releasing my music on many different American and European labels, I met Glenn Wilson who wanted to create a proper Swedish Techno label and vinyl record shop here in Stockholm. Shortly after this Planet Rhythm Records (label and record store) got started and 1 year later Glenn aided me with manufacturing the first H-Productions vinyl releases. Formerly called Hybrid Productions, but I had to do a name change after the birth and copyright registrations by a UK based band called Hybrid.
Waveform: Talk us through your studio set-up.
Cari: I have been owning, abusing and switching most of the various analog drum machines and synths that are out there. Some of the top favourites include all the classic gear from Roland, Korg, Waldorf, Moog, Oberheim and all the other known manufacturers.
There was a period when PC and VST started to develop and it took many many years to get into all the new digital tools and techniques. Nowadays I’m very happy to see that there are many new analog/digital hybrids being created that utilize the best of both worlds. Its more fun and playful than ever, and some of the machines are not that expensive any more.
At the moment, I really like working with my TT-606 DrumDrone from Cyclone, my Roland System-1, TB-3, TR-8, X0Xb0X and MicroKorg XL. Mostly use Cubase and VST for recording my outboard created patterns, but also sometimes to clean up my chaotic recording sessions =) Reason and Ableton Live are great, fun production tools as well that I love to use sometimes – especially when working on co-productions with other producers.
There are many cool tools being made nowadays, and I will most likely change my gear around from time to time. Next up is probably something from Swedish manufacturer Elektron, they are having some outstanding machines on the market at the moment.
Waveform: How symbiotic do you think the relationship is between DJing and producing (if at all)?
Cari: Its very much symbiotic in many ways. It gives me great insight how other party people react on certain sounds, grooves and events in the arrangement of tracks. It’s a form of psychology, isn’t it? It inspires me to create new tracks and to push the various elements to change things around. And, of course, any sound fanatic just loves to hear a proper tuned PA-system deliver the latest bass booming sonic experiments onto a crowd of crazed music lovers.
Waveform: You have recently released your latest EP under the MLK moniker, and you have one soon to be released as Cari Lekebusch. Both, whilst electronic, carry a clearly different sound. Do you use your various aliases as a vehicle for different forms of sonic expression?
Cari: Think it might be important not to confuse people too much, so when getting booked as Cari Lekebusch, it will be Techno and not Electro. It makes sense on an aesthetic level as well I reckon, but it is also a matter of personal taste off course. But yeah, all my monikers are different forms of sonic expressions derived from my different sides.
Waveform: You’ve given us a wonderful contribution to our Waveform Mix Series. Can you talk us through your track selection process for this particular mix?
Cari: Since my 4 new Mystic Letter K Electro vinyl are upcoming this year I wanted to include most of my own previously released Electro, alongside some of my TOP favourite tracks and producers.
Obviously, I could only fit a tiny percentage of them otherwise the mix would have been 12 hours minimum ha-ha! So, here I picked my fave tracks by The Advent on Kombination Research, Drexciya and Mark Floyd aka Chaos from Underground Resistance.
The tricky part that took most of the time was to figure out which tracks fitted into each other. Before recording I also prepared many loops from the various tracks, so I could beat juggle more without loosing the energy and forward momentum that I really like personally. During the actual recording, I used Technics vinyl turntables, Pioneer CDJs, my Allen&Heath DB-4 mixer plus a couple of outboard effects.
Waveform: Do you have any hot tips for the rest of 2017? What artists do you think we should be keeping an eye on?
Cari: The last 5 years have been good for the Techno genre especially, and I expect it to last for a few more years at least. Seemingly most things go around in cycles, and also the various changes in music genres have this 20-year pattern. Its mindboggling indeed! Jeff Mills once made a record entitled Cycle 20, by the way…
At the moment I find a new cool artist every month and there are also so many labels to keep track of – its impossible to list them all but here are some Techno artists that are in my DJ crate right now; Shekon, Mark Broom, Benjamin Mull, Sin Sin, Orion (FI), Jonas Kopp, Andre Crom, Petter B, Flug, Pär Grindvik, Mattias Fridell, Nihad Tule, Nima Khak, Jeroen Search, Dustin Zahn, DVS1, Chris Colburn, The Advent, XHEI, Samuel L Session, Gary Beck, Leghau, Klaudia Gawlas, Vegim, TWR72, Lewis Fautzi, Nuklear Default, Hans Bouffmyhre & Lex Gorrie, HD Substance, Slam, Kimono, Bryan Chapman, Raphael Dincsoy, Pierre Deutschmann, Patrik Skoog, Paul Ritch, Planetary Assault Systems, Tensal, SP-X, Schlomo, Ixel, Alex Bau, Kristian Heikkila, ReAxis, Cleric, Pfirter, Amotik and the list goes on and on.
Waveform: What have you got lined up next for MLK and H-Productions? Any exciting developments in the pipeline?
Cari: The plan for MLK at the moment is to release 4 new vinyl exclusive 12 inches this year alongside the H-Productions catalogue that is about to reach completion with its Full Spectrum series that started 2015. The Full Spectrum series consists of 10 exclusive coloured vinyl 12 inches, each displaying 2 tracks and a unique colour of the rainbow (including black and white and finishing off with a colour bomb splatter vinyl).
In-between the vinyl only releases there will be a few digital only releases on H-Productions as well, but for the time being all the releases consist of my own productions. Hopefully, I can start releasing some material by other producers in the future, because at the moment there is just not enough time or space.
Waveform: Thanks again for chatting with us!
Cari: Great stuff guys thank you for the cool questions and the invite! Wishing you and all the readers out there all the best in the adventures of life. With Peace from Stockholm – Cari Lekebusch aka Mystic Letter K.
Well, there you have it. Words directly from the horse’s mouth! We really enjoyed working with Cari on this one, and we’re going to look forward to his future releases, that is a great certainty. We are also sure you are going to love the mix that he has put together for you, so without further ado, allow us to unleash this beast upon your unsuspecting ears! (Tracklist after the stream…).
Mystic Letter K – Moto – Electrix Records
Cari Lekebusch – Universalsessions Instrumentalicks (B1) – H-Productions
DJ K1 – Metaphysica – Direct Beat / 430 West
Cari Lekebusch – Universalsessions Instrumentalicks (A1) – H-Productions
The Advent – Wasper – Kombination Reserach
The Advent – Another Planet – Kombination Reserach
Drexciya – Wavejumper – Underground Resistance
Chaos aka Marc Floyd – Cosmic Osmosis – Underground Resistance
The Advent – In Range – Kombination Research
0-1-11 vs Lekebusch – A2 – H-Productions
Chaos aka Marc Floyd – The Safety Is Off – Underground Resistance
Chaos aka Marc Floyd – Afrogermanic – Underground Resistance
Mystic Letter K – Chalice of Alice – MLK
Carolina Falkholt – Fargerna (Mystic Letter K Remix)
Cari Lekebusch – Objective – H-Productions
The Advent – The Faze – Kombination Research
Mystic Letter K – Soul Storm – MLK
Mystic Letter K – Mindwarp – H-Productions
Spirit aka Robert Leiner – Source – Ohm Records
Fred – Do It from The Back – Missile Records
Cari Lekebusch – De Sju Skenande Kompressorerna – H-Productions
Mystic Letter K – End Times – H-Productions
Suburban Knight – Magnetic Timetable – Underground Resistance