About half way through Camp Bisco XII, arguably the freshest looking Pharrell Williams fan in the whole place, Luke Miller (guitar and keyboard player of Lotus and Luke the Knife) was standing outside the media tent observing some neon-clad thrill seeking heads base jumping 30 feet for only ten bucks a pop. Just as The Disco Biscuits took the stage for their early set that summer evening, revving up with a laid back version of ’42,’ we got to talk about his being a multi-instrumentalist, hypothetical interplanetary travel, both his projects, the length of his shoe tongues, and of course Lotus’ hip-hop pursuits.
OV: How do you manage to alternate between guitar and keys?
LM: Just pick one, and then play the other. I started playing guitar and picked up the keys about 2001 or 2002. You think about them differently. They fit into the music differently, so you’ve got to think about that.
OV: Which songs or song progressions do you find get the biggest response live?
LM: “Spiritualize” and “Flower Sermon” are kind of some big ones. A couple songs off our newer albums like “Bush Pilot”.
OV: Can you tell us a little about Luke the Knife?
LM: That’s my new DJ project. It’s mostly Disco, Nu-Disco, and House. I just started up in December and I’ve been having a lot of fun with it.
OV: Now we’ve got a quote here from your Soundcloud bio: “His re-edit of Stevie Wonder’s ‘Boogie On Reggae Woman’ was one of the top torrented songs on what.cd when it released.” How do you feel about torrents as a digital distribution method?
LM: Um, I don’t know, I mean, I use it myself and I guess it’s a good way for people to discover new music. Obviously I didn’t write that song, Stevie Wonder did. It’s kind of the way of the world; it’s not going to change anytime soon. I wish Lotus could make more off selling our recordings, but that’s just not reality so we go out there and grind it on the road. If that’s what we’ve got to do, that’s what we’ve got to do.
OV: How do you decide which material to keep for Luke the Knife and which to bring to the table with Lotus?
LM: Well Luke the Knife is other people’s tracks that I’ve remixed and re-edited, so it’s a totally different game. My brother Jesse and I mostly write the songs for Lotus. Thus far I haven’t written any original material for Luke the Knife. I’ve been putting all of that energy into Lotus. I don’t know if that will change in the future or not, but Luke the Knife is a more narrowly focused sound and Lotus is a bit broader.
OV: What advice do you have for up and coming artists trying to produce with authenticity and originality while remixing or heavily sampling?
LM: Diversify what you’re listening to, you know? There’s a lot of producers out there who, in my opinion, sound like each other, or versions of others. But there’s so much music out there, widen your range. There are decades and decades of good music. You can see that with ‘Get Lucky’ and ‘Blurred Lines,’ they’re kind of looking back to the 60’s and 70’s. They’ve had big hits with looking to those eras.
LM: I think I’d just kick it here on Earth, I find a lot of good people here.
OV: Are you into high tops or low tops?
LM: Low tops for sure, my ankles are pretty strong.
OV: What Denver bands inspire you?
LM: I should probably mention You Know What and The Motet. They’re doing a funky thing. You Know What is more of an 80’s Funk and Motet is more of an Afro-Funk. They’re some Denver mainstays I can get down to.
OV: What else do you want the public to know?
LM: We’ve got a new album coming out August 20th called “Monks,” it’s a Hip-Hop album. A bit off the beaten path for Lotus but it turned out really good, check it out.
OV: Is it you guys rapping or all cameos?
LM: All cameos, (laughs) we are not rappers. We’ve got Gift of Gab, Lyrics Born, Mr. Lips, a bunch of good MC’s on there.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Lotus’ style is that their bassist and rhythm guitarist, brothers Jesse and Luke Miller, can alternate instruments, providing a series of unique combinations of instrumentation. For example, Luke may play the keyboard in one song, and the guitar in another. Jesse can switch between bass and samplers/keys. This adds a dynamic of instrumentation that’s hard to find with most other bands. It opens the door to so many possibilities that it requires some actual math to figure out all the different permutations. There can be two guitars and a keyboard, two keyboards and a guitar, a bass and two guitars, etc… The evidence is really in their catalogue, which boasts more traditional jam-based rock music in their earlier albums, and more electronically oriented dancey tracks in their more contemporary work.
After EDM super-group Destroid (Excision, Downlink & KJ Sawka) invaded New York with their LED-woven-dreadlock-laden-Predator-meets-Tron brand of digital ferocity; Lotus took the stage at the B.I.G. Tent. It was late night. Late, late night. Last act of the night late night. Lotus topped off the second night of Bisco with an incredible set featuring songs new and old, including a sneak preview of a track off their forthcoming album, “Monks.” Highlights of the set included Flower Sermon, Middle Road, Kodiak, and Hammerstrike. Below is the complete set list, verbatim from the man himself: Luke Miller.
The Part Where Baauer’s LD Unplugged Power to Downstage and We Played Drums
It’s All Clear to Me Now >
Cannon in the Heavens
Behind Midwest Storefronts
Written by Peter DeStefano
OurVinyl | Contributor