Disc jockey, producer
Luke Slater began his musical journey in the late 1980s in the world of electronic sounds. Recording under a variety of names, Slater introduced Detroit techno to the United Kingdom. His music ranges from pounding and abrasive to sweet and touching. In his 2002 album Alright on Top, Slater moves, for the first time, from underground music to pop and includes songs sung by a vocalist, in an attempt to humanize his work.
Luke Slater was born in Reading, England, 39 miles west of London. His family later moved to Horley, a small town south of London in Sussex. His father loved music, especially that of the big-band era, and played the piano. Luke studied the piano, but the lessons bored him. In an interview with Krisjanis Gale for Consumable Online, Slater describes some of his early explorations with sound: “I started doing this thing, where I’d take the piano apart. And my dad had this like old reel-to-reel. It’s really old, and when you recorded on it, it sounded kind of warbly.… So I used to take the piano apart and sort of detune… some of the strings. So you get a real fat sort of honky tonk sound. I used to like to record that.”
Slater then took up the drums. At age 13, he and some other teens formed their own rock group, in which Slater was the drummer. When a keyboardist left behind a Roland 808 drum machine and a synthesizer, Slater began using the equipment, which he still has. Slater’s early experimentations occurred around the time electro music, which greatly influenced his work, came to England.
Inspired by science fiction films such as 2001—A Space Odyssey as well as the music of Afrika Bam-baata, Soul Sonic Force, Visage, and Yazoo, which he grew up listening to, Slater brought the Detroit techno sound to England. He strongly related to this synthesized sound, eventually becoming one of England’s most inspired electronic-music producers.
By the early 1980s, electro music had developed into what came to be called dance music. By the late 1980s, Slater worked in the record shop, Mi Price, in Croydon, where he listened to electro and techno music and worked with Al Sage. By 1988 he worked as a disc jockey in London clubs, including the well-known Troll. There Slater played electro and jack tracks, which had come over to the United Kingdom from Chicago and Detroit. After about a year in London, Slater returned to Sussex, where, along with Dave Clarke, Tony Lee, and Sage, he ran a record shop in Brighton called Jelly Jam; later, Jelly Jam became a record label. Sage and Slater released Freebase and Momentary Vision, a Detroit-influenced work, under the name Translucent in 1989. According to the World Techno Nation website, “Further hard and industrial techno releases … caused a storm across the U.K. rave scene, with DJs … dropping tracks like The Pounder’ at huge raves across the country. Whilst these initial releases were relatively low key and anonymous, it was clear that Luke was going to go further.” In 1991 he released Keep It Up, also on Jelly Jam.
On the Dutch label Djax, Slater recorded under the name Clementine, releasing “The Opening,” “Time Explored,” and “Cosmopolitan for the Cosmos” in 1992 and 1993. Switching to the Irdial label, he recorded electronic music using the name Morganistic in 1992. In 1993 Slater began recording on the Peacefrog label, coming out with a series called Planetary Funk, under the name Planetary Assault Systems, from 1993 through 1999. During this time, he also recorded as the 7th Plain on the GPR label. From 1992 to 1994 he recorded the X-Tront series.
In 1997 Slater tired of trying to meet the public’s expectations. In order to focus his work, he gave up the various names under which he had recorded and began to use his own name. On the novamute label he recorded Freek Funk. According to his biography on the Mute Liberation Technologies website, “The album effortlessly hopped between rabid techno barrages and moments of lush orchestration that dripped a fragile beauty. He had wanted to create a multi-purpose album that could be interpreted on a myriad of levels. What he ended up spawning was something that went far beyond his vision, an album that intrigued and wooed fans and critics alike. Muzik, Mixmag and Jockey Slut pronounced it album of the month as praise came in from all quarters.… Compressing his own unique musical journey into an hour’s worth of
Born in Reading, England.
Worked as disc jockey in London clubs, 1988; released first recordings, 1989; released series called Planetary Funk under name Planetary Assault Systems, 1993-99; began to record under his own name, 1997; Wireless released on novamute, 1999; came out with first DJ mix album, Fear & Loathing, 2001; released Alright on Top under the Mute label, 2002; toured Europe, 2002.
Awards: Album of the Month in Muzik, Mixmag, Jockey Slut for Freek Funk, 1997; Ministry Magazine, Compilation of the Month for Fear & Loathing, October 2001; Ministry of Sound’s Album of the Month for Alright on Top, 2002.
Addresses: Record company —Mute, 429 Harrow Road, London, W10 4RE, England. Website — Luke Slater Official Website: http://www.lukeslater.com.
sonic alchemy, Freek Funk stands as a near perfect summation of all that’s been excellent in electronic music in the last ten years.”
In 1998 Slater released Love and toured in the United Kingdom, Denmark, France, Belgium, and Holland. Later that year, in his south London studio, Space Station, Slater planned his next achievement with Sage. Wireless, released on novamute in September of 1999, was inspired by industrial electronic rock and used live percussion and guitar. The music on Wireless has been described as breathtaking, moving, funky, moody, deranged, brutal, dark, menacing, and a study in the essential contradictions of man versus machine. In September of 2001 Slater came out with his first DJ mix album, Fear & Loathing, which contains 44 tracks of music chosen by Slater.
In April of 2002 Slater released Alright on Top. Unlike his previous work, which is characterized by a hard, techno sound, this album’s songs contain choruses, melodies, and vocals along with robotic beats, pulsing rhythms, and synthesizers, resulting in interesting sounds with emotional complexity. For this album, Slater brought in singer Ricky Barrow, along with longtime collaborator Sage, to create a more humanized type of machine music with a pop feel to it. Slater explained at the Mute website, “I’ve wanted to do an album with songs for some time. It’s just that nothing’s ever been all right at the same time. With the albums on novamute I didn’t have a singer, and I’m not really that open to working with people just off the cuff. I have to get on some kind of wavelength with someone to work with them, and it just never seemed right before.… But all the time I was writing bits for songs and storing them up, and I thought yeah, I’ll do them one day.” In an interview with Pulse! Magazine, Slater explained, “I like it when lyrics don’t make sense.… Any lyrics on this album that don’t make sense are the ones I wrote.”
Besides his musical talent, Slater has a perverse sense of humor. In an interview at the React Music website, Slater described why he named one of his albums Fear & Loathing: “You got to have all these things in your life to make you whole, otherwise we’d all just be walking around smiling continuously, which would, of course, be very worrying and sickening. I had a teacher at school that smiled all the time. We came to the conclusion she was completely mad and had an underlying deathwish for all children under her control.”
Slater has traveled the world performing. Some of his favorite places are Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Melbourne, Australia. For fun, Slater enjoys roller skating, biking, and using Mac computers. He married in 1998, has two children, and lives in a flat in Islington, England.
Freek Funk, novamute, 1997.
Love, novamute USA, 1998.
Wireless, novamute, 1999.
Fear & Loathing (DJ mix project), React, 2001.
Alright on Top, Mute, 2002.
(With Translucent) Momentary Vision, Jelly Jam, 1989.
(With Lloyd Owes Me a Packet) The Pounder, Jelly Jam, 1990.
(With Machine) Integrated Harmony, Jelly Jam, 1992.
(With Planetary Assault Systems) Planetary Funk Vol. 1, Peacefrog, 1993.
(With Planetary Assault Systems) Archives, Peacefrog, 1995.
(With Deputy Dawg) Dirtbag, Peacefrog, 1996.
Billboard, November 13, 1999.
“Interview: Luke Slater,” Consumable Online, http://www.westnet.com/consumable/1999/09.28/intslat1.html (April 30, 2002).
“Luke Slater,” Mute Liberation Technologies, http://www.mute.com/mute/novamute/slater/slaterbi.htm (April 30, 2002).
“Luke Slater,” RA, http://www.residentadvisor.com.au/dj_view.asp?ID=176 (April 30, 2002).
“Luke Slater,” World Techno Nation, http://www.worldtechnonation.com/pages/LukeSlater.htm (July 23, 2002).
“Luke Slater Interview,” React Music, http://www.react-music.co.uk/lukeslater/intro.htm# (April 30, 2002).
“Luke Slater 2002 Biography,” Anglo Plugging, http://www.angloplugging.co.uk/artist.cfm?artistlD=161&terms=luke%20slater (April 30, 2002).
“Luke Slater: Use the Voice, Luke,” Pulse! magazine, http://pulse.towerrecords.com (April 30, 2002).