In Lupe Fiasco’s song ‘Hurt Me Soul’, from his 2006 debut album Food & Liquor, the Chicago MC talks about how he “used to hate hip hop”. Lupe clearly overcame his distaste for the genre, going on to make a successful career spitting rhymes. Similarly, Sydney electronic act Lancelot, AKA Lance Gurisik, formerly spurned the style of music that’s now bringing him recognition. “I hated electronic music when I was younger,” he says. “I was a punk rock kid and I didn’t think dance music was real music.”
Teen prejudices usually don’t endure for too long, but going from hatred to devotion is a radical shift. Gurisik reveals how his tastes began to expand when he reached legal age. “As with most young people, you get to 18 and then you start experiencing clubs and club music. I just got really inspired at that time by the music coming out of Australia. Midnight Juggernauts, The Presets, Cut Copy – that stuff that made me think, ‘OK, I want to drop the guitar now and invest my time and money into synthesisers.’”
Jump ahead a few years and Gurisik, now 23, is well and truly immersed in a world of analogue synthesisers. In the last couple of years, Lancelot’s easygoing electro has grabbed the attention of clubgoers both at home and abroad, and the trend continues with his brand new EP Givin’ It Up / Make Ends Meet. The EP’s two leading tracks were recorded with Antony & Cleopatra, a duo comprised of Alex Burnett (Sparkadia) and Anita Blay (CockNBullKid), and Gurisik speaks enthusiastically about the collaboration.
“Working with Alex and with Anita as well, they helped me develop the melodies that I had as demos and really craft them into songs. It was so easy to work with those guys, they’re so professional and we all brought different things to the table.”
His recording with Burnett and Blay isn’t the first time Gurisik has teamed up with a vocalist to give his productions further dimension. The title track from last year’s Thinking Of You EP featured local songbird Whyte Fang, and Gurisik increasingly prefers collaboration. “At the start I was quite stubborn on doing everything myself and I found that process quite slow,” he says. “Over time I’ve become more aware of where my skill set really shines out and where it doesn’t. Where it doesn’t is with lyrical content.”
Gurisik has kept up a steady pattern of releases for the last two years and, although the Antony & Cleopatra tracks came out just a couple of weeks ago, there’s plenty more Lancelot music waiting to be heard. “I’m actually sitting on another finished EP that I did with Ngaiire,” he reveals. “That’s already done, so I’m excited about that.”
Contrary to his dismissal of his own lyrical abilities, the EP with Sydney’s Ngaiire was composed entirely by Gurisik. However, he says the neo-soul singer was crucial in completing the songs. “I was like, ‘I need Ngaiire.’ She’s got such an incredible voice, so much control and vibe at the same time. She’s such a great trained singer but she also has this beautiful innocence and swag about her.”
In addition to enlisting a range of talented vocalists to assist with his sound, Gurisik explains how studying composition at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music has equipped him with an advanced mechanism of self-critique. “It’s like another set of ears,” he says of his academic training. “Usually if an artist gets trapped on something it’s because, maybe, they have a limited scope on how to make it better. That’s where it allows me as a producer to keep the idea going and see if there is something there or not. It gives things a second chance, in a way.”
Ever since Lancelot’s 2012 single ‘Spoken Word’ caused a buzz online, he’s been building an eager overseas audience. Givin’ It Up / Make Ends Meet has again gained huge blog hype and the track ‘Make Ends Meet’ is getting airplay on BBC Radio 1. In fact, it looks like it won’t be long until the European embrace lures Gurisik away.
“The overseas market responded a little bit earlier than Australia. I’m going to be relocating to Europe in July/August this year to pursue this overseas, because that’s just going to work better for me with touring and stuff.”
The decision to relocate hasn’t come completely out of the blue – rather, Gurisik has performed in several European locations over the last couple of years. “It’s been such a positive vibe going to Europe and playing shows there. Especially in Paris. For example, I’ve played at Wanderlust twice now and that’s such an amazing venue and the promoters are really aware of the music trends and what’s going on, and [of] artists around the world.”
Gurisik’s impending migration means it’s essential to catch the talented producer/composer while you still can. He’ll wrap up his current national tour at The Spice Cellar on Friday February 14, and he’s looking forward to stretching out in front of the hometown crowd.
“Spice Cellar has such an eclectic opened-minded crowd, so I think you can take them on a bit of a journey,” he says. “I’ve wanted to play there for a while and I’m excited to play a lot of stuff that I wouldn’t usually get to play in Australia, and I can push the boundaries a little bit further.”
Catch him at The Spice Cellar on Friday February 14
Givin’ It Up / Make Ends Meet out now through Ajunadeep.