They say electricity killed the gaslamp. That could be why DJ/producer The Gaslamp Killer’s performances are so electrifying.
Born William Benjamin Bensussen, GLK spent his childhood listening to “some of the greatest pop icons of all time,” who range from David Axelrod to Jimi Hendrix to Too Short. He was and remains enamored with music.
“The thing is there’s so much feeling in music,” he says. “But in electronic music, there isn’t much to a computer, so there’s not that much of a human swing. I never wanted to be all the way there.”
He got his start in 2012, when he released his debut studio album, aptly named Breakthrough. The project, which he describes as “psychedelic narrative,” took him five years to complete because he was touring.
In late 2016, GLK released his second full-length album dubbed Instrumentalepathy.
“Instrumentalepathy has much less jarring and switching,” he says. “It’s much more cohesive.”
The album almost didn’t come to fruition. In 2013, he suffered internal bleeding after a near-fatal scooter accident. GLK says the crash changed his life.
“It stripped me of my entitlement,” he says. “It humbled me and made me realize just how magical life can be.”
With this new appreciation for life, GLK knew there was something he lacked: a connection with the L.A. artist community. For his previous works, GLK sampled tracks from his record collection of nearly 50,000, but he realized he needed to change up his methods.
“I got a moment of clarity and realized I needed to just bring people over and record them, and so I started experimenting with a lot more live recording,” he says.
“I got a second chance. It made me call everyone I ever wanted to work with and start trying to make records with friends and embrace the moment.”
GLK is working on another personal album, and producing a live collection for the psychedelic jazz collective, The Heliocentrics, which is expected in 2018.
Immediately, GLK is planning a tour that comes to Phoenix’s Pressroom with Kaytranada and Sango on Friday, August 11.
“I’ve played three times with Kaytranada,” GLK says. “I love his music. I love his sets. I’m just stoked to come back to Arizona.”
GLK describes compares his set to those at Low End Theory, an influential Los Angeles club night dedicated to experimental hip-hop and electronic music. It will feature plenty of underground music.
“You’ll only hear these beats with me,” he says. “A lot of L.A., West Coast exclusive. A lot of unreleased music from Brainfeeder and other Low End Theory people.”
Kaytranada w/ The Gaslamp Killer and Sango, The Pressroom, 441 W. Madison Street, Phoenix relentlessbeats.com, 9 p.m. Friday, August 11, $40-$60.