FaltyDL Stopped Slicing Fish, Started Splicing Beats For A Living
The Sushi Chef Turned DJ/Producer reflects
In January, FaltyDL will release his first full-length album, Hardcourage, on groundbreaking electronic music label NinjaTune. It will surely get lots of attention from the likes of Pitchfork and Resident Advisor and all the places that talk about envelope-pushing dubstep, indie, garage, house music, whateveryouwannacallit. And the Brooklyn-based DJ and producer will deserve the praise he gets; in his young career, he's issued some of the most inviting tracks out there, the type of music that lets you lose yourself, whether you're listening on your headphones or on the dancefloor. (Check out his website for a sample.)
Before he was FaltyDL, he was Drew Lustman, a guy holding down a series of jobs, including one in a Japanese restaurant that led him to become a sushi chef. We caught up FaltyDL to find out what led him to step away from the knives and focus solely on his music career, as well as his favorite meals from around the world and what he noshes on when get gets hungry behind the decks.
So you started out as a sushi chef? How'd you get into that line of work?
I rapidly went from washing dishes in a Japanese restaurant to making sushi behind the counter in about two months. It was one of those moments where necessity and opportunity met at an exact spot. I happened to be standing there in that spot with open eyes.
Any similarities between being a chef and being a DJ?
I think the cool answer is they both require a lot of control, thought and focus. But to be honest, they are about as similar as working construction and teaching kindergarten. Two other jobs I have had in my life so far.
Why did you transition from chef to DJ?
I was tired of working for a boss, and working these 14-hour shifts six days a week, barely scraping by making pennies and getting treated poorly by an unappreciative boss. I think that is very common in the food service industry. Also why I think a lot of passionate people work in food, because otherwise it would be a waste of time and in some cases a life. I started producing music in the other six hours I was awake during the day. Becoming a DJ was to pay the bills and have some fun. It's always been about producing, less DJ'ing. I hope it remains that way.
Best meal you've ever cooked or best meal that's been cooked for you?
I had sushi at Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo. Just simple sushi cut and prepared by an old master. That was simple delicious and easy. No fuss. I also ate at ABC Kitchen two nights ago in Manhattan. An opposite experience, but fresh organic ingredients prepared with a lot of care. Best meal I ever cooked was the first time I made steak for my girlfriend. That was special for us. I think I overcooked it, but it didn't mater.
Who's another DJ or musician you've worked with who's really into food?
A lot, you know. It's fun when you start making enough money that when you're flown to a different interesting country you can experience something outside of the free hotel breakfast or a McDonald's at the airport. So you start eating national dishes and going to strange small family-run restaurants in inaccessible parts of Italy and Estonia. A lot of DJ's I know do the same thing. It's a nice bonus. Especially when you miss home.
If you get hungry during a set, what kinds of food do you snack on that won't get the equipment all greasy?
Bananas are great. Candy. Haribo are popular in DJ booths. I try and stay away from alcohol while DJing.
Favorite food cities to visit while on tour?
Other than the Tokyo Fish market, St. John in London was great last time I was there. London is great for food. It has a bad reputation by some, but if you can spend a little extra cash it's as good as any city. I am spoiled though. I live in Brooklyn. There is a brisket sandwich two blocks away that is as good as any in the world, for example.
Three staples in your refrigerator?
Condiments. Brita filled with water. Apples.
Last meal you made at home was...?
I've been making this dish recently in a large cast iron skillet. Brussels sprouts and prosciutto. Let it just cook and cook in the over at 420.
Do you have any quirky (or strange) dietary habits?
I try and avoid dairy and gluten. They both weigh me down. But I will eat anything.
First food to hit your lips in the morning/afternoon is...
Coffee. Yogurt. Afternoon can be anything. Sometimes if I am making a lot of music I won't eat until 5 or 6 at night.
Favorite cooking show(s) on TV?
I have stopped watching TV actually!
Do you have any pre-show food rituals/habits?
Try and eat enough so i don't pass out waiting till 4 a.m. to go on in the club.
Food or drink requirements for shows (from your touring rider)?
My rider says a bottle of whiskey, but I usually just give it to my friends.
Have you ever ordered food to the DJ booth?
Yep. Got a Cobb salad at Brooklyn Bowl a month ago.
Any clubs actually serve really good food?
Some in Europe have restaurants in them. Batofar in Paris is a boat with a wonderful kitchen on it.
What do you like to listen to while you're cooking?
Milton Nascimento's Clube Da Esquina, Vol. 1 in its entirety.