DJs are a dime a dozen today. With the advent of social media and myriad software applications to choose from, just about anyone with an Instagram and MacBook can whip up a mix or playlist.
But being a DJ can go far beyond just spinning a set at Soho House. Just ask Charlie Klarsfeld, the founder and proprietor of LUCY, a creative consultancy that’s currently challenging the status quo of how music is sourced and curated.
Through their wide array of projects, LUCY touches upon every aspect of the music business – connecting the dots between artists, brands, influencers and physical spaces. And the fruits of Klarsfeld’s labor have more than paid off. After securing a number of high-profile clients, including Tom Ford; Glossier; DKNY; and Coach, LUCY is staking its claim for prominence in the commercial music world.
As a testament to their reach and influence in the industry, we at Highsnobiety partnered with LUCY last December at Art Basel Miami for a party unlike any other. Merging art and music together with sets by Virgil Abloh, Heron Preston, and twin DJs Angel & Dren, both part of the LUCY roster, the “art edition” experiential event was an ambitious show of force demonstrating the agency’s ever growing capabilities.
We sat down with Klarsfeld for a candid conversation on everything from how and why LUCY was started, what it takes to work with an artist, and what’s in store for the nascent creative agency. Peep our interview below and check out the custom mix that LUCY created exclusively for the Highsnobiety audience.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Why the name ‘LUCY’?
Well, most companies that work in sound and film have names that are super literal and techy. I wanted to cultivate an approachable energy and thought something feminine would be refreshing, like you’re talking about a person rather than a company.
How did LUCY start, and why?
In 2016, I made a concerted effort to get involved with brands and music for commercials, essentially as a way to make money. Typically, the industry consists of middle-aged white guys ripping off young artists, and the client’s always asking for “real music.” I’m constantly collaborating with relevant young artists and producers, so it seemed like a no brainer to join forces and bridge the gap between brands and musicians in a meaningful way.
What separates you from, say, the A&R arm of a record label or a typical music agency?
I think that what separates us from an A&R is that at LUCY everything has a collective element to it. The relationship we have with our artists is non-exclusive, non-binding, and there’s a real natural flow to it all – it’s more like an exchange of ideas.
How did you end up doing what you’re doing?
It was kind of already happening on its own, which I think is a great indication of how it can grow. I come from a creative background; my mother’s a fashion photographer, I have a lot of friends who are directors, photographers, fashion designers, etc. We do a little bit of outreach but it’s really friends of friends who are established people I’m either producing with, Djing with, or working for or collaborating with. I was like, “Oh, this is where I can fit in.”
What’s your criteria for working with someone? How does someone become part of LUCY?
So it’s less a criteria than a community. For example, LUCY artist Branchez and I have collaborated on official remixes for Skrillex and Clean Bandit, I’m currently producing tracks for LIZ Y2k, and have sessions with the other artists regularly. So the company is more a banner for us to stand under as a collective.
We started working with you for the Art Basel Miami Party but you were the ones getting things together. What led up to that point? How did the party happen?
Nika, our director of operations and brand projects, has been trying to push LUCY into a more experiential realm for the past year or so.
Given that we wanted to do something during Art Basel, we wanted to involve art somehow, and my wife, Lolita, is a curator so she was able to get some amazing artists involved like Daniel Arsham and Devin Troy Strother. We also partnered with The Academy and our friend and creative partner Swaim Hutson to help us host the night. Everything happened very organically, and it ended up popping off. We had our own Angel & Dren DJ along Heron Preston as the night ended with a set by Virgil Abloh.
Is there a calling card for a project worked on by LUCY?
I would point less to a specific project and more to our relationship with Glossier as a whole. Founder Emily Weiss is a good friend – She has great taste in music and often comes out when I DJ. When we launched in 2016 she was like, “How can I get LUCY involved?”
I suggested we curate the music for their Lafayette street showroom. The reaction was super positive, so we made a paired down version as a mixtape they could blast on socials etc. It was great publicity for us, and it kind of announced us to the world. We’ve since gone on to collab on projects ranging from an ASMR sound installation at their pop-up shop to consulting on upcoming top-secret plans.
You’ve started to work on more experiential projects, what else do you have in the works that you can tell us about?
Looking forward we’d like to set up a collab at Frieze London for LUCY artist Tom Furse (bass player from The Horrors). He’s an amazing sound designer with great energy, and we’re looking for a visual partner to create an immersive installation. I think what we did with Highsnobiety was perfect for Miami, but for Frieze we’d love to do something that’s little less party, and a little more art-centric.