Damian Lazarus came to performing music from the enemy 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 and 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," says Lazarus, from his recent new home of sunny Los Angeles. "I felt it was a good way to learn how things worked behind the scenes."
And soon, from the print world, he snagged a record label, eventually helping set up the tech-house-centered imprint City Rockers. It was around this time that Lazarus started taking DJing, a hobby since his early teens, seriously. He soon developed a trademark weirdness to his style, based more on digging the proverbial crates for wonky, warped tracks than playing the latest four-to-the-floor hits. And eventually he started his own label, Crosstown Rebels, which has become one of the most highly regarded techno-ish stables around.
But still, it's only now that Lazarus has ventured into making his own music. His debut studio album, Smoke The Monster Out, is finally due out this summer. And it's a real departure from his DJ sound, focused more on song structure and distinct melody. There are 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 still keep things moving on the dancefloor: He's created remixed versions of all of his album tracks that will keep the BPM steady.
As a taster, for free download, here's "Dr. Whisker's Theme," an unreleased track that does not, in fact, appear on Lazarus' album. And check Crossfade later this week for a full Q&A with Lazarus.
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Here's the label copy:
"Dr Whisker's Theme"
Produced by Damian Lazarus & Arthur Jeffes
Vocals by Miriam & Johanna Berhan
Piano by Arthur Jeffes
Double Bass by Andy Waterworth
Damian Lazarus. Friday, June 12. Electric Pickle, 2826 N. Miami Ave., Miami. Doors open at 10 p.m., admission costs $15 or $20 depending on hour of arrival. Ages 21+ with ID. 305-456-5613