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Damian Lazarus came to performing music from the enemy's side: He started out as a music journalist, a notorious profession in his native England. Still, even as he worked as an editor at the legendary lifestyle mag Dazed & Confused, it was all part of a planned gradual move into the industry. "I didn't know specifically what I wanted to do, but I could write well and was quite nosy," Lazarus says from his new home of sunny Los Angeles. "I felt it was a good way to learn how things worked behind the scenes."
Soon he snagged a record label and helped set up the tech-house-centered imprint City Rockers. Then Lazarus began taking DJing, a hobby since his early teens, seriously. He developed a trademark weirdness to his style, based more on digging the proverbial crates for wonky, warped tracks than playing the latest hits. And eventually he started his own label, Crosstown Rebels, which has become one of the most highly regarded techno stables around.
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But only now has Lazarus ventured into making his own music. His debut studio album, Smoke the Monster Out, is due out this summer. Focused more on song structure and distinct melody, it's a big departure from his DJ sound. The disc features recurring vocals from Lazarus himself, as well as two Swedish female twins known as Taxi Taxi, and he cites Nick Cave and even Jeff Buckley as songwriting influences. Still, for his current tour, Lazarus will keep things moving on the dance floor: He's created remixed versions of all of his album tracks that will keep the bpm steady.