Music, Art, and Time Travel: an Interview with Left/Right
Dallas, TX — not exactly the first location you’d think of when you’re imagining electronic dance music, but it’s quickly booming out some of the rising stars in that genre of the music industry today. There’s a presence of electronic music in this growing city, between the underground and big room shows, it’s no doubt that the direction dance music is going, Dallas will be hearing it left to right in the future. Sensible Reason gets in on this budding action with an interview with Left/Right, a prominent figure in the growing scene down south.
Home to Chris Lund, more famously known as Left/Right, no stranger to how much it’s progressed over the years. A 14 year veteran to the scene working as DJ, producer, co-founder of FUTURE, teacher, and long time musician supported by Rolling Stone, DJ Mag, BT, The Crystal Method, Excision, and DJ Icey, he’s charted in the top 10 at Beatport, Juno, TrackItDown, Hype Machine, and has caused massive airwaves internationally. He’s appeared not only at almost every music venue in Dallas, including his resident FUTURE, a blend of visual and audio art, but has spun at London’s Fabric, The Burning Man, South By So What, and Meltdown. This year, he will be making an appearance at Lights All Night — a two day EDM festival that’s garnered national attention and is now the top music festival in the entire state.
I met Left/Right at SANDAGA 813, a local jazz, reggae, and electronic dance bar while a friend visiting from San Diego called me out. Although I had recognized him from a previous FUTURE event, I was finally introduced by his fellow resident DJ, Trespass (Kelsey Kincannon), to him after his set. I didn’t get to chat long, but he did shake my hand and made a small bow — by far one of the friendliest greetings I’ve ever got. From then forth, after hearing his musical genius, I’ve been frequenting most of his FUTURE events.
SR: Electronic music has been famed as one of the fastest growing musical genres to date. As someone who’s been creating music in this genre for many years, what do you think is your best contributing factor to this exponential burst when you provide the audience the type of music you put out?
CL : Electronic music as a whole is definitely experiencing a bubble and it comes with pros and cons. One one side, trends can become oversaturated rapidly. Once one style catches on everyone tries to imitate it and the sound gets worn out fast. The other side to this phenomenon is every time a trend reaches its peak there’s this creative explosion of artists trying new things and exploring different sounds. I’d like to think that’s where my interests are…riding that wave of music ahead of the curve or totally outside of it.
SR: There is a lot of sub genres in this umbrella term of electronic dance music. What attracted you to this genre you call “future garage”?
CL: Trespass (FUTURE co-founder) and I really got into the future sound a few years ago, mainly because we were burnt out on the sounds that were popular in breakbeat at the time. A friend of mine from London dj’d our camp at Burning Man in 2011 and was playing all this new music that blended 90s jungle / garage with pitched vocals and modern production and it was really refreshing. So first I dived into the future jungle side of things and that morphed more into djing more future garage and house. There’s a lot of buzz right now around the term Future House, but the truth is that term is really changing in the US into something a lot more harder-edged and formulaic than the warehouse and basement vibe I’m used to. Funny enough, things have come full circle and I’m interested in breakbeat again…although much darker and deeper.
SR: As most artists stick to their claim to fame musical styles, how do you feel about experimentation in types versus growth in a certain field?
CL: I think it’s good to have some of both: develop a style and also always be evolving. I have felt pressure from fans to make harder breaks because that’s what I was most prolific at a few years ago but at a certain point you have to let go of what you’ve done in the past and be free to create whatever you’re into. I’ve always wanted my Left/Right alias to have different sides to it (pun intended)… both energetic dancefloor material and more deep, introspective music. I think that’s reflected pretty well in my mixes / performances. Plus, it helps I have a lot of non-dance projects…a band (Chris Broke It), tons of singer/songwriter material, traditional compositions (CSLund), and my business LeftRightAudio where I help others produce / engineer.
SR: You’ve performed across the globe at a variety of music festivals — how do you go about choosing which ones you perform at? To date, which has been the most memorable experience to date?
CL: My favorite event I attend annually is definitely Burning Man. I trek out there because it’s a cultural and artistic experience for me rather than a commercial, stage-driven concert. It’s an entire city with nothing to buy, no logos, and no advertisements…just people in the desert making unbelievable art. I perform when I’m there but actively participating in the culture is actually way more important to me than djing. My favorite memory was playing at Camp Want It my first year there and having the place fill up with people dancing… then walking over to see circus performers on a crane, Andy C playing an all-vinyl dnb set, exploring art on the open playa at night, and finally watching the sun rise.
SR: How does Dallas set itself against the grain when it comes to electronic music? What voice do you feel this city has with it’s growing popularity into the music genre and what does it have to offer listeners and party-goers?
CL: I think Dallas has loads of talent in all directions and is often underestimated. It’s easy to forget just how big our metroplex is and I’m constantly discovering new artists that are doing groundbreaking work. DFW has many small pockets of interests, so if you look hard enough there’s a lot of electronic music represented here. The struggle I believe is to rally fans to support live events and growing those pockets into something bigger. What we’ve found with FUTURE however is if you put in the hard work to do something really excellent… people are hungry for it. It just takes serious effort!
SR: Tell us about your resident FUTURE events? Having been to some in the past, it’s definitely a different experience being submerged not only with music but local art as well. How did you come up with that idea?
CL: The goal for Trespass and I with FUTURE is to create an immersive and interactive environment. A lot of our inspiration is from Burning Man. We want to present that kind of enveloping experience with electronic music in way that doesn’t just feel like a club-night. Inclusivity is also important to us and I’d say we’ve been lucky to have a cool mix of crowds that show up – artists, fashion people, burners, music heads, etc without needing sponsorship or corporate backing. Just regular people that believe in the art, music, and of course… time travel.
SR: How have you defined yourself as a musician and stayed so relevant after over decade of being in the industry? How do you feel you’ve changed and progressed since you’ve started?
CL: The biggest things that have contributed to my success and kept me afloat are maintaining integrity in my art, being consistent with quality, not giving up, and finally- being ethical. I’ve seen a lot of artists rise and crumble under those points. Throughout the years I tend to go through phases of inspiration with music production, djing, and art…so when I lose interest in one I try to focus on another. I’m happy to announce productivity is super-high right now in all three right which is exciting!
SR: What does the future hold for Left/Right? What do you envision for yourself and the music that you will produce in the future?
CL: Musically I have several singles, remixes, and EP, and an LP all in the pipeline as well as some new branding and performance visuals for my shows. I’m also finishing music for some of my other projects. And I’m always looking forward to more FUTURE.
Stay updated with Left/Right on Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud, and YouTube! And don’t forget to catch him at this year’s Lights All Night music festival at the Dallas Convention Center on December 26th and 27th.