INTERVIEW: Luke Williams (MRLICKA)
A culmination of years spent exploring the recesses of trance and psychedelic realms, the shiny and exciting new album A Place Beyond The Senses from MrLicka, aka Luke Williams, may surprise some most familiar with this musical maverick's work as drummer for the legendary Brissie prog rockers Dead Letter Circus. But it's with this new project that Licka welcomes you into a whole new world of emotive aesthetics and palpitating momentum; and a transcendental voyage of layered psytrance awaits.
Unsurprisingly, Licka's fresh endeavours bear the hallmarks of a seasoned creative, with meticulous arrangements, glossy production and clear-cut flair cleaving captivating vigour beneath the melodic ebbs and flows. And while the album has already been exclusively streaming on Bandcamp via Universal Tribe Records - tomorrow marks the official day that A Place Beyond The Senses will be available to stream! And in honour of this latest milestone, today come take a walk on the psy side as Licka chats with Tiana Speter all things inspiration, musical connections and the moment that kickstarted this new project. Interview below!
TIANA SPETER: Hello lovely Licka, and thank you for sharing a bit of your world today. While many know you for your rockstar drum wizardry, you’ve also spent the last few years painstakingly bringing to life another project, culminating in the divine ‘A Place Beyond The Senses’ album. It’s been out on Bandcamp now for people to have a peek at, BUT! Next Friday it’ll be out on all the usual streaming suspects. How does it feel to finally have this incredible sonic baby of yours out in the universe?
LUKE WILLIAMS: Daaaawww.......so nice of you!! I got to tell you; it feels great! New journeys are always fraught with uncertainty and sometimes an overwhelming process of learning new techniques. But I feel like my music is at a point now where I can put it out into the world with a warm satisfaction. Rather than being a half-terrified rookie, which I was for the first 4 years of this!
TIANA: For someone so heavily associated with the rock genre professionally, this Mr Licka project is undoubtedly a huge deviation from the DLC realms. What was it that sparked you to start this solo project? Have you always been interested in the psy side of things?
LICKA: If I'm totally honest, I've always loved many styles of music. Although this love of psychedelic, electronic music really started to blossom around 2014/15 when I started going to outdoor dance festivals. I really fell in love with the sense of community there and the freedom for self-expression that didn’t really exist in “real life” (for me anyway). I saw people dressing in fashion that would make people think they were insane in normal society, people making transcendental art that blew my mind and music that made my molecules hum with delight. Full disclosure though – I was very high on a lot of psychedelics at the time, so they’ve really got to take most of the credit for helping me to experience new, exciting things without my cultural conditioning saying I “shouldn’t” enjoy them. I can almost pin point the moment at ‘Earthcore’ where I decided to give electronic music a go!! It was like a message was beamed into my brain and a voice spoke to me. Maybe that was the 400 mics of LSD though?
TIANA: In terms of how you conjured some of these tunes, can you take me through a bit of your creative process? Do you start off with a pretty solid idea of what you’re after, or did it all evolve organically as you went along?
LICKA: I just sit at the computer and trawl my sample libraries for inspiration. Usually a droning pad will give me enough of a base to start creating weird textures upon and then I just keep layering until I feel like the song has enough interesting melodies and/ or sound design elements to keep the listener engaged. Plus, the obligatory fat kick and bass to make them wanna dance.
TIANA: As I brought up at the start, the album’s been kicking around on Bandcamp now for people to have a peek at ahead of its streaming debut…from my brief lurk on Bandcamp I think my favourite summations so far have been “perfect” and “sexy”, but it generally just seems overall to be unanimously positive so far. You’re no stranger to success, but how has it felt to have such a positive reaction from the get-go for something so close to your heart?
LICKA: Feels great! I haven’t gotten any thumbs downs yet, although it’s not on You tube yet! Haha It’s not a “band thing” either where I'm used to sharing the accolades/ criticisms with 3 or 4 other guys, this is just me, so it’s a wee bit daunting, but everyone has been very supportive and kind so far. I realise a very large percentage of my current “fans” (DLC fans) will not get this at all, but that’s ok, I'm not doing it for them, I'm doing it because this music is in my heart and soul and wanting to get out into the world.
TIANA: And I suppose off the back of that previous question…as an artist and specifically in relation to this project, are you motivated with trying to cultivate that connection with fans/listeners when you’re writing music? Or is it just a nice bonus that this connection has emerged?
LICKA: I write this music to try and relate the feeling of the psychedelic experience AND sometimes I write this music as an enhancement to the psychedelic experience. Both instances are true because I've felt how good it feels to lose yourself on a dancefloor when under the influence of say LSD or Psilocybin. And I know how good it feels to listen to music stone cold sober and have it remind you of those transcendental moments again! So hopefully one day I can be performing this music to a dancefloor and give them the gift I've gotten so many times before.
TIANA: So with the exciting news on the near horizon that this gorgeous album will be broadly available as of tomorrow…what might be next for Mr Licka? Do you have grand plans to take over the psychedelic world up your sleeve? Or will we just have to wait and see what happens next?
LICKA: You are correct there Tiana! Streaming sites pick up the album tomorrow. At present I've just completed a bunch of festival applications to perform at various doofs around the country. So yeah, performing this music live is the next step, because I haven’t really done many DJ sets yet, not to big audiences anyway. I now have to hone my “live” craft and begin the challenge of DJ-ing this music rather than performing with a band. Which is a very foreign thing to me. But one thing I have learned is that there IS an art to good DJ-ing!! It’s not as easy as I expected. People tend to rag on DJ’s a bit in the rock world, but it really is a great art form and fun!
TIANA: You’ve obviously got a spectacular mix of styles and tastes musically…so to start to wrap things up today, who are the top 2 bands or artists you’re devouring listening to of late? Mostly so I can possibly steal some of your music suggestions for my own playlists, but also to get a peek into what’s potentially inspiring you right now!
LICKA: To be honest, I'm not listening to much rock/ metal at all!!! It’s all electronic music Right at this very moment I'm listening to a Victorian producer called ‘Smilk’. A very slick cat making some amazing trance/ techno. Also, an NSW lad by the name of ‘Merkaba’ is always on rotation for me, that one’s a deep, psychedelic trance project.
TIANA: And to close us out today – in honour of your brand new album ‘A Place Beyond The Senses’…what sense are you most attune to in your day-to-day life? Is there one that you just absolutely wouldn’t want to live without?
LICKA: Sound!!! It’s always been sound. From a very young age I was very musical and would sing and dance to any music that was on around the house. I could sing a majority of the ads on television through musical memory and I would receive albums and tapes for my birthdays and Christmas’s from my earliest years as a kid. This all helped condition a human that revered music at its deepest levels. Still today, if you ask any of my friends or family, I MUST have music on at all times. It might be a slight mental illness, I'm not sure, but I just have to have it on or I feel a bit lost.
MRLICKA'S DEBUT ALBUM A PLACE BEYOND THE SENSES IS OFFICIALLY DUE OUT ON ALL STREAMING PLATFORMS TOMORROW (JULY 31). FOR NOW, YOU CAN GRAB A PEEK RIGHT HERE!
BY TIANA SPETER