This month we catch up with house veteran's Layo & Bushwacka for this exclusive interview with Trackitdown also coinciding with the release of their recently released & highly aclaimed album 'Rising & Falling'.
Covering early acid house experiences, infamous The End nightclub, studio advice, fresh talent and their recent clubland experiences, this is an essential & insightful read from two legendary & very influential stalwarts of our time...
Thanks very much for taking time out to speak to us! Can you tell the readers where you are in the world today and what you’ve been up to over the last 7 days?
Layo - Hi, I'm in London, at home. 7 days ago, we were playing at ADE at the Intec party with Carl cox and after that we travelled to the Roxy in Prague where we played their 20th Anniversary celebrations. After that it was back to London where there was a fair bit to do as our new (and final) album, "Rising and Falling" was released on October 22nd. In between, of course normal life was resumed, at home with my wife, friends, family, football!
You guys have been on the scene since the 1988 acid house explosion. What were your earliest experiences of UK rave culture and what did young clubbers do before house music and ecstasy ‘happened’!?
M - wow - big question. Well I can tell you this - before the 1988 acid house explosion youngsters were going to pubs, and discos, getting drunk, and having fights, and I hated it - I never connected with the pub vibe - but when I went to a warehouse party in an empty swimming pool in Merlin St, North London in August 1988 my life changed forever, and I knew what I wanted to do. Everything changed. People that I had seen a year earlier mugging people outside train stations were hugging each other...everyone smiling - Summer of Love indeed.
We cut our raving teeth at The End nightclub that was owned by Layo and his family and you are the first Guest Reviewer we’ve interviewed who has owned their own very successful venue! Can you tell our young readers what the three most important factors are to consider when running a venue of your own? Also do you think you’ll ever open another venue again?
Layo - I think that question would differ for other operators but for us, it was integrity, passion and professionalism. Most people operate purely for profit which is obviously necessary for running a successful business but I believe that running something well with innovation and care will lead to profit but beyond that, to something special, which we had at The End. I don't believe I will operate a club again in the same way, it was particular period of my life and career.
Obviously keeping a venue running successfully for over 10 years must have had its challenges. Can you give us an idea of the sort of things that go on behind the scenes that can affect this success?
Layo - There is so much. Looking after the public which can mean thousands of people a week is a huge responsibility and looking after them well is paramount. Keeping a team of employees motivated is also hugely important. The ability to spot and nurture talent ahead of competitors is a massive factor and our role call was enormous: Roni Size, Fatboy Slim, Layo & Bushwacka, Erol Alkan, Andy C, to name a few and varied.
There is also a great deal of care in running the venue which most people don't realise but goes a long way to making a night smooth from the way the bars are run, glasses are cleared, toilets are cleaned and looked after and the sound and lights operated.
And the other things is it never ends, however good the last week was, the new one begins and must be the same, if not better.
Back to the music! Your new album ‘Rising & Falling’ on Olmeto records has just hit the shelves here at Trackitdown and features 16 fresh tracks! Did you have any specific goals to achieve with this project and what can people expect musically when they sit down to listen in full?
M - This album is our most electronic album to date, and the best representation of where we are at musically and as live DJs - our previous albums have been much more mixed in styles and this album is predominantly 4 to the floor based...its not all Dance - but its much more techno in its sounds, and house in its roots..we wanted to achieve this by writing an album that could be enjoyed as much at home as we enjoy playing the tracks out in our sets - not easy - personally we would't listen to an album of just house music tunes at home normally. I think Rising and Falling gets the blend of chilled vibe and dance without being chill out if you know what I mean!
Do you both work on the buttons in the studio or do you have distinct roles other than engineering?
Layo - Matt is very much the engineer and programmer and he is amazing. He is also a trained percussionist so has a great feel for rhythm. Sample research, track ideas, lyrics and string composition were more my department and fine tuning on tracks, the constant craft needed to reach the required yardstick was a joint process. We worked very well in the studio as we brought different elements and both shared the love of good music, be it film scores or 70's experimental rock!
Can you give us a quick list of the essential software and hardware that you found yourselves using a lot on this album?
M - This album was mixed almost exclusively in the box - vocals were recorded at other studios by the singers to our backing tracks, and bounced back to me at the studio to manipulate and mix.
Logic is the software of choice. A couple of things were bounced into Ableton for some different processing on certain parts, then bounced back.
I sold the Pro Tools HD rig as I was just using it as a stereo mix in recent years and didn't need the additional ins and outs...and the power on my G5 tower Mac with Logic and all the plug ins was more than enough.
We have tons of plug ins...but the main thing with the production on this album was space, depth and warmth - it took a lot of time to achieve.
Matthew, with over 25 years of hardcore studio experience under your belt, would you mind sharing a secret tip or trick that might help any budding producers reading this interview?
M - Yes - sure. Dynamics are so important. So much music sounds flat and squashed these days in the digital domain.
I was lucky to have been classically trained before I started making electronic music so I spent a lot of time concentrating on counting bars, and crescendos, and timing as I was a percussionist.
Try not to have too much going on at once - its the gaps in between the sounds that are as important as the sounds themselves. And don't be afraid to go left field with your ideas... and use sounds intended for one style of music to make another style...think out of the box.
Warehouse parties seem to have been a theme over your 25 years in the scene as you still throw your own Shake It events. What are the 3 most important things you need to consider when you think you’ve found a space worth rocking and have you ever found yourselves under the eye of the law when holding an all-nighter?
Layo - I've had a gun pulled on me when people tried to rob me back in 1993, I've had the police raid a party. So, felt both ends of the spectrum. But 3 things : a venue needs to feel warm and not clinical. You need a license, good security (I mean people not thugs!), and all the usual elements: a fantastic sound system, good lighting, bars and a social area.
Finally, 2012 has been the age of the superstar DJ. What’s the most rock n roll thing Layo & Bushwacka have done over the years (that’s legal to print!)?
We named Love Story after an after hours club in Sao Paulo where all the hookers go to party as well as models, film stars, drug dealers and so on. The year after the track became a world wide hit, we went back, the owner was so happy, he ordered a table to be put out in the middle of the club, with bottles of champagne and the best girls, where we sat with all our friends and the DJ on the mic constantly introducing us to cheers, wasn't a bad night...
Sadly that is all we had time for a big thank you to the guys for taking the time out to speak to us.
Rising & Falling - Layo & Buschwacka - The Album - OUT NOW!
Layo & Bushwacka! Track recommendations:
What can I say - Guti IS the party - his production is wonderful, his vibe is so energetic, and I am a huge fan of the latin culture anyway, but the way Guti blends this into great house and techno releases is so cool. This track is the perfect reflection of this.
Hector has been releasing a steady stream of music for the last few years and has really developed his own sound and style...Hector played for me at my birthday party in Ibiza this summer and ROCKED the place. He is doing really well and his productions are quality. I love the stuff he has done here on Tsuba
Subb-an is on my hit list of people to book for our night in London next year - he blew me away at the Rebel Rave in Sonar this year when we played together....this Burnski remix is so summery, and old school, but fresh. Love it. Subb-an is making bad ass music....he is a regeneration of the original acid house generation lol
Enzo Siragusa has created something great in London and further afield - Germany and Fuse in Ibiza was musically on the ball for me this year. Watch out for Enzo's productions - there is low bass in there that HAS to be played on a good system to understand the vibe...it rocks.
The other highlight for me this Summer was hearing these guys at DC10 in ibiza.....pure filth - drum machine led tracks that sounded so fat. These guys are cleaning up and doing a fantastic job. They really get into the zone. Hats off.
I bought this back in January and knew it was special from the off but sometimes not till you play a track out do you realise its power. This fills the space and changes the whole mood where you are playing. I saw a clip of Lee Burridge playing this at Burning Man and thought, yeah, perfect. It's hard to make music that stands out these days and this does, way high.
This is another very great track. Luciano has been so influential with his style of playing and label. The percussion is light but intense driving the track on and a fantastic melody, again I bought this at the start of the year and am still playing it. We asked Uner to remix one of the singles from the album, definitely a producer to watch.
We played for DJ 3 in Tampa two years ago, and he was telling me about Harvey's re-emergence after the self imposed US exile. And this year he has been back... great great DJ and love his productions, kind of drugged up spacey rocky disco house. I guess this is named after the club but not sure about Locussolus! It's an early twentieth century novel about strangeness...whatever the track is great and love playing it for changing the mood.
Was so tempted too put in Guy's remix of us but I think it bad taste to big up anything I'm involved in, so here is another fine example of the magic of Guy Gerber. He has such a brilliant production technique, the fluidity of the vocals, pads and rhythm, it's so natural in the track. And his sound, like all the best producers, is unique.
Butch is another producer whose productions are always very strong and also very playable. This comes on a 4 track EP from Cecille, a label consistently putting out wonderful deep house. Not much to add on this one!