Crying on the Dancefloor: Meet Hunter Lombard
I remember when I first heard Hunter Lombard’s Erid EP, many months before it got picked up by Jack Dept (the label ran by Volvox and John Barera out of NYC). It felt like discovering a best-kept secret, one that would soon be revealed, and take the world by storm. The richness of the arrangements and the quality of the production sounded like someone who’s been at it for a while; working patiently, away from hype cycles, waiting for it be fully formed before sharing it with others.
The native New Yorker has been playing guitar since childhood and producing in her bedroom for over six years before releasing Eris her debut EP last April 2018. A protégé of Kim Ann Foxman—who remixed her track Raeh—Hunter has also been coming strong as a DJ in the Brooklyn techno scene, playing at venues like Good Room, Bossa Nova Civic Club and The Dreamhouse. Both her DJ sets and productions mix acid, breakbeats, with heavy handed melodic lines, moody pads and lush ambiances. Hunter describes her musical output as “emotional yet dancey […] that will have you unexpectedly crying on the dance floor.”
Join us to celebrate, dance and maybe even cry at the NVA showcase at Piknic Électronik, where Hunter Lombard will be closing off the Moog stage with a DJ set. In the meantime, meet the artist:
What is your musical or artistic background and training?
I became obsessed with making music pretty early on and got my first electric guitar for Christmas when I was 10. I took lessons for a few years and then started playing in bands with other kids my age. Feeling burnt out after playing in bands for years, I started to make the switch over to more electronic based music in 2012.
Tell us what attracted you to start DJing. Was there an aha-moment, or rather a slow progression?
Definitely a long and slow progression. My first experience using any kind of DJ equipment was at my friend Isaac’s house when I was maybe 15 years old. He had one of those big, clunky Numark all in one setups running Serato on a laptop. I didn’t really listen to dance music at the time, but I remember him teaching me how to beatmatch by mixing Daft Punk songs into each other. A few years later, I learned how to mix with Serato timecode vinyl and got into that, but didn’t have a community or friends who were interested in dance music, so my interest faded for a time until around 2011/2012. By then I was old enough to get into underground parties with a fake ID and that’s when I really started to get into dance music. At that time I was mostly producing alone in my bedroom but it wasn’t until around three years ago, that I started hanging out with a solid group of friends who were DJing and producing and I felt ready to fully dive into DJing and sharing my music.
Under what circumstances did you start making your own music?
I started making my own music as soon as I could string chords on a guitar together. In my teens, after my interests started to shift to more electronic based music (Fever Ray’s debut album was the major turning point for me), I downloaded a demo copy of Ableton and started messing around in that. By 2012 I was producing and writing fully fledged songs. The music I was making back then was pretty slow, around 110 bpm, and super melodic. There’s definitely a common thread between my older and newer productions, I’ve just started to make my music more club friendly.
What do you use when you produce music?
I write in Ableton and use a Push in conjunction with my Access Virus and my favorite soft synth, U-He’s Diva. Recently, I’ve been writing a ton of melodies on guitar and transcribing them on my synths. I’m right at home playing guitar and incorporating it into my writing process has really helped open up new creative pathways.
What are some of the producers, sounds, eras and genres that you draw from? Paint us a picture of what inspires you.
Sonically, I love pads and ethereal, wall of sound type production. My Bloody Valentine and the Cocteau Twins are major influences. Recently I’ve been listening to a lot of early 2000s rock. There are actually a lot of amazing melodies and emotion in those songs that I don’t think people consider because people love to hate on that era of rock (for now). Essentially, I just want to make music that you can dance and cry to.
What are some aspects of your DJ practice that inform your production, and vice versa?
DJing has made me reconsider arrangements and the way songs build and release tension. As I made the jump to dance music I felt myself having to relearn song arrangement and break out of the chorus, versus, bridge structure of rock music. On the other hand, I tend to DJ melody-heavy tracks with a similar vibe to my own productions.
Kim Ann Foxman is your mentor in many ways. How did that relationship start, and what has it brought you?
Kim Ann and I met in 2015 and it was instant family vibes. We lived a few blocks from each other so we’d often meet up and play basketball or hang at her place and watch movies whenever she wasn’t touring. I had been looking for a studio around that time and she helped me get a space in the same building as hers. I moved my gear into it and wrote a bunch of music, some of which became Eris. We’d often be working at the same time so we’d check in on each other and listen to what we were working on and give feedback. It was so helpful and motivated me to finish stuff and try new things. Kim Ann has been in the music business for some time so she’s given me invaluable advice and emotional support whenever I was feeling unsure about something or even just nervous for a gig. She’s helped me loosen up a lot and be less rigid and hard on myself.
It seems hard to say the “New York scene,” or the “Brooklyn scene,” given that there are so many different segments and genres in it. What part of those scenes do you identify with? Do you find it easy to make your place?
I feel like as of late I’ve been able to make a place within the Brooklyn techno scene, especially after the release of Eris by one of Brooklyn’s techno labels Jack Dept. I’ve been DJing around BK for a few years now, but I don’t think a lot of people realized before the release that I’m first and foremost a producer and had been making music for the last 6+ years.
What are some of the exciting and conversely some of the difficult aspects of the scene you are involved in?
I think what’s most exciting at the moment is the demand for dance music and the venues that we have to explore that. There are parties on any given night, so there’s always someplace to hang out and dance. Conversely, it can sometimes feel like it’s impossible to get booked unless you throw your own party, there’s a sort of “if I book you, you’ll book me” mentality which is understandable—but throwing your own party is not always a possibility for everyone and it can feel like an impossible barrier to get over when you’re first starting out.
You debuted your first EP Eris earlier this year on Jack Dept., a label run by Volvox and John Barera out of NYC. How did that release come together, and what are are your plans for future releases?
I had written a bunch of music in late 2016/early 2017 and the end goal was always to make an EP out of it. Kim Ann watched the record come together from start to finish, so it felt very natural for her to contribute a remix. After the EP was totally done I had been passing it along to local DJs, which is how Volvox heard it. Her response was super positive, and shortly after, her and John agreed to release it on Jack Dept. I’ve been working on another EP but don’t any solid release plans yet.
How are you feeling about your Montreal debut at Piknic Électronik?
Excited and nervous, but mostly excited and especially happy to be playing with friends!
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