Christmas is fast approaching, and if you are hoping for a 12 inch square present that isn’t a box of Celebrations, then the debut album ‘Content’ from LSB on Vinyl could be the one for you. Essex born Luke (LSB) has made a firm mark in the DnB world with his rolling liquid style and beautifully crafted production; with his first release back in 2009 and an expanding repertoire of tracks, this has been one album I’ve been truly excited for. I wasn’t disappointed. ‘Content’ is an 11 track masterpiece of pure liquid perfection, a roller coaster of emotions without leaving your seat. LSB has said his Production style aims to enhance the sound of the tracks when listening through headphones; I listened on my way to work this morning and got so involved that I looked up and realised I had missed my train; Worth it. Buy the album, see for yourself and do not listen while operating heavy machinery.
With the eagerly anticipated release this Friday I caught up with the man himself, to discuss this absolute beauty of an album. The name of the album ‘Content’ is a double entrendre, perhaps you were just very content with the content? Where and when did the name come from, before or after the completion?
I had the name pretty early on actually. I like the fact it’s a double entrendre, a bit of ambiguity around music really appeals to me. I think people should be free to interpret music as they see fit. To me though, it’s Content, as in “the things that are held or included in something” It’s actually a bit ironic in that sense, i felt that in the digital age music has become less art and more content be it for websites, events, tv shows etc etc. Early on i’d decided it was going to be all DnB and all what i’d associate with traditional DnB, i.e. 6 minute plus tracks, varied arrangements and progressions that try and reward patient listeners.
In the press release for the album you promised a pure DnB album without ‘any weak attempts to cross over, no token house or techno tracks to try and appeal to a broader audience’ with this in mind do you feel a producer’s integrity can be weakened when experimenting across genres?
No not at all, certainly not for all producers, but for me it would have felt that way. I’ve been making DnB for over a decade and all the experiences I’ve learnt and influences i have sit well within that context. So for me, anything else might have been a compromise. However it was more that i just wanted to write an album for the people who have supported me, stay true to them and true to myself and the scene.
The first track ‘Lydian’ has a beautiful ‘London grammar’ style haunting vocal from a vocalist i’m unfamiliar with; It seems many tracks these days feature a vocal from an unknown source, friends, family, the local milkman.. where did you stumble across Millie Watson?
Well she is the girlfriend of Dain Stuart (Capture My Heart) he practiced at my friends rehearsal space and was a folk singer, so I booked an evening in the studio with him and it turned out Millie can sing too. She has a great tone and texture, especially since she is 17. They are a talented couple and i’m sure we’ll hear much more from them both.
The album has orchestral undertones with the use of Harps and strings that seem to bind the tracks together as an album; I often get the feeling when listening to your music that you prefer the ‘real’ sound, not one for sampling the sound of your kitchen appliances; do you feel some producer’s have become too experimental with sampling?
I don’t think you can be too experimental, however for me personally i love organic textures made by instruments. I like my music not to sound obviously like computer music, i try and imagine a band playing i. Albeit a pretty progressive band, maybe some jazz fusion number or something. i think my experimentation will revolve around processing, i.e. reverbs, delays, filters all trying to create a backdrop on which you can add a melody and a groove and try and create something cohesive and interesting.
You created such a perfect pairing with DRS and Tyler Daley on ‘The view’ and the track ‘Missing you’ really highlights this once again, how does it feel to have created a DnB pie and mash, and how did the original collaboration come together?
To be honest you could put any producers with DRS and Tyler and expect to come up with something good. They are so talented and both have a keen ear for melody and lyrics. I think The View was a real slow burner, it was made years ago and it’s popularity wasn’t instant, it took time, Sun and Bass helped the tune, it was something the real headz got behind and maybe played to a mate. I never feel that I made a smash, but we all are really happy that we’ve made a tune that seems to have impacted some people positivity, ultimate that’s the reasons we do it. It came together because Marcus passed Del some of my tracks to Del to produce his new album, Marcus being Marcus couldn’t remember what he’d sent, and when it came back with a vocal, i was really surprised as i didn’t even know i’d sent Marcus the instrumental, it was something that had sat on my computer for a while. I actually made it the same week I’d made ‘Leave’ and discounted it as it was nice, but lacking something. Del and Tyler provided that something and the rest is history!
You have been releasing tunes for over 9 years, and like all producers have had some tracks that are particularly successful, do you ever find yourself subconsciously recreating similar sounds? How do you mix things up and keep that sound fresh?
A bit of both, it took years to get a consistent drum sound that worked in clubs but also providing the room for the music. You can hear that style of drum sound in Leave, The View, The Optimist and I need Love. However i do try and keep things mixed up, theres a few tracks on the album that are me developing my sound, a couple like Blinding, Losing you, Lydian, Pandora & Circle which i think sound pretty unique, but hopefully still retain something that means they sound like me. I also took a decision not to worry about ‘loud’ and worry about something that sounding pleasant enough to work on the floor but also in the headphones. That was important to me For my next work i’m going to switch it up, change the style a little bit, keep it fresh.
The track ‘Pandora’ featuring Sense MC is my favourite of the album, the melodic backdrop with the gritty poetry from Sense creates such effortless drama; It’s great to see his lyrical talent showcased and a real shame not to see him on the line-up for the launch party, can we expect to see him alongside you at any future events?
Yeah I hope so, the London launch thing and future residency at Pickle Factory is tough logistically, it’s a tiny venue (200 cap) and obviously that reflect budgets. I really rate Sense so will be pushing for him in the future. I was dead chuffed with the work he put in on album track, he really got the principle behind the album and smashed it off the back of it
I understand you have a past working in Finance? I read a study that suggested those working in Finance tend to have dark personality traits such as: ‘Skepticism’, ‘Cautiousness’ and ‘Diligence’ (sounds like a line up). Do you feel you possess these traits? If so have they transferred positively or negatively into your production?
Hah, it does sound like a line up. Anyway it’s not strictly true, i am qualified as an accountant and an economics graduate, however i work for an IT firm and have done for about a decade through a transition period and it’s been pretty fun. (shout out to Six Degrees Group) I actually just do some analysis and help with some reports a few days a week and surrounded by really lovely people. So i’d say I’m much more optimistic about it.
The day you completed the album and decided it was ready for release were you entirely confident in it? Or are you still awaiting the approval of those you respect following the release date on Friday?
Not entirely confident in it, i did my normal thing where I prang about the final version, is the mix right? maybe i prefer the earlier version with more music etc. I’ve never been that confident in my music, but i am getting a bit more comfortable with it. I think I’ve done myself justice with the album, I achieved a few things i set out to do. There’s still elements where i listen and wish i’d executed some things a bit better, but when i think about it objectivity some of my favourite music is flawed and it adds to the charm. I’ve had some positive feedback from some people i respect and that’s been great, but I’m mainly waiting to hear what my fans think. I don’t think I’ve got a huge fan- base or anything, but i have a tremendously loyal and passionate set of fans and I hope they enjoy it.
I can’t wait for the album launch party at the Pickle Factory on the 26th of November; although I can’t help but think the best home for the party would have been Fabric? With the fight to save the club well underway and over £300,000 raised for the cause, do you believe there is hope to see the club re-opened in the future?
I think it’s about more than Fabric now. Fabric need to take a stand on behalf of the clubbing community of London. London was once one of the nightlife capitals of the world, now it’s been taken over by property moguls sterilising the culture in order to build some flats to sell to foreign investors. It’s tragic. I hope it that matter that maybe Fabric can gain some traction against Islington. I think Fabric as it stands is fighting a losing battle, even if they win an appeal they’ll be treading a fine line forever and that’s not far for such a professional run club. However if they can unlock the agenda and maybe find themselves a new spot then it could be positive. Maybe it will ease the pressure off the London clubs completely.
On a final note, I think it’s safe to say the Drum&BassArena awards have lost their integrity over the past few years, but with the nominees released this week I have to ask; if any DJ was to knock king Andy of his spot as ‘Best DJ’ who would it be?
I’m not sure the awards themselves have lost their integrity, i think artists, labels etc who farm votes and undermine the system have lost their integrity. I don’t blame DnB Arena for that myself. I think it’s fun and a great chance for the scene to get together. That being said i voted for myself as best producer (lol) only the one vote mind (how it should be) i see it as like a general election, you still got to cast your own vote! voted for Marcus as best DJ, as he is the most interesting and varied selector of underground DnB. I can’t see anyone knocking Andy of his spot, I think in terms of his technical ability and pure hard work he is out in front, even if it’s not always the music I wanna hear, I’d happily see him win it again.
Thanks for the insight Luke, can’t wait to see what the rest of the year has in store for you. Now I need to get straight over to buy a ticket for the launch party because it sounds like it’s a pretty exclusive affair; hope to see some of you lot there!