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LTJ Bukem

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Record label entrepreneur and visionary of the post-acid-house-rave revolution, LTJ Bukem aka Danny Williamson, has headed up the vanguard of breakbeat evolution for more than 25 years. He talks with JO CAMPBELL ahead of his appearance at Breakfest on Thursday, December 26 at Belvoir Amphitheatre. 

Williamson’s Good Looking Records has had its ups and downs in recent years, but there’s no denying that the man behind those specs redefined the spirit of drum’n’bass with his unique jazz fusion experiments. The imprint has stood the test of time and after a long hiatus, is back in the game.

“We had a two or three year break, had an influx of music and wanted to get it back on board,” he says from his London home. “There was too much good stuff around to not get back into it.”

The start of the 21st century saw the release of the much acclaimed Journey Inwards, a diverse album of drum‘n’bass, soul and jazz. The man in question says its successor is currently in the works, despite a consistently heavy touring schedule.

“Touring has made that tough for years and obviously the work with the label and being so busy, but it’s something that I’m just tinkering around with again, producing another long player in the near future.

“It’s a lot easier now when you can sit on a plane and start on an idea or sit in a hotel room and do bits and pieces, whereas in the past, with only being able to use hardware gear – that was almost impossible. So I’ve been tinkering around with lots of bits and pieces and have some ideas flowing that I really want to get into very soon. You have to watch this space basically.”

The concept of evolution has always been at the forefront of the Bukem brand and the idea of creative spirituality is important to Williamson. “I definitely have a somewhat spiritual experience when I’m playing music; it does effect me in a spiritual way,” he explains. “My love of music has made it such that I do have these kinds of experiences when I’m producing or playing or listening to music. And it still is very spiritual when the people and the music fit together in a certain way and the effect that has on me – the sounds and the people using the music – it just ticks all those ‘hairs standing on their ends’ boxes and it’s the reason why I got into it.

“People say that I’ve been DJing for 25 years or more and must be bored of it; but that will never die. How can you bored of hearing sounds that you love? I don’t understand that.”

For the better part of that 25 years, Williamson’s work with MC Conrad, both on tour and as part of the Logical Progression series and Progression Sessions, was the stuff of legend. Almost one year on from a dispute between the two that saw them part ways, Williamson says the conflict was mostly down to Conrad’s inability to gain visas due to a drug record. Other reports given by Conrad cite the low appearance fee he was receiving as the main gripe of contention. Williamson is philosophic about the road ahead.

“You carry on, it hasn’t really changed anything, you get out and do your thing and play your music, you know. And half of the places where I travel to, he can’t get a visa, which was the biggest problem about a year and a half ago. You can’t really go somewhere with someone if they can’t get into the country, can you?

“I’m constantly going to America and Canada and Russia and many parts of the world where you need visas and amongst that he had some personal problems that I’m not going to discuss in any interview. I’m not the kind of person to talk about someone’s personal issues.”

Many old fans will probably still rue the loss of Conrad and his stand out ability to add an extra level of outer-space soul to Bukem’s work, but Williamson says he’s enjoying his solo act status. He’s now working with an array of MCs and is avoiding any exclusive relationships.

“I’m going to a lot of places and I’m not always familiar with what that guy does, but in some cases it’s just an intro, a bit of hype and then I play the music. A lot of people in many places have said to me that they wish I didn’t have an MC. Even when I was with Conrad, a lot of people, and I mean thousands of people, would say to me, ‘I wish you wouldn’t have an MC, I just want to hear the music’. And so you get different people with different wants and you can’t please everyone, it varies from place to place.”

 LTJ Bukem plays Breakfest on Thursday, December 26 at Belvoir Amphitheatre. 

Get your tickets here.

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