How many artists do you know from Romania?
Well, here’s one that you should know—Liar, a producer from Bucharest, the country’s capital city, whose prolific output proves that he has well and truly been putting in work. “Everything I’ve ever made is club, everything I’ve ever made is home-listening. I can dance to all of it, fall asleep to all of it,” Liar tells us. But even so, his new Scorpio EP is his most sharply club-focused work to date. It is incredibly current, weaving in elements of grime, juke, and the hard-edged futurism of the Night Slugs camp, while still referencing dance music styles of the past in the huge diva vocals of “Hyper-Ego” or the chugging “The Ballad of Scorpio.”
If you’ve been to a Night Slugs rave or a Fade to Mind party or a GHE2OGOTH1K night, or countless other forward-thinking events, you will have heard sounds like this, and if not, welcome to the future.
In a nicely international turn of affairs, Liar’s new EP is being released by Montreal-based label Infinite Machine. It comes out August 18, but we’ve got an exclusive advance stream here. Have a listen, and check out Liar’s thoughts on his new EP, the industry, and Romania below.
This is a very club-focused EP. Was that a conscious decision, or more a reflection of what you’re into right now?
Both, I would have to say. Obviously, my listening habits always inform the extremely flexible fabric that is the Liar sound, but I would be acting according to my namesake and lying if I said that, midway through writing the EP, it didn’t occur to me that, “hey, I’m doing a club record,” and that that didn’t inform my approach as well.
It was still business-as-usual though. I picked a concept (or rather, a concept grabbed me) and ran with it. In the past, with the exception of “Mas”, “Alpha” and “Que”, and several one-offs and remixes, the concepts have either been romantic, lofty, or something in between. In the case of Scorpio, the concept is very worldly (in both senses of the word)—sex, lethality, pure id. An exploration of instincts that predate even the reptilian complex. And while romantic concepts seem to lend themselves to records for white, middle-class girls and very-soft-porn YouTube channels, and lofty concepts seem to lend themselves to records for a minority of intellectuals who did not peak during the halcyon days of IDM and, hence, did not get stuck there… worldly concepts seem to lend themselves to records for the club.
Don’t misconstrue me —the above are not evidence of intention or targeting, merely observations on how my work has been perceived, and by whom, and how their collective perception differs so much from my own: everything I’ve ever made is club, everything I’ve ever made is home-listening. I can dance to all of it, fall asleep to all of it. I make highly personal, deranged pop music; that’s how I see it. And after-the-fact, people want and need to categorize it, to limit it, to pigeonhole it. Most platforms hold on to their niches for dear life, most DJ’s affect razor-thin tastes as to not burden themselves with too many BPM shifts during sets, and most labels are highly regional (for reasons that, in this connected day and age, elude me). That’s cool… I’m old and cynical enough that, outside of the studio, I can play the game. Hence my name, I guess.
But I operate in an industry that isn’t quite ready for the model I embody. Hopefully, Scorpio will get my point across. If not, there’s always the next record.
How would you say living in Romania affects the music you make?
Firstly, I am remote, and unaffiliated with any regional currents. Which is a problem sometimes, when it comes to my career, but a godsend otherwise. I see all of these crews becoming uniform, starting to make the same music, and sacrificing individual artistry for the artistry of their respective curators-in-chief, and I feel thankful I’m independent in that sense. Don’t get me wrong, this subsumption phenomenon has resulted in some music that I love, even hold dear… but it’s not for me.
Secondly, Romania is a treasure-trove of inspiration. There are very few places in the world where one can encounter medieval villages, eastern-bloc brutalist projects, complete urban decay, and posh Parisian neighborhoods within the same 10 mile area. It’s quite nourishing to be able to experience pure gutter or wilderness and then retreat to a nice café and have a stimulating conversation, all in the same day.
Thirdly, I have no peers whatsoever, locally. That’s just bad, from any angle you look at it. It’s alienating, and I’m sure my work would benefit from an ongoing back-and-forth of ideas with people I genuinely respect and also don’t happen to live hundreds or thousands of miles away. Thankfully, there are a couple local wunderkinds that are starting out and that I hope to mold into peers.
What is the club and nightlife scene like where you live?
Abysmal. Clueless, backwards, nationalist parody (both disgustingly intentional and woefully unintentional) of local culture, that misses the point completely (local culture is quite ripe for some truly unique modern repurposing, as I’ve expounded on above), or overly self-conscious and artistically bankrupt pastiches of successful brands and models from places with established and successful nightlife scenes. Now, granted, it’s hard to get anything going here: low per-capita GDP just means you’re constantly struggling, and can be forgiven for cutting corners and/or compromising. But we’re not a third-world country, though, and one would expect at least a modicum of authentic, forward-thinking, and internationally-viable Bucharest club music to emerge.
For now, however, I’ve got that covered. I’m a patriot, despite all evidence to the contrary.
How do you approach making an EP as opposed to making an album, if at all?
With the same auteur compulsions. I don’t discriminate—whether an idea needs 2-4 tracks to coalesce, or more, is inconsequential. As an electronic musician, I’m slightly fonder of the immediacy, brevity and focus of the EP, but when I get manic in the studio, I tend to construct albums due to sheer quantity. For example, my full-length debut on Infinite Machine started off as a 3-track EP, but between the signing of said tracks and my handing over of the masters, I’d written 6 others that fit.
What’s next for Liar?
Countless more EPs or full-lengths, as I don’t feel like slowing down yet. A post-techno, cyber-obsessive side-project—New Romancer. And, lastly, my newborn baby—Tessier-Ashpool Recordings, my new Infinite Machine spin-off label, which I feel is best described with the following video, rather than my rambling on about it: