Magical Mistakes is the musical moniker (alliteration) of Erik Leubs, a producer/label-head/promoter and overall bossman based out of Osaka, Japan.
We’ve had a storied past with Erik here at Astro Nautico; he first remixed Kuhn’s track “We’re Gonna Make It” back in 2010, which lead us to collaborate with him and Daytripper Records on the 7 by 7 cassette release, an “experiment in cultural exchange and sampling.”
Since then Erik’s been hard at work releasing his own dreamy music (most recently the fantastic Decompose / Reassemble on King Deluxe) and putting together a series of releases and events with Perfect Touch, where he’s toured and released music by Sweatson Klank, Seiho, Free The Robots and our own Obey City.
It only makes sense that we finally asked Erik to contribute to our ASTROCAST series, especially in lieu of something else very exciting coming later this summer.
1. Firstly, what’s in this mix you’ve given us? Anything in particular you were trying to get across or express through this selection?
Oh! Well, I’m not much of DJ. I’ve never played a DJ set in a club, so try not to judge me. But in regards to my music consumption patterns, some strange things happened this year. I started getting jaded with what I feel is an over-saturation of soundcloud diggers—like DJs who just play a shit ton of tracks out of context without much emotional or intellectual investment in the sound that they’re representing. Just as I was giving up hope, I stumbled on an inspiring group of older Japanese guys and girls who are really into their techno and electronic music. They bring out their own Funktion One system to these tiny little basement spaces and play lots of vinyl that I’ve never heard before. I’ll probably never invest enough time to really be a good DJ, but these guys inspired the shit out of me. 3 hour+ sets of dynamic journeys through techno fare, mixed with ambient interludes and noise, alongside occasional grime and more soulful house tracks. You can tell immediately that these people spend a lot of time perfecting their craft and honing in on a specific sound, all while understanding how to present the music in a dynamic, narrative way. If I start doing more DJ gigs, I’m gonna try and go that route. Keep it real and honest. I guess the idea is spiritual cleansing in a party format. Oh, you know Theo Parrish? That guy knows.
Anyways, this mix is full of stuff that’s inspired me over the past year or so, alongside tracks by some buddies of mine. A lot of my newer tracks are pulling influences from these tracks heavily, so now you won’t be too surprised when you hear them.
2. How did you get to Japan? I mean in life, not mode of transportation. Well, mode of transportation too. Also, how has being involved in the scene there affected your music?
I got inspired in college and saw a trajectory I could pursue that would keep me occupied for a few years, so I took it. The idea was to get involved with local music scenes in Japan and try and network with communities abroad to make some cool, organic happenings. Most of that plan has all been realized to some degree or other, so now I’m seeing what the next step is.
I like living here, but I don’t intend on rooting myself in Japan for the rest of my life. If I can work out a situation where I spend half my time traveling around, and then the other half back in my little one room studio in Osaka, that’s what I’ll do. I really like NYC and California, and I wanna go spend some time in Europe too. I’ll live anywhere at this point actually. I’m just hoping I can get one of my tracks in some car commercial or ending credits for a movie or something, and then I can be a real jet setter.
3. Your sound has evolved quite a bit over the past few years, having gone from melodic guitar-centric pop and beat constructions through kraut and noise, techno, etc. To what extent was this a conscious shift, and what guided it?
Yah man. I think 4-5 years ago, I was much more of a populist about music. I liked pop music, hip hop, jazz, etc.; everything was exciting and I was dabbling in a lot of stuff. I don’t really like my older stuff too much, so it’s a little embarrassing for me to talk about.
At the moment, I’m really focused on polishing and refining specific elements of sounds. I like to consider that timbre and rhythm can communicate emotions alongside more traditional elements like chords and melody. With that concept in mind, I’ve started relying on lots less melody, and more timbre.
Then, I started dancing a lot more, so my BPM of choice increased about 30 clicks.
4. How amazing was that ‘7 by 7’ compilation we did? What was its reception like in Japan? Did you always want to grow up to be organizing music communities and founding record labels (Perfect Touch) in foreign countries or this just something you fell into?
7 x 7! I was so excited to be working with you guys. I remember there was a problem with the original movie sample, so I crawled into a really small closet and draped a mic over a single monitor and rerecorded the whole movie. It was a sweaty mess. Once the compilation came out, I recall hearing the Obey City track at a few different clubs here. Good job Sam! Kuhn’s was my fave though. Kuhn’s track was super.
Of course I always wanted to be doing music stuff. Now, I just want to be doing more of it. That’s the easiest way to figure out your life goals, you know? Everyday I go to sleep and wake up thinking about making a track, or responding to some email about a booking, or getting artwork mocked up for some t-shirt. All my anxiety is about making shit happen. Wish me luck!
The Japan part was a mixture of me wanting to live abroad, and then the extra bit of legitimacy it gave me to try and work on my goals. I could be like “Hey, I came all the way your country to make music and events with you” versus staying in California and just having panic attacks alongside everyone else trying to make music and events.
5. You’re taking the Astronautibros out to a restaurant in Osaka for the first time (minus Sam of course because he’s already been). Where would you take us and what are you gonna order to really knock our socks off?
Alright. We’ll stick to my hood, Tennoji. At like 4 or 5 PM, we take a stroll around the park. We’ll have 2 – 3 beers while we chill. The park is connected to the zoo, and the zoo is only 5 dollars. So we’ll go check out the zoo for a bit. Then we’ll stroll back, but we’ll take a different route so I can show you through the only ghetto in Japan, Nishinari. It is a very interesting place to experience. Then 10 minutes from there we’ll go get some proper food. This yakiniku/horumon restaurant near my place seats maybe 12 people and is staffed by 6-7 meat experts. It’s all counter seats and we gotta get a reservation. We’ll start with some thinly sliced beef tongue, then order various cuts of steak and get some grilled vegetables. Lots of beer will be had too. About 45 minutes into the meal, we’’ll start ordering various cuts of horumon. Horumon is tripe—like beef stomach, heart, ears, nose, all sorts of varieties. It’s good though. Super good. Chewy and nice. After about 90 minutes or so, we’ll pay the bill (it’s expensive, but that’s okay). A two minute walk from the yakiniku place is an alleyway filled with drinking establishments. There’s this great ‘tachinomi’ (which is like a standing bar) filled with men and women of all ages packed around the bar and getting super trashed. It’s a good place to make friends with all sorts of people. And the old lady who runs it is way cool. At that point it’ll be like 11PM or so. We’ll go drink some caffeine and I’ll look at my phone and we’ll realize that some really cool person—like Floating Points or something— is playing at the one really good club in Osaka. This club is pretty small-like less than 200 capacity, but all the best people come through. It’s crazy. You’ll get super hyped about it, and I’ll loan all of you bikes and we can bike to the club. 10 minutes later we get there and the owner is like “YO ERIK I LOVE YOU, COME ON IN.” And you guys are just like.. “fuck man… Osaka is the coolest place I’ve ever been.”