In July 2013, Los Angeles experimental hip-hop producer Gaslamp Killer was heading home from a friend's house when the unthinkable occurred: The scooter he was riding flipped and landed on him, throwing him down a hill and causing massive internal bleeding. After being rushed to the hospital, doctors told the producer-DJ that he had nearly died and were forced to remove his spleen.
On November 7th of that year, the manic musician, going against doctors' orders, gathered some of his favorite Los Angeles instrumentalists in the Mayan Theatre. The collective created new arrangements of Gaslamp Killer's original compositions and the producer is now set to release his new album, The Gaslamp Killer Experience: Live In Los Angeles, on April 28th via his label Gaslamp Killer Music.
"My friends and family begged me not to go through with this performance due to the fact that it was only four months after my near-death scooter accident," the producer tells Rolling Stone. "I insisted that I could handle it and after an insane amount of help from the people closest to me — and with only three rehearsals — we got up onstage in front of a sold out crowd of 2,000 people and performed my original compositions live with a 14-piece crew of some of my favorite Angeleno musicians for the first time."
With Gaslamp Killer set to reunite the collective for Coachella this weekend, Live in Los Angeles, featuring a set list culled primarily from the producer's 2012 album Breakthrough, is a one-take recording of "that very special night."
On the first released track, "Apparitions," Gaslamp and Co. double the length of the studio recording. The track opens with elegiac strings before seguing into slinky, snakecharmer horns and an Ethio-jazz groove built around a sample of Ethiopian singer Mahmoud Ahmed. The orchestra eschews the original's tranquil vibe in favor of a frenetic crescendo fitting of the producer's manic onstage style.
The DJ was one of the first to incorporate an iPad into his sets, using the product to interact with the various musicians for Live in Los Angeles. "It changed the game," he told Rolling Stone in February. "I became known for it. Another DJ said, 'Instead of that bulky, big controller you're using, you can use two turntables and this tiny iPad.' I was hooked instantly."
Gaslamp Killer is ready to put his accident behind him and get to the business of creating more music. "I went to the doctor recently and got a really great checkup," he says. "All positive. I’m super-healthy. When your spleen is gone, it's gone. You just have to take good care of yourself." The musician recently debuted the Turkish rock song "Haleva," his first new track in nearly three years, on friend and labelmate Flying Lotus' BBC radio show and is working on the studio follow-up to Breakthrough that he hopes to release later this year.
“I was making some super, ridiculously sad, pilled-out synth music," he says, laughing. "My room is filled to the brim with synthesizers. I'm super excited for it."
The Gaslamp Killer Experience: Live in Los Angeles is now available for pre-order.