Detroit techno producer Luke Hess has started a new record label, DeepLabs, set to release its first EP this May.
Since 2007, Hess has put out work on some of dub techno's most respected imprints, including Sweden's Kontra-Musik, Denmark's Echocord and France's Modelisme. DeepLabs, however, is firmly rooted in Hess's home city of Detroit, both musically and spiritually. For Hess, the new label is not only a channel for creative output, but also a vehicle for social and moral reconstruction, especially in regards to the Motor City. We caught up with Hess via e-mail last week to get the full scoop.
In addition to putting out records, Deep Labs carries with it a strong social message. Can you tell us a bit about that?
It's a platform for truth. Living in the Detroit area all my life, it's easy to notice a general disregard for the social structure. Decaying buildings, poor education, lack of infrastructure, prejudice, poor leadership, etc... These things don't just happen... It comes down to the individual. We're responsible. We're responsible for our relationships, we're responsible for the lives we lead, we're responsible for the decisions we make; humanity is responsible for the state that it's in. Our decisions can be inspired by something good, or they can be inspired by something evil. The first release on DeepLabs focuses on the motives behind our actions. If our motives are pure then we'll be able to answer to anyone. If our motives aren't pure... well, we reap what we sow... and that's by design. Free will is pure freedom, but sometimes our choices can make us feel more like slaves.
Releases on Deep Labs intend to "focus on a particular theme that all of humanity struggles with, and offer clear answers and simple instruction." How can techno records offer this kind of insight?
It's difficult to pick up insight from a drum machine, so the music is just an extension of the concept. I'm going to have one-sheets go out with the music that describe what the release is about and to offer a biblical perspective on personal and social issues.
Do you feel that moral guidance is something house and techno currently lack?
I think the entertainment industry in general tends to focus on personal and intense self-gratification. People are directly and indirectly and consciously and unconsciously effected by what they see, hear, read, etc. I think that if we're not slaves to our desires (such as pride, money, sex) and we can learn self control in that area then we come to realize there is a lot more to life than living for ourselves. Maybe if we all spent more time serving others instead of serving ourselves the world would look a lot different. I have no room to judge, nobody is perfect, we all deal with struggles and hang ups, but I believe there is a better way to live, and that we have access to freedom from our self destructive ways.
Do you have any other artists on deck for future releases?
I don't have any other artists in the queue at the moment. Kinda keeping things spur of the moment for this project. At this time I'm only planning on having one or two releases a year. Just releasing projects that I'm attached to personally. The label is starting off small, but I'm excited for future growth & opportunities. The label is about something bigger than the artist - a mission is more important than any particular individual involved - if another artist has a similar vision & hope for positive change then I'm all ears.
The first release on DeepLabs will be an EP by Luke Hess entitled Sound Mind. In keeping with the label's religious overtone, the title refers to a passage in the Bible that reads, "For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." Musically, the EP shows Hess doing what he does best, pairing sleek beats with misty atmospheres and dark, dubby melodies.