Monday, 12 January 2009
Not to be confused with EL-B or Hyperdub label mate LV, Leon Day aka LD is very much his own man, with very much his own sound. Ever since the scattering Swing Dat Skirt really made heads sit up and listen, Leon has been diligently developing his production skills, most impressively in between a full time job at dubstep’s revered mastering studio Transition Mastering. And it takes a certain caliber of person to keep their head when their debut dubstep gig is not only at the mother of all dubstep nights, DMZ, but also on their 2nd birthday party (March 2007), “I had to pull myself together and be like, ‘right this is my chance, I can’t miss it’”, he says. “I saw the line up and it made it worse”. Playing alongside Kode 9, Skream, Hatcha, Benga and Plastician, LD showed little fear, opening with one of the most insane mixes of the night, still talked about in dubstep circles now - the intro of Benga and Walsh’s Panic Room was building to the drop and at that exact moment LD switches the mix into Flames by Benga as it reaches its first drop. The place erupted, and the rest is history. Now with well received releases on established labels such as Dub Police, Subway and 2nd Drop, a killer remix of the funky house classic Do You Mind by Kyla, and imminent releases on Ringo and the seminal Hyperdub, the 24-year-old Peckham lad is all set up to make 2009 his year. Mark Gurney managed to pin him down to get his views on his unique sound, high profile collaborations and how Transition is his dream job.
You have a wide palate of sounds in your music. Agile, percussive, even tribal I can here many influences oozing from your productions. You have one of the most rhythmical styles out there, do you feel you are carving out your own sound?
I love rhythmical patterns and organic sounds (wood's, birds, rain, etc), I love music with emotion, soul and swing especially when it is more up tempo - I wouldn't say that I'm carving out my own sound, I'm simply sharing my vision of how I think Dubstep should be and hopefully people like my view on the music too.
It's been great to hear your full range from the future soca dub of your remix of Sully's Give Me Up on 2nd Drop Records, to the monster technoid raspings of Bad coming soon on Hyperdub, you seem to move between light and dark with ease. How is this translating on the dancefloor?
I have a simplistic view when I make music. I just go into the studio and what ever comes out comes out. On a day when I am happy I will write a bubbly song, however, on a day when I am angry I would write a darker aggressive song. With the variation of feelings in my music it enables me to take people on a journey when I am DJing. I play a lot of my tracks along with other producers in the scene, I have had a lot of good feedback from my DJ sets so I guess the movement between dark and light is working well.
The collaborations with Benga, Kode9 and Cluekid are all great in the way your personality still shines through, and it sounds more like you have the dominant sound which is quite something considering the partners. Can we get an insight into the collaborative process? Are they all very different?
I really enjoy collaborating. So far the tracks I have done which are collabs have been going down well. All of the other producers have been open minded and easy to work with. There is a good energy when we work together and the second opinion from someone who is as passionate about sound adds another dimension to the music. I think my suggestions have been relevant whilst making these tracks, which is why my personality comes through.
Benga has a vast knowledge of production and is very talented in his ability to make his music sound 3D (Big, wide etc). Benga is definitely the most creative and inventive producer I have worked with. I feel my collab with Benga is techno based but with a hint of rawness in it.
Clue Kid has early jungle influences in his sound, which I was heavily into in the 90's and early 2000's - so I was interested in what we could do. His sound is quite different to mine; he has a raw/darker element to his production - the fusion of dark and light worked as if it was ying and yang. Clue brought a new dimension to my rhythmic style with a unique ability to reprogram jungle brakes so that they sound authentic at a slower tempo. He would then add additional hits in key places to change the groove of the jungle brake. He also has a different technique for creating bass sounds, he is very good at creating them from scratch using sine and square waves with a bit of compression and distortion to add some grit to the sound.
Kode 9 is an old school producer; he has some analog outboard equipment (which is right up my street) that sound incredible. The synth sound in Bad is an example of quality analog gear sounding at its best, for me that is what makes the track "bad". He, like myself, pays a lot of attention to detail, which is something that I admire. I was continuously impressed with his input in the tracks we made. He sometimes had different ideas to me but we were heading in the same direction, which is why I feel this track worked.
Even though dubplate culture is still strong, do you see digital and CD taking over in the future?
The only way that I can see digital mediums over taking analog is if digital technology can create an analog sound or if producers/Dj's no longer want an analog sound. I have recently done an article for Martin Clark that has a lot more detail on this matter.
Have you been able to find more time to produce or is mastering still taking precedence?
At the moment I have one day a week to produce so I make sure I use my time wisely. This suits me because I am naturally lazy so it insures that I use my time effectively not playing PES 2008 all day on my day off.
How did you managed to hook up the excellent remix of Kyla's Do You Mind, a massive funky house record that has been banging that scene for the past year?
I have known Paleface and Flukes for a long time. They were asking some people to do remixes of it for a remix release on Northern Line records, Paleface asked me to do one so I did. I was not sure how a full singing vocal dubstep track would go down but it seems to be going well. I am glad it’s doing well because I think Kyla has a good voice and this track is due out before the new year.
And your remix of Skream's 0800 dub has been tearing the arse out of every sound system it graces. You just nailed the vibe right there, bringing a classic right into the now. How did that come about?
Skream came down to cut some dubs a while back and I asked him to give me some parts to one of his tracks and he gave me that one.
With the release of more LD music, comes more gigs and DJ dates. How are you finding the crowds outside of London? Is there more demand for your time?
There is a much better atmosphere in clubs outside of London excluding a few. One of my best gigs lately was in Bristol (Monster Bass @ the Black Swan). People really enjoyed themselves and the feedback from the crowd made me play even better. There are a lot of international gigs that I have played at that have a similar appreciation for the music. Hopefully the momentum of dubstep continues.
How has your time at Transition helped develop/ influence your sound?
Working at transition is a dream job for me. I get to hear a lot of different music which all influences me in different ways. My boss Jason Goz has I high standard when handling music - this high standard has rubbed off on me in many different ways. Transition has also given me a critical ear, so things that are not so important are now very important e.g. insuring there is audio balance in the track (not to much of any frequency), insuring attack and release times of drums and synths are tight or loose depending on the objective, fine tuning sounds for desired feel etc. There is also a lot of friendly competition, as it is the place where most dubstep people cut their records. This means that when Skream for example makes a new tune, which I think is sick, I try to make a tune that can compete.
Myspace - www.myspace.com/transitionld