Two years ago, Torture the Artist caught up with Lehar as the Italian DJ/Producer sat in his studio somewhere in the woods near Venice with a very slight idea of what was to come. Fast emerging as one of the most charismatic and ambitious artists in the underground electronic music scene, Lorenzo Esposito has spent the years since his first release on Connaisseur in 2014 and his breakthrough with Diynamic in 2017, without showing any signs of slowing down. Traveling all across the globe, playing in intimate clubs and big festivals, raking in thousands of kilometers making partygoers dance ‘All Through the Night,’ maintaining vital relationships, Lorenzo did and does it all. Shortly after his (live-recorded) B2B set with close friend and business partner, Musumeci at Melt Festival, the busy DJ/Producer/Label Owner/Heart Resident found the time to speak to Torture the Artist and provides us with an art:cast special, namely an excerpt of the aforementioned b2b with Musmumeci.
Torture the Artist: Ciao Lorenzo! We’re happy to have you back on Torture the Artist. Last time we spoke to you two years ago, we found you in your studio. Will we find you in the same spot this time around?
Lehar: During these weeks I’m everywhere else but in the studio. Though, I should have some time for it in a couple of weeks.
Torture the Artist: Back then, you talked about feeling completely at home exactly where you are. Many things have changed since then, it’s been quite an eventful two years for you, do you still feel the same? Did you have to make some necessary adjustments, to accommodate the changes in your lifestyle, career and state of mind?
Lehar: In two years, many things are still the same but correct, many others did change. I feel like I’ve grown in many ways, especially from a more personal aspect – as a man. I learned how to adjust my job to fit more with my lifestyle and vice versa, how to enjoy and to try to spend even one day a week between gigs, at home. Career-wise, I learned to be more focused in the studio and be as productive as I can in just a matter of one night/day.
Each and every one of these experiences, good or bad helped me to grow as a man and as an artist.
Torture the Artist: As we just mentioned, the last two years have been quite lucrative for you. In 2017 you just signed on Diynamic, and from then you were unstoppable. Most of us know many key events and accomplishments have happened since then, but which do you think are the most important?
Lehar: Since then, I’ve played in so many events, big or small, official or afterparties, alone or in b2b with other artists. Each and every one of these experiences, good or bad helped me to grow as a man and as an artist. I can remember almost all the gigs. Of course our brains tend to remember the positive experiences, and when we play we live this fully, with our body, mind and soul. Even if sometimes I cannot properly remember an event in its entirety, there are always other things that make the feelings of that night, come back to me. But let’s go back to your question. My first SONAR and ADE experiences with Diynamic are quite memorable, I can still reimagine clearly, playing alongside huge artists like Solomun, 16 hours b2b! But I also can’t forget about the small clubs I played in during the first year of my All Through the Night tour. It was quite challenging, travelling so much but all of it was great! As I reminisce more, so many events and memories come to mind – first time at Warung, long b2bs with my friend, Musumeci.
Torture the Artist: Did you have to make some difficult decisions during this time? Do you regret some of the choices you made? How do you deal with setbacks in your career or life in general?
Lehar: I am a very spontaneous person but a very reflective one at the same time. Quite a lot, I speak daily with my close circle of friends who I fully trust and who really know me, about pretty much everything that goes on. I don’t regret anything in my life, actually. If something wrong happened, I know that it is part of life. But what makes me feel good, is knowing that I always do things moved by my heart and never with the intention to hurt anyone.
Torture the Artist: By the way, we forgot to ask and are quite curious. What is the real story behind your Lehar moniker. Do the changes for the past two years ever make you consider reconceiving another artistic persona? Have you recently reached parts of your artistic being which you did not imagine back in 2017?
Lehar: It’s something quite personal to me. My EP on Connaisseur ‘Sargas‘ was the first project I ever released as Lehar, back in 2014. Since then, many things as you said, happened, but I would have never imagined all of this. I have accomplished many things, on both personal and professional levels, that motivate me to work harder and better. No, I have never thought of changing my artistic persona, but everything is always in a process of changing. This is me.
Torture the Artist: You’ve traveled quite a lot – from intimate clubs to festivals all across the globe. Which venue/event made the greatest impression on you? Was there a particular city which you connected with the most? Which destination haven’t you visited and would instantly agree to play in?
Lehar: I would really like to play in South Africa and Japan. I still haven’t had the chance to travel and play in these amazing countries. I enjoy playing more or less everywhere as long as there are people who enjoy music and want to have a good time, and where promoters are professional and make you feel comfortable.
Torture the Artist: You’re pretty well-endowed with a close knit group of talented and supportive friends. Even in our previous chat we already established your familial bond with fellow Italian artists, Musumeci, Olderic and Toto Chiavetta just to name a few. How do you manage to keep the relationships strong despite the demanding nature of your job of choice? Do you often meet up or talk on the phone?
Lehar: I can’t think of a day that I did not have at least four phone calls with Mauro (Musumeci). He is not only my business partner at Muse and Multinotes but also a real friend. Everywhere I go, he’s very close to me (even if he’s not physically there). And the same goes for him, I would say. Enrico (Olderic) and I have been really close friend for many years. He also lives in my hometown so we often meet for dinner during the week. Toto lives in Sicily but we speak almost every day. We haven’t known each other for too long but since we met, we’ve shared many special memories and have become great friends. Workwise, we are a really great team, and it has affected our own solo and joint careers positively. But above all, we are a really solid group of friends, and I feel very lucky to have this, especially in the dirty nature of the music business.
Torture the Artist: Last year you started the Multinotes project with Musumeci and Olderic, there’s really no running away from that bond now! Who initially came up with the idea? How long did it take for the idea to come into fruition? What made you three decide to do it once and for all?
Lehar: We all came up with the idea and first talked about building our own label about three years ago. Many events, both good and bad, had happened since and time just passed by and the plan sort of took a step back. We had to wait and find the right moment to figure everything out and finally start Multinotes. And here we are.
If you want to make things turn out the way which satisfies you, you have to dedicate all of yourself to them.
Torture the Artist: Has running the project (we know it’s more than just a label, so we’ll leave it at that) taken a lot of your time? Would you say it’s more stressful than you imagined?
Lehar: If you want to make things turn out the way which satisfies you, you have to dedicate all of yourself to them, though it can be stressful at times, if not often. So yes, it takes a fair amount of time out of my daily life but this is because it is part of my life now. I wanted it to be.
Torture the Artist: You and Musumeci recently announced a five month long residency at Heart Ibiza, tell us a little bit more about MUSE?
Lehar: MUSE is a project Mauro and myself created this year based on our vision of bringing some of the artists (Muses) who inspire us, to join us in a new experience that combines music and art. Together with promoters from all around the world, we host the parties every first Tuesday of the month from June through October. This summer, we are happy to have our residency at Heart in Ibiza. Organizing and hosting events is much more stressful than we thought but it’s totally worth it. New experiences and changes are always very exciting for me.
Torture the Artist: Does this mean you have a home in Ibiza? Are you planning to stay on the island for all five months or try to still spend most of your time at home in Italy?
Lehar: No, no. The residency is a monthly one, so we will only stay in Ibiza for a few days during the weeks of MUSE. I will probably consider living in ibiza for the summer when I get to have a weekly residency instead.
Torture the Artist: Have you already decided which guests to join you throughout its tenure? What is your process of selecting artists to partake in this project?
Lehar: We’ve already invited some of our Muses for this season, but there are a few we still need to ask. The artists you will find at these parties are those who had inspired us and who we respect, both personally and artistically.
Traveling the world and playing gigs outside of your comfort zone, also feed your inspiration, and open your mind to new styles.
Torture the Artist: Let’s talk about production. Though you’ve been travelling quite heavily for gigs, you were still able to make some music. How do you find the time and energy to produce? How much did travelling and playing impact your musical style?
Lehar: Traveling so much, of course, affects the amount of time and energy I am able to dedicate to production, but it also has its benefits. Sometimes, I’m physically far from the studio for log periods of time, and I am unable to spend even a few hours at the studio. But, on the plus side, traveling the world and playing gigs outside of your comfort zone, also feed your inspiration, and open your mind to new styles.
Torture the Artist: How comfortable are you with your current DJing/producing/label-running work ratio? Lately, have you paid less attention as you would’ve wanted to, because one aspect consumed you more than you expected?
Lehar: At the moment I am still quite satisfied with how I spare my time and energy for work. But I am looking forward to spend a month in the studio to work on new music. That is what I am missing most right now.
Torture the Artist: What can we expect from you for the remainder of 2019?
Lehar: As you can probably see, I’m really focused on developing Multinotes and Muse. I’ve been really happy about all the releases that came out so far, as well as the party’s turnout. For next year I will spend a lot more time on the production side and get back to the studio. I want to make something new and interesting.
We need to connect at a personal level as well.
Torture the Artist: Collaborating on a track is not such an easy task, it can be difficult for two (or more) artists to be able to see eye to eye and complement each other’s style. But through the years, your collaborations have proven to be quite impressive and perfectly balanced – is there a criteria for which you select a co-producer on a particular project.
Lehar: Yes, there’s always a particular criteria I go by for selecting artists to collaborate with. I think the collaboration needs to be good for both parties, each artist can bring something to the table. But for me, it’s not only about the musical aspect, we need to connect at a personal level as well.
Torture the Artist: Was there ever a time when you had to withdraw from a project just because the chemistry is lacking and you and your partner are just not getting anywhere.
Lehar: This has not happened, so far.
Torture the Artist: You were a rising star once, and now you’re here. Name upcoming artists who impressed you lately. Have you met someone who reminded you of yourself when you were just starting out?
Lehar: I really think that Phunkadelica has great potential. Their live-sets are very cool and their DJ-sets are brilliant too. Aldebaran is still quite young but is already showing maturity and complexity as a producer, very talented. Oh, and the duo Innellea is also one to look out for.
Interview by Marie J Floro