Galcher Lustwerk: "Parlay"
Galcher Lustwerk made his name by simply rapping over beats. Well, speaking over beats, anyway, and sometimes kind of singing over them. Oh, and his aren't hip-hop beats, by the way; the Cleveland-born, New York-based producer makes house music. But also not, like, festival house, which is the context in which we're used to hearing rapping over dance music nowadays. Lustwerk's elegant, melancholy take on deep house is part of a tradition stretching from Larry Heard and '80s Chicago through 21st-century German labels like Dial and Smallville; it makes Disclosure's take on "deep house" sound like David Guetta in comparison.
The producer’s rise within the underground has been remarkably frictionless thus far: In the spring of 2013, before he had any official releases, he put out a mixtape of all original productions, 100% Galcher, on a blog called Blowing Up the Workshop. Moving like a midsummer river, the set wended its way through drowsy house cuts, watery synths, and beatless reveries, with Lustwerk’s own baritone providing hypnotic hooks and sketch-like vignettes. He rapped about the pleasure of the party, the pleasure of taking drugs, and the pleasure of the open road. Even teetotalers would have trouble denying the power of huskily muttered lines like, "Poppin' pills, rollin' bills, rollin' blunts, poppin' seals/ Rollin' trees, rollin' deep, takin' E, LSD"—repetition, like assonant rhyme, is a hell of a drug.
Not long afterwards, Lustwerk released his debut EP, Tape 22, on White Material, a Brooklyn-based label run by a couple of friends he met while studying at RISD, in Providence, Rhode Island, as well as a track called "Put On"—still one of his best—on a compilation EP credited simply to White Material. Aided by the buzz around those blink-and-you-missed-'em, limited-vinyl records, 100% Galcher ended up on a number of 2013 year-end lists, and he toured Europe a handful of times. But aside from a 12” for a UK label and a digital-only EP under a new alias, Road Hog, he has since kept a low profile, almost as though he was trying to slink back into the woodwork.
Galcher Lustwerk: "Put On"
Speaking via Skype from his apartment in Bushwick, Brooklyn, he says that, suddenly faced with the possibility that he could actually make music "for real," he decided to step back and think about what he wanted and how to focus his energy, rather than promoting himself simply for the sake of capitalizing on hype. "It's like a wave, but it's a shallow wave, so I can still ride it easily without losing any momentum," he reasons. "In the long run, all I care about is making good music and not wasting time being in the public eye."
Lustwerk—who prefers not to reveal his real name—started making music on his parents' computer in the late '90s, when he was 12 or 13, using a program called Acid Music. He was far too young to go out, and Internet portals like Napster, YouTube, and MySpace were still a ways off. Instead, he discovered electronic music from Borders, the now-shuttered bookstore chain. "I used to go there all the time and look at the magazines and read the reviews, and then go to the CD section and try to find the ones they were talking about," he says. He slowly built up a small collection of '90s staples—the Prodigy, DJ Shadow, the Crystal Method, Fatboy Slim—each of which he would pore over for months on end.
Galcher Lustwerk: 100% Galcher Mixtape
It was in Providence that he hooked up with DJ Richard and Young Male, who would go on to found White Material, and discovered dancefloor-oriented electronic music through Morgan Louis, a local DJ. After a few years of playing house parties and bars, the crew eventually scattered—a few to Berlin, and the rest, including Lustwerk, to New York.
He still considers White Material his home, but last month he announced the launch of Lustwerk Music—not so much a label, he says, as a "formality" required by his distributor. The not-really-a-label's first two releases, the Parlay and I Neva Seen EPs, gather the bulk of the tracks from his 100% Galcher mix. But for Lustwerk, the records themselves are, in some sense, a formality as well. "It's more just so I could forget about these songs, because I've gotten tired of them," he says. There were other labels that came calling, but most of them wanted new material, and that's reserved for White Material.
He's currently trying to finish his latest batch of material—which is turning out to be much harder than it was when he was putting together the 100% Galcher tracks. "It's different when you're making music that you know no one's listening to," he says.