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Luke Vibert 'I'm never that far away from the amen!'

Controller of the genre-spanning Wagon Christ, Plug and Amen Andrew monikers, among many others, Luke Vibert's varied and prolific output challenges the stereotypical image of the po-faced electronic artiste.

by DJ Tat
Luke Vibert 2 by Stuart Holt

Luke Vibert.

Photo by Stuart Holt.

Fans of Luke Vibert will have well and truly filled their boots this year with a trilogy of lively and infectious albums on Hypercolour, topped by a fantastic double-header with Altern8 producer Mark Archer.

The architect of the Wagon Christ and Plug monikers chatted with Now Then about his latest releases, his music-making ethos and how he’s been practising lockdown longer than most.

2020 has been quite a productive year for you. Has that been a consequence of lockdown?

I have made tons of tracks in lockdown but they won't be released for a while. There's usually a year or two from making a track until release, sometimes more.

For example, all the latest Hypercolour releases were made over the last ten years. The trilogy of albums for Hypercolour are jam-packed with infectious samples that many old school ravers and new school converts will instantly connect with.

It feels like you probably had a lot of fun making this.

Yes, they were all fun to make! It came about very slowly, until I realized I had enough tracks for full album releases, with hopefully more volumes to follow. I've been making these kinds of tracks for years, but never thought of releasing them before.

Your Rave Hop album is a mashup of hip-hop and rave, something that’s had the odd crossover in the past with mixed results. You’ve made it work really well. Is this something you’d like to do more of?

Yeah, I can't really help myself – it's great fun to make. It kind of started in 1998, when new music started to annoy me, so I started regressing!

You’ve produced under a number of guises, but have chosen to put out recent releases under your own name. Has that been a conscious decision and will we ever see new output from aliases such as Wagon Christ and Kerrier District?

Oh yes, I’ve definitely got a Wagon Christ album coming soon on People of Rhythm records – not Ninja Tune anymore – and Kerrier should be back on Hypercolour soon.

One name that’s been revived is your tongue-in-cheek Amen Andrews guise. There’s a lot of energy on that album. Had that been long in the making or was it something you produced in one go?

I make different kinds of tracks all the time, and I'm never that far away from the amen! Most of my tracks remain unreleased as I pump out way too many.

Humour has been a constant thread in your track titles, samples or productions. Is that mischievous element a reflection of your personality?

It’s a bit of both, I guess. People's reactions were originally so po-faced, going as far as calling Wagon Christ ‘comedy music’ (The Tire Magazine, of course… The full quote is worse: "unfunny comedy music"). It kinda galvanised me to stick to my guns. Fuck 'em.

The classic TB-303 plays quite an important part in many of your productions. What’s the studio process using that kit. Do you start by creating an acid bassline and working around it?

I find it generally easier to start with the acid line. Sometimes I forget and start with some lush chords, then it's almost impossible to find a complimentary acid line.

Obviously there’s been no opportunities to play out or DJ live during lockdown. How has it affected your own creativity?

It's just been a bit weird really. Apart from missing DJing and travelling loads, everything else is kind of the same. It turns out I've been practising for lockdown all my life!

What plans do you have for the coming year?

Hmm… apart from making music, nothing much - fuck knows when gigs will kick off again.

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