The Myriad Talents of Doug Lussenhop

This article ties in to a podcast I recorded with Doug Lussenhop, available here.

Doug Lussenhop, also known as DJ Douggpound, is someone with far more output than many might expect. Mostly, he’s remembered as the editor who helped shape Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! into its distinctive and influential form. While his editing work represents a huge catalogue, it’s the tip of an incredibly intriguing iceberg. Lussenhop is never content to sit back, comfortable, in any one box. His creativity has branches in almost all forms of media, from music and writing to innovative live performances and apps.

For the second season of our Secret Cave Podcast, I was fortunate enough to speak to Lussenhop personally. In the conversation, I had the opportunity to ask him directly about his varied and impressive oeuvre. I was intrigued on how naturally this came to him, or if it was merely a result of continued graft in the entertainment industry. As a man with his fingers in, seemingly, innumerable pies, there was a somewhat imposing amount of ground to cover. With quotes from Lussenhop throughout this companion article, I’ll do my best to cover that ground with all the depth it deserves. Luckily, Lussenhop himself proved to be an markedly forthcoming and friendly guest. As I suspected, his myriad talents are instinctual.

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I don’t like to do one thing, you know? I don’t like to just be an editor. If I was a successful musician, making my living by that, I would probably get bored of that; I would start painting, or something else. I’ve spent so much of my last decade trying to get my hands in the different pies, like you said, that the other pies are actually paying off here and there. I like to just do different stuff, ’cause then it’s like, if I do get an edit job after having not edited for three months, then it’s kinda fresh; i’m excited to do it, like, “Oh, this is a new challenge”.

In order to talk at length about his talents as a whole, it’s probably best to start with his most well-known accolades. By no means should Lussenhop be penned in by his association with Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, but it’s a worthwhile way to lead in. He began his long-time collaboration with them on Tom Goes to the Mayor, the first syndicated show by the pair. He’s worked with them on every major project since, with the exception of Tim and Eric’s Bedtime Stories. While he’s often remembered for his editing, he also provided a lot of writing and occasional music. In other interviews, he’s downplayed his sometimes cited role as a “fifth-Beatle” figure. However, it’s difficult to think anything different when you see his credits and contributions.

The above clip comes from Check it Out! with Dr. Steve Brule, a project that has seen enormous success. With his singular editing style in tow, along with some additional writing, Lussenhop is responsible for a lot more of the show’s appeal than he gets credit for. For example, his name isn’t mentioned once on its Wikipedia article. This is a thread that seems to follow his credits in television. The same applies to both Tom Goes to the Mayor and The Eric Andre Show, the latter of which he also wrote for. Perhaps it’s that he doesn’t seek overblown reverence, or that people really are that tunnel-visioned with the creatives behind the curtain. For the man himself, editing and writing such shows was a dream come true; for a while.

I would work on a TV show and, sort of, be in front of a computer for five months, doing ten episodes of a show. At first, when I was doing that, it was super awesome because, you know, I had moved from Chicago with dreams of working on comedy TV shows. All of a sudden, I’m doing it and i’m like, “Hell yeah!”. But, five years later, I’m doing it… It’s like anything, you just kinda get bored of stuff. Then it effects your work.

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In our conversation, Lussenhop admitted that this effected him when editing Portlandia in particular. It’s, possibly, why he’s moved away from contributing to The Eric Andre Show too. It’s an admirable trait, and one that’s kept his craft fresh and interesting in vastly evolving times. Where he was once providing a service for others on syndicated television, innovative in its style though it was, he’s now using modern formats (such as YouTube) with equally inventive aplomb. For one, his acclaimed series for JASH‘s channel, Pound House, is a magnificent personal odyssey.

When i’m editing other people’s stuff, like Tim & Eric… I love their comedy, and I think it’s cool to be able to help make their stuff as funny as I can make it, but Pound House would be closer to my own heart. Obviously, because it’s my show, it’s about me (in a way) and it takes place at my house, it’s the most personal thing. Brent is a big part of that too, and I like working with Brent. I think he’s one of the funniest comedians out there.

Unfortunately, it may be some time before we see any more new instalments. But, with plans in place for a television adaption in the wings, it will hopefully only see eventual expansion. While Lussenhop has made YouTube’s format work to his advantage, with short episodes of intense focus, I have no doubt that he would approach a longer-form version with the same verve as ever. With brilliant collaborators like Brent Weinbach involved, we can only hope his enthusiasm remains alive for Pound House.

We’re going on a hiatus, indefinitely… Trust me, me and Brent love making that show. We’ve been trying to develop something that we can have on a bigger format; TV show, y’know? Like, a real, proper half-hour, or at least eleven minute show, somewhere. So, we’ve been focusing our efforts on developing something that we can pitch as a TV show. There’s nothing to say about that yet. I wish there was but, you know, the TV business is slow. Everything takes forever.

In stark contrast to the TV business, YouTube content can be made and uploaded with unmatched speed. Due to its complete freedom, it also allows users to express themselves in far purer ways. Additionally, it means that the length of content can vary wildly. Entertainment, in many ways, is moving towards more bite-sized platforms too. Because of all these things, it’s a perfect arena for someone like Lussenhop to get his ideas on the table.

I’m a consumer of entertainment, and I feel like there are certain things that aren’t being expressed. I try to express those things that I can relate to more; bring in my own experience. I mean, 2 Wet Crew is, like, a very absurd thing but there still [are] a lot of sensibilities there that i’m not seeing elsewhere. If there’s music you like, but no-one else is making it, you just have to start that band that makes the music you like. That’s kinda what i’m doing; sometimes.

Driven entirely by his own cerebral fuel, his YouTube channel presents a platter of amusing content. Much of it is thought-provoking too, calling to mind the power of independent release. By subverting any potential producers or shit-stirrers, Lussenhop is able release fresh material off-the-cuff. Often, these projects are refreshing in their understated anarchy. You certainly won’t see anything of their like on modern-day popular television, but that’s to its credit. 2 Wet Crew is a prime example of this aesthetic, but other series, like Doug’s Bougs, are equally as evocative. These analyses made, his output never feels pretentious or overwrought. Instead, they’re simply the unfiltered concepts of a comedic powerhouse.

[2 Wet Crew] was, sort of, a reaction to having to work with other people that will be the gatekeepers; the people giving you the budgets to make stuff. [We] just make stuff for, like, zero dollars, with the crappiest camera we can find, kind of as an exercise to just… put out a video once a month. Although, that’s on a hiatus right now too. That’s what the point of those videos was; to just have no rules or anyone to answer to and just experiment and put something out quickly.

DJ Douggpound, the alter-ego Lussenhop’s worked under for over a decade, was built with more deliberate leanings. Over the years, the DJ Douggpound moniker has been behind a lot more than some tie-in music for Tim & Eric. While he has a mountain of intriguing music under that label (which I’ll come to soon), it’s fascinating to consider how well he’s applied the role of a DJ to comedy. In live performances, he’s known for approaching jokes and humour musically, and from the standpoint of a remix. He brought this over to early internet content, like his memorable contributions to an embryonic Super Deluxe.

Under the brightest spotlights, this is the kind of thing that DJ Douggpound, as opposed to Lussenhop, is best known for. It’s viscerally funny, but just as well-accomplished and cleverly crafted. As an unassuming personality, reserved and friendly in attitude, it’s all the more impressive how much creative energy pervades DJ Douggpound. It can be heard, loud and clear, on his album, Pound It. Although the majority has comedic intentions, sometimes the level of music production and competence can catch you off-guard.

Pound It was kinda like my live comedy act; DJ Douggpound comedy act. I tried to turn that into an album, without being a live performance; just acting out the jokes, skits and stuff like that. That one is more jokey, but there’s a couple of cool tracks on there that are just musical tracks.

Click the image above to hear Pound It from Lussenhop’s Bandcamp!

The same applies to Up Our Holes, another album under the DJ Douggpound name. It’s a release that brings his patented “remix” style to Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!Pound House and more. Along with this, it features the inflections of numerous collaborators, such as our previous podcast guest, Juiceboxxx. As with Pound It, the musicality of its composition is practically as strong as the humour. On I Don’t Cleam (Remix), his overlooked proficiency at programming beats and intricate rhythms is well-showcased.

It’s not a live remix. When I typed in the metadata, like when I put that on Spotify or wherever it went, somehow the “Live” box got ticked. So it says “Live”, but it’s the furthest thing from live! It took months of meticulous, tight little editing and programming to make that.

Click the image above to hear I Don’t Cleam (Remix) from Lussenhop’s Bandcamp!

After listening to it, and other tracks from Pound It and Up Our Holes, I could hear the influence of IDM. It seemed salient that artists like Aphex Twin have a fan in Lussenhop. Yet, while inspired by such sources, the strength of DJ Douggpound’s comedic albums are in their own, unique, take on the genre. Aphex Twin himself has played with similarly playful tracks, like Milkman; it’s just that Lussenhop is so much funnier than Richard D. James. It would be as unfair as it is erroneous to think that DJ Douggpound exists for nothing more than silly laughs. Without even considering high-quality production, a sincerity is audible in his music.

Aphex Twin is one of my favourite musicians of all time. I think the Richard D. James Album is my favourite record. It’s classical music to me, you know? It’s really active listening, and that album still blows my mind when I put it on sometimes. That’s the ultimate record right there. I’m shooting for that sometimes; for that level of quality.

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In actual fact, his experience with music is a widely varied affair. His earliest, released, works come in the form of an album simply called Tapes. Recorded throughout the 90’s, Tapes shows Lussenhop in a wholly different light to his later catalogue. On this experimental, and largely ambient, album, a more contemplative side can be glimpsed. Comedy is nowhere to be seen, replaced with introspection and gorgeous effected twinklings. It even features relics from two of his former bands, pella and Flexible Products. Here, just how seriously Lussenhop takes his compositions is displayed in unadulterated force.

I first started experimenting with electronic music in college. I was in a shoegaze band, we tried to sound like Slowdive so we bought as many pedals as we could. We also found a few keyboards, one was the Casio SK-1 which had a rudimentary sampler built into it, so I guess it started there. After that band, I played around with a 4-track and the pedals and keyboards I had laying around, you can hear some of those experiments on Tapes which is on my Bandcamp page.

Click the image above to hear Tapes from Lussenhop’s Bandcamp

It doesn’t stop there for tantalising formative releases from Lussenhop. Recently, he’s teamed up with Gnar Tapes to release a retrospective collection of his personal music from 1998-2003. Gnar Tapes are a beautiful underground label, with a Los Angeles store I truly wish I could visit. With heaps of exclusive tapes under their belt, The Archives Volume Two (sold under the DJ Douggpound name) is an apt addition to their already appetising shelves.

The tape’s contents play like DJ Douggpound’s later albums, with the onus shifted almost exclusively onto the music. With sparse comedic tinges, in his established tone, it’s clearly the aural birth of DJ Douggpound’s mannerisms. Lussenhop was even good enough to allow me to use some short samples from the tape in this article.

I got a Macintosh and played around with software called Sound Edit 16. On this tape, I was listening to a lot of Aphex, Cylob, Mouse on Mars, Autechre, T. Raumschmiere; whatever weird electronic music I could find.

As an owner of this gem of a tape, which is limited to a mere one-hundred copies, I’m intimately aware of how enjoyable it is to hear. While you can certainly pick out the beginnings of future inflections, it sounds more like a lost, little electronic masterpiece. Like his current YouTube channel, it sails from idea to idea with comfort, skill and colour. The Archives Volume Two deserves to be heard by a far larger audience, while its niche qualities make it all the more juicy for those who discover it. As usual from Lussenhop, his thoughts on the tape are modest. It makes you wonder if he’s, in some way, uncomfortable without the safety net of his championed comedy.

This is when I had my head up my ass, and thought I was gonna be on Rephlex Records. I think I sent them a CD-R at one point.

While Lussenhop professes to have had his head up his ass, the tape represents a wellspring of excellent material. I’m intensely grateful to him for giving permission for me to use these samples in this article, which I hope you enjoy. Since it’s titled as the second volume, it’s worth mentioning that the first is just as compelling. Available through Thunder Zone, it comes in the form of a VHS cassette loaded with archival footage. It captures a lot of the appeal of its second volume, which is in the foetal visions it provides of a notably advanced talent.

Across twenty-one tracks, the glittering creativity of its beats and production is infectious. I anticipate a more general release in time, since it will otherwise sit unceremoniously obscure for longer than it warrants. Beyond the physical tapes, owned by a mere one-hundred people, the only samples of The Archives Volume Two are currently in this article. I consider that a deep honour, and implore anyone who gets anything from these excerpts to give Lussenhop the support he deserves in some way. When I asked him about my use of track snippets here, he particularly highlighted the bubbling Bush Fleet as a favourite.

Although The Archives Volume Two would be eaten up wholesale by fans, it seems that its future beyond this humble smattering from Gnar Tapes is somewhat unlikely. As mentioned previously, Lussenhop certainly feels a discomfort, no matter how small, with it. From the dialogue I had with him, it’s easy to conclude that he’s unsure about bringing it out on a larger scale.

No plans yet, I can’t tell if this is good music or not, I figure I’ll just release a few tapes and see if anyone wants more.

It’s a shame if he can’t see the merits of a tape of such obvious interest, but it comes with the territory of releasing more serious music. Having received such a strong reception for his comedy, he probably feels that there’s something too straight-laced or undeveloped about it. Personally, both of these things are reason enough to render it listenable. However, those descriptors alone undersell the ensuing tracks by quite some distance.

The output just doesn’t seem to stop for Lussenhop. With a career that spans some of American TV’s most successful contemporary comedy, intelligent music, carefully curated internet content and original live performances, there’s yet more to take a look at. He’s even thrown his hat into the world of apps recently. This is just another example of how instinctively he moulds himself to different concepts. He just had an idea, without any drawn-out process or pretension of thought. That his ideas are always, at the very least, interesting is testament to the innate capacity Lussenhop has to entertain.

I have a few app ideas. I thought of this one app; it’s like a Snapchat kinda thing, where you send photos to each other. But, I have this little knob on the back of my phone case, that you can spin your phone around on; so it spins like a top. It, kinda, spins like a fidget spinner. I thought it would be cool if you send a photo to someone, but the photo is spinning. If you spin the phone, in the opposite direction, the rotation will sync up with the spin of the app and you’ll be able to see the image. It was just an idea I had, and he made the app. It’s, like, coming out!

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No matter what he puts his hand to, there’s always something about it that sets it apart from a very tightly packed crowd. On his own podcast, the Poundcast, he’s found yet another avenue for his expression. While much of it consists of casual conversations, with handpicked guests, his inclusion of sound effect “drops” is about as classic Lussenhop as you can get. It gives an extra edge to a media platform that can be, even in its relatively early years, tired and stodgy at the best of times. It seems that whatever creative opportunity he gets his fingers around, he can grip with both skillful strength and delicate ease.

As can be seen from this companion article, Lussenhop’s professional résumé is so sprawling that an hour’s Skype discussion wasn’t nearly enough to cover it all. Still, his appearance on our podcast is one of the best and most laid back of the second season. With a wealth of insight on his career, our talk saw him open up about his musical beginnings as well as his editing and YouTube series. We even end up in an internet stand-off over the rights to a product we outline together. It was fantastic fun, and a true honour, to speak to Lussenhop like this. The embed below, to episode twelve of SCP2, allows you to hear the quotes from this article in their original context:

Make sure to follow Lussenhop over at Twitter, and check out his music on Bandcamp! All episodes of Pound House are available here, with his personal YouTube channel here. You can find regular updates about our podcasts and content on our own TwitterFacebook and YouTube.

British fellow consumes media and regurgitates back what you should think about it.
  • Isme Boom

    truly inspiring and humble dude. saw him in Philly on Thursday and he ROCKED. thank you for this interview