You may remember the name Lemurian from our Euphoria 2017 artist preview, where we talked about his special brand of spaced-out bliss. Our faith was well founded, and we were amply lauded for dragging our dozen friends to his set on that sunny Saturday afternoon. The picturesque stage could not have been more perfect, and the photos can’t quite do it justice. Coming away from his set inspired, we felt the need to track him down and get him in a more intimate setting for an interview. This one's pretty rich, so we've embedded some songs and pictures to check out as you get to know Lemurian. We highly recommend checking out his label, Cosmic Awakenings, or if you’re local to Miami, his mysteriously named event company known as Something Else.
(This interview has been edited for clarity.)
Magnetic Magazine: So first off, thank you for your well crafted set at Euphoria. I read on wikipedia that Lemuria was some sort of ancient race of humans?
Lemurian: Yeah. It was one of the first civilizations of humans. I decided on that name when I went to visit my friends from Summit at Powder Mountain in Eden, Utah. One of them was like, “Let's go crystal hunting!” So he took me to a big fair where people bring and sell their crystals. I was walking around and I saw this amazing, beautiful crystal and immediately bought it. After I got it, they told me that it was a rose quartz, but I knew in my heart that it wasn't, so I went home and I did some research and found out that it was the so-called Lemurian quartz. So then I was like, “What the fuck is Lemurian?” I continued researching and finding a lot of information about how Lemuria was the first civilization and how they would think with their hearts, but then the Atlantans came - another ancient civilization - and they thought with their brains. The 2 groups had this miscommunication and the head won, instead of the heart. I felt a calling from this word Lemurian and it's actually a powerful name, you know what I mean? People in nature are like Lemurians.
MM: How did adopting the name change you?
Lemurian: Well that was what was so great. My music started changing. I started playing more ancestral vibes mixed with new stuff. It changed everything. Because of the name, I also felt the need to learn more about crystals. They all have different meaning and messages. I thought, “So why don’t I explore music in the same way? Oh, I'm from Peru, why don't I delve into this Peruvian folklore thing? I have this tribal song with an ancient woman singing, so why don’t I throw it in there and see how it sounds over more modern beats?”
MM: Did you have an idea about what the stage would look like before you came in?
Lemurian: No, but I told some people, "I'm playing at the Dragonfly Stage," and they were like, “That's one of my favorite stages!” It was great for my music, because I could see the crowd and that's very important, to see and feel the crowd to then create engagement. While I was spinning, I was thinking, “This crowd looks like they would like some Jim Morrison right now," so I threw in a “Riders on the Storm” remix (linked below) and then, Boom! Everybody got engaged and got into it and that's the way to do it. Boom, boom, boom. Some of these performers can’t even see the crowd. They don't create that connection and that contact is very important.
MM: So what does it look like when you're building a set?
Lemurian: I guess I act by instinct, no? I go and I see the space and I have my style of painting. Loads of “no”s. Predominantly “no”s. It's definitely down tempo, but for me tempo is also an illusion, because the way that the tracks are commonly built, it's like they use this same dance formula, with the same instruments. However, it could be MANY instruments that make up that formula. Look further than that kick. For example, I add a lot of percussion from South America. It's very groovy, you know?
MM: Where do you feel the soul in your music comes from?
Lemurian: It’s the percussion that gives it a lot of soul. Also, a lot of layers. There's a lot of layers with pads in the back with different rhythms that create alchemy between them, so the music has soul automatically. There is also a science to this. The music that I play is between 80 and 100 BPM, which is our natural heart rate. The human heartbeat is between 60 and 100, depending on the age of the person. That drum or bass beat that you play as the “shaman” is one that should feel grounding.
MM: A friend pointed out that operating within the down tempo space is particularly difficult because you have less time to make mistakes.
Lemurian: Exactly. For me, I love to play my sets for hours, so I can take people on a journey. It's like I'm painting. If it's one hour, it's tough. I don't go up and play the bangers and that's difficult in the case of a festival, because it's a big crowd and at the beginning I feel that moment of fear. That moment of “Wow, I don't want people to leave right now,” right? It’s about trying to create engagement, but at the same time it has a lot to do with the crowd. I love the crowd that shows up and gives me the opportunity of 20 minutes, because at the beginning people might be looking, like, “What is this?” but then it ends up being like “Oh! I get it.” When I play, I like to play with the crowd by playing old tracks, but remixed very elegantly. It’s not like it’s “It has vocals” and then “bang, bang, bang”. It has to have the groove, the instruments, the guitar, the original samples of the same track.
MM: What’s foremost on your mind as you’re standing behind decks?
Lemurian: For me, it’s important to create a connection with every individual. When old people come and compliment me, it's the best compliment! At my residency at The Standard hotel in Miami, what I love is when 70-year-olds come and ask me “Hey, what is this?” I played a bolero from the 70’s mixed in with some shit and they’re like, “What is this???” So I sometimes ask them to take a picture of the track, so they can go discover. It's a good feeling.
(For context, Lemurian performed on the Dragonfly Stage, which sits directly on top of a river. About halfway through his set, some fly fishermen coasted by and patently tried to ignore the group of 200 crazy people dancing on the riverbank)
MM: When did you feel true freedom as an artist?
Lemurian: Well, the freedom.... I think that I got the freedom when I felt that I didn't have fear and I think that I lost fear when I understood that everything is energy. When you lose that fear, I think you open yourself to many blessings that the universe has for you, but we don't see these, because we have this fear that’s all over and all around us. I had to sell my TV, so that I don't see news and stuff like that.
MM: When you're a child and you feel fear, you're terrified, right? But the adults come and they say “There's no monster in the bed. You don't have to worry about that.” And then the kids are calm, and they’re no longer scared.
Lemurian: We as adults can do that and we have different tools to do that. For example, I see music as a tool to do that. To inspire more people, to awaken more people and like you said, to have a conversation with people and tell them, “Hey, this is the lifestyle that I have and it's going amazing. Why don't you start making better choices for your own life?” Bro, I was born making mistakes, but then I got aware of those mistakes and don't make them again. That's what’s making me the person that I am now and sometimes, for example, I have a fear that I'm gonna fuck up, but I don’t fuck up. It happens perfectly. You just have to let go and become a child. That's how I see it. There’s a child in everyone who has joined you in your space and then you can go and create your perfect universe there.