Freestyle Grooves interview

During the summer of 2000 I discovered a Lackluster's first EP on deFocus (then still called Focus). An artist and label that I had never heard of before, but "Cull Streak" immediately got me hooked on his very lush and melodic sound. It's still my favourite Lackluster track ever, very modest synthwork and dreamy beats. The typical sound that, together with the harsher variant from CiM, more or less defined the sound for the later release on that label. After that came an album for deFocus, singles for Zealectronic, Rikos and M3rck and a bunch of remixes. A darker, more ambient sidestep followed for the Belgian label U-Cover. Now near the end of 2002, his new album "Wrapping" is out now deFocus recordings.

Below is a short interview we did with Esa Ruoho (Lackluster) in December 2002.

FSG: Hello Esa. Esa: hello Howard.
FSG: First of all, Esa: Yes?
FSG: some basic questions. Esa: ok, go ahead.
FSG: Where do you come from? Esa: i come from Helsinki.
FSG: Where do you live now
Esa: i have lived in the same apartment in eastern Helsinki for 14 years now.
FSG: and do you move regularly?
Esa: yes. sometimes i go out of my apartment to buy food
FSG: When did you start making electronic music? Where did it all begin?
Esa: it all began when i started making (electronic) music to express myself.
FSG: Have you ever used other names than Lackluster and Esa Ruoho to release music?
Esa: not yet, although i am working on something else. something that won't be released under those names.
FSG: Why did you pick the name Lackluster?
Esa: it kind of fit and i liked the word.
FSG: Personally we think most of your release are pretty good.
Esa: thank you, kind sir.
FSG: Where do you get the inspiration to put certain feelings or emotions in your music? Does it happen automatically or are there situations that inspire you?
Esa: when i am in a specific mood, while working on a track, it might end up reflecting the emotion or feeling that i am experiencing, or have experienced lately.
FSG: Do you have any favourite tracks of your own?
Esa: i like all that i have ever done. some i prefer more than others, but generally i tend to compose music that i like. otherwise, what would be the whole point.
FSG: What are you trying to achieve by letting people listen to your music?
Esa: i try to make music that moves me, if someone else gets kicks out of it, or it affects their emotional state, then that is great.
p.s. i just spent 4 hours trying to formulate an answer to this very important difficult question. it wasn’t fun.
FSG: What sort of music do you listen to yourself?
Esa: i try to gravitate towards music that moves me emotionally.
FSG: Can you name some of your favourite artists or releases?
Esa: any such list would be highly meaningless. however, if you want to send mixtapes or cdrs of music that has moved you (providing its not necessarily made by you), my address is on the site.
FSG: We noticed a lot of your track-names contain dates. Do they have a special meaning, or are they merely an indication of when the track was composed?
Esa: "merely an indication of when the track was composed".
FSG: What are your plans for the near future music-wise?
Esa: i will make music.
FSG: New releases?
Esa: none scheduled at the moment.
FSG: Your own label?
Esa: if i felt I’d be up for it, i would do it. however, there are far too many good ones, already.
FSG: Go on tour with a live act?
Esa: does this mean touring around with someone else, say, in a tour bus, supporting a live act? perhaps, if that was set up in a proper way. or do you mean live players for my performance? hmm. interesting idea, but haven’t really thought about it. yet.
FSG: Do you still perform live?
Esa: did i ever stop? i tend to say yes when people ask me to.
FSG: Where did you already do live-acts and do you like to do them?
Esa: well, recently i played in Barcelona, which was nice.
FSG: What are your activities apart from producing music?
Esa: well, i like to sleep and eat, sometimes.
FSG: We hope to once see you perform live
Esa: ok. where? when? fly me there and I’ll be there.
FSG: and look forward to hearing your future releases.
Esa: me too.
FSG: Thanks a lot for the interview! We wish you a lot of success and good luck!

Words by Bart. Questions by Howard. Answers by Esa.
FreestyleGrooves 2003