Mystery Skulls is the nom de plume of Los Angeles-based electronic DJ/producer/artist Luis Dubuc. Raised in Caracas, Venezuela before moving to Toronto at eight years old, the 28-year old fluent, Spanish-speaking Dubuc found his own sound within the confines of beats, synths and grooves stemming from funk, R&B and pop music influences such as Prince, Otis Redding, Daft Punk, Roger & Zapp, the Gap Band, and Slayer. “This was the first time I had ever really seen music videos at all and it blew me away. In Toronto a lot of UK stuff gets played on the radio and so I was super into dance music almost straight away. Eventually I got super into metal and hip-hop. I got a job at a record store in High School and I think that was the first time I really wanted to do music.”
After moving to Dallas, Dubuc started playing drums in a local metal band with friends called Thirty Called Arson. He truly found his niche, however, in writing and recording electronica pop/rock songs with a laptop and Wurlitzer. Under the alias The Secret Handshake, Dubuc developed a cult-following with critical acclaim of his music while playing the guitar, synthesizer, piano, percussion and computer-generated sound effects from his computer including his 2009 and third studio album My Name Up in Lights. Recorded in his Dallas apartment, the album landed at #7 on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart and #45 on the Independent Albums chart, leading to an opener slot on Alternative Press’ 2009 “The Fall Ball” tour as well as shows in Australia.
In 2011, Dubuc ended life as The Secret Handshake posting on Twitter “Done with the past. Proud of what I accomplished but ready to move on.” Moving to Los Angeles for a fresh start, Dubuc reinvented himself as Mystery Skulls after an episode from the popular Nickelodeon shows Are You Afraid of the Dark? and released his self-titled EP that December. The 4-song album offers a refined formula of his indie synth-pop soundscape juxtaposed with his soul-influenced vocal stylings. “Mystery Skulls is something people haven’t really heard before. I like to say it’s what would sound like if Prince was in the movie Blade Runner,” explains Dubuc. “It’s aggressive and sweet at the same time.”
Since then, Mystery Skulls has been making his rounds across Los Angeles with his ability to insert life into any venue he performs at, opening for Flume at a sold out show at The Echo, acquiring a coveted residency at Bootleg Theatre, winning over the discerning crowd at Bardot’s “School Night” and playing with Chromeo, Avicii, Yeasayer and Chic on select dates. After seeing the one-man-dance-party bring the house down at Los Angeles’ Brokechella Festival, the smitten staff at Warner Bros. Records’ A&R department signed Dubuc in June of 2013. Dubuc has since then had standout performances at FILTER’s “Culture Collide,” CMJ 2013 in New York, Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, and Miami’s Art Basel.
Dubuc is currently working on his debut album which will be a hybrid of dance music with soul vocals as evidenced by his first single “Ghost.” The album will even feature a collaboration with another childhood-hero Nile Rodgers who recently contributed three tracks to Daft Punk’s recent LP, winning a “Best Pop Duo/Group Performance” Grammy for their hit “Get Lucky.”
On how feels about how his upcoming official debut fits into a world divided between DJ’s and bands, he explains, “I don’t know that I could even genrefy it now. My music is electronic and definitely dance, but it’s kind of funky and disco-y. I’m not sure how I fit in yet because I don’t think there’s an exact blueprint, but I’m actively working on it and excited because it doesn’t really exist. Sometimes I show up at a dance club and start singing and people fucking love it and other times I’ll show up at a dance club and I’ll clear the floor. So it’s really tricky. I’ve had both things happen and it’s interesting, it’s a real challenge but I’m proud of it.”