Eric Luttrell, one half of the DJ duo The M Machine, was living in a warehouse in an industrial part of San Francisco, an ideal spot for throwing parties and producing loud music. But he missed feeling connected to a community, so in 2015, he moved to the quaint Alamo Square neighborhood,
As for the warehouse, “It was a much less personal place," recalls the DJ, who will play a solo set as Luttrell at Club Vinyl on Saturday night. "You didn’t really talk to your neighbors or get to know the guy who owns the shop near where you live. You were surrounded by skyscrapers and couldn’t walk to the park to watch the sunset like I can now."
This change of scenery and environment sparked a new creative chord in Luttrell. "I like the human connection to what’s around me and making new friends," he says.
In his off time from working on the M Machine's hyper-charged and at times dark music, he started producing more down-tempo, chill deep house.
“When I moved to this neighborhood was around the time I started writing Luttrell music. Living in a big warehouse was great, because you have all this space and a big studio, and now I’m in my bedroom, right next to my bed, with headphones on, at my computer. It’s a much less glamorous music-writing situation, but I’m smack-dab in the middle of all this cool, inspiring stuff. There’s definitely a magic vibe to this part of the city, and when I'm making music, I often channel the emotions I get when watching the sun set at that park.”
Luttrell had also attended Burning Man for the first time in 2015, a few months before he moved to the new neighborhood, and he says the experience opened him up to new possibilities in art and life.
“It was an eye-opener for me in terms of hearing a lot of new music I hadn’t been exposed to before," he remembers. "I got to do a solo set at a San Diego-based camp called Ego Trip. I’d never been able to play a full set of deep house and melodic techno stuff before, and it was nice to be able to just go out into the desert and play whatever I wanted to without being held to any specific type of genre. The experience opened a window for me as to what else was possible for my life.”
Far from having a blueprint for where his career was heading, Luttrell simply let the music exist without a specific outlet. He would sometimes play new tracks for friends and considered giving songs away for free on SoundCloud, but he remained unattached to the outcome of what he was doing. He was making the music because he loved making it.
“I didn’t necessarily write off playing the music live. I just saw it as music that I wrote for myself," he says. "I figured I might as well give it away for free and just assumed nothing more would come of it.”
Later that year, while visiting his friend Mat Zo in Los Angeles to work on some music for the M Machine, Lutrell played a couple of his new tracks. Zo suggested he send a demo to Anjunadeep's Above & Beyond deep-house imprint. While Luttrell didn’t think his sound quite fit with what the label was putting out, he sent it in. He was surprised to hear back nearly immediately from the talent buyers, who said they liked his sound and wanted to release some of his music on their label.
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“I thought what I was making was too different from what Anjunadeep was putting out at the time, but it turns out they were into it, and it was something they wanted to add to their roster. It was super-lucky timing.”
Luttrell has since released a few singles and his first enthusiastically received EP, Need You, as well as another EP and several remixes on the Anjunadeep label.
“Working with Anjunadeep has been great," he says. They’re super-supportive, professional and fun. And it’s cool to have the freedom to pursue a totally different style of music without worrying about disappointing some people. We put out a few records with M Machine that took the music in more of a housey or techno direction, and they always had a mixed reception. We gained some new fans who enjoyed the new sounds and hadn’t listened to us before, but we also had longtime fans who wished we produced more of our older stuff. Once in a while there’s an artist who can do whatever the heck they want and everyone loves it, like Bowie, but that doesn’t happen very often. Working with Anjunadeep has allowed me to blast out a bunch of new music and go on tour, so Luttrell has gained a lot of traction and new fans in the past year and a half."
Anjunadeep North American Tour: Luttrell, Gab Rhome, Jody Wisternoff, 9 p.m. Saturday, December 3, Club Vinyl, 1082 Broadway, $25.