Lunice Fermin Pierre II, the artist simply known as Lunice, is no quiet Canadian. The Montréal born producer and DJ has wowed the music world seemingly from the first second with the trap collaborative project TNGHT with Hudson Mohawke. Now, after putting TNGHT on indefinite hiatus several years ago, Lunice emerges with a full formed and well-rounded debut album CCCLX 360, released on LuckyMe.
When you listen to the album, you hear deeply intricate and well-thought-out production. Its vibrations and movement bring you alive. Your senses are hit from all the right angles, and the end result is an album that sucks you right into the gorgeously creative mind of Lunice.
Beyond me being a music fan that simply loves Lunice tunes, CCCLX 360 is a work that also needs to be experienced live. Lunice is known to buck out and get down with his bad self on stage, but this time, he's taking his live performance to the next level. You can check his live performance schedule here.
Now the introducing is done, let's dive into my conversation with the magical master himself in this exclusive interview.
CCCLX 360. Your first proper album as a solo artist? How does it feel to finally get it out there?
I've been working on it for four or five years. It's one of those situations where you would expect to feel a certain way at the end result, but then it feels a different way. I feel immensely focused. I think it's because over the years, when I started the ... or given the opportunity to start the album, the first thing that came to mind was, "Do not make an album. Let's think right away outside the box and see where I could start building."
The first thing that came to mind was, "What do the people know me for?" I was really starting to think of it as a pure research and development thing, a prototype product. It's like, "Okay, what do the people know me for in general?" I dance a lot, I connect with the crowd, a lot of eye contact happening. I'm like, "Okay, what can I do with that?" So I'm dancing to the music, but what kind of music am I playing and how am I interacting with the music?"
That's when the whole theatrical aspect started coming into play. I listened to a lot of classical music and then I started looking through the track listings of classical music and like, "Wow, I really love how it looks like visually where you have different acts and parts." Then that's when I started to think about going to see an opera like Madam Butterfly when I went to see while I was in London and that gave me much more inspiration in terms of stage design, stage presentation, the way I carry myself, and the way I would play it out.
So that's when I really started to think, "Okay, in order for me to come up with something in the most honest way, I need to stop before I start anything and figure myself out.” Not because I was at a point where I was lost, but because I'm just generally a very preventative kind of guy. I'm very observant, I love analyzing and preparing so that pretty much was my phase in those four or five years. There was music being made, but never has it gotten to the point where I hit a wall where I had a writer's block because, at that point, I figured out a flow where if I was getting to the point that I was running out of ideas, I would immediately stop and just walk away and go continue with life.
That's what I really discovered, is how to properly just live life in a very balanced way. That's when I started getting into different diets, different exercise routines and I started going out more. Then I start getting the perfect balance between the two and that's when I started getting back into reapplying the music because then I had a whole new perspective. There's this whole 80/20 ratio that I do with the way I work with music, 80 being the lifestyle and 20% being the application of things. So 80% of the time, I'm conceptualizing out there whether through the woods or whatever it is, gathering information over time. Then when the time comes, that's when I apply the 20% in all the ideas and there's no space in between. Everything's airtight and executed, so that's sort of what it is.
You said that this album, that you went to the opera and theater for it? Could you tell me a little bit more about that. Is there a direct correlation between the inspiration at the opera and what can be heard on the album or you just went, you're inspired and you took that inspiration to the album?
It's really inspired from many different elements. I also went to see a classical orchestra in Montreal. Oh, gosh, I love it. It's just great. It's just a detail when you look close, it's how the instrumentalists communicate with each other on the fly and then how the emotion behind the sound comes out, not just the sound only, but then when you bring in the actual people with the vocalists or performers, that's a whole different layer. Then add the stage design, which is very, very simplistic most of the time, but it's just so well thought out. And that's so hard to do and accomplish. So a lot of those different elements drove me to really focus on theatrical oriented projects.
With this project as much as it's an album to be listened to, it sounds like an album that you absolutely have to see. What can we expect with your live performance?
Most people know me as the artist that would be wilding out on stage just as much as the crowd would be. What I was talking about earlier of trying to figure out how I'm making this album, I was asking myself, "What do the people know me for," and they know me for my stage presence. I developed it over time because it used to be just ... the reason why I was going in front of the stage, first of all, was because I was playing my first gig, which was actually my first club experience. Being a dancer, a break dancer, and doing theater, you're DJing, but then ... you know what you're about to play next, but you have to wait 'til the hook comes back on.
There was this void in time of me not having to do anything. I was like, "You know what? My friends are in the front. Let me go in front and start wilding out." That became the thing over time. I started bringing that energy and now people started knowing me for that. When I started the album, that's when I started being more aware of like, "Why are people coming to the show? They're coming to the show to see what I'm going to do next on stage." I'm like, "Okay, now let's start to conceptualize me," not make like a whole choreography, but at least have some kind of context to the reason why I'm dancing.
Now that's pretty much what to expect at the album show. There's much more of a concept driven idea now rather than just wilding out and, "Let's do this." There's that, but with a whole visual aspect to it.
That is so refreshing to hear because a lot of producers are missing that and they're losing relevance because they're just going up and it's the same thing each time. We've all gone to a bunch of shows and now you want a little bit more substance.
It's only normal for people to get into that kind of vibe. That's a huge reason why I called the album 360 because if there's any one concept that's very common in this whole world is the cycle, cycle of life, cycle of anything, cycle of culture, and trends. We're always spinning the 90s back again, again, again. It always comes full circle. I'm well aware of that so that's why I built my project over time because I was not only working on the music, but I was observing general culture and seeing where things are moving forward and seeing where I'm in place within all of this. I'm super happy to hear that you get it in that kind of way as well. I'm very, very excited and you're very observant.
What do you hope this album does to your fans and live audiences?
In the end of the day out of everything, everything, everything, I hope it just makes them think because thinking is the best starting point to anything in your life. It's very vague, but if there's one big thing, big advice that I could give, is just think. I was like, "Okay, how do I make people think without having to talk?" One of the best ways for me is to introduce things that they're generally not used to. Me dancing on stage and going up front and people who have never seen me before would most of the time come up as something really jarring and weird to them to the point that they don't like it.
But I like that feeling because if they have that feeling of questioning, that's thinking right there. I hope they continue that habit of thinking. I hope they go back home talking about how bad the show was and talking about how much better it could be because that's creative process right there. It's funny because for a lot of people to get hate while performing and it's like a bad thing, of course, it hits the ego, but I'm a very humble guy. I can let that aside, it's fine, because I know I'm looking at the bigger picture here. The bigger picture is at least I made them think. I made them stop for a second and then think about, "What the hell is going on here," questioning things, like, "What the hell is he doing?"
There you go, man, that's the first step and thank you for coming through because you didn't have to. Those people could have literally ignored me and just walk off, but they stop, they look, and they went, "What the hell is going on?" Cool, man. Glad you came through.
It's like you seem to shatter these genre expectations, but is it driven by wanting to instill a true visceral reaction that engages with mind and body with your fans?
Totally. It's literally every human sense. The only sense I haven't figured out yet is taste because I can't give out food. I'm still trying to figure out, "Hey, trust me, I'm still trying to figure out taste," because I read this book called Zero to One. They were talking about, "If you have three out of the five human senses, you've got a really, really, really solid design." You could look at the iPhone, you have sight from looking at it, a well designed device. You have the feel because of the materials, high printed materials and the way it feels in your hand, and touch. And then you have sound because of music. You already have three of the five senses right there and that's a solid design.
So I started designing my stage, the music, everything around these senses so if I couldn't get taste, then let me see if I can get touch. If I can get touch, I at least have two out of the five. If I can't get two out of five, then I'm going to scrap that idea and move on. That's how I started moving.