A chat with…Laksa

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Laksa is a young talent operating in the endlessly interesting UK techno scene. Like his counterparts Bruce, Joe and co, he is always breaking moulds with his productions, both within banging club music but also beyond it into esoteric ambient and more. A few days ago, he played for No Way Back at Wire, who are attempting to fill the void of UK techno and bass in Leeds – even though a lot of it was pioneered in the city. Maybe what is causing this deficiency is the genre’s futurism and abstraction from the norm. We spoke to the Timedance and Ilian Tape artist to see what he thought about this and a bunch of other stuff.

 

Have you played or been out in Leeds before? What’s your (pre)conception of the city?

Yeah played there a few years back which was fun. Went back to an after party and it really hit home some of the differences between studying/partying in London compared to Leeds. Find it quite rare in London that you’d be able to blast out music to the early hours in a residential area. From going there and having a mate at uni who studied in Leeds, people generally seem up for a party which is always good to hear.

Music wise, you had the Hessle guys/Midland pushing the uk music scene when they were living there and I get the sense now there’s been a bit of a void, which hasn’t really been filled. Whether that’s actually the case I don’t know, but I’ll be interested to ask when I go.

 

 

The About section of your Facebook reads “UK Techno Hybrid Bad Bois”. I was thinking the other day about how lucky we are to have so many fantastic, UK-born genres. Would you say that your style of techno, which is being pushed by labels such as Timedance, can be classed amongst them? Does the genre have a proper name or identity yet?

Personally I wouldn’t class it amongst some of the key genres such as dubstep, grime and jungle. The sounds and styles are too fractured and diverse to have any defining features (in terms of tempo, rhythmic patterns etc) and then there’s probably too many similarities to other defined genres, such as techno, uk funky etc. I think the identity of this sound/style comes from its lack of shared identity, but you can’t really give an umbrella term for something like that. As a bit of a joke I just call them UK bass bobblers at the moment. Works for me but not sure if that’s a serious enough name for the ‘heads’ though…..

 

You have released twice on Beneath’s label Mistry. I’ve heard really good things about his party in London. Could you tell me more about that? And what he’s like as a label manager?

Yeah the parties are well fun. Just did one at a warehouse which was great. You’re pretty much guaranteed to hear good music and DJs playing tunes you unfortunately don’t get to hear out a lot. And the bean Beneath as a managerial figure? I think we’d both agree things are far too informal to consider him my label manager (maybe he’s reading this on his office desk, suited and booted shaking his head). But yeah, importantly, always a pleasure to work with.

 

 

Much of your music isn’t made for the club, but errs on the ambient, reflective side. How important is this kind of music to you in your daily life? What are your listening habits like?

Yeah my relationship with listening to music isn’t the best at the moment to be honest. It’s all become a bit too functional. Unfortunately, every album becomes an opportunity to find a curveball tune or an analytical process for whether it could work in a mix/dj set. My curiosity for music is a bit too pre-determined now which kind of fucks with your listening habits and, importantly, the pleasure of just enjoying something in its own bubble. I’m trying to just pop on the radio or an album when I cook etc just to try and re-establish some old habits. I also think my listening habits are reflective of the lack of time I have for music, which I imagine a lot of people can relate to.

 

There’s a certain quality to your sound that I might describe as dusty, atmospheric, and industrial. In many ways, your sound seems to reflect the environs of the city. Would you say this was a fair judgement?

Yeah I certainly wouldn’t disagree with those descriptors but, with regards to my sound reflecting the city, I’m not so sure it’s as simple as that. Firstly, whilst I think your environment obviously impacts on your music making processes/influences, sometimes it’s just random what I make. Secondly, where there may be more obvious city traits reflected in my sound, I’d say it’s more a reflection of my relationship with the city. I don’t think it’s ever the case of a static individual/society and static environment (city), they’re interconnected. The relationship between the two always changes and, depending on how that relationships going (fb status is currently “it’s complicated” and i’d guess this is the case for many people living in London), I think that’s the dynamic where certain city experiences come out in the music. Sometimes I hate London, what it can represent, and how it makes me feel. When I made tracks like camo, 66 rebels, hallyah and rest with my blues, that was a period where I didn’t really want to live in London. I think certain aspects and experiences of city life definitely bled into those tracks but, as I’ve said, I don’t think it’s a case of cause and effect, and sometimes it’s just random.

 

 

Your song titles suggest a concealed backstory. Would you care to let us in on what ‘Camo Trousers’ or ‘Like it’s 99’ are inspired by?

Nope…sorry, no real backstory to this. Only thing I can say for camo is the snares had a kind of military roll vibe to them so I thought it was a funny name.

 

You say you are at uni. Where do you study and what do you do? Reading anything interesting at the moment?

Yeah doing a social work masters right now, which you may have been able to tell from me blabbing on about relationships. Theory wise this is the book that’s been floating my boat: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inventing_the_Future:_Postcapitalism_and_a_World_Without_Work For

Anyone who may be turned off by a book with post-capitalism in the title (isn’t very sexy reading I must admit) – if you find yourself frustrated at the lack of time/energy you have for passions outside of work, and/or stuck in a job you don’t particularly care for, then this book may speak to you. I’d guess the 2 things I just mentioned are quite common these days and this book invites you to imagine outside that 9-5 grind. This theorist is on a similar tip so here’s a video which may be more accessible: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpoJIkqEXYo

 

What do your DJ sets sound like at the moment?

Like my productions, it’s a mish mash of different influences . I’m also trying to play with tempo changes at the moment as well. I don’t really play my own tunes and I like cutting…a lot.

 

Oliver Walkden

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