Mitch recently caught up with Luka Samba to discuss his new concept collection ‘Shepherds In The Stars’ available now on Cid Inc’s Replug Records.
Hi Luka, thanks for taking the time to talk to us today, how are you doing?
Luka: Hi Mitch, thank you for having me. I’m doing well thank you.
You’re known best for releasing progressive minded music, what is the state of the progressive house genre at the moment in your opinion? Both Worldwide and in Australia? Is it growing?
Luka: Progressive House is definitely growing worldwide, there seems to be a healthy demand for that sound internationally. In Australia however, there’s not so much of a market for it so I would say the demand here is quite low at the moment. In my opinion, Progressive House has come to a kind of saturation point, there are so many producers releasing good music, but it’s always quite safe and measured. We are all guilty of this, myself included, I think as a genre we need to push ourselves further to achieve a more creative outcome in each of our releases. We need to break boundaries and allow the listener further inside our head which won’t always work but in the end I believe will keep our sound moving forward.
Have the changes to the Beatport genres made a large impact on how the term ‘progressive’ is now interpreted or has it always been something much bigger than a genre tag on Beatport?
Luka: I believe it has always been something much bigger than a genre tag on Beatport. In saying that, the changes Beatport have made has brought the more pure progressive sound to our attention. A flick through the charts now and you will find proper Progressive House everywhere, a couple of years back and you would have struggled to find it anywhere.
You have a new release out on Cid Inc’s Replug Records this week but it’s not a regular club EP. It’s a concept collection that tells a very compelling story over five tracks. Please tell us a bit about it. How did the project begin? Was it something you had in mind before any studio work was done? And were the tracks written in chronological order in conjunction with the EP’s narrative?
Luka: As I have gotten older, my personal taste and what I listen to has somewhat moved away from typical club music. Even when I write music now I always seem to naturally create deeper music with ambient textures. I finished ‘Hills Of Emerald’ a couple of years ago, and I had no idea what to do with it, I then created ‘Liminal Shadow’ which could have been an EP together but I wanted something more. I had a lot of fun collaborating with Eisenzahn on ‘9th Crescent’ so immediately we wanted to start another project, Equilibrium was born. I then had three tracks complete but I still wasn’t satisfied so decided to create Vortex of Bewilderment with Eisenzahn and then it all made sense and I felt I needed to tell a story about the sequential stages of the human mind. The EP needed to end on a high, on a positive note and it came to me that we all have people that have passed that kind of guide us around in our lives, I call them the Shepherds In The Stars. So there was no real plan behind the EP, it happened quite naturally.
You’re currently in your thirties, following with the narrative of the EP you’re living in the realm of track four ‘Vortex of Bewilderment’. So what I’m wondering is when writing the first four tracks did you draw on real life experiences and memories for inspiration? and if so is there anything in particular you could share with us?
Luka: Yes, I am currently 32. I absolutely did draw on real like experiences for inspiration. Hills of Emerald was written about infancy, and I remember having such a beautiful childhood, full of adventure, care free like I was constantly running and playing on big Hills covered in Emeralds. Liminal Shadow was written for the teenage years, when doubt starts to set in, when you question everything and hormones start to play with your mind. I think as human, we all experience these stages, the Vortex of Bewilderment is where you really become yourself, the constant challenges of everyday life are sucking you in and it is not easy sometimes but it builds your character. I do believe I have Shepherds In The Stars that guide me around if I ever feel I am lost or need direction. I have lost a couple of close relatives which really helped me inject that emotion into the final track of the EP.
What were the biggest challenges you faced writing this project? and looking back, now that it’s out and you’ve had time to reflect on the finished collection what are your feelings?
Luka: Biggest challenges were making it all make sense and not just seem like 5 tracks put together. Also working with live instruments with Eisenzahn provides a whole new set of challenges but it makes it very exciting at the same time. Looking back, naturally there are always parts that you would change slightly but that’s how I felt in that moment so I guess it is like a photo capturing that moment in time.
Given how quickly electronic music and media in general is consumed these days projects like ‘Shepherds In The Stars’ have become less frequent. Do you think it’s important for artists and labels to be looking to push the envelope a bit more with releases like this?
Luka: Yes, extremely important. Me personally, when I listen to music, I would like to be moved. I believe with the more experimental music, you can really see into somebody’s mind and soul and for me it is a much more rewarding piece of art to create and it seems more timeless too.
You’ve signed music to some well respected imprints; Lost & Found, Traum and now Replug. What’s your advice for artists who are striving to get their music out on quality labels?
Luka: Everybody says this, but there is a reason for that, because it is very true. You have to be yourself. You will always draw inspiration from other artists but for me it is easy to recognise when something is forced and fake. I would also say forget the likes, forget the sales and forget all the hype, focus on yourself, do things the right way with honesty and passion. I don’t have a big following on the social media platforms, that has never been important to me, its always been about the music. Music alone took me to Guy and got me signed to Lost & Found, yes the social media platform helped us connect but the music made it happen. My best piece of advice would be to make the best music you can, always, and just when you think it is unbelievably good, then go back and make it even better.
You work with fellow countryman Filter Bear quite a bit. I know there is some great music on the way from you two, what is it that just clicks for you guys in the studio?
Luka: I have known Filter Bear for about 15 years, we grew up partying together in Sydney. Music is what brought us together, it runs through our veins, we talk everyday about it, we think about it constantly and we also have each others back no matter what the circumstance. We are both getting married next year and we are in each others bridal parties so firstly I respect and love him like a brother. You put all that history together in a studio and things happen that I can’t really explain. We have marathon sessions together in the studio and the outcomes blow our mind every time to the point where we can hardly speak after a very productive session. We think it is magic, Michael is a very talented producer and we share the same fierce passion for this art form. This year we have completed 4 new tracks that I am the most proud of so to answer your question I think it’s our history, our respect for each other and our passion for what we do.
What would be your dream collaboration and why? Outside of Filter Bear 🙂
Luka: Very tough question but I think I would love to go out with Stimming, do some field recording somewhere remote, go back to the studio and listen to our findings and then write some music around it. What an experience that would be and Stimming is a true master of the art.
I remember when we interviewed you in 2015 you referred to a track called ‘Not So Dirty’ by Who’s Who for igniting your love for house music. Is this still a track you pull inspiration from now? and what track over the last two years or so has affected you the most or had the biggest impression on you as an artist?
Luka: No I don’t pull inspiration from ‘Not So Dirty’, that track just ignited the fire inside of me. Over the last 2 years the track that has really had the most affect on me is an older song but very powerful. Lisa Gerrard and Hans Zimmer – Now We Are Free. It’s from the movie ‘Gladiator’, everytime I hear this song it has the same raw, emotional and powerful effect on me, that is very difficult to achieve through music.
Do your best productions always come together the quickest? And tell us a bit about your process?
Luka: Not always, it used to be the case but I like to take my time more now. Firstly my process is about fun, the moment I stop enjoying this is the moment I stop producing. I play around with sounds and ideas and FX and atmospheres. The hardest part is finding something that gets you really excited, once I have found that then it seems to naturally come together quite organically.
Can you remember your first amazing moment in a club?
Luka: Tank nightclub in Sydney, which is now a Chinese restaurant. Dirty South was djing and when he played his remix of Kaskade’s ‘Sorry’ I just remember being transported to another world. Seeing Deadmau5 play an extended set in Sydney a long, long time ago was also quite a special night.
A piece of equipment or software you couldn’t live without?
Luka: Ableton, this program has honestly changed my life.
When we last spoke and you hadn’t gotten a chance to DJ much back home, has that changed at all?
Luka: No, haha, that has not changed at all. Building a house and planning a wedding to my beautiful fiancé have taken priority and as I said earlier, my tastes are slowly moving away from the club although I still love producing club music.
What’s next for you after the Replug release and for the remainder of the year, anything you can tell us about?
Luka: After my Replug debut I have a very special collaboration coming out on Lost & Found with Filter Bear. We also have another 3 tracks which I can’t say too much more about at this stage. I have another two collaborations with Eisenzahn but this time really switching it up and creating some electronica, and some original electronica from myself as well. I will be back in the studio very soon with Filter Bear to continue creating which I am also very excited about.
What 5 tracks are you currently loving at the moment?
Luka: At the moment I am currently loving:
Bengal – Fractal Dust (Manjumasi)
ANNA – Odd Concept (Diynamic)
MUUI – Euze (Here Now.)
Hraach & Armen Miran – Aldebaran (Sol Selectas)
Fluida – Not Alone (Anjunadeep)
Thanks very much for taking the time chat Luka and congrats on the Replug EP! Is there anything else you would like to add?
Luka: I would just like to say thank you to yourself for putting so much time and effort into music and the people that make it. I love reading all your interviews and what you are doing brings me and others so much joy so thank you.
‘Shepherds In The Stars’ is out now on Replug Records, you can purchase the release: here