Get to know the rising face of reptilian electro.
First releasing music as Reptant back in 2017, Lou Karsh has spent the intervening years honing his skills, crafting electro acid machine jams for labels like Tomahawk, Salt Mines, Planet Euphorique and Cragie Knowes. His talent for rolling, euphoric club workouts has seen the Melbourne native regularly invited to European shores for sets across the continent at spaces like FOLD and ://about blank.
While his sound has developed and grown with each record, the core values of electro and acid are still at the heart of his work. As it stands he now has a wealth of releases as both Reptant and Lou Karsh plus a Boiler Room live set under his belt. No small feat! With plenty on the horizon including a new split EP with Sansibar (Post bar) in the summer on Berlin’s Warning, it seemed high time we got to know the suspected leader of the Lizard Tech Militia…
First of all, could you give us an idea of your musical background in Australia?
For quite a long time I was usually just listening to anything that was palmed off to me whether it was from my parents or sister but then in high school my friends music taste’s rubbed off on me a little stronger listening to things like 90’s hip hop then even later my friend put me onto house music when we were turning 18 and started going out.
I also recently came to the conclusion that video games had a massive impact on my taste without me knowing. For example ‘Ratchet and Clank’ (2002) on ps2 had a seriously impressive soundtrack composed by a guy called David Bergeaud touching on all the genre’s I love the most now like 90’s breakbeat, ambient, acid, prog all with a bit of a scifi theme, you can tell it’s made with a lot of hardware based stuff. It’s possible that that soundtrack alone has had the largest impact on what I like to this day.
You’ve already released a number of EP’s on labels including Planet Euphoric and Salt Mines as well as Scottish label Cragie Knowes. How did your working relationship with the latter come about?
The Craigie Knowes guy’s actually just got in touch via email, I don’t usually choose to go with labels I don’t know personally unless they’re releasing good music from artists I’d play myself. It seemed like a really good fit and the guy’s seemed super nice, I also had a bunch of unreleased tracks at the time and the release came together really fast. After meeting them finally in London for the Boiler Room and FOLD show they turned out to be legends.
Also funnily enough it turned out that some friends back here in Melbourne were coincidentally from the same town in Scotland as the Craigie guys and used to be friends, so that was a nice little touch about the whole thing.
You also release records under the name Lou Karsh, how do you go about deciding which music is for which alias?
These days I’m usually creating more music as Reptant. When I’m writing 90% the time it will be with the intention to be for one of the alias’s. The Reptant stuff I usually spend a little more time on in the studio and do a bit more in the details where as the Lou Karsh is a bit more classic sounding, nothing to complex. This has become one of a few factors which differentiates the two projects.
Your tracks have developed from a more breakbeat/acid techno sound over to more electro based territory. How did this transition occur?
I guess it’s always been down to the gear I have. For a large period after I bought my Cyclone 303 I really didn’t have much money to spend on anything so I mainly just used what I had which was that and a few samplers/drum machines. Later on I slowly started to acquire more gear. I purchased a few analog synths and effects and put together a small modular rack and since that I’ve been putting in a lot more sound design work with lends itself more to electro. I still use the 303 quite a lot but there was a moment in the past where there wouldn’t be a track without it.
We saw you playing live with a hardware set up for Boiler Room back in the summer. Does your production set up differ much?
That’s pretty much it though when i’m writing stuff in the studio I’ll be recording the different parts in Ableton to be arranged mixed and edited. There’s also a couple more things at home like the modular, some processing gear/fx pedals and a few other synths but i generally keep the studio pretty small too.
You still live in Australia, what is the scene like at the moment?
I love it here. I’m still living in the suburb I was born in which has ended up becoming essentially one of the melting pot suburbs of local producers and like minded punters. Plenty of new and great producers, labels and parties popping up all the time, the scene seems to be getting younger and younger which is in many ways a good thing. There’s always heaps of great stuff to go to on weekends sometimes too many to choose from, but most of the time the main venues will be filled.
We’ve been dealt some damage recently with a few of our favourite clubs being closed/moved due to licensing and redevelopments. But the scene’s still going strong, things seem to be moving to new areas all the time and we have cool one off venues and great off location park parties/raves. Usually when something is taken away it’s replaced by something that pops up elsewhere, its sometimes hard due to the memories of a place but i think sometimes you just need to give the new places some time before making any major calls.
Apart from classic electro/acid sounds, the other main running theme of your work is the Lizards… could you explain this for us?
I came across the word Reptant at some point a few years ago and thought it would be a great production name. The definition of Reptant is “(of an animal) moving with a creeping or crawling action.” this definition alone inspired the first tracks I ever made under the alias. After my first release Reptant had developed into a bit of a character and the more music I release the more I sort of know what I want to do with the project. I’m hoping to reveal more and more details about him and his story through some releases… Including some details about his home planet and a few of his friends but i wont say too much about that here… Working to a concept like this can be very inspiring and keeps it really fun and fresh for me. Though I would never take it so far to wear a lizard mask or that sort of thing.
Lastly, what have you got on the horizon for 2020? Where can we see you?
I’ll be playing some more local shows in Melbourne and then in March I’ll be doing a Salt Mines tour around Australia with Shedbug. Then I’m heading back to Europe from May to the end of July with heaps of exciting shows lined up already like my 3rd year at Warning, the 36 hour rave at About Blank in Berlin. I’ve just joined up with Luca Martinez from the Vae Victis Agency who’s been working hard getting some shows prepared for the tour. I’m very excited to see how the whole thing plays out. Oh and plenty more releases to come in 2020 from both aliases 🙂
Follow Reptant here.