Next up we welcome the fabulous Black Light Smoke to the series. We have been big fans of his for some time here at Berlin-Brighton HQ especially enjoying the expertly laced and groove filled releases he has been putting out there for some time.
Black Light Smoke is the electronic music moniker of Jordan Lieb - producer, songwriter, and Daytime Emmy Award winning film and tv composer. A Chicago native and child of 90s house music, Jordan transplanted to New York City in 2001, where his career as a multi-disciplined musician has taken flight in many forms.
Black Light Smoke first lit up the house music scene in 2010 with his EP “Lovework” (Scissor & Thread), which was spurred on by a remix from DJ T and a spot on Andrew Weatherall’s Masterpiece. He followed up with “Rough Cuts” (2013), delivering the dance floor banger “That’s My Yes”, and the 80s-synth-drenched “Firefly” (2014), two tracks from which were featured in Ana Lily Amirpour’s 2016 indie cult film “The Bad Batch”. With “City Life” and “Nothing Makes Me Feel (Good Anymore)” (2019) Black Light Smoke returned to his jacking and deep house roots.
Black Light Smoke has showcased his wide breadth of influences with releases on Voodoo Down, hafendisko, Cut Mistake Music, Nein Records, and his own imprint Death Decay Magic. His sound spans from house, techno, italo, EBM and post punk, often infused with his own haunting vocals. Black Light Smoke has performed his unique live set around the globe, including Fabric in London, Boiler Room, Robot Heart, the BPM festival in Mexico, and in many cities across North America.
In June 2023 he returns to revered New York label Scissor and Thread with Ghosts, a sophomore LP that sees the Chicago native revisiting his youth through exploring the origins of house music, while touching on themes of closure, creativity and identity. This LP is something of an anticipated homecoming as he debuted on the label over a decade ago with his gritty, analog sound, and he’d become a regular fixture throughout Scissor and Thread’s earlier years before pursuing other projects.
Hi Jordan, how are you and what have you been up to this week?
I’m doing good. My life centers around my kids now, so that’s most of what I’ve been doing. I squeeze in music when I can between them and work. They are 2 and 4 so my hands are full.
How did you get into making music? I’ve always had music in my life. I started recording songs onto tape cassette when I was 8 or 9 years old. I took piano lessons and taught myself guitar. I started using real gear and a studio in college, and bought an MPC2000 as well. Once ProTools came out I was off to the
races with multitracking, songwriting and producing.
I discovered DJing and techno music in high school, and it’s always been there somewhere for me. I’ve been in bands, I’ve had so many musical projects of every kind, but house and techno keep coming back year after year.
Who musically has inspired you the most, be it a family member, a friend or a fellow musician?
I know it’s cliché, but I learned so much by growing up on The Beatles. Especially about vocal harmonies, and the liberty to take music in really adventurous directions. Over the years I’ve soaked up ideas from so many artists, I’m a big fan of imitation. That’s how we learn to do new things.
I read recently that you had won a Daytime Emmy Award for a winning film and as a TV composer. Tell us more about that.
My first job in music was in 2002, writing music for soap operas, for which I won a Daytime Emmy. I started doing tv commercial music after that, and have been doing that as my job consistently for over 20 years. It’s an interesting job, and like all jobs it has its highs and lows. I feel fortunate to be creative every day, even when the client or product feels a bit mind numbing. That’s just life.
You're currently based in the US. Are you playing regularly anywhere right now either in a venue or a radio show. Where can people catch you?
I actually live way upstate in Rochester, NY, almost at the Canadian border. I just flew down to NYC to play at Public Records and The Lot Radio to support my recent album release. That’s a trip I plan on making a few times a year.
I am also starting to play more regularly up here. The scene is smaller but I love a close community who appreciates music. I prefer a room of 30 people jamming hard over a club where I feel disconnected from the energy.
What can people expect from one of your sets?
I try to put a lot of feeling into my sets, and I think that comes across. I mainly play live, and I leave a lot of room for improvisation. This allows me to ride the waves up and down based on feel... all the drop outs and builds ups are tailored to the moment.
I learned long ago that I have to have my own personal party when I’m playing, regardless of the crowd. It is often infectious. Crowds can be timid sometimes, and they may need a little permission to get weird and get loose. Nothing feels better than that positive feedback loop between myself and the crowd.
You have been releasing regularly on a label we love very much called Scissor & Thread and had a recent release. Tell us more about that.
Scissor & Thread gave me my start over 12 years ago with the release of Lovework. That label will always be home for me, in a way. Being asked to make a full length album for them was an honour, although it was quite challenging as well. Trying to make a body of work that
made sense for the label and was also genuine for me was not easy at first. It took 2 years of work. I am really proud of the result.
What else can you tell us about future releases, anything exciting in the pipeline?
At the moment I am focused on my own label Death Decay Magic. I am putting out some EPs for really talented artists, both known and relatively unknown. The sound is darker techno, EBM, post punk, coldwave. I do all the artwork and mastering, and it’s a lot of fun to
support other artists. I am planning my own release there as well.
Where was your first gig and how did it go?
Detroit, back when Movement was called Detroit Electronic Music Festival. It was a 24 hour afterparty called Shit Show at TV Bar. It was a shit show. I played after a few days of no sleep. Somehow it went really well. I brought a huge flight case filled with gear, way more than I am willing to drag around now! I had no idea what I was doing, other than the fact that I believed in the music. We were faded, high, and sunburnt. What a day.
Which other DJs or producers are you liking right now?
Lately I have been into techno producers like Røhåd, Oscar Mulero, Yan Cook, Flitz, and lately I’ve really been appreciating Steve Rachmad.
What are your go-to labels?
I am a producer and composer before I am a DJ, so I gravitate towards more musical, interesting labels like Pinkman, Minimal Wave, Mannequin, and Ombra International. I can’t really mentally stay tuned to dance labels.
You have compiled our latest Berlin Mixtapes Series Episode 052 - Tell us more about your mix.
I wanted to lean away from house towards techno. I included tracks by Mike Denhert, Sterac, Samuel L Sessions and Adam Beyer, to really set that tone. But not super hard techno. I am really interested in that vibe that sort of lives between house and techno. It’s cold but not
oppressive. It’s driving but not warehouse vibes. It’s Detroit but not jazzy at all. It’s the place between Delano Smith and Silent Servant, both of who appear in the mix as well.
Thanks for spending some time with us, is there anything else you'd like to share with our readers?
More self love, less social media.
Exciting stuff! It's been an absolute pleasure talking with you. Next up here's the Quickfire Round:
Favourite Colour: Is there a colour other than Black?
What do you put on your chips? Mayonnaise
Apple or Android?: They are all spying on us
First album ever bought: It was a cassette: Guns N' Roses - Appetite for Destruction
Can you juggle?: Not even close Weirdest/Coolest item of clothing: Doc Martens 4 Life
Do you collect anything?: Dust
What is the most useless talent you have?: I can wiggle my ears. I
practiced for so long to do that as a kid. Favourite place to hang out: My living room with my wife and kids. So cheesy. Favourite club: The DJ booth at Cielo (NYC) was my favourite spot to be.
Favourite Beer: I’m not fancy. A cold Coors Light on a hot summer day was my friend.
Weirdest thing you've eaten: Ox blood soup. Never again.
How do you like your eggs? Over medium. With hot sauce.
Coffee or Tea: Tea. PG Tips.
Favourite Footy Team: American football - Chicago Bears by birth, Buffalo Bills by geography.
Favourite Track right now: Luke Hess “Soul Purpose”
Favourite word: I don’t know but it’s not “moist”.
3 words to describe your mix: Dark, Soulful, Subversive
Black Light Smoke - The Storm
Mike Dehnert - Dico B1
Maan - Trow (Sterac Remix)
Patrick Dandoczi - Deetroy (Samuel L Session Remix)
Moritz Von Oswald, Juan Atkins - Transport (Carl Craig Remix - DJ Deep & Roman Poncet Rework)
Frequency - Panic Mode
Ejeca - Encounter
Parallel 9 - Technic
Tracey - Interceptor
Silent Servant - Discipline
Adam Beyer - Crispy Beats
Steve O’Sullivan - viridi
Black Light Smoke - Out From Within
Steve O’Sullivan - Better Late Than Never (Unreleased Mix) Delano Smith - Free To Explore (Interpreted By Makam) (Remix)