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One on One with Luke Mandala

by on May 15, 2015
 

His music speaks to the heart and flows through inspiring and intense emotive movements, flying through the cosmos, or the deepest primal caves, warmly releasing the listener to body movement, inspiration, unification, and play.

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  1. Hi Luke, welcome to Euphoric. How are you doing?

Hi Sarah :)  I’m well, thanks. I’m having a peaceful night in the studio.

  1. Well to begin with, you seem inclined to the cosmic universe and the nature. Is that what inspired you to come up with your dj name?

I came up with my artist name when I was about 22 years old. At the time my moniker was Mirror (in the Mayan Calendar I’m a White Cosmic Mirror), and I started releasing my own productions around that time. However, I didn’t want to get mixed up with another artist named Mirror that was releasing music so I came up with an original name, Luke Mandala. I came up with the name because there was a group of people inspecting my eyeballs and they said there are rare and elaborate mandalas in my eyes. so I combined that fact with the fact that I really love mandala art, and the fact that I relate with so much of Buddhism, which is mainly what Mandala’s are associated with. When I envision much of my music I see mandalas and a sense of “oneness”. Also, I liked the idea of having multiple “awww” sounds in the name because I heard that reflects the feminine and I want to reflect a balance of masculine and feminine in my music, and “Aww” is the frequency of the heart (that’s what I remember someone telling me anyways). All these things played into it.

Regarding your statement about being inclined to the cosmic universe and nature, you’re quite right. I love music that reflects the cosmos and the endless space that spirals with it, a good portion of my music reflects that. Sometimes I really love very atmospheric music that reflects a ton of space, maybe it sends me into some comfy oblivion. Usually I’m going for a balance of organic with synthetic/cosmic sounds with my music.

 

  1. With 16yrs into the scene, was there any special track that you can point out that really got you into dance music?

When I first got into dance music I was into hard house for like a month 😛 It was around 1998 and DJ Dan was my favorite at that time. I was like 14 years old. I can’t remember a particular track right now but I remember the “zipper” track that DJ Dan did was something I really liked. I was also really into tech house/house/techno as well and that has never gone away. My first mixtapes were deep house/tech house from Jeno of the Wicked Crew, Steve Loria, and Doc martin (to name a few) that were really pulling me into electronic music.

  1. Being in the United States, how different is the underground music scene there compared to Europe?

I wouldn’t know first hand! I’ve been wanting to explore the European music scene more than anything for years now but haven’t had the money. There’s a bit more progressive tech house over in Europe, I would love to feel what it’s like to be in a big crowd of people open to it, I haven’t experience that here in America barely at all.

  1.  Your sound arrangement is unique, and it keeps your tracks very intriguing. How do you do this, is it something that flows naturally? 

I would say it flows pretty naturally. First I will get a loop going with most of the main sounds I will have in the track, and then I will do arrangement later. When I’m making the sounds I’m playing around with turning some on and others off, and at that point I’m remember how I like to hear things flow in and out of each other. I intentionally go for unique arrangements because I find it intriguing. I like the idea of going to new places with music, and unique arrangements play into that. If the arrangement sounds like a generic one.. I will make sure to go back and make some twists and turns :)

  1. Tuning in Gaia – was one album, where there was some great play of elements and sounds. What gear/programs do you use to produce a track?

I just use my macbook pro, Focal 50 monitors, Apogee Duet soundcard, really nice earphones, and some acoustic treatment for the walls. This is mostly because I have never had much extra money for gear. It makes it so I can make music on the road though, which is huge for me. I started getting serious about producing in like 2007 which was when you could start getting away with just having a laptop. I am happy in some ways that I don’t have much hardware because then I use less materials and it’s more eco-friendly. I use Logic Pro X, the Massive synth often, I’ve been using Camel Audio’s Alchemy sampler/synth, Ozone 5 for mastering so I can check my tracks live before sending to someone else for the final mastering (I like to get a second set of ears on it), and I use the Trash distortion plugin sometimes too. That’s about it, not much!

Luke-9880-2

  1. Talking about your productions & sounds, your mix sets carry it’s own approach, how do you prepare a set? Do you gather certain types of tracks for a certain type of club or city?

I never play a same set twice. Each set is catered to each crowd. Most of the time I know what the crowd will be like and what I want to try with them. I do research on the event and see what type of people are going, what kind of event it will be, what type of substances they might be on, what time of the night I’m playing, what type of sound system, who plays before and after me and even during the rest of the event. I could go on and on. All these things play a part in what tracks I want to play. I very much like to find that moment and play the right track for it. It’s an art that I naturally love doing. I spend around 2-6 hours preparing my tracks for each gig, which is sometimes really challenging to find time for considering I play a number of gigs each week sometimes. The far majority of the time I’m trying to play the best set I possibly can for that environment. I love to find a balance of what I want to hear, what I think the crowd wants to hear and try to find something that will please both of us at the same time. I want to play something the crowd didn’t expect and didn’t even know they wanted to hear. I love to pleasantly surprise people. I like to take risks and I really appreciate it when other performers do the same. It’s a type of creativity I really dig, that really makes me feel alive. There’s so much magic and mystery in why those risks work and i love that.

 

  1. If you could take only 3 things with you to a deserted planet, what would they be and why?

My girlfriend, a space shuttle to sleep in and to get of there in case we might die, and a ton of baby coconuts.

  1. Touring to various music events & festivals, and experiencing the crowd and the city, which has been your favorite gig till date?

This may seem kind of ironic because I’ve played at some amazing events, but my favorite would probably be some of the small intimate family style events in the forests of the northwest. There was a number of sunrise sets that helped create some of the most beautiful moments of my life. This was mainly my favorite because I had mostly cherished friends with me. My favorite vibe at events was from the scene around Eugene, Oregon from about 2005-2009.

 

  1. You got me to this earth, I know I’m grateful”.

Those are the lyrics for a track I wrote about a year ago. I wrote, sang, and recorded them and then pitched my voice down, which is what you’re hearing in the track. I was thinking about how I don’t know how I got to this earth but I think I probably came from another planet. The vocals are expressing gratitude for being alive.

11.What are you working on right now?

Right now I’m working on a dancy downtempo track, I’ve been especially stoked on making break beats around 110BPM lately. I love how it’s different than what I’m hearing from other people so much. For those of you who don’t know I’ve always made all types of styles; Tech house/techno/midtempo breaks/deep dubstep/ambient/chill out/classical/etc.  I’m currently in a place where I’m starting to think of whether I want to work on a new album or a new EP or whether I want to find a remix to work on. I’m also going to get some tech house/techno tracks started soon here. I’ve spent most of my time the last few weeks working on things that a manager or booking agent would work on, if I had one. I’m currently looking for help with those things.

  1. What’s your favorite hobby? How do you spend time when you are not producing/djing?

My favorite hobby is conversing and goofing off with friends. I also like to council my friends and get really deep. When I’m not producing/djing I’m usually dancing, hiking, I do all kinds of board sports, and I watch movies. I love to travel, although that usually ties in with DJing. I love sunsets, I’m a foodie, and I love trying new things. the more ridiculous and wacky the better :)

  1. What is your studio set up like and what is your favorite tool to use when developing a track? What’s your live set up?

I already explained my studio pretty much. My favorite tools lately have probably been Massive and Camel Audio’s Alchemy. My live set up is a Traktor Audio 2 box and an X1 for effects. I mix 2 channels together in the dj mixer. I’m currently learning violin to integrate that into my live show. I’m 7 months in, I need another year or two before I can play it live the way I want. It’s required a ton of discipline, which has been very challenging with my busy schedule, but it will be epic when it pays off.

  1.  In the last few years, with technology improving immensely, do you think the setting of electronic music has changed for the better? Do you think that the tech tools to create quality dance music are more readily available to people?

I would think it’s probably changed for the better. I’m not sure what technology you’re speaking of. It seems to me the tech tools are more readily available. If you have decent monitors and a decent computer, all you need is a DAW and you can make amazing music. Logic pro is only $200 and you make amazing music with it! That’s amazing! Sure it’s great to have quality hardware too but I would consider the new virtual plugins available to be something that is making things much more easily accessible.

 

  1. Which is and has been your all time favorite track that never gets off your playlist?

The track you speak of changes every couple years, I like to explore new things. The past year my one of my favorite uptempo tracks to play as been “Earthed” by Gabriel Ananda. For downtempo it would be “One Hundred Lights” (Grouch Remix).

  1. Quickies:

-Favorite DAW? 

Logic Pro

 

-Awkward Moment? 

May have been when someone took my pants when I was in a gym class when I was little. I pretty much enjoy awkward moments nowadays 😛

 

-Style or Substance? 

I definitely prefer style over substance. Both are nice at times, although if I had to pick one I would go with substance.

 

-Favorite destination that you’ve travelled so far

My favorite place that I’ve travelled to would be the mossy forest of the NorthWest USA along the beach, or the beaches of Thailand.

 

-A track that’s really spinning for you at the moment

A track that is really spinning for me lately is Don’t Panic (Groove Delight Remix).

 

  1.  Thankyou for your time Luke, it was great having you on Euphoric. Please share last few words with our readers.

Thanks so much for the interview! I’ll leave you with a quote from what I my favorite poets. “Let the beauty of what you love be what you do” -Rumi

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