SuperCity: Lux makes lasting impression
BY CHRISTA WITTMIER / Special to the Star-Advertiser
It’s not often I find myself dizzy with exhilaration after a weekend out. This is a good thing though — it makes me appreciate the Mondays where I’m like, whoa.
Seriously. This past weekend was whoa.
It was probably because it was my first one back in Honolulu for a while. The dust had finally settled from helping produce a huge pool party a few weeks ago and taking a trip to Asia earlier this month. That stuff took a lot out of me.
It also helped that it was First Friday, which is becoming more and more of a thing (again), now that there is so much to see and do in Chinatown.
When the lines stretch out for Bar 35 and Manifest, some of us know the right corners to dip into — this month being The Jump Offs’ frontman Landon Tom’s debut art show, a chillingly creative photo collage installation at The Human Imagination — and then everyone congregates back in the street.
There’s literally something for everyone. It’s really a great night out. Avoiding crowds for me is more to avoid drunk people who tend to get too mouthy or handsy, so the open air of the street and delightful nooks and crannies of the neighborhood make this night one of my favorites of the entire month.
First Friday was great, but Saturday was even better as I listened to Sweedish producer Adrian Lux’s new EP, “Make Out,” while getting ready to talk to him before his show at The Republik.
It wasn’t my first time getting excited over this artist, as he tends to produce music in a very approachable, beautiful way that I find I can connect with. I was in Cabo for his Electric Palms appearance, watching him expertly command the crowd of spring breakers.
I was safely tucked back in the DJ booth with him, but could see hundreds of young girls swooning over the tall, lanky, blond ex-model who knew the precise moments to bring the music’s tempo down, then back up again. He definitely knows how to feel out a crowd.
His Grammy Award-nominated single, “Teenage Crime,” sat perfectly atop one of my “Best of” mixes a few years ago as a track I couldn’t stop listening to. His music just flows with the kind of grace that makes you feel like it’s the soundtrack to your amazing day/life.
With his latest EP, I’m hearing a lot Lux’s style of catching everything my ears want to hear when I’m listening to progressive house. More melodic, more accessible and beautiful. Songs you remember. Songs that stand out.
“Rain” is the first track on the EP and immediately pulls me in from the second I hear the light musical phrasing. I know it’s going to be a more vibey, indie sounding ride than a hard-hitting, barely understandable progressive journey. I love it.
Pretty melodies and flowing rhythms in “Rain” give way to more anthemy “festival”sound in “Smoke & Mirrors” until the vocals and the darker yet penetrating bridge of “Sooner or Later” — the EP’s first single and already one of my favorite tracks of the year — make me realize this is something meant to be listened to from beginning to end.
It’s telling a story, and all I can see is Adrian’s visual environment of high fashion, glamorous parties, beautiful art and his deep house past as creative influences.
“I experiment a lot in the studio,” Lux said before taking the stage on Saturday, as opening DJ Massfunk’s progressive set pounded through The Republik’s sound system.
“When I go in there I try to be as non-restrict as possible. I think a lot of good things come when you just let go. And you don’t really care what the outcome is.”
“Sooner or Later” came out of his 2013 Australian tour, where he mostly worked in short bursts of studio time while on the road. The track’s vocalist, Kaelyn Behr, is a good friend and Lux would send ideas for chords from the road for him to put vocal melodies over.
“It was fun because we made it on the tour, and by the end of the tour I started playing it out and got to see the reactions,” he said. “It was very good! It’s more intimate and it has more of an underground feel to it (debuting music that way).”
The track is definitely deeper house, but still bright enough to hold its own for daytime vibes. I know I’m totally going to try this track at my pool parties this summer. I love it when musicians go outside of the box.
“Artists serve themselves best when they really look into themselves,” Lux said. “That’s how they can develop, and that’s the ones that usually do the best.
“I experiment a lot in the studio. When I go in there I try to be as non-restrict as possible. I think a lot of good things come when you just let go. And you don’t really care what the outcome is.
“There’s a lot of A&Rs and producers and they try to figure out music before it’s happened like, ‘We’ll put this together with this artist and it will sound like that and that will be great!’, but you know you can’t really do magic like that.
“You have to go in to the studio with no expectations try a vibe and whatever feels good, that’s what you gotta do. Hopefully the outcome is really cool.”
Saturday’s show was fantastic, and everyone there was feeling his vibe and music. With great support from Jeff Phantom and Massfunk, expect to see more great EDM artists coming through Hawaii with the partnership of Collective Effort and BAMP Project.
Christa Wittmier has chronicled Honolulu nightlife since 2004. She is senior marketing director at Young’s Market Co. of Hawaii and executive director of music for POW! WOW! Hawaii, and also helps promote the popular “Bacardi Pool Party” on Oahu. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.