Like most success stories, there is a lot more to Lunice than the sudden attention that TNGHT got after their EP was released. His is built on a lot of hard work, creative genius and a strong foundation. He first started producing music in 2000 after he heard the work of producer 9th Wonder. He discovered the computer programs that he was using to make the music and started playing around. It followed a period as a b-boy that has definitely imparted a huge performative side to his live appearances – things like teaching crowds how to do Lil B’s ‘cooking’ dance and generally being animated on stage.
Lunice played his first show in 2007 and ended up joining a local crew called Turbo Crunk. It was through their parties that he met Hudson Mohawk and ended up signing to Lucky Me. They released two of his EPs in 2010 and that year also bought great reviews for his performance at the Sonar festival then a slot in London for Red Bull Music Academy.
Around that time, he played a show with Major Lazer and Diplo asked him to collaborate on a Deerhunter remix, put out on his label, Mad Decent. The support of such high profile artists and labels brought more opportunities and shows through the door. A collaboration with the rap sensation Azaelia Banks came next and even an appearance in the music video for her song 212. Each achievement comes from Lunice’s methodical approach to life.
“I’ve always been the kind of person to self-analyse myself and where I’m at with things to make sure that every step forward is solid,” he explains from his home in Montreal before visiting Australia again this month. It’s his second time over here following rave reviews for his performances last time. “I guess I came up with this behaviour in high school. I tried to be a ‘bad boy’ just to catch attention but soon realised it’s really just pointless so I went in my own direction.” That ‘do your own thing’ attitude marks everything that Lunice does.
In reality the TNGHT collaboration was a happy accident. With a few days off in London, Lunice joined Hudson Mohawke in the studio and they started to lay down some tunes. They wanted to create some stripped back, hip hop inspired, party tunes and after talking about it for a while they finally got together to collaborate. There is a sense of ‘less is more’ in their approach that Lunice sees too. “Exactly! We’re simply making straight forward rap instrumentals but coming from our perspective of how we process these songs.”
The tunes may be “straight forward” but they captured a massive following last year. The bass-heavy tunes only have to play for a short time and whole clubs start dancing with a higher energy. With such success for TNGHT, it’s interesting that Lunice sees the minimalist nature of his music as one of the most challenging areas. “Minimalism has always been one of the biggest and hardest element to explore to me,” he admits, “and it’s a part of life that, I find, will always intrigue me whether it’s music, cooking or dancing.”
TNGHT has given Lunice some great opportunities. “The TNGHT project really set a platform for us to present to rappers and vocalist in the mainstream realm,” he says. “I’ve always felt that team effort has a bigger presence than solo work depending on the situation. But in general it just naturally has a bigger effect because there’s more than one mind in the works.”
Lunice had a fairly quiet year for solo releases last year. “I was working on my full-length album but then got a little sidetracked with the TNGHT project. So I just focused on working with vocalists for most of 2012. This year I’m planning to finish my album.”
So does Lunice want to reveal who any of those vocalists are? “I got a few projects going at the moment. Been working on some new stuff with the homie Rockie Fresh. But in general, I’d rather just keep it on the low until everyone hears it. I sort of like that whole element of surprise.”
Lunice is incredibly down-to-Earth and open. It’s a refreshing feel from someone who has experienced massive success. “That success has taken me by surprise because I’ve always been a humble guy through the whole experience,” he reflects. “I’m grateful for the positive response people give me. Everyone grows up to be in school and have a diploma or some kind of workforce certification. I was doing the same thing while selling wine on the side. Music was a pure hobby like fishing was, then it started to slowly take over my everyday schedule until I found myself touring and working on music full time.”
There was no family context to Lunice’s musical designs either. “My mum is an optometrist and my grandfather is a tailor actually but my grandfather always had talent for art. From martial arts to drawing, he has amazing talent whenever he’d showcase it. And my older sister has always been the one listening to a lot of music in the family.”
Lunice almost took the traditional workforce route instead of music. His tunes offer a type of soundtrack quality that could lend themselves to films and he prefers to be thought of as a ‘creative’ than just as a musician. “Before I was producing I was studying in Cinema Communications Arts in college actually. I’ve always been into working on short films and video art so the whole sound scoring influence really comes from doing films and such. I’ve always seen myself working in media. Didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do but I knew I wanted to be involved in anything that needs creativity.”
It’s all about a unique perspective on things. “In terms of how I approach my music there’s no real exact way to explain it. I can definitely assure you that it’ll be coming out of the way I just perceive life.”