Lucas Talebli, aka DJ Haunta, has fans around the world and some 2,600 followers on his Soundcloud page.
Other DJs sample his dark brand of dubstep in their sets, and it really works on the dance floor.
Most of these people don't know he's 14.
Talebli is a high school freshman, and dubstep is his thing. Datsik and the artists on his Firepower Records label are favorites, but outside of that, Lucas' tastes veer largely towards the underground.
As influences and favorites, he lists a bunch of obscure acts he discovered through the online music community.
Check out how he got his DJ name. It's adorable.
"I went to this DJ name creation website that told me to choose a word and add an 'a' at the end," Talebli says. "My music is dark, and I wanted a name that fit with it."
Talebli lives with his mom Andrea Zito and his eleven-year-old brother in a condo out in the suburbs of Canyon Country, on the fringes of L.A. County. In the family's living room are two Deadmau5 style mau5heads, which Andrea made for her sons to wear as Halloween masks a few years back.
Lucas is cerebral, serious and well spoken. "He's never been like anyone else in his class," Andrea says. "Most of his friends are older than him, and they really respect him and his work."
Although his dad initially encouraged Talebli to become a lawyer, both of his parents are now supportive of his music career. (His mom proudly plays me a dubstep remix of Coldplay's "Clocks" that Lucas did when he was 12. "It's not representative of my work now!" Lucas yells from the kitchen. In any case, it's good.)
While he'll be releasing two EPs in the near future, Talebli has never played a live set or even been to a live show. He's too young to get into the clubs, obviously. (Though that doesn't stop all underage DJs.) But that will change when he plays Cobalt Café on December 7.
Outside of a few local DJs he works with, Talebli's community of peers and fans largely exists online. (He also produces more experimental music under the name Kingsh*t). He collaborates with artists in Europe and fields fan mail from around the world. (He notes that he gets too much of it now to respond to most messages individually!)
As far as high school goes, Lucas gets mostly B's and tries to finish all of his homework during the school day so he can focus on his music at home. "He does't really go out much," his mom says of her son's work ethic.
Lucas began writing computer code when he was ten years old and says he can now type faster than his typing teacher. (His mom also says he used the website Ning to create a social network site for his classmates -- when he was in kindergarten.) While Lucas dabbled in guitar and piano, he feels more natural on a computer.
One of the proudest moments of his career so far came when a song he posted on Soundcloud got a thousand plays in one night. "There were hundreds of comments," he says. "I read them all."
While Talebli would love to go on tour with a huge stage production à la Datsik, his primary goals are more pragmatic: to make enough money to support his family and one day, to also support a family of his own.
And although his music is moody and dark, Lucas says making such aggressive sounds is how he channels all of the negative stuff inside of him, which allows him to lead, he says, a positive lifestyle. "I'm not saying my music is negative though," he adds, "because it makes a lot of my fans happy."
Haunta plays an all ages show at the Cobalt Café on December 7.
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If buzzworthy new artist Paul McCartney really was boutta blow earlier this month when Kanye West let him play some keyboards on his new track, then this week could see the hip youngster’s brand go stratospheric. Rihanna’s new single Four Five Seconds sees her reaching out to both Kanye and P-Mac, letting the latter strum some acoustic guitar like the glorified pop intern he no doubt is. It’s arguably not the greatest single you’ll hear this week – in fact, it’s possibly one of the most rubbish singles you’ll hear all year – but it does succeed in keeping McCartney in the public eye, which gives us a great chance to uncover some of his underground work with other artists before he went global.
Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder – Ebony and Ivory
McCartney hooked up with Wonder for a song in which they didn’t just play the keys but thought deeply about what they really meant, maaan. Think about it: they’re black, and they’re white, but you can’t play a tune without both (actually you can play Happy Birthday, or Oh When the Saints Go Marching In, or probably most Oasis songs, without touching the black notes, but let’s not ruin the metaphor). The song was pretty rubbish, as evidenced by the fact it failed to end all racism ever.
Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney – The Girl Is Mine
What lucky, lucky lady wouldn’t want to be caught in a lover’s dispute between Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney? Over some laidback 80s pop the two vocalists take it in turns to argue over ownership as the listener is taken on a truly romantic journey: just who does she belong to? Jacko? Macca? It’s a shame nobody got her in for a guest verse to ask for her opinion. That would probably have settled the matter.
Paul McCartney and Johnny Cash – New Moon Over Jamaica
A country and western song about being on holiday in Jamaica … what could go wrong? Sadly, precious little, as McCartney decides not to incorporate an Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da reggae element into this and instead lets Cash’s baritone smother his own vocal input.
Lulu feat Paul McCartney – Inside Thing (Let Em’ In)
Lulu’s 2002 album Together album was quite something – she collaborated with Atomic Kitten, Sting, Marti Pellow, Westlife, Cliff Richard and Bobby Womack! And, of course, Paul McCartney for this slice of piano-fuelled R&B that begins with a musical saw. Obviously.
Nitin Sawhney and Paul McCartney – My Soul
This hook up is a little bit sickly but benefits from McCartney’s voice straying from its usual cheery, double-thumbs up setting. Instead it seems to quiver and falter a little with age, which adds a touch of emotion to proceedings. Although given that proceedings so far have involved an R&B duet with Lulu that’s perhaps not saying much.
The Bloody Beetroots feat Paul McCartney – Out Of Sight
Scan this list up until now and you’re probably thinking “Why did this McCartney fella never team up with a couple of Italians and go stadium rock dubstep?” To which we answer: he did, and this is why he shouldn’t have.
Paul McCartney feat John Lennon – A Day In The Life
Way before Kanye and Rihanna catapulted McCartney to worldwide attention, he was collaborating with all kinds of lo-fi figures in an increasingly desperate attempt to make it. This collaboration with the man behind Whatever Gets You Thru The Night perhaps showed why he struggled, a mishmash of over-orchestration, weird effects and nonsensical lyrics that can’t make up its mind what it wants to be. The whole thing is crying out for a Kanye to come in and sort this mess out with some AutoTune.