Hello, LukHash, and welcome to the website! You’re a new name to Brutal so let’s start off with some basics. What kind of music does LukHash make, and what are three of your favorite video games of all time?
LukHash: Hey! Thanks for having me. I create a fusion of '80s inspired synth music with modern sounds and chiptune elements under alias LukHash. Very difficult to pick just three games but my heart tells me to go with Commodore and Amiga titles; Giana Sisters, Cannon Fodder and Sensible World of Soccer. I’ve also enjoyed some PS1 games so special mention goes to Metal Gear Solid.
You’ve gone viral a few times due to the videos of you jamming out on a Commodore 64 and hacked Nintendo Gameboys. How did this even become a hobby in the first place? When was the first time you looked at a retro-machine and thought, “Fuck it, I’m gonna make some music with that.”?
LukHash: Haha, I remember that moment very well. It was mid ‘00s and at this point I started creating some of my early music as LukHash. 8-bit video game soundtracks have been a big part of my childhood and I thought it would be interesting to bring all of the influences into one place. I went on ebay and picked up an old C64g. It used to sell for some silly low amount at that time. Not long after I’ve ordered a couple of original Gameboys. I modified them slightly and since I really enjoyed jamming out with all consoles, I decided to share some of it on an early days YouTube. To my surprise the response was great.
Do you use those retro-consoles and computers to make commercial music as well, or is it just for videos? And, continuing on that train of thought, what does your set-up look like? What kind of gear do you use to record your music?
LukHash: I use it for both, but generally it’s mostly used in my videos. I love jamming with retro hardware and I mainly use my gear for that. In terms of studio set-up, just like many other producers I use a modern DAW and various modern virtual instruments. I like to sprinkle some Commodore 64 / Gameboy / NES apps or add an extra layer here and there to bring out that retro arcade vibe. On some of the songs (including next album) I’ve also used C64 data for creating glitches. Data in audio makes a very specific sound, as you would experience when trying to listen to a game cassette on your hi-fi back in the ‘80s. I think it adds a bit of a twist and an extra layer of cyberpunk feels. For example, I’ve used bits of data sounds from 1984 “Impossible Mission” on the forthcoming album opener. A bass layer example can be found here.
You’ve been at the top of the Bandcamp electronic charts multiple times. With each release, I imagine that your sound evolves a bit. How has your sound changed? From the beginning to the present.
LukHash: The key thing for me about this project has always been around having fun and keeping it true to myself. Each album will have its own identity as it’s an outcome of my current moods and feelings combined with music influences at the point of working on it. I really don’t give too much thought as to what style I should be creating, as long as I’m having fun. While I incorporated a lot of guitars back in the day, my taste has changed towards a pure electronic sound over time. I found music making as a sort of escapism from everyday challenges. Seeing my listeners enjoying by-products of that process makes it an amazingly rewarding experience.
I read through the press release for your latest single ‘Code Veronica’ a couple of times. It stated that the music will contain, “80s nostalgia, dystopian cyberpunk and retro arcade gaming culture”. In the realm of synthwave and chiptune music, these themes are commonplace. What are you doing to make your music stand out from the crowd?
LukHash: I’m not really sure! Most of all I just want to make stuff I enjoy doing and if the song makes me smile then that’s mission accomplished. I then look forward to sharing it with the world in the hope it will make someone else happy. I wanted to blend chiptune and synthwave to show how well these two can go together and I think there was a lot of room for that in the scene. I think the important part of this project is about taking my listeners on a soundscape journey and presenting them with something they may recognise but with a fresh approach. I like fusing different styles and trying different ideas while keeping the retro game spirit alive and I think my listeners appreciate it.
And tell me a little bit about ‘Code Veronica’. What is the song about and how did you go about creating it?
LukHash: It is a very personal track. As with a few other songs this one is dedicated to someone really special. I wanted to describe the main character, Veronica, as a very strong person bringing happiness to people even while there are some tragic events taking place around. Retro game vibe generated by some characteristic arpeggios was going to fit well as it also brings a lot of memories with the main character. I’m really glad NewRetroWave and I both agreed to pick it as the first single without going into much detail. Personally, it assured me it’s a fitting tribute packed with genuine emotions I wanted to offload.
This single comes off of your upcoming album on NewRetroWave. Prior to this, it seems as if you were primarily independent when releasing your music. Why did you decide to partner with NewRetroWave to release this album?
LukHash: Since its beginning, NewRetroWave has been the driving force of synth sound, helping many people to discover synthwave as well as helping its listeners to discover new artists. Since my sound started to incorporate more and more synthwave elements and evolved into what I sometimes refer to as ‘Chipwave’ (combination of Synthwave and Chiptune) I thought it was the right time to join forces with people that could introduce me to the wider audience. NRW seemed like a perfect home. I already had some relationship with Ten (CEO) through material submitted to the NRW YouTube channel, so in 2019 we both agreed I’d join the NRW roster with “Transient Offworld”. The forthcoming album will be a continuation of our journey and I’m very much looking forward to spreading more chiptune infused retrowave to the world.
I know that things are a bit hush-hush on the upcoming album, "We Are Stardust" but what can you tell us about it? Any other tracks, what the overall concept of it is, so on and so forth.
LukHash: It is a story of alternate reality and parallel worlds. It is yet again a mix of synthwave and chiptune with a strong cyberpunk vibe but this time with some more spacey synths. It still has a rather aggressive dark tone but I really hope to invoke some reflection. I want the listener to join me on a nostalgic ride while reminding that at the end of it all we’re all just a tiny piece of dust in the universe. What makes it even more exciting is the fact we’re including a fully playable, album themed, Commodore 64 game in audio data format with the physical release. Game was written by a talented team of retro game developers at Megastyle. It features three original songs from the album transcribed into retro video game versions. So, if you still own this ‘80s piece of gaming history you’ll have an opportunity to transfer the data from the album to your C64 and experience “We Are Stardust” in 8 bits!
And what else do you have planned for 2021? Aside from the album, do you plan on releasing any singles, EPs, other albums? And, pandemic-allowing, will you be planning any live shows?
LukHash: One more thing I haven’t done yet is a release of a pure chiptune album. In fact, a cyberpunk themed chiptune album, a “cyberchip” if you like! Written solely in the ‘80s tracker-style sequencer, no post-production and everything recorded directly from the dedicated sound chip of its retro console.
LukHash demonstrates his pure chiptune chops in the video above.
Lastly, I would like to thank you for your time and I wish you the best of luck. Feel free to mention anything I may not have covered in the space below. Cheers!
LukHash: Thanks again for having me and I hope you’ll enjoy the record when it eventually comes out! Code Veronica is out now on NRW Records. You can stream / download it at any of the links here!
Follow LukHash: Facebook | Instagram | Official Website | Spotify | Twitter | YouTube
Mar 05 2021
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.
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