Alex Lustig transforms rap beats into ambient soundscapes and is making an Impact
The Juno nominated producer is breaking into his own identity
At only 23-years old and with a SoundCloud page barely a year old, Alex Lustig has already received the honor of a Juno nomination - the Canadian equivalent of a Grammy.
The Antwerp, Belgium-based producer is a rising star on the hip-hop circuit, working with major modern day stalwarts of the genre like Machine Gun Kelly, Young Thug, Hoodie Allen, Skeme and more. After years of perfecting his sound in the rap realm and sitting on catalogue's worth of production material playing on an entirely different spectrum of electronic music, Alex Lustig decided to launch his own solo career, blasting off with a viral single called 'Light'.
Big things are on the horizon for the up-and-coming producer in his own right, but there's also plenty to get to know about his already prolific career navigating the hip-hop realm.
Get into an exclusive Q+A and diverse mix, below.
Was music a big part of your childhood?
When I was about 8, my mom bought a piano out of nowhere. She started saying, “Alex, you should start playing,” and she found a teacher for me and I started getting into it. Then, I started not doing so well in school but she said I could make up for doing poorly in school by playing three hours of piano, everyday. I couldn’t even skip one day.
Then when I was 15 or 16, I started going to school even less and my mom said that was only okay if I did five hours a day of piano and eventually, she brought me to the Conservatorium in Belgium to learn classical music. Then when I was 18, I ended up going to London where my sister was studying to study music production, but I never went to the classes because I hated being taught. I went to Montreal for a year when I was 19. I was going to study at university there, went for a day and then I said “fuck it,” it wasn’t for me and I decided that day to go 100 per cent into music.
Everyone I work with says I work very melodically, because that’s where my background comes from. My mom would always play opera at home, and she’d bring me too - drag me to these operas for four hours. Or, I’d come home from school and classical music would be blaring through the house super loud and she’d ask, “Alex, who is playing?” I’d say I don’t know but she’d keep pressuring me until I answered and knew!
Your mom seems to have played a huge part in instilling your interest in music.
She’s so funny, she knows every classical piece of music, every artist... then I’d play her some Skrillex and at first she’ll be unsure about it, but then one time I caught her blasting Skrillex on her own. She's great.
Tell me how you jumped from piano to producing music.
I had these big headphones when I was 13 and I’d play super loud music at school and my science teacher, Mr. Jordan, would come up to me and tell me I was playing music too loudly. He’d tell me that it was bad for my ears but I’d keep doing it, and one day he told me he was starting a class after school about music production. He saw I was obsessed with music and invited me, so I said, "why not."
I was hooked after that and I got my hands on a cracked version of Ableton. My mom would usually make me play piano first thing when I woke up, so I started sneakily waking up at like 5 AM to work on production so she wouldn't know.
I had to prove it to her, you know? She believed strongly in dedicating your all to become good at something and to her, it was piano. But eventually she saw how much I loved producing music though, and let me run with it.
You described your own music as melodic, and that has sort of become the way your sound is defined. Where do you think that inspiration comes from?
I have an anxiety disorder, and I was 17 I had a psychotic episode. I was taking medication and was in a spot where I wasn’t creating anything. I was taking these pills that made my mind stop thinking. I felt like a zombie.
I remember I’d go to my computer to produce, and get anxious because I couldn’t create. One day, I stopped taking the medication and I instead, ordered a book on anxiety because I realized that no one had actually ever told me what it was. I learned that the only thing you have to do when you’re having a panic attack is to accept it. The problem is is that you’re trying to help yourself the whole time when you’re having one, but you are tiring your mind even more when you do that. Then your mind gets so tired that it shuts down, and then you just become anxious about being anxious. Once you accept it, it just stops.
What calmed me down then was ambient music, in movies and stuff. Strictly then, I started doing more ambient stuff because it made me feel more comfortable. Big reverbs - they calm you down.
But also, the less and less I have anxiety, I start to experiment with trap beats like I made when I was younger, but blending in the ambient sounds and styles. Especially on my own sounds.