Written by Fatima Hasan
Since entering the side of music production, Neil Berry (“LUZCID”), has been enchanting listeners with his otherworldly music that adds a psychedelic touch to heavy-hitting bass tracks. He has performed in almost every major U.S. city and continues to appear on lineups throughout the nation. Throughout his sets, he wants to immerse his audience members in an experience that flows through various moods and genres. Along with his ability to create incredible solo pieces, he has also released collaborations with artists like Bassnectar, Figure, and Crizzly, among many others. Check out our exclusive interview with LUZCID below!
Where are you from? What is the music scene like near your hometown?
“I am currently living in Houston, Texas but I wouldn’t say I’m from here. I spent the majority of my music life in upstate New York in a town called New Paltz. The music scene there is not huge for dance music, but it does have some venues for intimate 200-300 person shows. I am actually playing a show there in December with Buku. Anyone who has lived in New Paltz will tell you there is a certain kind of magic there. This is where I fell in love with music and art and really discovered who I wanted to be.”
How did you come up with the stage name LUZCID? Were there any other stage names that you considered or used in the past?
“The name LUZCID came from my intense lucid dreaming at the time. I was struggling with kind of an existential crisis and had no idea what to do with my life. I was 22 and never stopped once to think: “If I could do anything, what would I do?” I always just kind of went through the motions of what society told me I was supposed to do to live a happy life. I did all that and I was super unhappy. I began to escape to lucid dreaming for answers and that is when LUZCID was born. A few past monikers I’ve had: my college roommate and one of my best friends gave me the name DUBBERRY because of my last name. Then I was in a duo and we called ourselves Nice and Toasty for some time. Then we rebranded to LUZCID. Since then, LUZCID has become a solo project.”
What initially sparked your interest in becoming a music producer? Did you ever have a “backup” plan in case producing didn’t work out the way you wanted?
“Going to shows in NYC and then music festivals around the country in college made me fall in love with the scene. I loved the connection between the crowd and the musician. As soon as I decided that I needed to do this, I got the words “Passion” and “Persistence” tattooed across both sides of my ribcage from top to bottom. My thought was, if I ever quit music, I’d be a walking hypocrite…and I would never let that happen. With Passion and Persistence you can achieve anything. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering so if I lose my hearing maybe I will start programming or something. Although I would probably just learn to produce without my hearing.”
How old were you when you made your first track? What was it titled/genre?
“I guess I was 19 or 20 when I made my first track. I don’t know if you can even call it that. It was not till 22 or so when I started to land some legitimate release with EDM.com and outlets of that nature. The team at EDM.com was the first major to support me and has supported me ever since. I am very grateful.
As far as genre, I started out making dubstep but dabbled in making some trap too. A few years of engineering and music theory knowledge later I switched back to dubstep, but kind of with a hip-hop fusion. Now I make whatever I feel like. I guess it’s predominantly dubstep due to the nature of the sound design but I prefer free-form bass. Honestly call it whatever you want as long as it makes you happy.”
When/where was your first performance as LUZCID? How was it?
“I do not recall exactly when the first LUZCID performance was but I know it was in New Paltz somewhere. If I had to guess I would say Forest Fest. It was an annual fest of maybe 500-1000 attendees. Definitely one of the events that got me into the music scene so it was great to finally play it.”
Who is your biggest inspiration/influence? Who do you have a lot of respect for?
“It might seem obvious at this point but the Bassnectar, is a massive inspiration. Not just musically, but how Lorin and the rest of the team handle themselves socially has been a huge inspiration. I feel like getting close to them and watching some of the inner workings over the last few years has helped me grow significantly.”
What is your next step / end goal when it comes to your career?
“The most immediate next step is to grow my brand. I am doing a ton of touring this fall, playing with Liquid Stranger, Space Jesus, Buku, and Minnesota. Hopefully from there, I can create my own headlining tour with custom visuals, detailed theme– the whole shebang! When exactly this will happen, I am not sure. So many variables are in play it’s too early to tell, I’m just enjoying the process.”
Who has been there to support you the most throughout your career?
“My friends, hands down! Some of my friends who have seen me play in a New Paltz apartment filled with 10 people to playing big festivals in front of thousands. The amount of gratitude I have for my friends cannot be described in words. I only hope I can give back to you what you have given to me over these years.”
Was Electronic Music always your first choice? What other genres do you enjoy listening to?
“Electronic music was my first choice for production. I have always been a huge video gamer and sci-fi nerd. I love the epic scope of dance music. You can break every rule and just make noise if you want. This fits my creative personality. I also love hip-hop and rock. The bounce and soul of hip-hop combined with the epic anthem rock melodic progressions are kind of the elements I try to push forward in my music.”
Name one song/artist outside of EDM that is your guilty pleasure. Why did you choose this song/artist?
“Lately I have been listening to a lot of Aretha Franklin and similar jazz artists. Her voice is like a spell or something. Mystifying. I love hearing and seeing things that are completely one of a kind.”
What do you like most about electronic music? About the culture/scene?
“I like the inclusion. All anyone wants is to feel wanted or loved and a part of something. I feel like the dance scene has made it cool to not fit into a specific group or clique. It encourages people to just be themselves and that’s the most amazing thing to see.”
On your journey in the music industry, what has been your biggest obstacle?
“I guess fear of failure. Everything is so volatile for people who work in the music scene. Genres and trends are constantly shifting so it’s like starting over every year in a way. No matter how hard you crushed last year there is zero guarantee you will get booked the next unless you continue putting in 110% and honestly have a bit of luck on your side.”
What do you think sets you apart from others trying to make it in the Electronic Music scene?
“I feel like a lot of people these days are making music so formulaic.
Something I heard that sticks with me is: “There are 1,000 producers trying to sound like 100 producers that are trying to sound like 5 producers.”
I feel like there is a lot of accuracy to that statement. As much as I do take a lot of inspiration and influence from other artists, I’d like to think I quilt it all together in a way that makes its something fresh and unique. I never came from a musical background I have always understood numbers and logic. My production style comes a lot from seeing patterns and taking an almost algorithmic approach that does not follow traditional music theory arrangement or progression. I think this may have hindered me along the way and made my learning a bit slower but has also given me a unique sound of my own.”
Favorite thing to do with your time when you aren’t making music/performing at shows? What do you do to rejuvenate your creativity?
“I love to cook and I love to garden. Anything that gets my eyes off of a screen and into some fresh air for a while. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up “working” and time seems to slip away. I like to try to create bookmarks or moments that I vividly hold onto to appreciate the time I have to spend producing. The more basic the memory the more valuable it seems sometimes.”
If you could do a collaboration with any artist out there, who would it be and why?
“I think I would be a lot of fun to work with G Jones or Mr Bill. They both are super talented and do things in songs that leave me utterly confused. I would love to sit in the studio and learn from either one of them.”
Anything you’re currently working on / anticipating that you’d like to share?
“Bassnectar and I have started another collab. Taking our time on this one so no ideas on a roll out yet. Started a collaboration with Dirt Monkey recently that I think is going to crush! Also got like 10+ songs banked to release throughout the fall/winter. Some more fun stuff with WAKAAN as well as another label I have been listening to for ages that I am very excited to announce.”
How do you feel about working in the music industry during a technological period in which social media and the internet are so significant? Do you think this alters your overall approach to producing music and distributing your work? Any positives/negatives to being a producer during this time? Why?
“I have a lot to say about the state of social media and being an artist but I guess the best way to sum it all up without writing a book is that I feel like musicians are no longer purely musicians. Everyone in the art industry is expected to be an entertainer. We are living in a time where you will blow up quicker as a twitter comedian making music on the side then you would a musician doing social media on the side. Does this amount to sustained success. Most likely not but there are several huge acts currently who I can say are popular solely because of their social media presence. On the flip side social media gives opportunity for people with very little economic availability to be discovered. Like most things of great power it comes with good and evils.”
Anything else to add that you’d like your fans to know?
“Work hard and just be yourself. Every time I have tried to be something I am not in order to succeed I not only failed I felt horrible and empty the whole time doing it. Find something you love. Find people you love. Hold those things close to your heart and help others do the same.”