As beloved by Ghostly International's Lusine

2013 was unequivocally the year that SXSW found its dancing legs. Hundreds of dance artists poured into town bringing weird and wonderful gear that would easily leave your common spotted bassist rubbing his manky head in complete befuddlement. Even Resident Advisor had a party, a lovely sign of change.

With dance music comes twinkling tech. And at the centre of these dazzling galaxies of LEDs, touch sensitive buttons, EQs and MIDI controllers is Novation, an electronic performance brand that has literally transformed their own destiny by switching from making synths to also beginning to dominate the  market in control. Human fingers never had it so good.

One artist close to Clash’s heart is the evergreen Lusine from Ghostly International records, a label that bagged a four-page feature in the first ever issue of Clash nine years ago. Lusine, like many, is now an avid Launchpad user, a matrix of touch sensitive, programmable buttons that is making live music performance the dream that any bedroom producer has been sleeping on for years.

"I started using Novation gear when I picked up the Launchpad,” concurs Jeff McIlwain, aka Lusine, “but I was interested in the bass station when it came out in ’95 or ’96 - they were really trying to get those analogue sounds from virtual gear  but I just didn’t have the money for it. When I did start I had an old drum  machine, an RY30 that I  learned how to programme on, then a Korg workstation, and for a while I wasmaking ALL of my music on that. Then finally I got a computer in 1996. Back then it was hard to make music with computers but it was starting to get going.”
Lusine’s had ten albums out to date and each one is sensitively obsessed with the forefront of emotional, delicate electronica. His latest, ‘The Waiting Room’ on Ghostly, was as good as any of his career highs, with the track ‘By This Sound’, the album’s pivot,  being the kind of crunchy  dawn manna that when played at the right juncture, with the right amount of light pouring across your being, will create a cerebral pathway of bliss that will never leave you.

But gear heads are notoriously fussy, so how did Lusine make his shift: “I came across it when I was researching gear really heavily. The Launchpad is great because you can have multiple pages for controls and it’s really light and great to travel with. It is also just pads, so many and straight away I wanted to do my whole live set with it.”

And now the next challenge? Getting a Novation MiniNova planned into his set. And as we left Jeff he was obsessively traversing its numerous squelchy sounds and controls with sweet murmurs of delight found on this lovely synthesiser. We now await his eleventh album with calm patience, happy with just a little more knowledge into what makes his music tick.

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