Fortune Kooky

Glasgow's LuckyMe family are making the most of this 'beautifully open time in music'. Laurent Fintoni meets the idiosyncratic collective poised for world domination

By Laurent Fintoni

 photos (top-left clockwise): Hudson Mohawke, Jay P, Nadsroic, Rustie, Mike Slott, Joe Kalamo, FineArt, Dom Sum (photo credits: Christina Kernohan)
A musical storm has been brewing in Scotland, and it's all down to a collective of artists based around the city of Glasgow. The name of the crew is LuckyMe, but don't let that fool you, because luck really has nothing to do it.

Heading the LuckyMe family are Dominic aka Dom Sum and Martyn aka FineArt. The collective’s naming was, as Martyn explains, “pretty spontaneous. I like things to be named positively and I guess it’s meant to be a joke about people thinking you’re lucky even though you put the work in.”
The collective has gone from putting on parties in a small Glasgow pub to garnering international recognition within just a few years. The music they make and promote is, essentially, a new breed hip hop — one echoed worldwide in recent years by artists such as Flying Lotus and Dabrye. And if it sounds very different to what people are used to, it’s because it embraces a cornerstone of the culture that's too often forgotten: progressiveness. “What we do is inclusive and open to new ideas and influences,” says Dom, while Martyn admits that “We’re obsessed with hearing new music. And hip hop was always about progression, about making it your own.”
Fluid, evolving and adaptable, LuckyMe isn't based around a label or a single entity. All the core members, Rustie, Hudson Mohawke and Mike Slott, are producers and DJs while Dom and Nadsroic, a female MC/singer, are vocalists. On top of their solo releases they collaborate under guises such as Heralds of Change (Mo and Mike), Surface Empire (Mo and Dom) and The Blessings (Dom and Martyn). And then there's the extended LuckyMe family, with Jay P, Mr Copy, Dema and others.
LuckyMe’s profile rose quick and high in 2007, thanks primarily to the success of releases by Rustie on Hyperdub and Stuff, and Heralds of Change on the Irish All City label, while in early '08, LuckyMe's own label got off to a flying start with Mo’s widely praised Ooops EP. Their unusual approach to releasing, collaborating and promoting has been crucial to their success. “It’s the modern way to me,” says Martyn. Dom elaborates: “We are an artist-led, music-led crew. We promote our vision ourselves and if someone wants to release and fit our vision then they can invest in our music. Our label is there to put out stuff we love but no one is either biting at or ready for. The label should be indulgent and pioneering, but it’s only a small part of the plan.”

As live performance becomes ever more important for musicians in order for them to make a living, LuckyMe’s approach appears all the more logical. These guys are true ‘live’ workhorses; they started the collective around club nights and gigs, have opened for incredibly varied acts, from indie hip hop to folk, and continue to rock clubs and festivals around the world. “We’ll concentrate on the music while the big guys try and figure out what all the changes mean to them; we stay small and adaptable like that,” says Dom. “Live was always our linchpin, so I guess in a way we are better prepared for how things are now.” Martyn adds that “Now that people want us to come and perform, rather than putting ourselves on, it feels incredibly good and rewarding to have stuck to our ideals.”

“When we first did live shows it became a ticket to be more creative and honest to all the other shit we do,”  Dom continues. He recounts a memorable gig with Mo in London’s Plastic People where they played beats and techno when hip hop was expected, and ended with Goldie shaking their hands for bringing something fresh to the night. “And it was all because we felt we could do what wasn’t expected. They trusted us. That’s so important, so different to having to please. I feel like to have vision and a sensibility in this genre-less, beautifully open time in music is all you can have. It’s your biggest asset. Just do you, be original and don’t get too caught up in scenes or ‘rules’.”

Well aware of their growing worldwide fan base they are keen to keep building on their achievements and show it's all down to much more than luck. “I tell myself to relax when I feel pressure, because it all came naturally and, excuse the pun, you can’t force luck!” Dom says jokingly, while Martyn knows that “This is everything we want to do, and we are blessed that a lot of it is happening how we want it to.”

Big things have been under way this year. Mike Slott, Rustie and Hud Mo have all played sets on Mary Anne Hobb's Experimental Session, Warp signed Mo for a release, while Mike has been overseeing the 7x7 series on All City, which features art from Dom. Nadsroic’s EP will be out on the label this autumn, with other releases from various members also in the pipeline, and they all continue to tear the roof down wherever they go, with gigs at Sonar and a US tour for Heralds of Change and Rustie two highlights from a busy year. And all the time their own night in Glasgow continues to showcase the cream of the hip hop and electronic scenes every month, with no plans to stop.

“The stakes are bigger now, but it’s just another time to relax and rely on the natural sensibility and quality control that you can’t force or fake," Dom continues. "We have got here for a reason and we can now make a career from moving it on and making more music.”
 Nadsroic's EP is out later this year on LuckyMe
 Hud Mo releases an album on Warp in 2009
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