San Francisco’s rainbow-colored Painted Ladies will forever be tied to “Everywhere You Look,” the jaunty opening theme of Full House. But for Eric Luttrell, who produces and performs under the mononym “Luttrell,” the trio of iconic Victorian homes and their surroundings are inextricably linked to the moodier sonic textures of his recently released trio of deep house EPs
Titled Music For My Memories—Pts. I, II and III—Luttrell recorded and released each EP between 2020 and 2021. As he tells it, the architecture, the fog and the epic views of downtown were all essential to his creative process.
“Going out to Alamo Square Park and listening to what I had been working on that day was a routine of mine,” Luttrell says. “It was super peaceful and calming. The fog would be rolling in over the hills and create these really epic sunsets. Orange, pink, and all hazy. It definitely looked like something out of a dream.”
After spending 2008 commuting to Pyramind, a music production school in SoMa, the Redwood City-raised Luttrell relocated to the city. He intended to parlay the skills he learned at Pyramind into a career writing music for video games, but fate had different plans.
Graduating into the Great Recession, Luttrell had trouble landing his dream job. Fortunately, he and some of his friends were still able to snag a dream apartment in the Dogpatch.
Spanning an entire block—from 3rd Street to Illinois Street, near the intersection of Mariposa Street—the building is now just another luxury apartment complex. But back in 2009, it was a live-work space with an interesting backstory. During the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s it had served as a recording studio and rehearsal space for a number of beloved San Francisco bands—including Jefferson Starship and Journey.
“When we moved in, we knew that our time there was going to be short, because it was already zoned for a big condo development,” Luttrell remembers. But the bursting of the housing bubble pushed those plans back, and he and his roommates ended up staying for five years.
“That’s where I feel like I became an actual musician,” he says. The space became the homebase for The M Machine—the electronic duo of Luttrell and Ben Swardlick. The pair released a handful of EPs and remixes on Skrillex’s label, OWSLA while living and working in the Dogpatch.
In 2014, with the redevelopment of the warehouse imminent, Luttrell moved to NoPa—pressing pause on The M Machine to work on his solo material. It was here that he would lay the groundwork for what would ultimately become Music For My Memories.
In addition to soaking up the neighborhood’s nightlife—Madrone for Motown Mondays, shooting pool at The Page—Luttrell also drew inspiration from those Alamo Square sunsets and workshopped his tunes while walking amongst the coastal oaks of Buena Vista Park. “That’s how I would quality control my work,” he explains.
The three EPs in the Memories series were tracked from the spring of 2020 to the spring of 2021, a year in which Luttrell was largely confined to his apartment and nearby outdoor spaces. During this time, the producer drew upon memories of things he could not experience in his day-to-day life—like the San Francisco house and techno shows he had attended in the mid-2010s.
“Ex Nihilo,” the lead track on both the first Memories EP and the new LP, is full of airy washes and spaced-out breakbeats that allude to the winds of San Francisco. “October Song,” which closes the first EP and comes in fourth on the LP, is minimalist and melancholy—a nod to the anxiety of the pandemic’s darkest days in the fall and winter of 2020.
“Fill My Heart,” which closes the third EP and serves as the LP’s penultimate track, strikes a more optimistic tone. It was first released in September, after the summer’s deadly Delta wave and before the Omicron variant threw the entertainment space into uncertainty once again.
Its simple but triumphant vocal hook, “Fill my heart with music,” serves as both a hopeful refrain and an aspirational mantra for the many musical memories this city has yet to create.
Luttrell says the title of his latest collection is meant to emphasize the way music serves as a catalyst for memory. Chord progressions and melodies, major and minor keys, harmony and dissonance: They all have a way of bringing us back to the pain and pleasure we’ve experienced in the past—and ensuring that we won’t forget whatever it is we are experiencing in the present.
As for the future, Luttrell says he is more than ready to move forward with live music—no matter the variants lurking on the horizon.
“I’m past the point of worrying about anything like that,” he says.
Questions, comments or concerns about this article may be sent to [email protected]