Interview: Drop The Lime
Luca Venezia aka Drop The Lime is more than just a DJ/producer. With his fitted button up shirts, leather and chain suspenders, and slicked back hair he has an aesthetic that’s both sinister and alluring. You can tell that Luca was born and raised on the streets of New York because like the city, his music is a melting pot of different genres from heavy bass, house, grime, and dubstep. But Luca has always been a rock and roller at heart. In his latest album Enter The Night, Luca gets back in touch with his rocker roots and calls on his childhood influences like Elvis and Johnny Burnette giving electronic music that twang we didn’t know it was missing. I had the chance to chat with Luca about his album, touring, and trouble (and bass).
Nancy Lu: How much would you say your Italian heritage and living in New York has contributed to your personal aesthetic and your musical tastes?
Luca Venezia: Very much so. I’d say with what I’m attracted to culturally, whether it’s food, good drinks, and fashion wise it’s very Italian inspired. Whether it’s the classiness of that or gangsta fashion of old Italian suits and old men slicking their hair back. That kind of vibe.
NL: New York City is a very creative and musical place. Growing up here when did you first get involved in DJing and forming a circle of friends who share your interests? When and how did you gain a presence in the city?
LV: It was about five or six years ago where I first met everyone in my Trouble & Bass crew. Before then I was mixing between hanging out with the rock and roll crowd and hanging out with club kids, but I didn’t ever combine the two together. I was always jumping between different scenes and going to a Misshapes party one night, and then going to deep house night at Vinyl another. It wasn’t til about six years ago when I met Star Eyes and we DJed a party together and I was like, “you mix all the different genres together, you’re very UK influenced, bass-oriented music when you DJ.” Then we started this crew and eventually met new people who did the same thing. Once that part began is when I really came to my place in New York City and found where I belonged.
NL: What are some of your favorite venues in New York?
LV: Right now in Brooklyn I really love the crazier, grimier venues like House of Yes. Venues in Manhattan I love crazier over-the-top venues like Le Bain at the Standard Hotel. It really captures New York’s romantic and sexy but debaucherous vibe. I recently had my release party there and it was the most packed they’ve ever had it. People were dancing on the couches and stuff.
NL: With Trouble & Bass where did the tagline “heavy bass champion” come from?
LV: Haha I don’t remember but someone said that to me once. I don’t like to attach myself to any tagline or genre. Trouble & Bass is a fun name for that reason. It’s about creating trouble and being rowdy and wild, but at the same time having fun and not being too serious about the party aspect of music. It’s music – it’s techno, it’s house, it’s bass music, it’s rock and roll, it’s everything. It’s an attitude.
NL: Speaking of Trouble & Bass, it’s a collective, it’s a label, and you guys also throw monthly parties as well. What do you envision for the future for the brand?
LV: We’re getting more involved with fashion which is really exciting. I don’t want to call it merchandise cause it’s beyond that. It’s things like jewelry, dress shirts – going beyond just a t-shirt and taking a more high fashion approach to merchandise. We are also really focused on keeping that DIY artistic approach to a collective and not losing your creative path. We’re not doing this for the money, we’re doing it for the passion and the people that follow us and believe in us. So things like creating guerrilla-type marketing in Brooklyn whether it’s stickers or posters, or a hotline to call to find out where the party is. Taking it outside of the Internet realm and bringing in a more human aspect.
NL: You’re currently doing a month long DJ tour in Europe and have played venues of all kinds throughout your career. What would you say the biggest difference is in playing smaller venues like U St Music Hall in Washington, DC and festivals or larger venues abroad? Do you have a preference for one or the other?
LV: I don’t have a preference but I love playing in both situations though they’re very different. The high that you get from a crowd full of ten to twenty thousand people at a festival in Europe or Australia is insane. It’s very addictive. But at the same time you really have to bang it out and you have to think of your set as a weapon for thousands of people to lose their mind to. While at smaller venues it’s exciting because you can be more intimate with the crowd and create a memorable experience that’s personal that you share with the audience. You definitely play newer, unreleased, cutting edge things and take them on a personal journey while at festivals you have to play songs that everybody knows but mix it with new things.
NL: So you’ve been supporting your Enter The Night album doing live sets with singing and playing guitar. How important do you think stage presence is and was performing something that came naturally to you?
LV: It’s something that my parents had to drudge through since age seven. When they had dinner parties I’d come out with my guitar and put on a show. It’s something that I’ve always been drawn to. Seeing Elvis at a young age and footage of Tom Waits, these very theatrical and intense stage performers were an early inspiration for me and still are. It’s something that I think is crucial though to music. If you want to translate the energy and attitude that you’re trying to express on the record into a live element, then you really need to have proper stage presence. You need to have a passionate show and engaging experience with the crowd. You need to show that the record that you made is soulful and is something that is in you. I think that comes out in the performance.
NL: Enter The Night was an album four years in the making and saw you getting more involved in rockabilly and blues. When did you first get interested in the rockabilly sound and are there any artists that you particularly admire in that genre?
LV: I first started playing guitar inspired by that style. When I was 14 I was really into The Cramps and getting into them got me into the rockabilly and blues that they were influenced by. So artists like Link Wray, Gene Vincent and Johnny Burnette, The Sonics. These guys really had a strong influence on me. But I took a break cause I started going to raves and was like, “I want to be a DJ, I don’t want to play guitar anymore!” It wasn’t until I’d say about six years ago when I did this Barcardi tour with Major Lazer, DJ AM, and Matt & Kim and all four of us were all playing different genres. I remember AM he was just a master of mixing all these different genres together and inspired me to mix what I love. So I always listened to rockabilly but I never dared to try to mix it with dance music. I just started doing it and it went over really well. So I started making my own edits of rockabilly and eventually that led to me sampling things and adding my own guitar. It really evolved but it evolved in a natural way where eventually I had this burst of creativity to create an album.
NL: Is there anything else in your career that you want to achieve?
LV: I’ll forever want to achieve a million things, I’m just constantly wanting to do more and more. I really want to do film scores. Badly. That’s my ultimate goal is to score films. I want to do theatre. I’m getting more and more involved with fashion, collaborating with artists and doing more creative projects outside of music. But yeah film scoring is something I haven’t really dabbled in yet that I really want to.
NL: What else are you working on right now that you can share with us?
LV: What we’re doing with the record is because it’s very song-based and something that I wanted to put out in the world sooner than later, we’re doing a Nite Versions of it that’s coming out in October on Ultra. It’s basically the album remixed and me making it “clubbier” and heavier for the live performance. I’m also finishing up an old project that I’ve resurrected called CURSES, which is my weird New York and 90s Chicago house inspired music.