When the lists of Great Drum and Bass Pioneers is drawn up – and can that day be far off? – the name of Danny Williamson will be on it, only he won’t be called Danny Williamson, he’ll be called LTJ Bukem, for LTJ Bukem as in legendary, as forward-looking and as groundbreaking as they come. In concentrated bursts over the last 25 years, Bukem has been recording, releasing, and DJing a uniquely melodic and textured stream of breakbeat fueled drum and bass. “It doesn’t matter where music comes from; if it hits you, that’s it…”
Although he wouldn't like to admit it, LTJ Bukem is the living embodiment of the post-acid house entrepreneurial creative spirit. He is a mild mannered energy flash whose panoramic musical vision has found success in every area he has explored.
“My ethos since the beginning. If I pick up a piece of music to play in a club or to release I want it for life. I want to be able to pick up that piece of music in 20 years’ time, and still enjoy it for what it is.
In other words, LTJ Bukem is a man on a mission! Bukem's first introduction to music was, like so many others, through piano lessons as a child. Unlike so many others however, the young pianist turned out to possess a natural talent and he quickly moved through the piano grades. Classical music represented the soundtrack to his home life.
Both parents having a passion for Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky that rubbed off on their son. However it was when the family moved to Watford and Bukem changed music teachers that he developed his first true musical love. Thanks to a progressively minded teacher called Nigel Crouch - with whom he lost touch but, after a long search, has recently found again - he was introduced to the world of jazz fusion, a style which has informed his work ever since.
The DJing was his main thing and by 1987 he gained something of a reputation for his sets. However it was 1988 that Bukem first realised that DJing could offer a full-on career. In 1990, LTJ Bukem got his first big break at Raindance. Booked to play between one and two AM in front of 10,000 people, it was the first true test of the fledgling DJ skills. It may have taken all his mates to push him onto the stage but it proved to be a set that he'll never forget. From the first track he ripped it up and LTJ Bukem, the world class DJ was truly born.
So when does he get any rest? “Oh man, my favorite noise is peace and quiet. I’m being serious! And the answer to your question is: no, I don’t, but when I do, it’s like the most wonderful thing ever, because hearing no music for a while really makes me want to hear music again. Sometimes it’s really nice to just sit and contemplate things, to close your eyes and have some meditation time.”
Catch LTJ Bukem at West Coast Weekender's (United By Bass) stage Sat May 6 at The WorldBeat Center.