Lokey on YouTube, Getting in Trouble for Playing Diablo II, and His Beatific Trance Sounds

Lokey on YouTube, Getting in Trouble for Playing Diablo II, and His Beatific Trance Sounds

Lokey by Malin Efua

27-year-old Swedish producer Lokey just put out a beautiful EP on YEAR0001, Isolation Works, Vol. 1. On the release, he dives deeper into trance and jungle sounds than ever before, making for another wonderfully curious entry in the catalog of one of the most interesting labels going. (I’ve championed YEAR0001’s releases a few times around these parts now.) We had a great Zoom conversation about what life’s been like lately, his own musical journey, and a life lived on the internet.

When did you first start getting into music?

When I was a kid, I perused all different kinds of music—Nirvana, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley. Regular stuff. Then I was downloading tacky trance songs from Limewire. When I was a teenager, I started listening to reggae and dub. And it went all downhill from there. [Laughs] I started getting into UK club music. It started with jungle, and it just kept going. I listen to a lot of music, I guess.

Tell me about your first experiences with the internet.

I started gaming pretty early—I played Diablo II after my family got a modem. We got a big internet bill after that. [Laughs] I played a lot of Flash games, and I was on YouTube a lot looking for music. Back then, YouTube had really good algorithms. They used to make really good recommendations. Now they only have the most popular videos, and it’s always the same one. I hung out on Newgrounds, and I also had some early social media [account] on a Swedish platform called PlayAd. I don’t think it exists anymore. It was more fun than Facebook is nowadays.

What’s your relationship with social media?

I’m addicted to my phone, like so many other people. I don’t really think very much about what I post, but it’s been fun these last few months, because I’ve gotten more attention than usual. I really like the likes. It fucks with my head. [Laughs] It’s such a basic observation, but I wish I spent less time on my phone—but I think it’s alright. It is what it is.

Tell me about when you started making music.

I was 15, and I was listening to early dubstep. I realized when I read about those artists that a lot of them were also 15 or 16 when they started making music. So I started getting into it from there. I got an early version of Reason, which I really liked using. I don’t have it anymore, I wish I did. The early stuff I made was horrible. Instead of going to school, I was sitting on my laptop doing stuff.

Your early music was more ambient-focused, you only got into making trance and jungle-aligned music recently.

I’ve made a lot of music that hasn’t been released, so I’ve made a lot of similar songs [to this recent EP]. For a long time, I felt like I wasn’t really happy with those songs. It took a bit of work to get there. I used to listen to the loops that I made, and at the end of the day I was so tired of listening to music that I didn’t want to make it anymore. So I’d make these droopy sounds that were nice to listen to, because I didn’t want to listen to any other music. Then I started liking those ambient songs a lot.

But I wanted to make a record that you could play in a club, and I wanted to have it on vinyl. It’s great that that’s been possible—a silly dream to have some plastic music.

When’s the last time you went to a club?

It was a long time ago. I played in Berlin in March. Almost a year ago. Right before corona became a full thing in Europe. We were talking on the flight, “Is this virus gonna blow up and go crazy?”

What has the last year been like for you in the age of COVID?

This is gonna sound strange, but I’ve had a great year, actually. It’s been really nice. I’m a sociable person, but I’m also very content with not socializing, so the not going out thing hasn’t…it’s started to get annoying now, because it’s gone on so long. But I started studying engineering, which is really nice. It’s good for my brain and it makes me feel good. It’s nice to be doing something like that. Before, I was loitering around and working a job where it was as little as I could get away with—having an unstructured life. But I’ve been structuring up my shit now.

Where does your music come from emotionally?

It depends on how you view it. I don’t have a grandiose view of my work like other artists do about their music. I just want to make honest music that feels pure and true. That’s important for me when I sit and make something. Sometimes I’m like, “This isn’t a vibe I can cosign.” If it’s an angry-sounding song, well, I’m not an angry person, so I have to sit back and say, “What is this vibe emotionally? Is this how I want to feel while I’m walking around?” At the same time, sometimes I like listening to angry music. But I just want to make something that’s true for me, and if it’s true for me, then some other people will find it true and feel something from it as well. Also, the bottom line is that making music is fun. I’d be doing it even if I didn’t think about putting it out there. It’s a fun activity.

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Jamie Larson