If you love electro, you know Lou. The lizard king of Melbourne aka Lou Karsh aka Reptant (“Real Name” Reppi T. Lizrd) has been spinning heads since 2016 with his dizzying output of highly satisfying and confidently complex mutant electro, techno, and acid. Still in his early twenties, Karsh has developed a uniquely forward thinking approach to the electro genre; a masterful touch that’s omnipresent across his impressive catalog of some thirteen odd EPs, a full length for Furthur Electronix, and highly notable remixes for the likes of Ronan, Posthuman, and Current Obsession.
This lizard doesn’t sleep! Lou’s also got a sizable graphic design career and his own label LKR which has put out fantastic tunes from Jensen Interceptor, Assembler Code, Roza Terenzi, and D. Tiffany. Ahead of his forthcoming Lifeforms EP for X-Kalay, Lou Karsh has graciously prepared this breathtaking MIXED BY for Bolting Bits.
What music was your entry point to the Electro genre? What draws you to the genre personally?
That’s actually a very hard question for me to answer as I think my taste shifted towards Electro rather gradually. There were certain elements and sounds I was drawn towards in house, techno and breaks tracks long before I considered myself even a listener of Electro. 3 or so years ago I had very minimal knowledge of the genre and didn’t really know how deep the hole can go. There’s still lot’s corners of the genre that aren’t to my taste but a large part of it caters to my love and appreciation for bouncy broken grooves and unique sound design, particularly the weird and precise futuristic tones that really feel like they belong in Electro.
What do you wish you heard more of in new Electro productions?
For me I love it when it’s super dynamic and well mixed, a bit of drive can be great but I love it when everything has its own space either in the groove or the frequency spectrum. Blending that kind of production with the right musical elements while keeping it either cheeky, serious or laid back and of course with lots of trippy high end bleeps. Track’s with elements of live jamming also stand out to me.. electro can be super cold and robotic sometimes, it’s great when it sounds a bit more organic.
When you think of the sound of acid on a dance floor — is there a specific memory, moment, or party that comes to mind?
I think the first time I ever heard a TB303 in person was during a Tin Man live set in Melbourne quite a few years ago in a small club. It was completely packed and everyone was going completely nuts as he tweaked two 303’s and dropped acid line over acid line continuously for maybe 2 hours. I would say that was the exact moment I decided to get a 303 and work on a live set.
Whose the last new Australian dance music artist or producer that you got excited about?
For me some of the most exciting stuff is coming from some pals within Melbourne. My friend Kia is running a label called Animalia which has just dropped it’s first release of Melbourne only tracks featuring Menage, Sam Brickel, Jack Brickel, Dashiell and Iota. These guys are always producing a ridiculous amount of bombs. Special shout out to Iota in particular, he’s still relatively new to production but his music would tell you a completely different story.
In your mind how do you define the difference between your work under the name Lou Karsh and the work under Reptant?
This has to be the most asked question I get haha. I like to think of the two projects as two different paths/story lines and the difference between the two hopefully becomes more coherent as each of the discographies grow. When I produce tracks I don’t always know which alias it will end up being but by the time I complete it I’ll know for sure. I’d say the Lou Karsh stuff lends itself to be more deep and can be relatively emotional whereas Reptant can be a bit weirder and more complex… though sometimes there’s a bit of crossover both ways. The Reptant project I feel can be a bit more experimental/unpredictable.
How did you approach this mix as far as tone and selection goes?
I really wanted to start off the mix with some lighter/happier moods that drift off into some sort of spookier ‘mind game’ electro before returning to a happier ending. Tone wise lots of bleeps and acid squelches I hope help to bring it all together.
Your latest record is your second release with Peckham based label X-Kalay. How’d you start working with them and what’s special about the label in your mind?
I started working with Sam when my good friend Ru (Rudolf C) put us in contact. He was seeking me out to do a release, I was stoked as it was gonna be the first Lou Karsh release on a label that wasn’t my own. Sam was a really nice guy, especially when I met him for the first time in person we got along very quickly. The releases he had put out back when he reached out resonated with me heaps and over time the label has changed/developed its sound over time conveniently as my own taste had. I would maybe even say i’m more into the releases now than at the time of the Ataraxia release. On top of that I got to release on the same label as one of my friends and also even became friends with some others on the label.
What’s the vocal sample in your track “Ectoplastic?” Would love to know a bit about the origin of that track.
The vocal sample was actually taken from a verse by A-plus, a rapper from the 90’s hip hop group Souls Of Mischief out of Oakland, California. In the their track ’93 ‘till (1993) A-Plus raps “When I see a fool and he says he heard me tell, another person’s busy-ness, I cause dizziness, until you stop acting like a silly b*tch”.
Long before I made ‘Ectoplastic’ the entire ’93 ’til lyrics were stuck in my head since I heard it. ’93 ‘til was potentially the first track I ever came across independently, I discovered it when i was about 12 or 13 years old while listening to the radio in my bedroom, I remember the music instantly blew my mind at the time I hoped the track never played out… When it did, I tried my best to catch the presenter drop the track ID. It was one of the first 12” I picked up not too long after that. Fast forward about 10 years I had toyed with a few vocal samples in my electronic music endeavours but nothing seemed to be the right fit. Then when i was producing ‘Ectoplastic’, a track designed to build up and then completely change and throw off listeners/dancers I remembered the A-Plus lyric ‘I cause dizziness’. It couldn’t be a more perfect fit.
Regarding the production of the rest of the ‘Ectoplastic’ I had just got back to Melbourne from my first Euro tour at the end of 2017. I set up all the gear I didn’t bring with me overseas as soon as I got home from the airport. Still completely jet lagged and running completely off lack of sleep and inspiration from Europe, I sat at my desk and played with my synthesisers for what was probably another 24 hours before finally crashing in bed (I think I only unpacked my suitcase once I woke up). In this time I sketched out all of the Planet Euphorique EP. Freq Accident and Monolith were live jams which were completed then and there, while the other two tracks had the finishing touches added a few days later. I don’t think i’ll ever be able to write like that again, it was like I was in a weird exhausted delirious zone where stupidity and thoughtlessness resulted in creativity and trying new things I wouldn’t come up with normally… which was super cool but I cannot condone sleep deprivation… it’s not healthy…
What’s up next for your label LKR?
I’ve got something special lined up for the 10th release that I won’t say too much about, apart from that I’m keeping the label relatively open I don’t want to sign anything too far in advance and only plan to release stuff when it feels right. I also won’t be going much further than 10 releases unless I can successfully diversify the label. This is an important step, one I don’t want to rush into either and make the right decisions about going forward.
Interview by Nick. B