LTJ Bukem
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Aug 12 2009

Rarely do you come across pioneers in music that have helped form a dynamic and ever growing culture. But that's what Danny Williamson - AKA LTJ Bukem - along with other inspirational DJ's during that early musical revolution of the nineties, has achieved - by creating the unique and magnetising genre that is drum'n'bass.

Bukem might well have launched the sound, over twenty years ago now, but he's still as innovative as ever within it. Starting off with a Detroit-based techno sound, the badman with a jazz/piano background has evolved with his own beat making genre - constantly dipping and diving through mellow 1970's jazz style grooves, through the acid jazz of the 80s, and onto breakbeat-based house in the 90s. He is, in fact, also commonly seen as a key figure in the popularisation of hardcore in the 90s.

Bukem's tracks are not just churned out electronic, sample-based works either. His 'intelligent' rhythms feature stringed arrangements, sounds from nature, keyboards, live vocals and slow-motion breaks too. Things you don't usually associate with a genre so well matched, audibly, to its title. Just check out those defining 'Logical Progression' album series. Or you can read more about it below.

Taking some time out of his ridiculously busy schedule, Bukem spoke to Rivmixx all about that current 'Fabriclive46' LP, his experiences DJing around the world, as well as the pleasures of running one of the UK's longest independents - Good Looking Records.

Rivmixx: First off it was great to catch you last Friday (July 31) at Fabric. Your night there seems to be turning into something of a residency for you, isn't it?

LTJ Bukem: "Yeah it's a sense of what we're doing. It's a night where Playerz meets Bukem in session. With two and half to three thousand people. There probably isn't a bigger drum'n'bass night regularly in London or around the UK like that.

"[Fabric's] important because it has supported the scene and its music for such a long time. You don't get many Friday nights around the world in a big club that's dedicated to drum'n'bass.

"To me it doesn't matter what a place looks like. It's about the atmosphere, soundsystem and what you get back from being in that space. Fabric epitomises that, in the way that it's just a brick building with a very underground vibe and great soundsystems in all three rooms. The sounds in there are just amazing."

R: You've just released 'Fabriclive 46' - how did that come about?

LTJ: "I've been DJing at the club for over three years and I think it was just something that was always on the cards. They asked me to do a mix of stuff and I was quite honoured to be honest. With the things at the label, the regular night, and musically what I'm doing it all just made sense."

R: Would you say it's a warm up to your next solo album?

LTJ: "I never know [laughs]. With the label and gigs I'm finding it hard to actually find time to get in the studio at the moment. But hopefully we are gonna sort that out in the future."

R: MC Conrad hosted your set on Friday, adding unique energy to the session. From a DJ's perspective how have you seen the MC's role change over the years in DnB?

LTJ: "MCs have been there since the dawn of time and I feel it's an integral part of music and music performance to have some sort of vocal element. I think [their role] hasn't changed a lot although it may have got a bit more refined.

"That was always the way with me and Conrad. I mean I kinda met him in 1991, it a was funny chance meeting through DJ Trace at this gig in Slough. I just liked what he did. I always record things when I'm out if I can. I recorded that night on cassette tape and played it in my car. It was great. So I got in contact. We kind of fell into each others laps as it were and enjoyed what each brought to the table, in terms of performance. It just happened very organically.

"You see Andy C with GQ a lot - there are some great DJ/MC partnerships. In the same light though, at Fabric I also like to have three or four MCs that mix and match and understand each other. So I enjoy working heavily with Moose, Dynamite, Stamina, GQ and all these guys. I've got a lot of respect and mad love for a lot of the MCs and younger MCs coming through too."

R: Do you still have that hunger to search for new music and keep up to date with emerging talent?

LTJ: "Yeah. You can't be involved in this game and not be excited about music, otherwise get out. I've got the label, Good Looking Records (click here http://www.youtube.com/goodlookingTV to check out goodlookingTV) and I'm also starting some other projects as well - there is so much good music around. I want to help those artists get out and represent the music I love so much.

"I'm an old fart [laughs] so there's bound to be new blood coming through. I've been in this game twenty years plus, and there's always gonna be new people adding their piece of the jigsa - Rivmix.com


Fabio (Radio 1 / Swerve / Creative Source) - "Dog, this got the funk. Danny knows I'm on this hard."

DJ Marky (Innerground) - "Been playing this nearly every set for a while to this day. Classic Bukem!"

Goldie (Metalheadz) - “Had earier mix of thi 6 months ago but yeh always really liked this track. Wikid stuff. Just reminded me to go back to it.”

Marcus Intalex (SoulR) - “Yeh I liked this, glad to see Goodlooking are releasing again.”

D Bridge (Exit/Fabric) - “Classic track that can be played everywhere. Dropped it at Fabric last weekend.”

DJ SS (Formation) - “Yeh man into this for sure – any vinyl?”

Zero T (CIA) - “Loving both of Switch and Drum Toolz – Nice double sider. Been playing both.”

Bailey (1xtra) - “This will be getting plays. I’m late on this!”

Alix Perez (Shogun) - “Yeh Switch for me out of these 2. Cool track.”

Utah Jazz (Various) - “I love everything about this tune… after years out of the production spotlight, this is LTJ Bukem proving he’s still at the top of his game.”

Bryan Gee (V Records) - "Yeh love lots this as you know. Thought this be out a while back. Gonna dig this one out again."

AI (Widescreen / V Records / Movement) - "Classic Goodlooking from Danny. Always works a treat. Back in the box."

DJ Flight (1xtra / various) - "Bloody hell, this is actually being pressed up. Of course I love this one."

Pete Tong (Radio 1) - "Predicted this as one for the future."


DJ support:

'Switch' & 'Drumtoolz' has received support from the global drum & bass fraternity, being played in the clubs and across radio airwaves by the likes of Grooverider, Fabio, Marcus Intalex, Total Science, High Contrast, AI, Shy FX, Friction, Hype, Andy C, Doc Scott, Bryan Gee, Flight, Bailey, L Double, Storm, D Bridge, Goldie, Nutone, A sides, Marky, Spirit, Patife, London Electricity, Logistics, Zinc, Commix, Influx UK, DJ SS, Dillinja, Die, Roni Size, Krust, Randall, Calibre, DJ Lee, LTJ Bukem, Chase & Status and many, many more.
- Rocket Science Media


On the back of the success of Makoto's "Believe in My Soul" album, goodlooking once again signal their return to the limelight with the highly anticipated release of LTJ Bukem and MC Conrad's "Switch and Drum Toolz." Having received huge support from a host of DJs across the scene including Fresh, Fabio and Furney, "Switch & Drum Toolz" are already well on their way to becoming some of 2007's top tracks.

After a short hiatus from production, "Switch" sees the welcome return of LTJ Bukem as a producer with his deep and soulful sound back in full force. With a back catalogue of such seminal tracks to his name, "Switch" is guaranteed to continue LTJ Bukem's reign as one of the finest producers around, and if that's not enough, his forthcoming second solo album "What Price Art" will surely set in stone Bukem's reputation as a prolific and legendary artist.

Opening with smooth and sultry classical guitar strings, "Switch" gives way to a simple yet crisp beat whilst letting the dusty female vocal glide effortlessly over the track. Instantly recognisable as a trademark Goodlooking track, LTJ Bukem's sound still sounds as fresh and innovative today as it ever has!

The AA side "Drum Toolz" is another highly anticipated release from the Goodlooking stable, with the much talked about collaboration finally making it to release. Ahead of his forthcoming album, lyrical veteran MC Conrad ditches his mic in order to turn his hand to production; teaming up with relative newcomer Furney, in an old skool vs. nu skool combination. Furney and Conrad have excelled in "Drum Toolz" truly capturing the classic Goodlooking sound and bringing it right up to date with impressive style.
The track stays true to its title and features intricately worked drums, which without question are the feature of the track. The choppy Amen style beats give the track a proper Jungle vibe accompanied with the neatly arranged vocal which compliments the track perfectly, whilst still letting the drums do all the talking!

"Switch” and “Drum Toolz" is a sure sign of Goodlooking's return to form, from the recent releases of the successful "Believe In My Soul" LP by Makoto to the forthcoming solo album from MC Conrad as well as LTJ Bukem's eagerly awaited second solo project entitled "What Price Art:" things truly are looking good!

Matt Brawn - www.goodlooking.org


LTJ Bukem has been an integral force in the development of Drum and Bass for well over 10 years and without his input, it is hard to imagine how the shape of our music would look today. He can, almost single-handedly, be held responsible for the conception and development of the more soulful side of Drum and Bass that he has since become renowned for. Labelled "Intelligent Drum and Bass" at the time, LTJ Bukem chose not to accept the new moniker, claiming that it suggested other examples of the genre lacked intelligence; a viewpoint that over the years has earned him respect from some of the scene's biggest names.

Born Danny Williamson in 1967, LTJ Bukem was raised in Watford by Baptist Parents. Danny's first interaction with music came at school, with him studying trumpet, whilst also playing the piano and drums; all of which are evident in his productions. After his expulsion from school at the age of 16, a musically minded Danny set about becoming a DJ, taking influences from everything including Hip-Hop, Electro and Jazz, this eventually led him onto forming the Sunshine Sound System through which LTJ Bukem could play all the moments' hottest tracks.

As Drum and Bass began to develop from its early roots in Hardcore Techno into the many subgenres we all know today, LTJ Bukem stepped us his game; setting up the highly respected label Good Looking Records with infamous business partner, Tony Fordham in the early 90's.

The label was not solely developed as an output for LTJ Bukem's work, but also as a platform; enabling him to showcase new up-and-coming producers. Artists including Peshay, PFM, Blame, Makoto and Blu Mar Ten can all be traced back to the early days of Good Looking with many going on to form successful individual careers.

Goodlooking's first full releases, did not focus solely on LTJ Bukem, but consisted of a compilation of some of the finest producers of the time. The first Album 'Logical Progression' consisted of tracks from LTJ himself alongside Peshay, PFM and Aquarius. The album's release in 1996 cemented Drum and Bass as a new form of Dance Music that was here to stay and LTJ Bukem's style opened up these new forms to a much wider audience.

Several years after the formation of Good Looking Records, sister labels began to form, acting as a stable for similar artists, many of which featured originally on Good Looking. Initially, Looking Good Records was set up to house the artists' growing production output. As the labels continued to develop; continuing to release the revolutionary rollers that it was becoming renowned for, LTJ Bukem wanted to expand; taking it further than the instant classics he had already released such as 'Music', 'Horizons' and 'Demons Theme.' Another sister label was founded 2 years later in 1996, Earth. The Earth imprint acted as on outlet for the more eclectic music of Good Looking, comprising of 7 volumes over an 8 year period, the Earth volumes symbolise the Good Looking ethos that if music sounds good then it should be embraced; the variety of tracks that appear on the albums vary from up-tempo jazzy Drum and Bass to more down tempo ambient tracks, whilst still seeming to compliment each other.

There had been much anticipation as to when LTJ Bukem' solo album would be finished, with many wondering why he was shying away from the project. The truth was, the time was not right, and in 2000 'Journey Inwards' dropped into the hands of a record number of Good Looking lovers. Heralded as a key point in Good Looking' history, it marked a turning point in the labels' output; with individual artist albums slowly beginning to emerge as well as continuing to release the highly successful Earth series and what some see as the highlight of the Good Looking releases; The Progression Sessions CDs.

These CDs have been the mostly widely received of all the Good Looking releases; with a collection of 10 releases that cover LTJ Bukem and fellow Label-mate MC Conrad's touring schedule over the last 10 years. With the releases featuring live mixes from just a selection of the many countries that the Good Looking Camp has travelled to. Countries including Japan, America and Germany have all featured and are a true example of how far and wide LTJ Bukem has travelled pushing the boundaries of Drum and Bass.

Things seemed to quieten down after the Millennium, and rumours began circulating that the Good Looking Camp had begun to dwindle. These rumours were quashed with the huge 2004 release of 'Golden Girl' by Makoto with the vocal talents of MC Conrad. The tune heralded a welcome return for Good Looking with it receiving airplay from everyone from Friction to Fabio.

As for the future, things really are looking good! With the hugely anticipated new album from Makoto dropping early this year, Good Looking has a pipeline full of projects ready for release in 2008. As well as regular 12” instalments; the first new release being the doulble A sided ‘Switch’ - www.goodlooking.org


In the midst of the explosion of the acid house and rave scenes in the late 80s there were no strict genres - back then pigeon-holing was a nonexistent entity - and amongst the raft of visionaries introducing breakbeats into a rave scene still dominated by 4/4 kick drums was a young Danny Williamson, aka LTJ Bukem. With beginnings as a DJ on London's soundsystem scene, followed by the acid house days alongside the likes of Kid Batchelor and Mr C, it was a fascination with the sampler that sprung his career into pace. Whilst the likes of the Ragga Twins were fusing breakbeats with ragga samples and creating proto-jungle, Bukem's masterpiece, firmly rooted in his jazz piano background, was melodically and musically of another planet. His early productions that followed - including "Demon's Theme", "Atlantis" and "Music" - which built the foundations of the nascent Good Looking empire - carved out a defined niche in the developing scene. It wasn't long before other young beat makers rushed to get their music into Bukem's hands, from PFM to one Rupert Parkes aka Photek ("no one had heard of Photek until I was playing out all these sets of his productions"). As the 90s moved on and drum & bass began to develop as a distinct genre, Bukem and long time friend and supporter Fabio set up Speed at the Mars Bar in London's West End, a night that became integral to D&B's development.

"With the mix I really wanted to highlight what I'm doing as a DJ. I could've sat there with a computer and done what a lot of people do: a computer mix, which is great fun as you can do what you can't do live. But for me personally, I wanted it to be exactly what I do on a Friday night, strictly dubplates and records. I also wanted to represent people on the mix that I am working with on Good Looking, who I have a strong belief will have some longevity in what they are doing, and are going to be prolific artists in their own right. For me, it doesn't matter who the artist is, it's just about good music. That's been my ethos since day one."
- LTJ Bukem

And it's these artists that Bukem is representing on FABRICLIVE 46. A bold mix of new and burgeoning talent, this is a seventy minute sneak peek at the future of drum & bass. It's a simple formula - one genius, two decks and 18 great records. This is the mix which will re-establish LTJ Bukem as one of electronic music's maverick selectors - not afraid to shun the big tunes and, instead, stick to his principles, support the fam and remind the record buying world that Good Looking is still the relentless musical force it always was. - www.fabriclondon.com


LTJ Bukem is not like other drum & bass DJs: refusing to charge through a seventy minute mix of the day's biggest rave anthems, instead he crafts mixes with depth and longevity. with both his labels and his DJing, Bukem is cut from a different cloth. On FABRICLIVE 46 he carefully and methodically constructs a symphony exclusively from the family of artist housed in his Good Looking stable. True to the trademark GLO sound - a sound that for many years had its own section in most record shops - this mix is knee deep in atmospheric, edifying soundscapes - drum and bass that swells the heart and the dancefloor. - www.fabriclondon.com


Discography

Productions:

Logical Progression EP (released under the name L.T. Bukem) (12") (1991)
Demon's Theme / A Couple Of Beats (12") Good Looking Records GLR001 (1991)
Teach Me To Fly - LTJ Bukem & DJ Trace (12") (1992)
Who Knows Vol. 1 (released under the name The Bookworm) (12") (1993)
Bang The Drums / Remnants - LTJ Bukem and Tayla (12") Good Looking Records GLR002 (1993)
Return to Atlantis - LTJ Bukem & Apollo Two (12") Good Looking Records GLR003 (1993)
Music / Enchanted (12") Good Looking Records GLR004 (1993)
19.5 / 19.5 Reprisal - LTJ Bukem & Peshay (12") Good Looking Records GLR008 (1994)
Horizon / Rain Fall (12") Looking Good Records LGR001 (1995)
Coolin’ Out (3x12”/CD) Logical Progression - Good Looking Records (1996)
Moodswings (12”/CD) Earth Volume 1 - Good Looking Records EARTH001 (1996)
The Journey - LTJ Bukem & Mystic Moods (12") Mystic Moods MMOODS6/7 (1996)
Cosmic Interlude (12”/CD) Earth Volume 2 - Good Looking Records EARTH002 (1996)
Mystical Realms EP (2x12"/CD/Maxi) Good Looking Records GLREP001V (1998)
Constellation (12”/CD) Earth Volume 3 - Good Looking Records EARTH003 (1998)
Journey Inwards (4x12"/2xCD) Good Looking Records GLRAA001 (2000)
Suspended Space EP (2x12") Good Looking Records GLREP007V (2000)
Rhodes To Freedom / Watercolours (12") Good Looking Records GLR038 (2000)
Sunrain (12"/CD/Maxi) Good Looking Records GLRSIN001 (2000)
Switch / Drum Toolz – LTJ Bukem / MC Conrad & furney (12”) Good Looking Records GLR068 (2007)

Remixes:

Michelle Gayle - Sweetness (Mellow Drum n Bass mix by LTJ Bukem) (12”) RCA (1994)
Jodeci - Feenin (LTJ Bukem Remix) (12”) MCA (1995)
The Shamen - Transamazonia (LTJ Bukem Remix) (10”/12”/CD/Maxi) One Little Indian 1995
Grace - If I Could Fly (LTJ Bukem Remix) (12”/CD/Maxi) Perfecto (1996)
David Arnold & LTJ Bukem - Thunderball - The James Bond Theme (12”Sampler) EastWest Records UK (1997)
Herbie Hancock - The Essence (LTJ Bukem Remix) (12”/CD/Maxi) Transparent Music (2001)

Compilations:

LTJ Bukem Presents: Logical Progression (3x12”/CD) Good Looking Records GLRCD001 (1996)
LTJ Bukem Presents: Earth (7 Volume compilation series) (CD/Vinyl) Good Looking Records
LTJ Bukem - Producer 01 (CD compilation) Good Looking Records GLRD001 (2001)
LTJ Bukem - Producer 05: Rarities (CD compilation) Good Looking Records GLRD005 (2001)
LTJ Bukem Presents: Some Blue Notes Of Drum 'N' Bass (CD compilation) Good Looking Records GLRSBN001 (2004)

Officially Released DJ Mixes:

Dreamscape VI (5xCass) Tape 4 (Side B) Dreamscape (1993)
Dreamscape VII (6xCass) Tape 4 (Side B) Dreamscape (1993)
Dreamscape VIII (8xCass) Tape 3 (Side A) Dreamscape (1994)
Dreamscape XI (The Pinch & The Punch (8xCass) Tape 6 (Side A) Dreamscape (1994)
Fantasia Takes You Into The Jungle (3XCD) Dreamscape (1994)
The Dreamscape Video Double (VHS) Dreamscape (1994)
Logical Progression (2XCD) Good Looking Records / FFRR GLRCD001 (1996)
LTJ Bukem Presents: The Rebirth (CD) Yaman (1996)
Ministry Of Sound Presents: One Half Of A Whole Decade (3xCD) Ministry Of Sound (1996)
Mixmag Live! Vol.3 – LTJ Bukem (CD) DMC Publishing (1996)
Promised Land Vol.1 (2xCD) Higher Limits (1996)
Progression Sessions 1 (CD) Good Looking Records GLRPS001 (1998)
Progression Sessions 3 (CD) Good Looking Records GLRPS003 (1999)
Progression Sessions 4 (CD) Good Looking Records GLRPS004 (1999)
Progression Sessions 5 (2xCD) Good Looking Records GLRPS005 (2000)
Progression Sessions 6 - America Live 2001 (2xCD) Good Looking Records GLRPS006 (2001)
Progression Sessions 7 - Japan Live 2002 (2xCD) Good Looking Records GLRPS007 (2002)
Progression Sessions 8 - UK Live 2003 (2xCD) Good Looking Records GLRPS008 (2003)
Progression Sessions 10 - Germany Live 2004 (2xCD/CD/Maxi) Good Looking Records GLRPS010 (2004)

Photos

Bio

Just who is LTJ Bukem? Ground breaking DJ? Inspirational musician? Record label entrepreneur? Club visionary, perhaps? When the man behind those wire rimmed glasses and that disarming smile writes his job description just what does he put? The man who took the drum and bass concept from a small venue off London's Charing Cross Road to the nation's superclubs and then onto the international stage? The geezer whose records launched breakbeat into a brand new galaxy of sound? Or maybe he just writes 'Renaissance man for a digital age'. In truth LTJ Bukem is all of the above. Although he wouldn't like to admit it, LTJ Bukem is the living embodiment of the post-acid house entrepreneurial creative spirit. He is a mild mannered energy flash whose panoramic musical vision has found success in every area he has explored. From running sound systems to cutting up breaks at raves, from relocating the heart of breakbeat culture to redefining the spirit of drum and bass, the man known to his friends as Danny Williamson has sat at the forefront of breakbeat evolution, lighting the way with little more than a zest for life and a love of music. In other words, LTJ Bukem is a man on a mission!

Bukem's first introduction to music, like so many others, was through piano lessons as a child. Unlike many however, the young pianist turned out to possess a natural talent and he quickly moved through the piano grades. Classical music represented the soundtrack to his home life. Both parents having a passion for Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky that rubbed off on their son. However it was when the family moved to Watford and Bukem changed music teachers that he developed his first true musical love. Thanks to a progressively minded teacher - Nigel Crouch - he was then introduced to the world of jazz fusion, a style which has informed his work ever since.
In the mid eighties, at the age of seventeen, Bukem discovered the joys of clubbing. The teenager regularly checked out the local soul clubs and legendary rare groove all dayers. As a keen record buyer he soon became interested in the idea of putting over his own version of the club soundtrack and before long he became involved with a sound system. During this time he also ran a jazz funk band, although this never presented itself as a serious past-time; just fun. The DJing was his main thing and by 1987 he gained something of a reputation for his sets. However it was in 1988 that Bukem first realised that DJing could offer a full-on career.

In 1990, LTJ Bukem got his first big break - at 'Raindance'. Booked to play between 1 & 2 AM in front of 10,000 people, it was the first true test of this fledgling DJ's skills. It may have taken all of his mates to push him onto the stage but it proved to be a set that he'll never forget. From the first track he "ripped it up" and LTJ Bukem, the world class DJ was truly born.

Naturally, Bukem then ventured into the studio to record a track which was to become one of the most influential records of the era. This 12" titled 'Logical Progression' surfaced on the newly formed Vinyl Mania imprint. At once anthemic and relaxing it offered the first true blueprint to Bukem's sonic vision.
By the time of his follow up to 'Logical Progression' Bukem had set up his own imprint. Run from a small office in Harlesden, London, the label was christened 'Good Looking' and its debut offering came in the shape of 'Demon's Theme'. Finished in mid 1990 and pressed up onto dub-plate, Bukem dropped it into his sets for a full year to test the reaction before he finally released the track officially in July '91. 'Demon's Theme' immediately caught the imagination of many people, its soulful combination of rushing breaks, lush ambience and mellow vibes opening up fresh vistas within the increasingly dark ambience of the rave.
Bukem's next release was 'Apollo' in '92, however his biggest breakthrough came with his next release 'Music' in 1993. In 1994 Bukem unleashed '19.5' while the release of the similarly epic 'Horizons' coincided with the opening of the legendary 'Speed' at the Mars Bar in London. This was an important time for Bukem. The label was gaining ground with its growing catalogue of must-have tunes and Bukem's own in-demand DJing. The launch of 'Speed' was intended to run hand in hand with the growth of Good Looking while also offering a focal point for the growing drum and bass scene. After a shaky start, which almost forced the night into closure, 'Speed' quite literally took off one night in the summer of '94.
Typically, Bukem made the most of this situation. He used the sudden media limelight to forward his vision, highlighting Good looking Records and its label roster. In 1995 the label licensed a compilation to London Records. Titled 'Logical Progression' it featured exclusive cuts from the roster alongside older tracks and is still one of the highest selling drum & bass compilations to have been released. "I wanted to see the label grow, I