Lunice is a producer with incredible pedigree. Forming one-half of TNGHT with Hudson Mohawke, the pair took their sound international. His solo material too has earned enormous acclaim, fusing the hip-hop sounds that first fired his imagination as a kid in Montreal with the broader spread of club-focussed innovation.
Debut album ‘CCCLX’ was a riveting display of his ambitions, the work of an artist intent on finessing each and every thought. Six years later, new album ‘OPEN’ is finally here, and it’s a broad, dynamic, inspired piece of work.
An inspired return, he utilises the talents of a number of key collaborators – Cali Cartier, Stargate, Zach Zoya, Yuki Dreams Again, Jay Century, DAGR and Grammy-winning producer DRTWRK – to produce a vivi glimpse of the Montreal underground.
Indeed, the city looms large in his imagination. It’s home, for one, but it’s also a nexus of ideas and communities, a hub for innovation. Here, Lunice reflects on the city, the role it plays in his own art, and names a few artists to look out for.
To this day, despite the hyper-categorisation of the internet where an artist might end up getting boxed into a niche-genre, Montreal’s scene has always found a way to find influence in every creative field imaginable all while holding its own unique interpretation of it. We often hear about a “city’s sound” but when it comes to Montreal, you’ll find many artists not able to pin-point exactly what the over-encompassing sound of the city really is and we absolutely love and thrive in that kind of environment. It gives a lot of us the creative freedom to explore novel concepts without having to worry much about the more competitive side of the industry that would naturally output a lot of conventional ideas.
I have a running theory that in every general economic downturn in history where the rate of general consumption slows down, new ideas and DIY scenes pop up introducing a huge wave of novel expressions that wasn’t as present in the last five to eight years. As a result, I noticed a lot more underground scenes starting to show up coming from many independent collectives. Most of these scenes are running out of someone’s art gallery, loft or empty space. If it isn’t that, you could find the same mutual circles at a place like Bar Datcha or Le Système.
Here’s a list of creatives that I would like to give attention to because they’ve been a huge influence to me.
Easily one of the best sample-based hip-hop producers in Montreal. Every single track he’s done is a damn work of art.
I really love what Backxwash does and her expression is so explosive and theatrical all while pushing her sound design to places you wouldn’t imagine. It’s beautiful to watch.
I met her through our mutual friend James Benjamin at his Break Glass Studio. She has a very forward-thinking approach to her music and with the way she performs it vocally too.
Yuki Dreams Again
I was introduced to Yuki Dreams Again and Zach Zoya through working with Miko. That whole circle, including artist Soran, are some of the most creative and emotionally insightful group of young artist I’ve ever met. I find what they do and how they work to be very inspiring.
He’s an absolute star. In the way that every time you see him he truly exudes a wildly artistic and free expression that I rarely come across in the industry as a whole.
The first time I heard of Lina’s work I was completely taken on a ride through the ways she’s able to find these crazy rhythms I could never imagine. There’s something truly unique with what she’s doing.
While still on the subject of wild rhythms, SIM is another outstanding example of intricate sound designs and structural ideas that brings fresh air to the reggae dub style of music.
Her vocal range is so angelic and smooth all while being riding through an experimental soundscape. I’m very excited to hear where she goes next.
One of the wildest producers in this city. I have no clue how he does it. It’s as if he’s from a higher dimension and has come here to show us what’s possible beyond our own third dimension haha! I swear! I’ve always been inspired by his work all these years.
One of the all time greatest wisest hip-hop artist in this city. A true inspiration to me for how he forged his own path in the rap industry. He really is his own brand and artist that transcends any scene always building on new ideas. I’ve learnt a lot from him over the years and I’ve always been grateful for it.
Nora Kelly Band
So much soul in this country style of sound that you’d never guess they’re from Montreal. I’ve been following their work in the last couple of years now and really love how expressive this feels.
‘OPEN’ is out now.
Photo Credit: Samuel Pasquir