When we walked in, a sweaty and energetic crowd had already converged towards the stage. Lunice, then 21, had just started performing. Decked in a baseball cap, a retro 80s sweater, jeans and high tops, his eclectic mix of genres – hip hop, rap, soul and others – created hybrids of music that instantly got everyone moving to his beat. Before I knew it, we were pushing our way to the front, trying to get a better look at this Montrealer’s insanely infectious on-stage presence.
“I just love performing, you know,” said Lunice on the phone, speaking the day after a show in Toronto last week. “I don’t care if it’s for four or 400 people, I am really thankful to be up there.”
While his live performances are certainly mesmerizing, his studio work is equally innovative. Playing alongside like-minded artists has helped him find new ways to create his music. He was chosen to attend last year’s elite Red Bull Music Academy (which Flying Lotus also once attended), which gave him more perspective on the industry. For two weeks, he got to attend lectures and workshops with musicians, engineers, producers and other music lovers from all over the world.
Last December, Lunice released his first official EP, Stacker Upper, on a major label, UK-based LuckyMe. The acclaim continues to pour in. Since then it’s been a whirlwind for Lunice, with shows all over Europe and North America.
“This summer was especially crazy,” he said. “Every weekend has been a gig out of town. I was in Germany last month working in the studio, then Chicago for the block party, L.A. the weekend after that, London, then back to Canada.”
I asked him about his energy levels and more specifically how he manages to bust out his series of improvised dance moves show after show. It turns out, his humble approach to performing is what really gets him going.
“I’m so happy to be on stage,” he said. “I may be mentally tired one night but my body just keeps going because I want to make sure I’m consistent, that I can give my best performance every time I get up there. It’s like customer service, you know, you can’t have an off night. I try to stay healthy and I have a bunch of people who help me so much with a lot of aspects of my show, so it’s my responsibility to the people out there to be prepared, to brace myself and to make sure I give an amazing show. There’s no excuse.”
Visualization is an important part of his planning. He prepares diligently before every show, especially considering the short time-frame often at his disposal.
“A lot of the time I’ll get to a city, perform on the same day and leave the next day,” he said of the grueling calendar. “I never slack off. I love what I do and I’m always grateful to everyone who helps make my show a success.”
He spoke highly about a performance he once had in Hamilton, which caught me off-guard, considering he has played in London, L.A. and other major cities. The community aspect of the show is where he draws his incredible energy from.
“The second time I went to Hamilton it was absolutely crazy,” he said. “It was one of my first sold-out shows, it was out of this world. There was so much love there; the venue was awesome and the people were so passionate, they loved the fresh sound and the vibe. That’s what I feed off of.”
A return to Montreal is always beneficial for Lunice, both for body and mind. Whether he’s been to Europe or the United States, nothing compares to playing in front of your hometown fans, he said.
This week, he’ll be performing at the CSU’s free orientation concert alongside Stars, Mother Mother and Nomadic Massive at the Loyola Quad. What can people expect from his show?
“The unexpected,” he said with a laugh. “That’s exactly what I want. I love the whole element of not really knowing what’s going to happen next. I try to mix it up as much as I can.”
Lunice’s never-ceasing curiosity is crucial in creating his layered tracks and he loves the moment when people actually realize which songs have been mixed together.
“I enjoy people trying to explain my shows,” he said. “It’s random. Because of my influences I try to find beats that have similarities and create layers from those. Eventually they bridge and people are like, oh so that’s what that song is!”
A sound mind (pun intended) and an altruistic mentality have made this 23-year-old highly popular among his peers and especially his hometown fans. It makes me realize that the Lunice I saw perform two years ago never gave up his winning formula of a strong desire to entertain and a compulsive dedication to his craft.Lunice performs this Sept. 15 at the CSU’s free orientation concert with Stars, Mother Mother and Nomadic Massive at the Loyola Quad. His newest EP, One Hunned, is out now and available on iTunes.