Ali Love: He is Damian Lazarus.
DL: And we’ve been asked to have a few words with each other.
AL: We’ve had some before.
DL: We’ve had a few! But these are gonna be some of the best words we’ve ever spoken.
AL: I’m ready.
DL: First of all, you should probably introduce yourself, because I think some people know me, and some people know you, but not everyone knows either me or you. So, for the sake of the people that don’t know anything about us, who are you?
AL: My name is Ali Love. It’s a nickname I’ve had for years and years and years.
DL: I was reading the other day that your first ever single was called “K-hole.”
AL: Yeah. I wouldn’t advise anyone trying to start like a solo career with a song based on, you know—ketamine. I think that’s a bit of a curveball to throw in.
DL: Bad move.
AL: I was kind of lucky. It was really well received in NME and all that. It was those kind of times, like a new rave times, one of those anthems. It was really cool and stuff for the time.
DL: And two records that you made, consequently—one with Chemical Brothers and one with Justice—both went on to be used for fashion commercials, right? Nike and Paco Rabanne. What is it about you that makes you so fashionable?
AL: I know, I know. When I do a track, I can always tell when it has a kind of commercial, you know? Shit, I always know. I always know when there’s one, when it’s gonna fly. I’ve been living off—luckily—just living off those things for the last few years. And it’s given me the freedom to not have to worry about a day job, and to keep making music.
DL: Bonus! Do you wanna ask me something? I might as well get a question.
AL: Yeah, so. I’m always constantly amazed by your Lazpods [Damien’s podcasts, described as excursions into the weird and wonderful]. When did you start doing them?
DL: I started Lazpod in 2008 with the intention of delivering music that I love and cherish and continue to collect, that I’m not able to play in the clubs. Some of the music I play on the show I do actually get away with, like, dropping in more experiments or moments in clubs—but essentially, it’s music that is not for the dance floor. And it was worrying me that a lot of people in our world—in the world of house and techno and electronic music—were not really being as open-minded, or not having the right avenues to which they could appreciate and learn more about where this music was coming from or where we, as artists, come from. So I started it with the intention of it being like a regular column, a monthly thing, but that was far too difficult—because every track that goes into every episode of the Lazpod is like word and truly considered.
AL: Yeah, that’s what I figured, yeah.
DL: I make lists—I’m quite organized like that—and I constantly drop music into different files wherever I am in the world. Just collecting music. And I learned not to make a show until I’m 100 percent ready. I have a theme that I work to now—so there’s maybe the old, jazzy kind of ‘60s and ‘70s, and there’s a soundtrack area, and then there’s some comedy moments. And then I’ll try and find some kind of weird, spoken word to drop in, and then some of the best new alternative music I can get my hands on. And then, once I’ve got all these little sections together and I finally got enough music for a show, I put it together and create some kind of method of how to deliver all this different music.
AL: I think it’s unique.
DL: Yeah, thanks. It’s not a regular radio show, but I always thought it could be. But it’s a lot of work. With Burning Man, the way that one came about, I was en route to my first trip to Burning Man and I made a playlist for the journey from L.A. to the desert. And thinking ahead, asked myself: what would be the music I wanna hear as I see the desert arrive? And that formed the basis of the actual show that came two years later.
AL: So, yes that leads on to my next question: How key is the Burning Man thing, and how important has it been in shaping the last couple of years?
DL: Well let’s put it this way, last night we played a show at Leeds, and this guy came to me and he said, you know, “last year your party at Burning Man completely reshaped my entire outlook. Not just on music but on life.” He said that there was a moment when “the sun was coming up and you were playing certain music, some track, and I had this moment of euphoric understanding, that my life had to change.” Last week he spent the entire week with a Bedouin tribe in Egypt, starwatching. So I think that it has had profound effect on me. I knew I was gonna enjoy it, but I don’t think I could have imagined what I was gonna take away from my first experience. And then, consequently, you think when you go back to something the second or third time, it’s never gonna be as good, but actually it gets better and better. The thing about Burning Man is the potential to bump into magic every corner that you turn.
AL: Me, personally, the first time I went—not last year but the year before—we were up on the road, I stood behind you, watching and I had a definite—it was just an amazing moment. And that kick start where I’m moving now, for myself, too.
DL: The interesting thing is, before we started to go, the music policy wasn’t particularly strong—it really wasn’t music we were generally into. We do the Robot Heart sound system on the Wednesday night [a beats crew that brings sound, LED visuals, and new media art to Burning Man], and it’s quite ironic that now—it’s a free gig, we all pay to go to Burning Man and we don’t get paid to do this party—but it’s becoming the biggest party we do every year and the most important, which I think kind of says quite a lot about where we’re at with our lives now. I’m certainly a changed person from being with that festival and just learning to appreciate people and life a little bit more.
AL: Whenever I have been at your house, I always see amazing occult imagery—or like, Alejandro Jodorowsky films. And I was wondering how you kind of got in to that.
DL: I’ve always had a thing for witchcraft and the occult and I think I got into it through records, actually. I stumbled across this record of a satanic ritual, and then came across this other thing by a band called Witches Covenant (I think). The B-side it had, like, this 20-minute live Satanic ritual, and—I don’t know, I kind of started getting into it from there. I think it kind of just takes me out of regular life, really, and it just gives me something. I got the second edition of Manly P. Hall, which is the bible of cults and strange goings-on, and it has the most beautiful illustrations. You know, I don’t know really. I have goblets and weird shit at home. And at Burning Man I turned into this crazy Dr. Whiskers character, and I built this pyramid in which I did this art piece for two hours at night, which is a little strange. I invited people in and did past life regressions and we contacted the dead. In music I have always had this dark edge—I have always tried to find that, kind of, slightly demonic mutterings, and, I don’t know—it’s not something that I probably want to get my kids into or anything.
AL: On a slightly less demonic question: Makito. You have a dog called Makito. Is this true?
DL: It is true. Ha ha. This is true.
AL: This is definitely true. And why do you—tell me, why you write him postcards? I need to know.
DL: I try to travel with my dog everywhere—but it hasn’t been possible for this tour, because it wouldn’t have been fair to him, because this kind of tour is just full on. I mean he can travel with me on a plane and stuff, but like everyday to a different city and having people look after him—so he even has his own Facebook page, Mokito: Best Dog in the World. We decided we didn’t want to party too much on this tour because it’s so busy, so we said, instead of going to after-parties after the gigs, let’s just focus on getting Mokito a postcard in the morning.
AL: Oh, so it’s like a little thing, isn’t it?
DL: Yeah, from every city that we travel. He is getting some nice little messages. I’m really embarrassed now. I absolutely love my dog.
I spoke to Luca [DJ Luca C, Ali’s partner in Infinity Ink and also co-member of Hot Natured] and asked him to give me a question to ask you. And he asked me to ask you about the gig in Krasnoyarsk, Serbia.
DL: Something happened at the gig.
AL: Oh yeah. That is the worst, most odd gig I have ever done in my life. That’s in Siberia, not Serbia. The place is made of corrugated iron, basically in the middle of desert snow. Weirdest gig in the world. When we were on stage, all of a sudden, all the lights went down and about 10 strippers walked on stage and like, it was the weirdest—I can’t even go into the weirdness of that place. I don’t know why he threw me that curve ball. No, I’m not going to go into that.
DL: Who would you rather collaborate with: Madonna or Radiohead?
AL: Uh… Radiohead.
AL: Yeah Radiohead. I’ve actually.
DL: I thought you would choose the other one.
AL: I had a dream that I met Madonna the other day and she had massive muscles and, like…
DL: She had massive muscles?
AL: It was really fucking weird. But, no, I really like that new atmosphere piece record. I think it’s really good. I think that’s what sways it. If I hadn’t heard that, I think I would have said the other one. Yeah.
Alright, last question: How do you feel about the kind of career you’ve been in? Are you happy?
DL: Yeah, really happy. The crew’s life has changed quite a bit over the last few years. And tonight is going to be real interesting because it’s going to be the 10th Anniversary party in London. And for tonight, I actually invited some of the old faces of the old crew. They were the original Crosstown Rebels. Right now it’s amazing. I have somehow managed to bring these amazing people together and we are all like a big family, really. And we have such a good laugh and making such great music and supporting each other. So, yeah, I am super happy with where everything is at the moment.
And my final question to you Ali Love: What is love?
AL: Love is cuddles, kisses, and cheeky moments.
Fashion Editor: Rose Forde