Image credit: Milena Zara
It’s always a good sign when an artist’s eyes light up at the mere mention of the name of the person featuring on their current single. That’s just what happened when German musician, singer, rapper and producer Lucas Herweg alias LLUCID spoke about the first time he contacted New Zealand songwriter Kimbra. He had long been a fan of her music and was already familiar with her latest album, January 2023 release The Reckoning, which will be sure to appear on many a year’s best album list and includes the song “foolish thinking,” one of the year’s most beautiful ballads. While recording his debut album Deep Blue Dream, LLUCID struggled with the very personal song ‘Wasting Time’ – an atmospheric journey venturing from trap-style autotune to futuristic pop that takes amazing excursions to a formidable, wildly pulsing beat yet retains its overarchingly melancholy mood.
Stream / Download: LLUCID – ‘Wasting Time’
“It was a wild ride,” says LLUCID when speaking about its creation. “I’m sure I made three or four complete versions of this song, only to return to and refine the original idea. It’s a very personal song about a relationship that has hit rock bottom; very early on I thought it’d be cool if someone else added a different perspective to the track. I’m psyched to have Kimbra joining me. I’ve been a fan of her work for years! We had a riot producing the song!” Kimbra, who has always had a knack for picking whose projects she’ll feature on (along with ‘Wasting Time’, “Afterglow,” with The Album Leaf, is another compelling recent example of this), was enthusiastic after the two got in touch and went back and forth exchanging sound files on Dropbox; so enthusiastic that she had him join on a few of her tour dates earlier this year. She says, “I loved this track when I heard it. It captured a kind of melancholy but made it feel danceable and cathartic. We recorded the vocals in Berlin while on tour together. The process was super fun and natural. I’m stoked that I could be a part of this song!”
Incidentally, her words are also very good for helping categorize LLUCID’s debut album Deep Blue Dreams, which has a similar underlyingly melancholic, danceable and cathartic vibe and will be released on June 9th. Yet LLUCID is one of those newcomers who, in the strictest sense, really isn’t one anymore; that’s why his debut album sounds more like a sure-fire success from an established artist. Before kicking things off in his own studio, LLUCID studied in Mannheim for a while, but halfway through his studies he realized he preferred making his own music and left Popakademie Baden-Württemberg. However, while there he met singer Dena Zarrin, aka Madanii, and they recorded their first tracks together. The song “Sober” is a testament to how well that works. In the ensuing years LLUCID, who now lives and works in Berlin, has slowly but surely pushed his own solo work and released his six-track EP Getting in Touch on Grönland records earlier this year. Yet LLUCID has also expanded his production portfolio and made music with exciting artists in the realm of rap and beyond. For instance, he has worked with Berlin-based Irish singer-songwriter Wallis Bird, helped produce a song for the band Hundreds and has found a friend and mentor in Samy Deluxe.
And Deep Blue Dreams doesn’t sound at all like it was “made in Germany.” That is because LLUCID’s tastes and production methods have always been informed by what’s going on across the big pond. “I’ve actually only ever been influenced by American music. Cole’s stuff and Kendrick’s early music in particular allowed me to tap into whole new spheres.” That’s noticeable in his singing and rapping styles. “It’s always a mix with me. Sometimes sung, sometimes rapped, sometimes something somewhere in between. I’m sure that is a product of my genre-independent listening habits when it comes to music. There are just so many different vocal fingerprints; sometimes one fits better than the other. When I first discovered hip-hop, I loved the sick rhythm of the recitative singing, but I also loved the melodious vocal parts. I always wondered: ‘Why don’t they mix the two together more often?’” Good question, and one he’s now simply gone and answered for himself.