CGNY first heard Løt.te (Mehmet Irdel) at a fabulous Bunker party at Trans Pecos, playing the superb, weird dark noise he has become known for. Finally we got a chance to ask him some questions about his music and performance style.
CGNY: Give us a little background on you Mehmet! Where did you grow up? How long have you been in NYC?
Løt.te: I grew up in Istanbul, Turkey and moved to the US in 1996 to go to college. I studied Illustration at RISD in Providence, RI, then moved to NYC after graduating in 2000. I had a pretty tough time finding a job so I ended up moving to Boston after 1.5 years, worked there for 3 years, then moved back to NY and have been here ever since. Now I work at an advertising/design agency as a creative director and make music whenever I have time.
CGNY: Lets start by talking about your recent set at Etheric – which is so good by the way. What machines did you use for that performance?
Løt.te: I hadn't played live in a long time and the reason was because I really wasn’t happy with my previous live setup and felt I needed to completely reinvent it. It was a very limited setup with Ableton Live and a controller, and there wasn’t much room for improvisation. I wanted to put together a live set that not only gave me more control on stage but also reflected my current influences and developing style.
For the Etheric gig, in addition to a laptop running Ableton Live, I also brought my Elektron Analog Rytm, which helped bring a lot more flexibility to the sound and the flow of the whole set.
CGNY: Your Etheric performance sounded very different from your previous records. Is that a new direction you’re going in?
Løt.te: With my music I’m starting to move in a more rhythmically complex direction, influenced by grime, drum & bass, UK bass music, West African djembe music and the South African dance genre gqom. But lately I’ve also been getting into some EBM/early industrial records and sounds, so I’m trying to bring all of those influences together around techno.
The Etheric set was an experiment. I wanted to see how far I could push this sound I had in mind. To do that I had to make new tracks from scratch and only had a week to do it.
Ultimately I was pretty happy with the way it turned out and the feedback I got from people who heard it.
CGNY: I heard you play first at a Bunker party. Subsequently you went on to play on a Bunker night at Berghain. Can you tell us what that experience was like? And what prep you did? There seems to be a nice little cross pollination going on between there and here!
Løt.te: The Berghain gig was a 3 hour dj set from 10am to 1pm on Sunday, sandwiched between Bryan Kasenic and Patrick Russell’s awesome sets. I had never been to the club before so didn’t know exactly what to expect. I went to see Clay Wilson’s set Saturday night where he was starting the night right with an atmospheric, dark and textured set. The vibe was quite mellow at that time. But when I came back at 8am Sunday — two hours before my set — the night had been going for 8 hours and the room had a really intense energy. When we came in, Bryan was playing Mark Verbos’s Start up Drive from his The Bunker New York release, and that song is now etched into my mind as THE quintessential Berghain track.
I played a 137 bpm peak time set with a mix of old and new tracks. I use four decks in Traktor, each going into an Allen & Heath Xone:92 mixer + two Traktor X1 controllers. This setup allows me to do a lot of layering and get creative with the mix. Most of the time I’m playing three/four tracks at the same time.
CGNY: That sounds pretty amazing! How are you finding the music scene for electronic and experimental in NYC at the moment? In terms of gigs and venues to play out in especially?
Løt.te: I really started going to clubs around 2011 so that’s when I began paying attention to dance music in NYC. But as you know it's been getting better and better since then; more venues, more clubs, more warehouse parties, more and more international producers and djs coming to play, and most importantly more New Yorkers coming out with really original and quality music. It’s still a relatively small community, but there’s excitement and energy that you can feel when you talk to people or hear their music.
"Honestly I can’t really enjoy music the way I used to because I’m always listening to specific aspects of the production or mix when I listen to other producers’/djs’ music. In other words, I rarely listen to music as a listener, but mostly as a producer and dj"
CGNY: What gear do you use to produce and dj with – have you a preference?
Løt.te: In my studio I have a few analog synths like the Korg MS-20 mini, DSI Mopho, and Doepfer Dark Energy, as well as a Yamaha AN1x, which is a digital physical modeling synth, an analog drum machine called Elektron Analog Rytm and a multi-effects pedal. All the outboard gear come together in Ableton Live and I use an Allen & Heath Xone:92 analog mixer to control the mix.
Before using an analog mixer I was multi-tracking each take into Ableton (with full control of every parameter post recording), but after ending up with a thousand versions of a single track and not being able to finish it, I made a radical shift and started recording takes into a stereo Sony PCM-M10 recorder straight from the mixer. This way I get less precious with each recording and I’m able to produce more.
CGNY: How important is it for you as a producer but also as a ‘listener’ to hear other sets? Does it help shape or hinder your own productions?
Løt.te: Honestly I can’t really enjoy music the way I used to because I’m always listening to specific aspects of the production or mix when I listen to other producers’/djs’ music. In other words, I rarely listen to music as a listener, but mostly as a producer and dj. And I believe it’s really important to know what’s happening out there. It’s very inspiring to hear sensibilities that are different from yours, and how those people bring sounds together.
CGNY: What inspires you? Where do you find inspiration?
Løt.te: Other music, producers, labels. Some techno, some noise, ambient, experimental, etc. But I also find movie soundtracks and sound as inspiring as music that’s intended to be listened to on its own.
There are also non-musical influences that spark musical ideas. Thinking/reading/talking about technology, science, and politics (especially Turkish), as well as different states of mind or feelings.
CGNY: How has having lived half of your life in one country, and half in another shaped your identity? And how does that reflect on the music you produce?
Løt.te: I’ve been living in the US for 20 years now, so even though I’m not a citizen I feel most at home here. Having said that, my entire family and a lot of close friends still live in Turkey, so I still feel a deep connection to it.
What’s been happening there in the last 10 or so years have affected me greatly, and I’ve felt the need to express those feelings through music and sound. Sometimes they’re very explicit as in you can hear actual samples in my music from the 2013 Gezi protests or the recent coup attempt, and other times more implicit through the feelings generated via the music itself.
CGNY: Any other gigs etc planned for the remainder of the year that you can share?
Løt.te: Not at the moment.
CGNY: If you weren’t a dj/producer what career might have you gone into?
Løt.te: I already have a 9-5 job working at a advertising/design agency. As creative as that job is, I still need an artistic outlet that allows me to express myself freely. If it weren’t music, it would have been painting or some other form of visual art.
CGNY: What are you listening to these days - any other kind of music that piques your interest?
Løt.te: A musician friend of mine who lives in London recently introduced me to a South African dance music called gqom, which is quite restrained and minimal. I’ve been listening to a lot of that.
I’ve also been digging a lot of the EBM-influenced sounds of Cititrax and Jealous God labels. Amato and Tzusing are some favorites.
As for techno, lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Svreca, Antigone, Tensal, PRIS, Reeko, Ntogn and Alexey Volkov. Really loving the highly-textured sound that all of those artists are pursuing in their own unique way.
CGNY: Yes I'm really loveing Ntogn too. Now my go to question - an alien lands from another planet and has no clue what techno is! What track/album do you hand over as a learning tool?
Løt.te: I have a feeling this alien intends to destroy Earth after learning everything it can about techno, so I’d play one of the more challenging and confusing tracks: Karl O’Connor & Peter Sutton — Let Them Bleed off of their 2000 Tresor record Againstnature. One of my top five techno tracks of all time. Its dizzying polyrhythms are sure to put the alien in a trance while I snatch its quantum vaporizer gun and send it back to where it came from.
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