By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
After graduation, he moved to San Francisco and soon L.A., earning a reputation as a fearless performer and master technician with deep crates.
Low End Theory served as the launching pad for his star, but success hasn't been conducive to tranquility.
You immediately note the juxtaposition upon admiring the view outside the Mount Washington house that GLK shares with roommates. Atop a labyrinth of winding roads, it offers stunning panoramas of the entire city. But inside the two-story aerie, things are stressful.
On this broiling mid-August afternoon, GLK deliberates the set placement of a song from Daedelus, the bespoke electronic producer. He leaves tomorrow for dates in Germany, Poland, Amsterdam and Switzerland. In one hour, there's a scheduled walk-through of the Mayan Theater for his Sept. 18 album-release show. Between now and then, he's heading to Burning Man, where he may ignite an impromptu desert rave.
By most standards, this is living the dream. Everyone is a DJ, but few get paid vast sums to spin whatever they want in exotic locales.
Yet with reputation comes expectation. Parties don't start themselves when people pay to be there. They want entertainment; they want to see the wolf. And with the collective pulse needing defibrillation, the easy option is to pop a pill, snort a line or take a shot. After all, even the shaman needs ayahuasca. The question is: What happens when you want the trip to stop?
The tailspin started when GLK's 43-year-old brother, an Orthodox Jew living in Israel, died in March 2010. Touring in Australia, GLK was unable to attend the funeral, which occurred within 24 hours of death, according to religious burial rites.
"One day, my brother had massive chest cramps. The doctor said nothing was wrong, so Mother told him to see a cardiologist. He didn't make an appointment in time," GLK says "Two days later, he took his kids out dressed in costume for Purim. When he went to sleep that night, he never woke up."
The stress of his brother's death and a redoubled dedication to his career caused GLK to distance himself from his girlfriend, ultimately contributing to their breakup several months later.
Burying himself in his work and masking the pain through drugs and drinking, the true impact didn't really strike until late last fall. Beset by a toxic cocktail of health issues and spiritual emptiness, GLK opted for complete sobriety.
"I realized that I wasn't happy. My career was going to plan, but I felt like killing myself," GLK says. "I wasn't finding happiness in my performances, music, friends, lovers and drugs. I needed a way out."
When speaking with GLK, you understand why "out" is a gauntlet. He radiates the kind of intensity found in mob bosses and mad monks. He's hot-blooded, of Levantine Jewish stock, and there's no dimmer. You're family or he'll tear your fucking face off. That's actually what it reads on his Twitter bio. He's small but wiry. If provoked, you can imagine him clawing someone's eyes out.
His eyes are the exception to the darkness. They are pale blue and honest; the nomadic eyes of someone for whom a put-on is impossible.
"I went through three months in hell. I was the most bored and unenthusiastic that I'd ever been," GLK admits. "So I said, 'Am I going to be a waste or push myself to the opposite end? Can I sharpen my blade so that anybody who steps to me gets chopped the fuck down?' And I felt physically stronger and spiritually more awake and fulfilled. I'd been finding these alternative sources of energy, happiness, pleasure, everything. And I'm still reaching for those things. But I got this tiny little, fucking pinprick of clarity."
After abstaining for six months, GLK has adopted a more moderate approach toward drugs and alcohol. He remains wild but in control.
The existential crisis also yielded the excellent Brainfeeder release Breakthrough, out Sept. 18. Recruiting gifted figures from the L.A. underground (Daedelus, Adrian Younge, Samiyam) and his frequent collaborator, the Orphic banshee Gonjasufi, the record cackles with a deranged psychedelia — shifting from ethereal Turkish rock to intestine-shredding beats. It's like Black Sabbath if Ozzy wanted bass, not bats. And it gets deeply personal on "Nissim," the track named after GLK's late brother (Jacob Nissim Bensussen) and his grandfather (Nissim Bensussen), both of whom died unexpectedly, at 43.
"Gaslamp incorporated the tricks, turns and spirit of his scene, and made it special through his unique soul and grit," says seminal New York rapper-producer El-P. "Every song idea comes from places most producers ignore or are ignorant of. They could only come from a DJ who specialized in psychedelia for years. It's one of the first completely contemporary electronic records that doesn't sound like an electronic record."
The new GLK isn't vastly different from the old GLK, but he knows he doesn't want to end up like the actual John Belushi. He wants to wobble down the path to help point it out to the kids who send daily messages about how his music changed their lives. Last month, he performed sober at HARD and shouted an old John Waters maxim to the crowd: "If you go home with somebody and they don't have books, don't fuck them."
@GASLAMPKILLER @LAWeekly http://t.co/jqMCsvtz
Another dope article mate, if I ever finish the book I'm working on, you're gonna be one of the first to get a copy to critique. I won't tell you what it's about, for you may be the only individual with the knowledge and tools to write it better than I. Keep up the good work. R.A. Clark
@Jojo I agree with stevenalepa. I'm an avid hip hop head/ scholar with a degree in comp. world lit., I've read the entire works of Nikos Kazantzakis, and can say without a doubt that Weiss can write like a motherfucker. I've been following him for a bit and he continues to impress me with his style and innate knowledge of hip hop culture. Journalistic or not, the writing is dope, be wary of who your knocking
Weiss wrote about someone who has really never been covered, much less had a cover story written about him. How can you say he's a fanboy when there's no possible way that you could know about the subject prior to this article? You're just hating with absolutely no basis
@Jojo Jeff Weiss is passionate about what he likes AND what he dislikes. He masterfully captures the essence of all of his subjects and presents it with skill and insight in his own style, which often reflects his personal enthusiam. I'd much rather read a piece by someone who truly gets it and isn't afraid to enthuse about their subject matter. Let's read some of your interviews Jojo, what you got? You're of course entitled to your opinion, but I think you are missing the point.
@LAWeeklyMusic @GASLAMPKILLER the highlighted text isexactly why GLK is the best fuggin DJ on the planet! http://t.co/4LFJD1RV
Good stuff. RT @brwestho No, wait, it's a stunning @passionweiss profile of @gaslampkiller for tomorrow's cover. http://t.co/cBoTDMML …
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