Steve Summers, Alan Hurst, Rhythm Based Lovers, Malvoeaux, Sensual Beings: Jason Letkiewicz is no stranger to multiple identities. The wonderful house cuts of the Brooklyn-based producer have been making waves via L.I.E.S, Future Times or Clone. Now Letkiewicz is launching his own imprint Confused House. And the good news is: it’s a fantastic jam project, too, this mix came together with Bookworms, Terekke and CB Radio. We talked to Letkiewicz just a few days after the storm hit the eastern US coast.
ROOF.FM: Jason, I gather hurricane Sandy didn’t cause any havoc around the area where you live.
JASON: Yes, things were okay here in my part of Brooklyn, we were lucky. But it was the strangest of experiences: Seeing the lower part of Manhattan in complete darkness was like a scene out of “Escape from New York”. Also, witnessing the endless lines of people waiting for gas and the necessity of a strong police presence to keep things in order: it really hit home. I felt as though I was seeing a glimpse of the inevitable future where fossil fuels are more scarce yet the demand for them still high.
It must have been a truly existential experience.
It was unnerving and made me aware more than ever that there’s not really a backup plan in place. I heard that fights broke out at some stations, I can only imagine what it would’ve been like had there been no police presence.
A cynical observer might say that Sandy could have wiped out the whole hipster-house-from-Brooklyn-thing.
Honestly, it doesn’t really concern me or seem real to me. The sound was not anything new at all as a lot of the bands featured were already considered synthwave bands or whatever. I’ve never seen that term used again but I imagine it could’ve caught on just as easily. I see the word hipster as used in “hipster house” as having a negative connotation.
Maximillion Dunbar said in an interview here, “at some point, some guy will come up with a bad name for our music, and then I”m going to be upset.”
Hipster house implies to me: Style over substance. I’ve seen it used in threads as a way of dismissing the music like “oh, that’s just some hipster house shit.” I’ve been making house tracks a lot longer than that term has been around and the idea of being lumped in with this scene now seems strange.
But you must certainly feel part of a circle of musical friends, especially the L.I.E.S crew?
Yeah, that was one of the reasons why I moved here three years ago, but the main one was to be with my now ex [Aurora Halal]. I had been back in the suburbs of Maryland for a year at that point and was sort of reaching my limit. Dwelling in my parents suburban basement and having to drive everywhere started to get to me. I would come up to New York every other weekend to visit her and started meeting a lot of interesting people and going to some great shows. Plus, I was already tight with Ron [Morelli, L.I.E.S label entrepreneur] and wanted to keep making tracks with him. His one visit to my place in the suburbs left him thoroughly freaked out, so I knew he wasnt going to make that trip often. In the end, it was a very easy choice to make.
Hipster house implies to me: Style over substance. I’ve been making tracks a lot longer than that term has been around and the idea of being lumped in with this now seems strange.
Tell me about Confused House.
Initially, it was just a website where I would put up various mp3 of tracks I was working on. I think the site started in 2005. It is still up ,but I haven’t updated it in a while and last I looked it was aesthetically a mess. The name was borrowed from a Joe Lewis track and for me its really just synonymous with “mutant disco” or something. Sort of an anything goes idea. It will now serve as the name of my label and the first 12″ should be out in February. The idea behind the label and also behind the mix is that it is collaborative and live jam oriented with a rotating cast of people involved. The first 12″ is a collaboration with Matt (Terekke) and the second with Nik (Bookworms).
So, on the live jam you did for Roof.fm, who was involved besides you?
Bookworms, CB Radio and Terekke.
Initially we thought Confused House was another pseudonym of yours…
I can see why. Confused House is not really an alias though. It was used as such on the Future Times Vibe 2 compilation, but that wasn’t really my intention. For the label there are no aliases. At least for now.
That’s interesting to hear, as you have been tagged the”many-faced” (or many-named) Jason Letkiewicz. So you will start producing under less pseudonyms?
Yes, definitely. The thing is that, with the exception of Alan Hurst, all the different aliases were created in 2005 when I started the site. It was just a fun way to differentiate the tracks I was making. This was three years before my first records came out on Future Times and FrequeNC. It didn’t even occur to me that anyone would want to release any of the tracks.
Will you focus your artistic endeavours under the alias Steve Summers, your best-known moniker?
It will be the name that I tour with as it is the project I enjoy playing out live the most. It won’t be the only project I focus on though. I am working on another Alan Hurst record and possibly a new Rhythm Based Lovers as its been almost three years since I released anything under that name. And now that Innergaze is over [the project Jason Letkiewicz had with Aurora Halal], I may explore some of the ideas I had for that project in a new context.
You said earlier that Confused House is a live jam thing with a rotating cast: that reminds me of Ricardo Villalobos’ Narod Niki project. Are you aware of the similiarity?
I have never heard of that project before, but I just looked it up and can see how it is similar. Though I would consider us to be the anti-supergroup really [as opposed to the laptop-supergroup].I would say that it is more inspired by records such as The Frankfurt Sessions [by Sex Tags Mania] and the Detroitian Red Planet project, where there’s many people involved. The original idea came from the Unknown Artist – Journey 1 record we did for L.I.E.S. That was myself, Nik, Damon and Aurora all jamming at my old place.
Naturally, the outcome is more unpredictable if a bunch of people are making music on synths together…
Yes. It reminded me that collaboration can lead to results that are greater than the sum of its parts. There was an illusion of it being a mystery group, but really the info was all there as a message to the masses. Though it was fun to read all the different speculations as to who was behind it. on on platforms like Little White Earbuds.
I believe the reviewer on Little White Earbuds said he was positive Legowelt was behind it.
Understandably. What synths did you use on the livejam for Roof.fm?
Too many different combinations and pieces of gear to really get into. Its a mix of live jams recorded over a couple month period so the machines changed a lot but it was always some assortment of hardware.
Do you use exclusively hardware?
I predominantly use hardware because intuitively it makes the most sense to me and compliments my workflow the best. But it would be incorrect to say that I only ever use hardware. Its not important to me what one uses to make tracks, just what one makes.
You have been building up a dog-walking business in recent years. How goes it?
No complaints. Business is solid and I enjoy getting to be outside all the time. Well, most of the time.
Do musical inspirations come to you while walking the dogs?
Definitely. I have a lot of time to walk around listening to music and outside sounds. In various weather conditions.