Lunice talks us through CCCLX, track by track
As one half of TNGHT, Lunice needs little introduction. Working alongside Hudson Mohawke, he helped perfect a synthy and supercharged trap sound that left a dent in the hull of club music. Now the former b-boy turned producer is stepping out in his own right with debut solo album CCCLX, a dramatic and intense collection of sounds that captures a unique, theatrical flair.
CCCLX is a truly diverse and defining collection, delivering a mixture of vogue beats and virile rap rhythms and featuring unique collaborations with the likes of Le1f and SOPHIE who add to the electronic opera.
We got in touch with Lunice to take us through each track on the record and help unpack what’s within. Read on to find out what went into the making of the record, and stream it below.
CCCLX (Curtain) ft. CJ Flemings
I started the album in Diplo’s Los Angeles studio five years ago, putting together three general tracks of which CCCLX (Curtain) turned out to be third, following Tha Doorz and Mazerati. I wanted to start the album off with a beat that sits on a different tempo. I’d normally hear rap songs written on a 4/4 count but I wanted to challenge myself and try to write a song on a 3/4 count instead – and that instrumental is what came of it.
A few years later I met CJ Flemings through his friend Shane Guenin who hit me up over Twitter, I believe. So we all met at my studio in Old Montreal and I quickly learned that these two young creatives have a great vision and the next thing you know, I had Flemings involved on most of the project. But the track wouldn’t have been at the level at it is now without the way S-Type’s mixed it. I’ve always been a huge fan, from the way he works mixes to the selection of sounds he uses for his own production. He’s the realest.
This was the second song I started back in Los Angeles, finishing it off in Montreal. I’m huge on minimalism. I always try to strip down as much as I can when I can. So when it came to this idea, I challenged myself to only use a few layers in the most effective way possible. And this is the result of that motivation. It’s something I love to consistently do, the older track I See U is another example of me stripping down an idea into simple layers. It’s something I intend to keep exploring and improving on.
Drop Down ft. Le1f & SOPHIE
The early versions of this track were worked on between Montreal and New York City. The final idea only came about when SOPHIE sent a remix idea over email out of nowhere, which made my day because I’d never thought he’d be interested in working with me in the first place! Being a b-boy back in the day, I’ve always wanted to make something specific for the dancers and dance studios to have fun with, and the first vocalist that came to mind that would be perfect for the job is Le1f. All of this happened online as I was touring and finding time to settle in a hotel on a day off to continue the record.
Elevated ft. CJ Flemings & King Mez
This is the track I’ve collaborated on heavily with S-Type in my studio. He did the amazing solo synth build-up at 1:46. As for the feature, I remember listening to a Flying Lotus interview where he discusses using vocals and mixing them into the instrumental, making them part of it rather than the front. This gave me the idea of using my features as actors coming in and out of a scene. It really makes the whole creative process of making music that much more amusing.
The early version of this song was first started in Los Angeles and the final version was produced while I was in Hawaii [producing] for Kanye West. What’s interesting is that this final version doesn’t sound remotely close to the first version. It’s all thanks to Kanye for the suggestion of focusing on the main synth melody you hear throughout the whole song. So I did what he told me and the whole track ended up sounding like you hear it today.
That moment really taught me to read between the lines and focus on what works rather than focusing on what doesn’t. That mentality has gotten me in some kind of flow state where I can just sit down and make music without the worry of having a writer’s block. I just generally have this nice sense of happiness when I work now. I stress less.
Freeman ft. CJ Flemings & Speng Squire
We recorded this in Montreal. This was right at the time when I dropped by CJ’s studio session to continue working on Freeman, and that’s when he introduced me to his homie Speng Squire who was dropping a verse for CJ’s project. Upon hearing Speng’s mixtape I knew that he needed to be part of this track. So I asked him if he can drop a verse, he accepts and I go outside to smoke a joint quick for ten minutes – to get into a flow state – but as I’m coming back downstairs I can hear a full verse being played back on the monitors. I was completely baffled that Speng Squire already recorded that exact verse you hear in one take in under ten minutes. This song to me represents the sonic idea of having creative freedom to do exactly what I need to do and I’m grateful every day for it.
CCCLX II (Intermission)
Having studied cinema in college, I’ve always loved the way soundtracks were made for film. Something in the way that a composer is able to reach a wide range of emotions through different techniques fascinates me. So this is one of those “research” tracks where I go in and explore different ways to reach these emotions of wonder, fear, anxiousness. Something you can close your eyes and envision a scene to.
Distrust ft. Denzel Curry, J.K. The Reaper, Nell
There’s only one thing I told all of my vocalists on this album: “Write anything you think would sound and look outstanding on stage.”
The reason I said this comes from the idea of theatre and how certain gestures and facial expressions need to be exaggerated in order for crowds to see and feel the emotions coming from the actor. So I wondered what would happen if I were to apply that concept to a rapper. I was floored the first time I heard Denzel Curry, J.K. The Reaper & Nell because we’ve never talked about anything besides stage presence and the way words carry with it. So I thank you guys, I’m forever grateful. That was an amazing vocal performance.
CCCLX III (Costume) ft. Mike Dean
I started this one in New Zealand and finished it while I was back home in Montreal. But the guitar solo wasn’t recorded until I was in NYC to meet with Mike Dean. One day I decided to ask if he’d be down to do a guitar solo for the album because I loved the performance he did at the Yeezus show. Sure enough he hits me back immediately with a “Sure! when are you in NYC next?”. Turns out I already was in town and so I went straight to his studio to record it since he had some free time right at that moment. It was a great experience. As for the sonics of this track, a lot of it has been influenced by the film A Clockwork Orange.
This is the closest idea to what my next sound may evolve into, since this is one of the more recent songs that was added before the completion of this album. This was recorded in various places: New York, Los Angeles, London and Montreal.
CCCLX IV ft. Syv De Blare
I actually made the first part of this song a long time ago in Hudson Mohawke’s older studio in London. I believe we’d already wrote what was going to be Blood on the Leaves and a few other TNGHT songs. This was just something I started on the side mid-session. All I actually wanted to do was to make a Lion King-influenced soundtrack for the fun of it. The rest was then made in Montreal but the vocals were recorded in NYC. I’ve been long-time friends with Syv De Blare since college, I’ve always been taken aback by her voice but never felt I was ready to present anything up to par but I was determined to eventually work with her on a worthy track – and this was it.