Getting the Upper Hand

Lunice SAFEWALLS Mixtape Interview

Montreal-based music-maker Lunice is a rising star in the arena of thumping, bumping club sounds. Rising with impressive velocity, as a matter of fact. It was exactly four years ago, in December of 2006, that Lunice Fermin Pierre II — a teenage breakdancer at the time, with little more than a local profile — began work on his first foray into music production, the online release Kibbles N’ Beats.

Lunice’s efforts to reconcile hip hop’s mainstream and underground sounds, bringing in elements of electro and other flavours, and his dedication to detonating dancefloors earned him admission to the widely noticed Turbo Crunk crew, leaders in the playful yet heavy-duty new club sound that New Yorker scribe Sasha Frere-Jones christened “lazer bass”. Since then, he’s rapidly found doors opening up for him around the world, and anticipation for his releases has become increasingly feverish.

We at SAFEWALLS are understandably thrilled to have a talent of this calibre and consequence creating the soundtracks for all our forthcoming our video clips as we tour the world’s cities and art scenes. For a taste, check out what he did for our video of the SAFEWALLS X En Masse artwork at Cirque du Soleil headquarters in Montreal, or download Lunice’s exclusive mix for SAFEWALLS, featuring four remixes, five unreleased tracks and a number off his EP with the label LuckyMe, Stacker Upper. And read our interview with Lunice below, in which he proves himself enthusiastic, optimistic and above all far more humble than he ought to be!


Before you began making music seriously, you were a b-boy, breakdancing with 701 Squad. What’s your forte as a dancer, your strongest moves?

Footwork and style. I was always about finding unconventional ways to hit the beat and do certain moves that would make people go, “Hmm… Interesting…” when I would do some footwork.

Do you think your background in dancing helps you when you make music?

Totally! It gave me the ability to push the boundaries on what a club track should sound like because I would be able to tell if it’s danceable or not. And if people don’t know how to dance to it, I would just go front-stage and just wild out dancing, and as long as I look like I’m having the time of my life on stage, people will get that vibe and start dancing too. Then it becomes all fun times and good vibes, all night!

You’ve also done a bit of beatboxing. Does that affect how you make music as well?

I guess you could say that it helped shape my sense of rhythm a bit. Even in beatboxing, I wasn’t interested in crowd-pleasing tricks. I was mainly focusing on how much of a swing I could add to beatboxing, and trying out different rhythms and sounds. Then, eventually, it came to mind — but it wasn’t that moment where I decided — to maybe produce my own music.

You’ve dabbled in graffiti, way back when. Do you have any favourite visual artists, in graffiti, street art or otherwise?

Yeah, man, I’m aaaaall about street graffiti — or you can just call it “handstyles.” I like pieces and throw-ups but I find handstyles says a lot about a person’s lifestyle and taste. I’m a big fan of Remio but a bigger fan of a few local street artists I know — but I don’t think I should name them out.

You came up through the Turbo Crunk parties in Montreal. What was so special about that scene and those nights?

It was the only night of its kind in Montreal, literally! It was all about experimental rap music, really, just a group of homies getting together every month to see who’s got a new banger to play out. We’d get inspired off of each other’s new tracks and then go back to the drawing board and create the next big tune. So it was a really fun and inspiring night to be in. It was specifically that club night and my homies/mentors — Megasoid, Hovatron and Seb Diamond — that really brought my sound to where I am at now.

Now that you’ve toured the world a bit and made a lot of connections, where else besides Montreal do you think there’s a really good community for creative, next-step bass bangers?

Vancouver seems to be the next big Canadian city to get on the sound and vibe we’re doing! Other than that, there’s an amazing scene in most of the West Coast of the U.S., like Portland, San Francisco and L.A. As for the East Coast, Toronto is slooooowly catching on to this scene, and New York is already up there, but that’s all I know so far.

You have wide-open ears, finding inspiration in all kinds of music. Is there any one style or genre that you really can’t stand?

Reggeaton used to be one but not anymore, ever since I met this amazing producer from Cuba called Nando Pro. He has such a distinctive sound in his production. But ever since then, I’ve come to a realization that there isn’t a genre I hate. The only thing I could hate is if the composition and the main feel of a song is not right. I would have a harder time standing it. But in the end I always try to find the best out of anything I hear.

You’ve signed on with the Glasgow-based label LuckyMe. Why is that a good home for your music?

Because it’s something that happened naturally. It’s really like finding an amazing girlfriend — ha ha! You first become friends and build on that relationship for a while, then all of a sudden, you’ve got more than a friendly relationship going. Weird analogy, but that’s sorta how I see it. I always try to feel the grounds of a label first before signing and they’re such great, likeminded people with the same views and ethics as I that it just naturally happened without any second thought, and it’s been nothing but the best vibes!

lunice present STACKER UPPER EP

Tell us a bit about your EP, Stacker Upper!

Yes! This project is mainly me trying to bridge the commercial sounds of rap music with the more underground/experimental sounds. In high school, I used to be the biggest backpacker ever. I used to hate anything that’s commercial, but as I got older, I started to recognize the geniuses who would compose the tunes, and that’s when I started to focus on them and, being in a completely different scene where most artists have a more experimental sound, it came to me to try to bridge the gap between the two and to see how the end result would sound!

Who did the cool cover art for the EP?

Collin Faulkes, he runs the visual communication department at Lasalle College of the Arts in Singapore, did the illustration. He used to paint graffiti and breakdance too, and being a good friend of the LuckyMe family, it was the perfect opportunity to get him to design the cover of my record!

You collaborated on a Deerhunter remix with Diplo. What was it like, working with the current king of global ghetto funk?

Unreal is all I can say. But I keep it professional, ha ha.

What’s your one favourite item in your wardrobe?

Snapback caps, hands down.

You participated in the Red Bull Music Academy in London this past year. What was that like?

An unreal experience! It literally brought work ethic to a whole other level. I’ve just learnt so much from the team and the participants because every one of them was a likeminded person with the same ideas and views, so we all got along as if we’d known each other for years!

You also played the prestigious Sonar music festival in Barcelona. That must have been a blast!

That’s something I will always remember for my whole life! Four days of intense partying from daytime until the next morning. I played twice, during the day and night, and I was absolutely surprised I had the energy for both performances because I was actually afraid I would be tired on stage, and that’s completely the opposite of what I am on stage! But with all the excitement and adrenaline going through me, I gave a great show and I am really happy for the positive response I got from people after the gigs!

Besides those two big events, what were some other highlights of 2010 for Lunice?

Playing Osheaga was really great! That Red Bull Megahurtz party I did in Vancouver was pretty amazing as well! There’s just so many highlights in 2010, my head will explode trying to think about every one of them.

What are you most excited about for 2011?

New music!

Given your crazy schedule and productivity, what do you do to relax? Presuming you ever do relax!

Games. Play games. Lots of games, ha ha! Left 4 Dead 1 and 2, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Final Fantasy XIV — can you believe these guys are at 14?! — etc. Other than that, I would just do whatever else that would put my mind at ease, from kicking it with my close friends to watching a sitcom with my girlfriend.

LUNICE SAFEWALLS MIXTAPE

Download (right click + save as) EXPIRED

Audio MP3
EXPIRED

Tracklist:
Lunice – Another (Unreleased)
Lunice – BLAZE (Unreleased)
K-OS – Zambony (Lunice Instrumental Remix) [Universal Music Canada]
Lunice – Hitmane’s Anthem (Stacker Upper EP) [Lucky Me]
Mexicans with Guns – Sell Your Soul (Lunice Remix) [Friends of Friends]
Lunice – Dreamtaker (Unreleased)
Lunice – Cups Up (Unreleased)
Lunice – Take Away (Take Two) (Unreleased)
Elephant Man – Shake It (Lunice Remix) (Shake It EP) [Truckback Records]
Radio Radio – Ej Savais Pas Mieux (Lunice Remix) [Bonsound Records]