In his three years of activity as Liar, the Bucharest-based DJ and producer has redefined genres, defied boundaries, released quite a lot of music, remixed tracks for The xx, Mikky Ekko, Active Child & Trust, to name a few, and caught the eye, ear and appreciation of household names such as Jamie xx & Kastle, again to name only a few. It’s extremely hard to place Liar in a genre, as his work tends to be eclectic, combining the best of the best from all sorts of music from different periods of time, while finding new approaches and hinting towards new directions.
We met with Liar, talked about all sorts of things and then took some really nice photos. We’re sharing them with you in this week’s feeder insider.
Keywords: cybertime, eclectic, sci-fi, mixed media, hyper-ego, ezoterism, komfort-kitsch
The first thing I do when I wake up…I take my happy pills.
Making music is, for me, a way of…simply being
The thing often misunderstood about art is…that it’s free. It’s not.
In my teens, I used to listen to a lot of…metal.
If I were to define my clothing style, I’d say it’s…komfort kitsch.
My favorite instrument is…FL Studio.
It’s good music if…I like it.
A wish of mine that hasn’t yet come true is…working with Drake.
3 releases that redefined their own genre…
“Classical Curves” by Jam City brought a new filiation to the continuum of UK club music, and it reinvented and defined, in an incredibly articulate way ,the unique sound of Night Slugs, with the rest of their future catalogue incorporating a lot of the album’s musical DNA.
“Take Time” by Mumdance just set a new standard when it comes to minimalism, reductionism (and not in the lazy, facile sense of tired minimal techno, but in a brutalist and inventive way). Mumdance is, currently, the producer that makes the most with the least. Absolutely bonkers material, especially “The Sprawl”… frenzied avant-garde, yet unpretentious and functional.
„Voidness” by Borealis – the most underrated release of this decade, one that inspired dozens, if not hundreds of producers, but hasn’t yet received the all-encompassing praise it deserves.
Ana Moca-Grama: Liar, I’m so glad we finally get to talk. This year was a very full one for you, releases, collaborations and „Cybertime” – the EP that you describe like this: „If we were to consider cyberspace as the collapse of space into a single point (through the digital trivialization of distance), we can consider cybertime as the collapse of every discrete instance of reality, along a line existing in a fourth dimension, into a single, non-linear event (through the digital trivialization of time).” How did this passion for digital space and its concepts begin?
Liar: First of all, I think this passion is inherent in everyone from our generation and the adjacent one. I wasn’t born with the internet, but it has existed in my life enough that, someway or another, it’s embedded itself in every aspect of my life. Plus, I’m a perfect example of someone for whom the internet was an invaluable resource – without it I wouldn’t have come up the way I have… I dunno, maybe I would have, I’m pretty resourceful, but thanks to the internet it wasn’t even an issue. It allowed me to be an international artist, independent and emancipated from the ephemeral, frivolous, or mercurial nature of local collectives.
Furthemore, I grew up with Asimov and Orson Scott Card novels, with Star Trek TNG, the Matrix trilogy, Akira, Ghost in the Shell, and I’ve always had an almost nerdy passion for sci-fi. The decisive moment that articulated my pluralistic obsessions into a coherent, technofetishist and transhumanist philosophy was when I read (way too late in life) „Neuromancer”, by William Gibson.
AMG: You’ve been in a close relationship with music for almost a decade, and your style is defined especially by your lack of adherence to a certain genre, taking everything that’s good and right from different areas of electronic music and combining them with artistry. Still, a defining word appears when it comes to your style: esotech. Tell me a bit about this.
L: It’s more of a joke, I don’t recall if it started from the people at Farver Music, or it came later, from the facebook fans, or Alin Stan/Redshore. At one point someone combined „esoterica” with „techno”. It would have been a cool handle if, in all my eclecticism, I would’ve at least stuck within the vague limits of techno.
AMG: Your tracks have very interesting names. I spent some time on the internet searching what „erumpo ortus” means, learning new words (phalanx!) and realizing that the tracks from „Que” were all named after White Wolf lore (they have a very interesting story as well, you can find more here). How do you choose these names, and how connected are they to the track itself?
L: Often I first choose the name of the song and only then actually start making it, becausei have this problem: I know how to do lots of things, I’ve accumulated an enormous library of sounds and I’m completely familiarized with too many synths, effects, mixing and mastering tools, etc. So I’m paralyzed by possibility. For me, a good day is when I wake up, take my meds, eat, and then begin working on a track and at one point, 6/8/12 hours later, it’s completely finished. At most I’ll master it later, I like to do this after a few months, so I can completely forget the material and then judge it as an engineer, objectively. But the title dictates the concept and the concept dictates a direction, it helps me choose sounds, do the sound design, compose, structure and mix simbolically, conceptually, and sineasthesically. And that allows me to be fast, prolific, and to sometimes innovate accidentaly.
AMG: Speaking of Assamites, which are your favorite games?
L: Final Fantasy VII, VIII, IX, the Fallout series, Grim Fandango, Planescape: Torment, Warhammer 40k, Shadowrun, the Half-Life series, Oddworld, System Shock și Bioshock… VtM Bloodlines,obviously… A very poorly made game, unfinished, buggy; but I like it a lot because I love the story, the lore and the world… I used to play pen & paper VtM. I played a bit in gradeschool, a bit in highschool, and from then on I haven’t managed to whip up a team.
AMG: As for imaginary universes, they sometimes become real, as it is in your case. You created a distinctive world, where we find more than just music: new concepts and redefined ideas, on a visual and linguistic level, that are at first seemingly cryptic… yet all of this mixed media inform the construct of Liar. Besides music, what creative plans do you have?
L: I like involving myself a whole lot in my videos… intitially when it came to directing. All my clips always start with „ok, I have an idea, do that”, and then, of course, it wouldn’t turn up exactly as I wanted because I’m a perfectionist and control freak and I would be like „I’ll learn to use the requisite software and I’m gonna do a part of it”, and that’s how I learned editing, a bit of collor correction, motion graphics, 3D design, photoshop. 3 videos will soon be launched – one for Cybertime, one for Pygmalion (for a maxi-single featuring Pygmalion + 3-4 remixes), and one for the lead single from my next material.
AMG: Your identity is quite strong, hard to ignore – from your clothing style to your facebook activity. What were your influences, known or unknown, from this point of view?
L: I’ve never thought about it. Partially, it’s YMCMB-type ignant shit and, partially, all sorts of latent things from when I was young. Early on it was just a subculture thing, and then it became an extension of the fact that I was the frontman in several bands. It was all about being this gothy special little snowflake: trenchcoats and claws, eyeliner and fishnets. I was very image-conscious back then… obviously not as much these days. I retain a small remnant of that mindset, however, and it manifests through gaudy accesorization, zero thought put into it, just flash. It’s a sort of unwitting peacocking, I guess. I like all sorts of things that have a mystical and symbolic connection to who I am, deep down. For instance, to me, the obsession with leopard print (Ed. He’s wearing shoes and a cross around his neck, both with animal print) isn’t just about aesthetics – it’s about the fact that I’m a leo… that’s why I have an EP called „Alpha”… etc. As for my online activity… it’s an extension of my black humor, of my aesthetic preferences – which one could either see as completely „wrong” (from an objective POV) or dangerously conservative (from another, similarly objective POV) -, and of my overt, nurtured deviance . Read between the lines and you’ll know me better than my mother.
AMG: What other symbols are you drawn to?
L: My next EP is called „Scorpio”, and through it I’m exploring my zodiac ascendant sign. These are from India (En. He shows me his beads), I keep them as amulets, they have functions, for health, anti-hex, for prosperity. They’re made especially for me, given by the swami from the temple I solicited.
AMG: What did you do at the temple?
L: I was read, they found my avatar. Nrsimhadeva.
AMG: I don’t know how the ceremonies play out.
L: For most people, it would probably be super boring, for me they were mega-fun, as they contain lots of hindu mythology.
AMG: How was Mumbai?
L: It was extraordinary. I’m a hypochondriac and a pessimist, but at the same time, i’m prideful, and I don’t like backing down from a challenge. When it came to „Come to India!”, I could’ve played it safe… but I was like „no, I have to go, it’s too unique”. Unvaccinated, short-notice. In the plane, I kept thinking „I’m gonna die, I’m gonna die”, same thing in the airport.
AMG: Was the culture crash that strong?
L: Not the culture clash (that’s an understatement)…first of all, I was hit by the air, which wasn’t breathable initially for a tourist, I was (En. he makes suffocating noises), I couldn’t even, it was horrible – a mixture of cheap parfume with heat and potpourri, curry, sweat, dirt, garbage and humidity. We met up with the promoters, a Saudi/Indian prince educated in Canada, plus 2 Canadian expats, we entered a van with AC and from then on nothing was uncomfortable or confusing. India is gorgeous when you see it from the privileged or semi-privileged position of a post-colonial, as we were. We stayed in a 6 star hotel which was cheaper than a 3 star hotel in Romania, it had personalized rooms, in a neighborhood populated by local celebrities where the houses don’t have numbers, but names. Between two of this kind of houses was an abandoned building, rotting away. You can see this contrast everywhere. The venue was one of the most awesome venues i’ve played in my life, when it comes to the soundsystem, amenities, meeting the rider, tools, public. The show was brilliant. But we entered the club through a KFC… and at 1 a.m. the police showed up, taking bribes, although this particular club was ok… 2 days later, I was stopped on the strees by slum-dweller. He looked like he was about 60 and he look like he had ever had internet access. He asked me if I was the same Liar who played in Big Bang 2 days earlier, that he liked it a lot. He didn’t ask for money, even though almost everyone around him was begging. I still don’t know how that man heard about me, or knew how I look, how it’s possible that my art would interest a man that’s barely subzisting. But it was super rewarding, and humbling. Extreme contrasts, that’s my speed.
AMG: And are you going anywhere cool this year?
L: I’m talking to two booking agencies. I don’t want it to be some random thing once a month anymore, I really want to put a solid tour together.
AMG: I’d like to know more about your creative process. I imagine you have a concept that you’ve established earlier on, that you’re improvising as you go, that you have your habits, just like any artist; but I’m really curious how the ideas are born, how you manage to arrange them into a coherent concept, that is then transposed into the music. How does Liar’s imagination work?
L: First of all, I’m superstitious with numbers and I don’t like certain values and parameters to be certain numbers I don’t like. I managed to learn how to not waste time with this because, fortunately, the numbers I like have to do with natural harmonic series, material resonance, the golden ratio, all that… If you go with certain numbers, the stuff is going to be intrinsically good and balanced, mix-wise, master-wise, as frequency-wise. It doesn’t hurt to mix up sound with maths, and I do that a lot, whether I want to or not.
AMG: Your music has received lots of praise, from the public and artists abroad. How’s the Romanian public in contrast with the foreign one? As for the local music scene and the clubs in Bucharest, what are the bad sides and where do we find happiness?
L: I only have three solid pieces of evidence that there is public for my music in Romania. I once played music on a boat and they had lots of fun. There was another party, my favorite one in Romania until now, Rush to Spayer, where I was the headliner – it was impeccable, the public was receptive in a way I had only seen abroad, until then. They knew tracks, they interacted. I had lots of fun too, for once. Other than that, all the sets I’ve played in Romania have simply been work. The Romanian public is very problematic.
AMG: Why do you think this is happening?
L: It’s an entire complex of problems. First of all, akin to any country that only recently acquired its own spirit and nightlife, we’re more repressed than we think, and that shows in the way people manifest and dance. As such, the drug culture becomes, rather than an extension of clubbing, a necessity – if there aren’t drugs, nobody dances and it’s not fun. Even if you fill up the room, everyone seems rigid. I don’t get this degree of awkwardness. Plus, the kids, which are the most educated, music-wise, and as such the most likely to behave in such a way that makes an event succesful… are also the worst clients for the clubs, because they don’t understand their own „weekender” lifestyle, they don’t know how to save 50 lei per week for Saturday, they sit on the curb and drink PETs before the headliner, and all this after they get in for free `cause there’s always a mile-long list (otherwise, you won’t even get them out of the house). The event ends up in the red, the club isn’t pleased, the potential for future quality events decreases. And so on.
AMG: Tell me a bit about the collaboration with Andronis.
Andronis: We became friends… then we became a couple… he knew I was an artist…
L: And I was like…”meh, another chick that doodles”, `cause they’ve spread like mushrooms lately. Then I saw what she does and how she does it, actually, and she’s extraordinarily talented. I don’t use this word easily or gratuitously, but she is a visionary on so many levels… although she disagrees.
AMG: Tell me more about your label.
L: It’s called Tessier-Ashpool Recordings, named after the mega-corp Tessier-Ashpool, from „Neuromancer”. The main doctrine of the label is „machine music”. We already have 4 releases lined up, they’ll be part of what will be our release blitz, through which we’ll showcase 4 possible epitomes of what we understand as machine music.
It’s simultaneously a boutique label and my vanity label, and a sister label of Infinite Machine. Initially it started as an imprint at IM, but we’ve since separated legally and fiscally. The artists I’m going to launch are all relativele newcomers. Their music has nothing in common, we’ve got dark techno, we’ve got a sort of mutant, cold jersey club with a vague tropical tint, we’ve got drum trax and club weapons and we have very futuristic and very UK jackin’ house… and they all somehow fit within the umbrella-concept. The common denominator is that all the artists seem to be absolutele veterans, I was amazed when I received the demos, I’m completely honored to be involved with such mature music from the get-go. Locally, I’ll release Lancor’s debut, and probably/eventually Ivilstrad’s debut.
AMG: Can’t wait! Thank you very much, Liar!
L: Big up Ana, big up Neon, big up Feeder, daddy loves u.
Photos by feeder.ro
Words by Ana Moca-Grama