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LTJ Bukem

date: 23.11.2007
location: Party Center 4KM (Sofia, BG)
event: Drum&Jazz Festival 2007
text/questions: Peter Kashev

CE: Hi LTJ. It’s nice to meet you. My first question is how are you feeling being back to Bulgaria? Do you have any recollections on your previous gig in Sofia?

LTJ: That’s like 50 hundred years ago (laughs). I don’t remember the exact year but I know it was too long ago. I should be here every year!

CE: Yes, we think you have to be in Bulgaria every year too because lots of people like you here.

LTJ: That’s fantastic! I feel honoured to be here.

CE: I guess most people know but can you tell us what stands behind your moniker LTJ Bukem?

LTJ: LTJ stands for nothing! It’s just three letters but… In 1984 to 1989 I was called DJ Bukem. Then in ‘89 a friend of mine came to me and said: “Why don’t you call yourself LTJ?” And I was like…OK. It sounds good. I like that, it’s different.

Bukem is a word from an old TV show in America about cops and robbers. And when they were arresting someone for robbery or murder, they were saying: “Bukem him out” or “Bukem that man”. Then again a friend of mine started saying to me the same all time and that was where my name came from.

CE: Do you think that your musical background including piano lessons has helped you to establish yourself as a producer and DJ? When did it all start for you?

LTJ: My background definitely helped in my construction and putting together the music. I wanted to hear things that went together. I didn’t just want to listen to one tune and a second tune, and a third tune because they were great tunes. I wanted the first tune to connect to the second tune which to connect to the third tune and all of this to become a story. That’s why I like writing music as well and my knowledge definitely helped.

It started for me with the piano lessons when I was very young. The main thing to me was meeting a guy called Magic Crouch when I was 11 years old. Back then I was studying classical music which was kind of like…OK…but this guy came along to me once and played me Billy Evans, Lonnie Liston Smith, Bobby Humphries and I was blown away by this sounds and how they made me feel. He took me to Royal Albert Hall in London to see one of them live and that was it for me. I wanted to be part of this. From that moment on my teacher started to teach me a little bit of jazz, improvisation. Then I began to buy records from the musicians I liked to listen to, and that’s when I started DJing when I was 15 years old.

One day a friend of mine came to me and said: “All my friends are playing the piano and you are buying records. Come and play music for a party”, and I was like…OK. So I took my dad’s stereo, tape recorders, wheel to wheel players and other stuff, and played at the party for 5-6 hours. I enjoyed that feeling so much of being in control of the music.

CE: Do you think that you could express yourself through the music you play?

LTJ: Always! Music itself is like a sixth sense. It does something to me that nothing else does to me. It puts me in a place of happiness and peace. When I play at a party, I don’t want to look at the crowd but focus on the music.

CE: It’s been 20 years since you’ve started DJing. What’s your view on the current drum&bass and break beat world-wide scene?

LTJ: Musically, it’s fantastic. In all scenes we have so many different styles that give people their own kind of individuality. When I first started DJing, there were a few certain tunes that everyone was playing. Now it’s completely different. There is more music now than ever before which is brilliant.

Selling the music is hard with the development of the Internet. Music has become more “thrown away” now. For me, what I play now is something I have played 10 years times and what tune I played 20 years ago, I will play it tomorrow. That’s my theory about music. That’s special to me and close to my heart.

CE: So, you think that music is basically timeless? When you have a good record, it’s a good record.

LTJ: Exactly. You can always make a good record. A lot of people are trying to change their style to move on a couple of years but…good music is good music! That’s it.

CE: How did you decide to set up your own record label Good Looking Records back in the early 90’s? Did you face many problems in order to establish it on the UK scene?

LTJ: First of all, I made a track called “Logical Progression” in 1989 but didn’t know what to do with it. Then a friend of mine told me he has a record label called “Vinyl Mania” and he would put it out for me. I agreed and two months later he gave me 2 000 pounds and I was like: “This is good, man. I want to make more music!” Most important was that I wanted to find out how I made that money. I wanted to find out how the record was made and distributed, what shops sold it and whey did they sell it.

In 1990 I made the track “Demon’s Theme” and decided to release it through my own label. In that time a guy called Phil started a distribution company called “Vinyl” and I had Good Looking Records. So, we came together and he helped me to get my music out to the people, showed me how everything was working and this is how Good Looking basically started.

Back then I didn’t really care about success. I didn’t give a shit. I couldn’t care less (laughs). I just wanted to make good music. I wanted to have a channel to put my music out there. Many people saw this, they liked it and started joining me and writing music for the label. That’s how the early Photek stuff came out, PFM as well… All these guys came together and decided to make the same style of music. Four years had passed before I even thought it was successful.

CE: Anything new on the label recently like scheduled releases or new signed artists?

LTJ: Yes, we have just released Makoto’s album “Believe In My Soul”. Conrad and I have new stuff coming out too. This summer we played on the EXIT festival in Serbia with more than 25 thousand people attending. We had 7 cameras there and filmed it. So, that will be the next Progression Sessions which will be released next year on a DVD. Conrad has a solo album coming out and I have started a solo album as well.

For 10 years we have released so many albums on Good Looking Records and we have 5 thousand titles in our catalogue. I cannot continue like that anymore and prefer to release a few tunes a month and take it easy. Basically, I want to put out some good quality stuff, not a lot of stuff.

Also, I want to find a way of getting all the drum&bass music to the kids on the streets because they want it but can’t get it. That’s why I’m going to start something next year so any kid can get the music.

CE: What are you looking for in a MC? Your partnership with Conrad is going really well. What do you find in him?

LTJ: It’s easy. He (Conrad) likes the music I play and I like the lyrics he chats. He is very intelligent MC and has got a lot of clever things to say. Conrad complements the music. There are a few guys I love to work with because they make the music sound better. For me, that’s what a MC has to do and that’s what Conrad does so it’s simple for us to work together.

CE: Thank you!
by shrink @ 05 Dec 2007, 12:11
Great interview, great party, great music, great DJ and producer.

He's all about music. Thanks, Pesho :)


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04.12.2007  (CE)