Photography by @ky6bo
Front row with LUCAS3000
Johannesburg nightlife can rarely be matched and a large reason for this is the young talented local artists who run the city streets at night. I'm talking musicians, artists, performers, fine artists, producers & so much more. So my next interviewee for the FRM Blog is a clear example of one of these emerging talents; a naturally gifted producer, DJ & artist, Botho Maje, aka 'LUCAS3000', is based in the heart Jozi and ready to take over.
From the recent release of "18", their debut EP instrumental which included (personal) favourites such as '19:09' and 'am i losing you?' – it's clear that LUCAS3000 is merging their electro-influences in order to craft a totally new & exciting sound. It's a real pleasure to listen to 18 – you're genuinely listening to a talented artist leaning into their creative sensibilities to churn out a sonically fluid body of work. Literally our own version of Ecco2k and I know some you have been thinking that too!
Photography by @garvageart
Me being a relative newcomer to Joburg and exposing myself to niche underground artists like LUCAS3000 totally introduced me to a new world of music – one which I was unaware even existed, and is located only in the nucleus of Jozi youth culture. Here, the genre doesn't matter because I've heard undiscovered artist music ranging from contemporary jazz to techno-electro house music, and the list goes on. I think what matters most is that it's intertwined with youth going out culture because after all – the Johannesburg streets are definitely run by the kids. And artists like LUCAS3000 are clear reminders to us of that.
So, from explaining their story behind the 'LUCAS3000' altar ego and the process & inspirations surrounding their latest project "18" – I had the absolute pleasure of virtually engaging LUCAS 3000 to find out more about their journey into music, and more.
Would you mind introducing yourself and including a short description of what you do?
LUCAS3000: Yes, so I’m Botho Maje, aka 'LUCAS3000', the angel-face romanticist. I’m a producer, DJ, artist and your local baddie in STEM.
When did you start making music? And when did the realisation point hit that this is what you wanted to pursue with your life?
LUCAS3000: So I started teaching myself how to play piano when I was 13, so like 6 years ago. We had this very entry-level, nursery rhyme-type book of sheet music that I flew through in like a week or two and then I just searched the internet to figure out more things. We have a guitar back home too but it’s been missing a string since forever, so I never fully got into it. I only really started creating my own songs when I was about 14 or 15. It was a fun thing my friends and I did that connected us at the time. We’d make these simple trap beats with silly raps over them, but as unserious as that was, like a bunch of high school kids just messing around, there was a beautiful spirit to those moments.
My relationship with music was kind of up and down initially but I realised it was what made the most sense for me in late 2020. I also started gaining richer experiences that made my musical expressions more meaningful. I was always making stuff when I was younger, whether I was cutting up clothes, knitting fabrics, creating fun video edits, drawing or stealing my parents’ camera to take pictures of myself or my friends while we were hanging out. I was a bit shy about my creativity then but music was the one avenue that grew my confidence. It’s the space that I build community in and connect the most with.
Please talk me through 'LUCAS3000'. Is it an alter ego? What does it mean?
LUCAS3000: It kind of is an alter ego, but like also an aesthetic and a specific feel. Lucas was like my early 2010s era “feliciathegoat”. Like an escape from an awkward self into this unapologetically vulgar and cool character doing whatever is true to themselves. And 3000 is really about a nostalgic sense of futurism. Kind of like how tech designers in the 90s would name their machines RoboVac2000 or something along that idea. So truly I guess LUCAS3000 is a cool sexy 90s robot.
Photography by @u_koyame
I've told you this before lol but I'm such a fan of your music. I loved "18" – your debut EP instrumental which you released not too long ago. Please talk us through how this beautiful body of music came about.
LUCAS3000: I appreciate you so much haha! So the whole process started last year. At the time I didn’t know that I was making a project. I was just trying to make sense of all the experiences I was having at the time. At the time, I was going through a lot of major shifts, like moving to a new city by myself, forming new friendships and navigating all of this newness. I was finding more real parts of myself. It was weird for me but necessary. And “18” goes in those weird places which I really appropriate.
When I realised that I had unintentionally conceptualised this project, it was a few weeks before my birthday. The most important stories that I wanted to tell had already been kicked off, that being track 2 to track 5. Those tracks were my biggest memories of being 18, being more aware of romanticism, being more explorative and curious, and also just processing a lot of traumatic events that happened at that time. Like for example, 'the night i almost died' is a crazy song to me cause it really spawned from the looming anxiety of some scary stuff. Playing that off with 'at the end of it all' and 'am i losing you?' was also crazy because that’s more so me accepting the idea of losing everything that means something to me. It’s a juxtaposition to the sentiment of the previous track.
The most fun moment for me was initially creating '19:09'. It’s the song with the loosest meaning. I was playing with my 909 kit and then I looked at the time and knew that that’s what I wanted to call that song. It’s such an ode to the classic house beats that helped form my personal culture. Also, I only put out one of them, but because of how much of a fan I am of remixes, I really wanted to have as many versions of each song as I could, so almost every track on the project has some reimaginings. Some of them I do want to share at some point cause they’re absolutely sick!
Really at the core of it, “18” was always meant to be a big story about life and where I was at during that point. And my biggest intention was for that story to be felt rather than told, which is why I stuck to an instrumental record. I didn’t want to actually say that I was really happy or extremely depressed and confused, but rather let the experiences sit in the heart cause that felt more sincere. I guess that’s a mix of me not always wanting to say a lot and me having an Aries moon placement lol.
Photography by @kahlo.greed
What elements inspire this unique sound which you make?
LUCAS3000: This is so loaded because I feel like my sound is informed by everything. As a kid, the house was always fuelled by my dad’s soulful and jazzy CDs. I was also always on the internet growing up so I had an eclectic taste for sound, like I went from your Odd Future collectives to Yves Tumor, to Björk to Aphex Twin to old Detroit house and techno from the late 80s and early 90s. I draw inspiration from so much, from the aggressive expressions of punk and rave scenes to the soft playful feels of more rhythmical and melodic music.
I’m also really inspired by my friends. I’m surrounded by a lot of beautiful people with bounds of creativity and talent just oozing everywhere in all forms, so that energy is really cool to learn from and feed off of. I love stories as well. My dad is always telling long stories about the “good times” so I grew to appreciate the sentiment of nostalgia. I think that the beauty in music is that I’m able to create those story moments without having to actually say it directly. It’s really gratifying when someone else gets those types of stories.
Technology also strongly informs my style. I love the idea of electrons moving through matter to represent bits of information that transcend to more human ideas. Those realms are so contrasting so it's really cool to see how they work together. When I found electronic and experimental sounds, they really shaped me. I knew that that’s the kind of music I’d want to make. It’s the brand I embrace now so tech is super special to me.
So what's next for LUCAS3000 looking ahead towards 2023?
LUCAS3000: Lol so I’ve really been living in the moment more which is so critical for me as an artist right now, but LUCAS3000 still has some cool plans for the future! The “18” era isn’t over yet. I’ve got some cool stuff I’d still like to do for my baby, which might come before the end of this year even, so that’s something I’m super excited about.
I’m also excited to be more collaborative and more playful, not only with the next project I take on but in general. A little secret I’ve been playing with is curating my own creative spaces. I want to have the 3000 aesthetic to hold physical spaces where kids like me can be fashion-forward, unapologetically expressive and free. Ultimately, and this expands past next year, I want to continue forming my world haha. Also, I’m a child of the world so it’s so important for me to give back to it everything that means something to me.
Photography by @garvageart