It’s a particularly hot and sweaty Wednesday when I arrive at Caine Tattoo Studios in Msida. Ian is already sitting outside fervently puffing on his vape while he waits for our guest to show. Within moments of me getting there, the techno sensation that is Carl Lautier arrives. Just in time. Lautier and I chill out in the front room of the tattoo parlour to chat about what he has been up to for the summer, what’s in store and what it is that has made him become such an icon within the techno scene in Malta.
Introducing Carl Lautier
What have you been up to for the summer so far?
It’s been very busy already – a very hectic summer actually! You know how it is, whenever the sun’s out all the parties start off. Personally, I have a few projects of mine such as Perpendicular – which has actually been going on for 10 years now. At the end of May, I was quite busy with The Stomp as well, we also had Honey Dijon over. As well as that, we’ve also started our residency at Uno on Sundays again. That keeps me quite busy in itself! I say I’ll try to have a break but…*laughs*
Doesn’t happen, does it?
No, not at all! *laughs* There are the Playground Nights going on too. I’ve also done a few hip-hop gigs as well. I actually played at the Hip Hop Festival at Funky Monkey recently.
Very busy summer so far! Let’s talk a bit about your music. I must say it’s quite varied, so my question is this: how exactly would you describe your style?
I don’t! *laughs* I don’t really have a style. I’ve always been very open to practically every genre of music. When I started DJing, I was mostly attracted to house. Then I started to get a bit more into tribal house, which went on to progressive house and then I started exploring techno. Nowadays, I’m anything in between house and techno. I also like to delve a lot into breakbeats and acid. Back when I was young, it was hip-hop, then to metal.
With a deeply rooted love for all things metal, Carl Lautier has developed a very unique sound.
What kind of stuff?
Hardcore, metal and death metal. I’ve just come back from Firenze Rocks actually, mostly to see Avenged Sevenfold, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and more. Then last year I went to see Hatebreed and Ghost.
Obviously, you’re getting a lot of different influences from a lot of different genres. What do you think has helped define your style the most?
The metal has definitely had an impact on the farther and darker side of the techno I play at times. It’s not every day that you get to play a heavier set. You know, maybe if I have a gig at Liquid or Playground, then I’m able to go as dark as I can. *laughs* I think hip-hop has had a very big impact on my house selection as well, especially when I get a house edit song. I’m a very big fan of hip-house as well.
What was it that ignited your passion for DJing?
I think it was just going out with friends, to be honest. I never used to like parties before, but I used to hang out in Coconut a lot and go to gigs. Then once secondary school finished I started to go out a lot more. I started to notice that connection that the DJ has with the people, you know? It got me very curious, so I used to go home and look for the tracks that they had played. Eventually, I started to find out more stuff and then I started playing on my PC and a few months later I was trying the records out with friends.
Nice. How long have you been doing it for?
So, I just moved into my 11th year DJing in clubs. I started practising maybe 2 years before – just having fun doing it in my bedroom or at house parties. Then maybe a birthday party in a club and eventually on to a weekly thing every Sunday. That’s kind of how it all started.
Ok, so that was your motivating factor to get out there and start DJing?
Yeah, I never looked at myself doing the whole DJ thing. Ever. Coming from a metal background, it was very hard to accept the fact that I was getting into parties and dance music events. *laughs* But I just progressed and continued to attend parties and meet artists. It made me want to do it all even more.
Carl Lautier is one-third of Perpendicular, an extremely successful trio of talented musicians.
So, going from your humble beginnings to now, you recently celebrated the 10-year anniversary of Perpendicular. Big props for that, man. That’s very cool. Can you tell me a little bit about Perpendicular?
Perpendicular is a product of myself (Carl Lautier), Mato & Nicky Slim, who I’ve been friends with for over 18 years now. We used to hang out and were working together and we’d get chatting about DJs and such and we eventually decided that we should do something together. That’s when Nicky mentioned that he has a friend, Mato, who he played with. It wasn’t until the first Perpendicular night that I got to know Mato and we had such a good night playing to a few of our friends – they wanted more and so did we.
From this, it started to become more of a themed event. It progressed more from some silly music selections and stuff to some proper big nights. I feel that it got a little bigger than we expected. Six years down the line, some of our parties had started to attract very large crowds. So, we decided to take it back a bit and continue with a more intimate gathering. That’s where we are now.
How was your experience with Perpendicular been?
I think it’s really what got me out there. It’s something which we came up with and turned it into what it is. That’s kind of what gave us the recognition as DJs, apart from playing in other clubs. It’s obviously been a huge learning curve; from dealing with people to getting crowds together and such. Overall it has been a great experience.
You’ve been playing with Nicky Slim and Mato for quite some time now. Do you feel that they have influenced your own style in any way?
Actually, no. We all have our own different style. It’s been like this since the start – we’ve always played our own different stuff. I’m more into my techno and house, Nicky plays more disco and house and Mato is the more minimal side of house and techno. So, everyone has their own style and marker music. Funnily, when we come together it just works.
In the 11 years that you’ve been DJing, where has been your favourite places to play?
I would say the outdoor parties definitely have a nicer effect – I can see the crowd letting go a little bit more. Then, you’ve got your indoor parties which are a bit more intimate and energetic. So, I’d have to say Liquid because I just love the raw feeling of it all there. Playground has also been quite a big home to me too. Uno, of course, also served a big purpose in my life too. I feel you can really adapt to whatever style you want at Uno – there’s a little bit for everyone there. I’d have to say Uno is definitely my favourite.
Musically, what has been the highlight of 2018 for you?
Definitely playing alongside Honey Dijon. I mean, she’s rocking it right now and I’ve been following her for years. That’s been my biggest thing this year. Definitely bigger things going to happen this summer as well. So, I’m really looking forward to those.
Alright! What exactly is on the cards?
So, one example is Joseph Capriati for Gringos. He’s always been one of my favourites too. I’m on the line up for that night so I’m particularly excited for it. That’s the only one I can talk about right now!
Fair enough! More to come.
Yes, more to come.
Nice. So, since you’ve started DJing, what would you say has been the biggest milestone for you personally?
I always end up talking about this! Apart from getting recognition from playing in clubs around Malta and Gozo and still managing to get the opportunity to play alongside some big international DJs as well. So, 2 years ago, Paul Kalkbrenner played in Malta and I was on the line-up, but I was meant to play at the beginning. Then, the organisers called me and asked if I wanted to close the night and I just froze! Not that I’ve never closed a night before, but it was a night where there were thousands of people one of the biggest DJs in the world and I have to close after them. It turned out really well, so I think that’s one of my biggest milestones to date. The feedback I received after from the crowd and everyone else was all very positive.
Nice! So, you already filled me on what’s going off this summer. But, what’s your plan for after that?
So, I definitely want to start pushing more boundaries with The Stomp and start getting more artists involved in it. I’d like to start organising different nights and maybe some more collaborations with other promoters. I’d like to regroup and focus a bit more on that too. There’s a lot of people out there trying out the same things so you really need to push the boundaries of creativity to make a name.
Last question for you: What advice would you give to someone who is looking to start DJing in Malta?
First and foremost, you have to learn on vinyl. There is no other way – whatever they may tell you! It’s possible, but there’s nothing better than actually being able to DJ with vinyl and not having to use your eyesight to know when to throw in a track. The ears are everything. Also, just do it for yourself – don’t do it to get out there. Allow it to be about that later but patience and perseverance are definitely key.
Nice one man. Thanks so much for your time!
It really is amazing to meet up and chat with talented, passionate artists like Carl Lautier. If you’re a fan of techno – and hip-hop for that matter – then you should definitely keep your ears open for Carl Lautier and the Perpendicular crew. Get yourself over to the Perpendicular Facebook Page and give Carl Lautier and the guys a like. While you’re at it, check out The Stomp too. You know you want to.
Words by: Shane McLáimh
Photos provided by: Carl Lautier