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Why World-Renowned Controllerist Alluxe Gave Up Touring with Artists like Kanye West to Focus on Her Own Work

Photos courtesy of Nicole Poulos (Sideways Media Team)

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Why World-Renowned Controllerist Alluxe Gave Up Touring with Artists like Kanye West to Focus on Her Own Work

Laura Alluxe Escudé, otherwise known simply as Alluxe, is no stranger to forging her own path. The artist, master technologist and CEO of Electronic Creatives was told early in her career that music production would be “too hard” for her. Ever the defier of odds, Alluxe kept her head down and worked hard, earning herself the designation of world’s very first Ableton music software expert.

Today, Alluxe is a famous “controllerist.” She’s worked with some of the biggest musicians in the world: She’s gone on every tour with Kanye West since 2009, and has worked with Childish Gambino, the Silversun Pickups, Charli XCX, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Drake. When demand for her unique talents skyrocketed, she realized she didn’t have the capacity to take on every project that came her way. Thus, her company, Electronic Creatives was born. Now, she trains other producers and technologists to work with artists directly. Her impressive client roster includes Logic, Harry Styles, Camilla Cabello, The Weeknd, Missy Elliot, Bon Iver, Miguel, Garbage, Iggy Azalea and more.

But “controllerist” is not everything that Alluxe is. She’s also a music artist in her own right, not to mention an inspirational speaker, mentor to women, and founder of Transmute Retreat, where she coaches artists in performance and self-care.

Inspirer caught up with Alluxe to chat about her company Electronic Creatives, the importance of self-care, and why she gave up touring the world with A-list musicians to focus on her own work.

Photos courtesy of Nicole Poulos (Sideways Media Team)

You’ve said you got started in music by learning classical violin as a child. Can you talk about the musical journey that led from playing the violin as a child to who you are as an artist, producer, and engineer now?

I started playing violin when I was 6 and did the classical music thing. I was on that trajectory. Then my best friend from college had a boyfriend who was a DJ. They convinced me to go to a rave. From there, I got super into electronic music and the culture. There was this sense of oneness and I felt for the first time. I felt like I really belonged somewhere; that I’d found my tribe.

I started recording violin on producers’ songs, and playing violin with DJ’s. And I learned from them, plus started teaching myself how to use these programs. That’s how I got started producing my own music.

After that, I moved to Los Angeles and worked different jobs in music technology for various companies. Then I started working at Ableton, the software company that I use for all my productions and shows. Through that job, I got more jobs working on live shows for different artists like Cirque du Soleil and Kanye West. And then I formed my company, Live Creatives, which does live show programming and design for artists. That’s the short version!

That’s quite the journey! You call yourself a “controllerist.” For the uninitiated, what does that mean exactly?

Controllism is turntablism for the current era. With the invention of MIDI controllers and computers as instruments, there’ve been more and more of these instruments popping up, and people performing them in different ways. My friend Moldover coined the term “controllerism” and it stuck. So now the people who are into this community and performing in this way call themselves controllists.

How did you get into the technology aspect of music? Were you always interested in it?

No, I wasn’t actually. Growing up, I didn’t have any interest in it. In high school, I started building websites and getting into computers, but I still didn’t have access to music technology. When I went to college and fell in love with electronic music, I started taking classes at school and becoming more technical. At first, I didn’t think I had a natural aptitude for the technical stuff, but I developed it over time by just really working on it and trying.

It’s interesting that you say you didn’t think you had a natural aptitude for technical stuff. I always wonder how much of that is conditioning; that women are told, “you don’t understand techy things!”

Yeah! I was definitely told that when I first started learning to produce. I had several people say, “oh, it’s too hard. The learning curve is too high.”

When I got a job in tech support at M-Audio, one guy said: “oh I guess they hired you because they wanted a female in the department.” And I was like, “actually, they hired me because I really know my stuff.”

You started your own company, Electronic Creatives. Can you tell me about it?

I got pretty into the live music world and touring. I toured with Kanye West for a number of years. I would get calls to do other gigs, and I kept turning down work. One day, I got a call from the Weeknd, in 2011 — back before he was Starboy. And he said, “can you do this gig?” And I said, “I can’t, but I have this other person.” I recommended a friend of mine who I’d worked with previously.

From there, I kept doing that same thing. People would say, “are you available?” And I’d say, “no, I’m not, but I know somebody.” And I’d train that person. It’s been a slow climb, but we’ve got about 10 or so people now and I’ve been adding and training people throughout the years.

‘Contrast’ available now

Tell me about your Transmute Retreat.

I’m doing this retreat as a performance coach. I’m really passionate about helping others with their journey in live performance, and helping them be creative and learn new tools. I want to inspire people — especially women — to take their performances to the next level, whatever that means for them.

I got the idea to do this retreat a year ago, when I went to another retreat at the same location – the Atlantic Center for the Arts in Florida. I fell in love with the location and the people there. My best friend Rachel, who I started going to the raves in college with, is now a yoga and meditation teacher. We decided to host our first retreat. So I decided to combine my loves for coaching and live performance with self-care, self-realization, and consciousness into one retreat. So I’m really excited about it!

It sounds awesome and definitely like a one-of-a-kind experience!

It’s an interesting and unique combination of things. And I feel like it’s needed in the music world. I’ve experienced it myself; running myself into the ground for other people, and being very reactive, and being at others’ beck and call.

I couldn’t focus as much on my craft and what I wanted to do as an artist. I created this retreat for myself and others to show that it doesn’t have to be this crazy, burn-yourself-out thing to be an artist. You can have that balance and you can take care of yourself. I think that now that I’ve shifted and learned to take better care of myself, my production as an artist has gotten better. I’m doing work that’s more heart-aligned with what I’m trying to achieve as a human.

I want to share the tools I’ve used that have helped me in my journey. I’ve gone from being someone who’s burnt out, touring the world, not able to really take care of myself to being someone with the tools to find time for myself. It’s been an important shift for me in the past couple of years. I want to share that with others.

What brought you to self-care in the first place. Burnout?

I was coming off a bunch of shows. I’d gone to do a show with Kanye at MSG, and flew out the next morning to L.A. and did a show with Miguel. And the next day, I ended up going out with friends and blowing off steam. Something that I ingested caused my stomach to blow up. I had an extreme reaction. I ended up in the hospital for a while. And the doctors couldn’t figure it out. I’m thankful that I’m fine now, but it was a huge wake-up call for me that I couldn’t just go blow off steam the same way I had been in the past.

After shows, the main thing we’d do is go drink and eat and blow off steam and get rid of stress that way. That was my norm. But I just realized my body couldn’t do that anymore. I quit drinking, and it’s been amazing. I’m so clear and present and so focused on what I’m doing now. I wouldn’t say that I was a huge partier, but definitely after shows, that was the first thing we’d do. My lifestyle has completely changed now. Although it was really hard, I’m grateful for it, because I needed to make that shift in my life. I’m so much more together now.

It sounds like that has helped you come into your own as an artist?

It was after that when I decided I don’t want to tour for other people anymore. I will do shows here and there and of course, I have my company. But I realized that this is taking me away from stability in my life and routine, which I need. I was barely ever home in L.A. Nobody would ever invite me to anything. It was really difficult.

And being home more, I was able to be creative more and work on my Alluxe project more. I’ve been focusing more on my own project. It’s helped me with all of those feelings and emotions and coming out on the other side of the illness. It’s helped to center and ground myself. Music has really saved me, because it’s allowed me to be creative and take my head out of thinking too much. I’m very focused and driven and I can obsess over certain things. Music helps take me out of that.

Do you have any advice for women who are interested in breaking into the world of controllerism?

Organize a workshop and invite me to come! There are so many different communities — attend your local events and connect with your local community. Start an event of your own. Reach out to different people and pick their brain or interview them. Or get on Youtube! You can learn just about anything on there. Find a role model, and get inspired by them.

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