The Gaslamp Killer, defies classification. Born William Benjamin Bensussen, he earned his moniker after his wild destroying sets in the Gaslamp districts of San Diego. He lets us in on the mysterious dynamics of his partnership with Gonjasufi, how he’ll never make music without live instrumentation, the new artists coming out of LA and how he can’t wait to hit up Australia and New Zealand with Stereosonic and Melbourne Music Week.
FFF: Your Death Gate EP jumps from classic hip hop sources like the Ethiopiques to super digital ‘future’ beats. How do you resolve the distance between the soft and the raw? What does this EP mean to you creatively? The Gaslamp Killer (GLK): I always try to bring some 60s and 70s elements into my music and my deejay sets. I don’t think I will ever make any music without having some live instrumentation elements included. The Death Gate EP was just another collection of stuff I had been working on around that time (that didn’t make the Gonjasufi record). Hopefully it showed some various GLK styles and was a really fun release for me.
How would you describe the creative process between Gonjasufi and yourself? What do you enjoy most about working and hanging out together? I hear something that sounds like him, sounds like the Gonjasufi vibe and I sample it and re-edit it. Then I would email it to him and within a few days, weeks or months I would get an email back with a new song. Always impressive coming from Sumach.
What are your weapons of choice when making your productions? And how did you come to start music production and DJ’ing? Roland 303, Dr. Sample, Pro Tools, Serato, Beatmaker2 for iPad, my drum kit, Moog Voyager, various noise makers. My older friends were always doing graffiti and rapping while I was still just dancing at all the shows.
Then I started seeing more deejays emerging from the scene and I started going to raves and seeing deejays there rocking huge crowds. Just one dude rocking such big rooms of people. I knew right there and then that deejaying is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life and I feel that making beats goes hand in hand with deejaying if you progress naturally.
I really like the artwork on I Spit On Your Grave, and Lake of Fire. I’m wondering who is behind the artwork, and what attracts you to this kind of look? Shepard Fairey [who designed the Barack Obama ‘Hope’ poster] asked me to do a mix cd for his brand Obey. Then he drew me off of a photo by Theo Jemison as he saw fit (just like he does with almost all his drawings). It was mostly his idea. The mix was made over the course of six months with a little help from my friends Kutmah and Free The Robots.
Hell and The Lake Of Fire was a mix that I made for Hit and Run Crew Los Angeles. Brandy Flower (the founder of H+R) has been making art for me since 2005 and when he asked me to make a mix CD I tried to get as weird as possible, so he did the same with the art. I guess its always dark but thats not really my intention all the time. Usually just happens that way.
You’ve been touted as being a purveyor of ‘international mystery music’, does this reflect your sound accurately? And what exactly is ‘international mystery music’? I guess it means that I play alot of unknown stuff from around the world. Not too many people have heard alot of the music that I am playing.
Most of my friends and I know all of the joints. But the average music listener just doesn’t know. So I guess that could be a reason why “they” call it that.
Are you hearing a musical evolution on the West Coast? Is L.A having a musical resurgence? LA has always had amazing musicians and we have always been evolved comparatively.
It’s a classic breeding ground for this shit, so nothing has changed but the amount of attention we happen to be getting at this moment thanks to guys like Flying Lotus, Nosaj Thing, Daedelus, Tyler The Creator and Odd Future and many many more artists that are killing the game right now coming out of LA.
Did you previous tours to Australia and New Zealand provide any echoes with California and L.A? Do we have much in common? The energy is very similar in Califronia to Australia and New Zealand. I feel a certain mellow beach vibe in the air when I go to Australia and New Zealand as well. Even though LA and alot of California has a rough city vibe to it sometimes as well, I still feel like that ocean energy takes over.
You tend to work with highly emotive, or intense music – be it a dubstep banger or a psych rock journey. How much of this is therapy and how much of it is science? If the songs dont have energy then the people won’t have energy. Simple as that.
What do you think of British artists like Bullion and Paul White? And the Lucky Me collective? Do this resonate with what you and the brainfeeder crew are doing? Of course. they are some of my fav crews doing it right now! Hudson Mohawke, Rustie, Lunice, Machine Drum, Bullion, Paul White… these are the closest relatives we have! Coast 2 Coast ya heard!
What are you looking forward to next for your music / life? New Gonjasufi music. New GLK music. New Computer Killer music. Not to mention my Australia and New Zealand tour coming up too! Very excited to play there again! So much new music to play for you guys! Its gonna be a great tour!