Every DJ dreams of their favorite artist supporting their music. This is something that rings true across every genre. Not to mention when your favorite DJ also happens to be one of the most legendary artists to grace the decks. Such is the case for Portuguese powerhouse Lewis Fautzi, whose early works saw much support from none other than Jeff Mills. After his first big release back in 2013, Lewis's rapid ascension through the techno ranks landed him in countless others sets and record boxes, with releases on Soma, Figure, and Pole Group to name a few.
Since then, he's played everywhere from Tresor to Berghain and is respected as both a DJ and live act, launched his own label Faut Section, and further solidified his place in the techno elite. To learn more about his impressive resume, we caught up with him and got into the nitty-gritty of who he is, what he's got planned for himself and his label in this new decade, and, of course, synthesizers.
Hi Lewis. Thanks for chatting with us today. Before we dive too deep, I'd like to know what the past 6 months have looked like for you both as an artist and as a person.
Hi, thanks for the invitation. My last six months were very good, with a lot of work and very good feedback from the public. It was also a really good time to think about the best way to adapt my music to all the new music changes on our scene at the moment.
Everyone has a story of how they got to where they are today. Can you tell us about the moment you realized you were meant to make electronic music?
Yes, we all have a past for sure! I had to work hard and I continued to work hard until I was recognized for my work. I started producing electronic music at around 16 years old. I don't remember those productions very well anymore, but I remember how I dreamt and wished for the days I live today. I am really happy and proud to have achieved what I have achieved so far.
What was your trajectory like? How long did it take for you to start gaining recognition as an artist?
It was long and slow, especially at the beginning because I didn't really know which side of music I wanted to explore, then in 2012 I found the path I knew I wanted to follow and from that point, everything started going smoothly. I have more or less 8 years of techno music under my belt, but of course, I still have a lot to learn and my journey of recognition is still flowing.
Most people only ever see our highlight reels and best moments. Unfortunately, that's not how life works most of the time. In your early days, were there any moments you felt like giving up?
Yes, practically every day. I tried very hard but nothing happened. I spent days frustrated and sometimes even cried when things didn’t turn out how I wanted to or I didn’t feel like I was where I should be. My girlfriend has always supported me and believed in me, in good times and bad, she is definitely a source of extra strength.
How did you get past those moments? When's the last time you felt like that?
I haven't felt that way in years. I learned to deal with situations and decided if I can't do it today, I'll try again tomorrow. I stopped dwelling and feeling negative or frustrated and began to concentrate on the present moment.
You've released on some of, if not the best labels in techno. Can you remember the first time you got a record signed to a bigger label? What did that feel like? Do you still get that feeling when signing new records?
When I signed for Soma Records in 2013 I remember calling my agent in Portugal, Gustavo to tell him that I had signed for Soma, I was so excited and at the time it was really out of this world for me because it was all so new. From there I started to achieve more and more, of course, even today I am happy when I release on a label that I like and is well respected, it is a sign to me that things are working well.
Let's talk about some of your recent work. I love 'Messing' from the Mord compilation. That lead synth is sick! Can you tell us about some of the gear you used on that?
Yes. That music is part of my little adaptation. I was tired of doing the same thing and felt that I wanted to have a change of sound. I made this synth with the same machine that I use most of the time, the Sylenth1. A lot of people have asked me how it’s possible for me to make sounds like that with that machine and the answer is I really don't know, I just somehow do it.
One thing I have to applaud you for is your consistency. Every track you put out seems to be so useful and easy to play in almost any situation. Let's say you've just sat down to make a new tune. What is your production process like?
Ahah thanks. Well, I used to come to the studio without really knowing what I was going to do, I would spend lots of time exploring and then eventually found my way. Not now, now I go to the studio and I make sure that I already know what I want to do, working this way makes my life a lot easier and the music flows so much more easily.
What about the rest of your studio? Anything new and exciting you've recently added?
My studio remains simple and effective. I don't use hardware, just an analog mixer.
In your own words, what is techno to you? What defines a great techno track?
The word techno brings so many emotions and memories to my mind, for me techno is a serious style of music for those who really like to appreciate different music and for me personally, a good techno track is one that I don’t tire of listening to and whenever I hear it I’ll still feel like I want to play it. I am of the opinion that you should enjoy techno at parties and not at home, at home the vibe is, of course, different from what you’ll feel on a dance floor, it’s impossible to feel the full magnitude of a track or set.
Back in 2013, you launched your label Faut Section. Why did you feel like that was the right moment to launch the label?
Wow, it's been a long time and I didn't even notice. I didn't feel there was any specific reason to release at that exact time, it just felt right at that moment and I'm glad I did it, I’m very happy with my decision and everything that has come from it so far.
It's been a year since the last release, which was your album Insanity Department. Was there a specific reason for this? Or was that just how things played out?
Yes, this album is really special to me. I love different music, and that album was more of an exploration of mine. I then decided to release the album on my label. I think that Insanity Department fits perfectly with the label and the music I want to showcase.
As we've entered a new decade, what are some goals you have for the label? And yourself?
This year I'm going to start working a lot on Faut, I already have several releases scheduled and I'll also be releasing my own EP’s on the label. I'm really excited for the news to start coming out.
When looking at new talent for the label, what are some key factors you look for? If I want to release on Faut Section, what would be your ideal way for me to go about that?
The first point is that the music has to please me when I hear it, that is the most important factor for me. It can be an upcoming or renowned artist but for me, it will always be the same, I won’t release any music that I don’t like, ever. I've been getting lots of demos from new artists that I don’t know of but yeah, there’s a lot of good music coming my way!
Your home country of Portugal has become quite a hotspot for people to both visit and relocate to. As such, what has this new influx of people done for the club and party scenes?
I honestly don't know. I only go to clubs in Portugal for work, never out of this environment. I’ll be honest I have often heard bad reviews of the clubbing scene at home, but I don’t know if these rumors are true as whenever I play in Portugal, I only have very good things to say.
What is something about the nightlight scene in Portugal that separates it from other countries?
Too much bad music maybe? Outside of techno, of course, haha!
What about day to day life? Do you have a daily routine you follow? If so, what does it look like?
Yes, I do, I enjoy the element of a routine. Some days I'll wake up and go to the gym first thing, other days I'll wake up and go ride my motorcycle. From 2 pm to 10 pm you’ll find me in the studio. This is my life.
We all experience moments of frustration, or lack of clarity and focus. When you are feeling this way, but you have a seemingly endless amount of work you need to do, how do you regain focus to get things done?
Well, this has been complicated in the past but nowadays I try not to be frustrated, I take everything far more calmly, and it definitely works much better. At one point I made myself sick from putting too much pressure on myself, I promised myself that this would never happen again. I put the required amount of love and effort into my job normally, if everything is supposed to go well, it will happen, if not there is no use forcing.
Last question for you. If I'm a new artist on the scene, and I want to make a career of people as an artist, in all of your experience, what is the best piece of advice you could give me to keep me focused and on the path?
Nowadays I'm not even sure what makes a successful artist, sometimes it feels like a social media presence has more impact than people producing great music. But my advice to any up and coming artist is to stay true to what you want and what you personally like and don't look away, keep working hard and one day your opportunity will appear.