Legendary. Seminal. Groundbreaking. Visionary. Classic. These words get thrown around in electronic music like bootlegged SoundCloud files. Yet, in the case of pioneering drum & bass maven LTJ Bukem (aka Danny Williamson), the man who helped define an entire generation of liquid D&B, these descriptors are certainly warranted.
Since Bukem’s debut release, 1991’s Logical Progression, drum & bass has become a global phenomenon, thanks in no small part to the London producer and his influential Goodlooking label’s stable of artists, which has included producers such as Photek, Blame, Blu Mar Ten, Seba, Makoto, Nookie, Future Engineers, PFM, Peshay, Intense, Tayla, MC DRS, and many more over the years. In the current D&B landscape, you need not look much further than Hospital Records and others like it to see the next wave of liquid building on what Bukem and Goodlooking launched years ago.
Now, Goodlooking’s classic catalog has become available in digital form on Beatport (with Bukem giving us the exclusive distribution of GLR’s 12″ singles), so a new generation can enjoy the beats and breaks that inspired it all from the beginning. To mark the occasion, Beatport News caught up with Bukem to find out why now was the perfect time to re-introduce his legendary label’s full body of work, to dive into his career of achievements, and—ultimately—find out what he thinks the future holds for drum & bass.
First, why has it taken so long to start making Goodlooking’s catalog available digitally?
I didn’t want to disappoint the fans that have followed us, the true supporters for so many years.
Over the years, what has been your secret to success with both music and the label?
That depends on how you interpret the word “success.” Some may say that the word simply means you have reached a goal, and I don’t feel like you ever really set out to do that when creativity is concerned—whether you’re making, performing, or selling music. I have definitely had certain successes across various aspects of my musical journey over the last 25 years, but I’m not sure there is a secret to success other than hard work, conviction in your thoughts and ideas, and having real people alongside you if you choose to involve others along the way.
As you look back across your label’s catalog, what do you think is the legacy of Goodlooking? How would you like it to be remembered?
I’d like us to be remembered for the music. When we are dead and gone, I hope the music will live on.
Is there any particular experience or memory from your time running the label that has stuck with you over the years?
There’s too many to mention, both musically related and not. Releasing my first record, playing my first gig, meeting some of my musical idols, meeting amazing fans and people around the world, learning about and discovering myself, meeting my birth mother for the first time a few years ago, learning the true meaning of loyalty—these things will always be with me.
What do you think has been your greatest musical achievement?
I think still being here is the greatest achievement. When it first started, a lot was written about the fact that drum & bass wouldn’t last more than a couple of years if we were lucky. Now, 20-plus years on, it is still here in its various forms and styles.
What are some of your favorite classic tracks? How do you think they’ll stand the test of time?
Being involved in music for so many years, there have been numerous tracks that could be considered classics to me, but I think a track becomes a classic when it is loved by many and can be listened to years on from when it was made but still trigger the same reaction and emotion that was there when you first heard it. I am generally attracted to music I will still want to hear many years into the future, but also I think that the beauty of music is that we all can have our own classics for our own reasons.
Recently, I heard the Technicolour rework of your song “Music” online. It sounded very fresh, yet distinctly true to the original. How do you feel about being an inspiration for an entire new generation of DJs, producers, and electronic musicians? What advice would you give them?
I love the rework exactly for the same reason; it has the same feel as the original did. I think in music we all inspire each other, whether we are new or old to the game. I’m thankful over all these years to be given the chance to express my musical emotions and thank those that have inspired me; may we all continue to inspire one another. My advice is to express what you truly feel, not what you are told to feel, and enjoy the ride.
Looking forward, what are you and the label team working on now? Any plans for the near future?
Our newest release is a mix album, Bukem in Session, Vol. 1. We have new digital singles coming to Beatport soon, and you can find new vinyl releases in our store. Also, all our forthcoming releases can be heard on SoundCloud.
Are there any plans for another LTJ Bukem album sometime soon? Have you been recording much lately?
Yes, I’m working on new tracks at the moment.
What would your dream musical collaboration be?
The list is endless, so it’s hard to pick out one person in particular.
What is the one track that you’ve always wanted to remix?
I’ve always loved many aspects of early soul, jazz, reggae, house, techno—basically everything—so there are really over 1000 tracks I would love to get the original samples for!
What do you think the future holds for you and drum & bass as a whole?
Right now, new drum & bass continues to come from all over the globe. I think this will continue as long as we have labels, distributors, promoters, artists, and fans that believe.