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May 2017

LKHD ‘I Am’ Album Release & Interview

Langston Kelly Human DJ is exactly what his name states, a one-man-band who covers the complete production for a track from drums, bass, and melody all the way up to lyrics all done in one take on the spot. LKHD has just released his debut album “I AM” (purchase it here https://langstonkelly.com/) and it’s nothing short of amazing, a response expected from an artist who’s stage show is entirely improvised and boasts he “never plays the same thing twice”.  As an all encompassing production Langston’s creative process is a microcosm of his musical influences, his debut LP pulls from as many genres as he himself pulls from instruments and loops on a single track. “I AM” bounces from ambient meditation music to House music to Trip-Hop and back to Down Tempo within the span of 7 tracks. Lyrically he is esoteric, honest and philosophical- at times rather cryptic- all this leads to a mystique we had to unravel, we sat down with Langston to discuss what makes him so unique.

1. First for the people that are just hearing of you describe your
sound and how you got started.

As my music is improvised, you never know what will come out. However, I tend to gravitate toward World, EDM, Chill Out, and Hip-hop sounds and you’ll hear a lot of Jazz influence as well. Some of my songs may remind you of Bonobo, while others sound more like Zero 7, while still others come off closer to Jonathan Goldman’s meditation albums.

2. We just finished playing “I Am” for the first time, we know your live
sets are all improvised, was nothing on this album planned? Is this
album entirely improvised?

Everything from music to lyrics is entirely improvised and I use no prerecorded loops.

3. What made you decide on total improvisation? and what do you think
the significance is in improvisational music?

I love improvisation both in art and life. I enjoy planning and writing as well, but there is already a wide spread acceptance of this practice in western culture. Improvisation in music, I feel, gets a bad rap beyond soloing over an established form. And there is an understandable reason for this: many people aren’t adept at improvising and the improvised peices they create are either corny or just not very entertaining.
 
I have long believed that improvised music might be created that is just as intricate and interesting as music that has been written over a period of time. Improvisation, like just about anything else, is a skill that can practiced and honed and thus I am developing it within myself. It also makes my writing a lot faster whenever I sit down and write a peice for my other project Starship Mantis, a seven-peice intergalactic funk band.
 

Additionally, I’ve always wanted to both perform and compose. The beautiful thing about improvising all of my LKHD music is that I get to do both simultaniously. I can’t say I am yet able to match the most intricate of written peices, but I am at least proving that improvised music can be entertaining and intetesting.

4. This album “I Am” pulls from a wide variety of genres, we hear some
Ambient influences, some World Music influences, some Trip-Hop or Down
Tempo, and even House. Can you list some of your musical influences and
some artists or bands that inspire you?

My top four favourite artists in the world are Jamiroquai, Goldfrapp, Seal, and Zero 7. I, however, am influenced by a wide range of artists from now and throughout history such as Bonobo, Ulrich Schnauss, Linstrøm, Claude Debussy, John Coltrane, John Williams, Sonu Nigam, Collective Efforts, Sergei Rachmaninoff, and many more.

5. There also seems to be an esoteric layer to your work, even with the
album title choice “I AM” can you list some of your none-music
influences as well?

(Laughs) , well, that question leads to deep waters my friend. I am philosophical by nature and have always spent a lot of time observing, pondering, and coming to my own conclusions. To be both general and brief, here are some people/things which have presented ideas, which I have either addopted or learned from: John Paul Sartre, “The Matrix,” “Harry Potter,” Buddhism, Hinduism, Pema Chodron, “The Science of Getting Rich,” close friends, family, magical strangers, and much, much more.
S-100

6. What would you say is the purpose of your music?

Wow. Ultimately, I do not know as the source from which I draw my energy, I believe, has purpose beyond my conscious knowing. I can tell you, however, that I like to entertain people, and I like it when my music makes them dance or feel relaxed. I also believe my music, as does much music, has the potential to heal and to inspire. My primary goal when creating music is to create the most awesome sounding, feel good songs I can.

7. We know you are a multi-instrumentalist, even utilizing the human
voice for more than just lyrics -beat boxing the drums on numerous
tracks- out of all the instruments you play (human voice included) what
is your favorite?

I get asked this question a lot. I’m not sure I have one. All the instruments I use in my set are favourites indicated by the fact that I have taken the time to learn them and continue to use them.
8. Your break free from a lot of conventions on this record, seemingly
without effort, are you aware of the “rules” and purposely break them? A
seven track album (aside from the vinyl only days of the 70s and 80s) is
very rare, an all improvised album is even rarer, can you explain your
thought process and creative process?

I am affraid I am not very aware of the rules and just do what seems and feels correct. And there are actually eight tracks on the physical CD. One track is secret.

lkhd-freedom

9. If you had free reign to do whatever you wanted to musically (ex.
have your own festival, work with anybody, start your own label, score a
movie etc) what would you do?

Well, this is another deep question. I’ll be reasonably brief. Some of my uninhibited goals include:
 
A. improvising amazing, entertaining music with an entire symphony orchestra of musicians.
 
B. performing the first concert in space (though it looks like I might get beaten there so I suppose I’ll take the moon)
 
C. I would like to have developed for me some sort of suit rhat can replace all of these instruments I’m using. It would have triggers in the hands and feet for me to control looping, effects, and whatnot, and a virtual reality display featuring all of the instruments I might want to use. The suit would also feature touch responsiveness so that as I play the virtual instruments it feels like I’m playing physical ones. The suit would easily intagrate with any PA system, and would also have a built in speaker system. This would allow me to perform my music just about anywhere.

10. And finally where can the people find you and what are you currently
working that they can expect to hear/see in the future?

You can best find me on my website langstonkelly.com where you can also sign up for my mailing list, purchase my music, and check the calendar for upcoming live shows. I’m set to release my next album sometime this June. You can also keep up with me on social media: lkhdmusic (twitter, instagram) and lkhdmus (facebook), though in my opinion, the website is cooler. I also have my own label V7 Kingdom, LLC (find out more at v7kingdom.com)

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