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avatar for Mystery Skulls

Mystery Skulls

biography by Michael Menachem

A mastermind electronic artist, producer and singer - Mystery Skulls is an adopted stage name for Luis Dubuc, a self-taught musician from Dallas who through trial and error, perseverance, hard work, self-belief, great timing and the courage to move to Los Angeles has made a name for himself. The young talent is blazing up the electronic iTunes chart, already reaching #7 among some major players on the scene with his commanding, thumping new track "Paralyzed." On forthcoming debut album "Forever," Mystery Skulls sheds light on the past by focusing on the future, on new experiences, accomplishments, failures but most of all growth. On the title track, Dubuc sings it himself: My life, my chase, my time, my face, my story, my soul, my future in control. My lovers, my team, and dreaming in between. I hear the future, it’s calling me. "When I moved to LA, I sort of became the real version of myself and who I was supposed to be," says Dubuc. "Those are the lines, sort of a manifesto of something bigger than myself. And that is Mystery Skulls." To reiterate these thoughts, on his track "The Future," Mystery Skulls sings I'm worried about the future, ain't fuckin' with the past, a true concerted effort to start over as a person and as an artist. Dubuc's humble beginnings started when his mother left Venezuela and moved to Toronto when he was 8. His earlier memories of a Michael Jackson bootleg and Venezuelan music exploded once he moved to North America, just a regular kid living in the 90s, soaking up tunes from Wu-Tang Clan, Notorious B.I.G., cartoons and pop music including Boyz II Men cassette tapes and early American house favorites Black Box and Deee-Lite. Going from living in a village in South America with three television channels to multimedia phenomena everywhere made Dubuc a pop culture junkie. "I went from not having anything on the radio to Top 40, I had never seen a music video until I was 8 or 9. It blew my mind." By high school, the family had moved to Dallas and Dubuc got into Nirvana and lots of metal and he worked in a record store near the Dallas Cowboys training facility which opened his eyes musically. "Huge linebacker dudes would buy records I'd never heard of, so I would check out anything I'd never heard before, like Maxwell Unplugged," says Dubuc. Luis Dubuc was just a music fanatic working at a record store, and by 18 he could barely play drums, an instrument which he gravitated toward because he thought it was the easiest and he joined a punk and metal band. He learned to play the keyboard and started figuring things out and also learned to play the guitar. "I don't always think I was in a place skills-wise where I could make the music that I really heard in my head," says Dubuc. "I think it was a matter of getting good and putting in the time." Fast-forward to spring 2012, Dubuc took a leap of faith with a move from Dallas to Los Angeles after getting a phone call from his now manager who found some early Mystery Skulls tracks online. "I was working at this place called School of Rock, teaching kids how to play rock music, and my rent was super cheap in Dallas, but I packed up everything and started driving and didn't really tell anyone," says Dubuc. Thus the story of the shimmering track "Ghost," about Mystery Skulls' move to LA. "There's a real story to it, I thought it had to be some situation where I just left [Dallas]," says Dubuc. "I had a friend who had an extra room in his studio that I could work out of at my disposal, I got really lucky. I was there Christmas Day and New Year's Day, every fuckin' day." Finally in February 2013, people started discovering Mystery Skulls online. LA's Bootleg Theater in the artist-friendly Echo Park neighborhood booked Mystery Skulls for a residency, a concept that was unknown to Dubuc at the time with fifty people at the first show, the following Monday about a hundred and the third it was full. By the fourth show, all the labels were checking out the show. "It happened so quickly, I literally wanted to cancel the residency at the start because I didn't think anyone would come," says Dubuc. If that wasn't enough, Luis Dubuc's dream of Mystery Skulls was coming true with not one but two superstar collaborators - dance music legend Nile Rodgers and R&B chanteuse Brandy. "I was sitting on my couch and Nile Rodgers was on the phone, I couldn't believe it," says Dubuc. "I've been humbled and I've made some mistakes but I've tried my hardest. The fact that all of this has happened, it's so cool. I'm more mature now than I was so I'm in a good place to accept it and kick lots of ass." "Magic" is a pure disco track with violins and a progressive thrust, with Rodgers on guitar and a vocal in which Dubuc sings alongside Brandy, who he envisioned singing with since the beginning. Brandy was so impressed by another track Rodgers and Dubuc were working on, "Number 1," that she jumped aboard that track as well, a smoother, mid-tempo love duet with just the right burst of funk. "I always wanted Brandy on the song, but it was a question of whether she would do it, and she said she'd love to," said Dubuc. "I said to myself, I have to kick ass or otherwise it's going to be weird, and it's my favorite song on the record." The cherry on top came with "Magic" - a label insider's uncle who worked on Michael Jackson's "Off The Wall" and Justin Timberlake's "The 20/20 Experience" heard Dubuc's music and offered to work on the strings for the track as well as lead single "Paralyzed." Mystery Skulls' music offers hints of 70s and 80s pop and dance music with futuristic elements, shifting from a dark, lurking place of uncertainty to lighter and more self-aware as the "Forever" record progresses. "I'm really into albums and the thing about records where people have a different singer on each track, a lot of times it's more like a compilation record than something cohesive," says Dubuc. "I love old soul records and musical production so I really tried to meld both." "Forever" is a complete thought, a collection of memories and experiences, present and future and Mystery Skulls has proved from LA to Cannes that an electronic show only goes so far with the producer standing there. "It's an interactive show, I'm singing live," says Dubuc. "I played an opening night gala in Cannes, France and started DJing a set of stuff similar to Mystery Skulls - thirty minutes into the set I started doing my set, which was completely unexpected and people responded positively to it. The songs take on a life of their own when I perform live." "Mystery Skulls is special to me because it is in a sense a culmination of a lot of experiences I've gone through, but I also feel like I'm good enough to actually sing on them," says Dubuc. "I became way better at singing and way better at producing. When all this started, I didn't know what I was doing and I didn't have a plan. I was just teaching kids at a school and writing some songs. I ended up signing my deal with Warner Bros. Records a year to the day I moved to LA. I still can't believe it."