Jake Lubell, known better as Lubelski, has been on tour since mid-November, celebrating the release of his new full length album Happy Accidents on the influential San Francisco house music label, Dirtybird Records.
We were linked up by Kevin Cantu of Hundred Palms Creative who had booked Jake for an electric Austin album release party at dadaLab, a secret futurist technology research facility run by our friends at dadageek.
As longtime fans of the Dirtybird crew and their tastemaking prowess, we were pumped to chat with Lubelski to get some behind-the-scenes details on his process, along with a great look at his themes, gear, and live performance dreams as we always do in our running series The Musical Cookbook.
Happy Accidents is a pulsing house music journey—simultaneously dark, danceable, sassy and surprising due to Lubelski’s production process. It took 6 weeks to produce, with most of the stems (a whopping 84 hours of audio) coming from a live modular-jam show on Dirtybird Records’ Twitch channel. “In each jam session I might find 20 promising loops to piece together into the next track, or at least provide inspiration for it. But music is such a moody thing. I usually try to get a track down within 3 days before I lose the feeling that inspired it.”
Lubelski always uses his modular rig on songs, the difference this time was tracking it live to stream on Twitch and involve the community who stopped by to watch his process of creation. “Honestly, I work better alone in an intimate setting but I enjoyed the community feedback during the production of this album.”
After the recording sessions on the show, Lubelski sent 100 loops to Dirtybird label head Barclay Crenshaw (a.k.a. Claude VonStroke), who narrowed it down to ~40 and then used Discord as a sounding board to narrow it down to 8, then he brought it back up to 12 with material that he just couldn’t leave behind. “Barclay is a perfectionist. He’ll keep tweaking and rearranging until it sounds as good as it possibly can.”
Lubelski operates under da Vinci’s mantra “art is never finished, only abandoned.” So, it was a happy surprise that the last track to get finished on the album, Ice Cream Cone ft. Claude VonStroke and Life on Planets, became its lead single.
The Musical Cookbook feat. Lubelski
Lubelski shares his “secret recipe” for a great track within his scene. It’s less about the formula and more about the tools and workflow to expose tips and inspiration!
First things first, preheat your oven to 350. Trust your gut—everyone’s taste is different. Figure out what you like and what you want and become familiar with arranging it.
When I started Happy Accidents I knew I wanted a synthesizer-focused album. Analog synthesis requires you to have a conversation with the machine. There’s something more real about it. Sometimes the music happens to me instead of the other way around and I find these eureka moments.
I try to start from a different point on every track. Maybe it’s an old jam or a great sample that I can build around and eventually remove. It helps me keep it fresh.
Thematically I want my songs to be happy and fun but sad times make for a sad album and a lot of the tracks on Happy Accidents came from a darker place. So you hear lots of minor keys but I usually found a way to make them more upbeat.
I generally stick to the 120-130bpm disco range. Or I’ll make a track that’s around 110 and then end up bumping it up anyway.
Everything revolves around my modular rig that has five main synths and other modules from Intellijel (Metropolis, Atlantis, Plonk), Make Noise (QPAS, Morphagene, Maths), Rossum, Mutable Instruments (Plaits) and STEADY STATE FATE.
My other gear comes in later. Here’s a list:
- My synths: Prophet-6, OB-6, Moog Sub 37, Moog One, Roland SH-101
- Vermona analogue drum-machine
- My turntables to record
- 60 gigs of obscure samples that I’ve hoarded
- An infinity tube amp for processing
- Sherman FilterBank for modulation
- Alesis 3630 Dual-Channel Compressor / Limiter
- Dunlop MXR Bass Envelope Filter
- And of course, Ableton (Lubelski made sure to note that if you get really good at Ableton, you can spend a lot of time hungover in airports.)
There’s something special about DJing with a bunch of unreleased songs and edits. Those tracks are more precious, to me and to the crowd. But I’m hoping to get a live set going soon. I have a Pioneer DJ DJM-V10 6-channel mixer which is perfect to send my five main synth modules, plus my drum machine. It’s hard because with modular synthesis, the track is simultaneously being composed and played. It’s improvisational—more jazzy than jazz! But, to be real, not everything is a good loop. So I’m figuring out how to trigger the sounds that people know me for.
4Get a taste of Lubelski
Lubelski is looking forward to releasing his next EP on Melé’s colorful party and record label Club Bad.
Huge shout out to Kevin Cantu and Hundred Palms for the invitation to cover such a fun, well produced event. Follow them on Instagram for the latest.