Lay-Far - Interview
1) what get’s you up in the morning?
It’s me myself and the desire to get the things going.
2)… and your ideal breakfast?
A bowl of nice cornflakes with milk, a couple of toasts with marmalade or nutella and a cup of fresh black tea.
3) It’s clear you have an influence of the US within’ your production. Great mo-town samples for example. What is it that’s drawn you to these sources?
Yeah. The sound of Detroit has influenced me a lot. I love the way it’s soulful without being too cheesy - it has that bitter-sweet feel, which can also be found in Russian folk songs and music heritage. Also the fact that most of us Russians live in quite heavily industrialized surroundings makes it natural for us to feel that vibe.
4)… and being Russian, does this pose any problems?
Well, I guess the fact that we are a bit far away from the main creative melting pots makes us somehow more enthusiastic and independent (for some it doesn’t, but that’s my point). We have our own thing going ) At the same time the visa regime and political peculiarities do not really take away from the integration in the worldwide music industry. At least that’s how I feel - a part of the worldwide music family…. In the end we speak the one and only clear language - the language of music!
5) Can tell us a little (without giving too much away) about your sampling technique? What records/sounds do you look for when sampling?
First of all - I try avoiding played out samples and most obvious sources. It’s always exciting to discover something lesser known but fresh - not just for samples, but for the sake of music itself. Many times when on a sampling quest I actually ended up enlarging my music repertoir. It’s neverending journey - the more you discover the more you want something extra. It’s very humbling experience at the same time, cause many times you have this situation - you’re there thinking you’re probably the only one coming across this dope forgotten record and 5 minutes later, skipping through the tracks you recognise a sample or two from some favourite tune of yours, and you like… - damn, these cats knew what they were doing! So you kinda feel several steps behind - it’s very inspiring!
At a certain stage I decided to incorporate all those self re-discovered samples in a mix series, called “Back to the source”. I have 2 volumes ready by now and available at my mixcloud and the 3rd one recorded specially for Two Hungry Ghosts blog, which hopefully will be up soon!
6) Your first LP is out soon. Has making an album allowed your more scope to experiment, than an EP otherwise would have? Or does it not matter?
With the LP it’s a different approach for sure. Rather than a selection of tracks in a certain vein - it’s more of a story - a personal one. So I wanted my album to have a narrative - from the first track till the last one - like in a good DJ-set.
7) Can you tell us a bit about the narrative in ‘So Many Ways’?
The album is about the freedom we have in life. So many ways to express oneself, paths to choose, situations to take part in, life scenarios to witness…
When thinking of the name for the album I realised that it was the result of a certain set of circumstances, taken chances, lost opportunities, plans and accidents. I’m happy I had a chance to meet and work with so many wonderful people and kindred spirits in this particular period of life, which brought collaborations for the album: Dan Butler aka Dragon, Sarah Winton, Adam Cook from Souled aka Tommy Rawson, Pete Simpson, Peter Oakden, Vicky Flint, Yannah Valdevit, also Vova K-feer, the great artist behind the artwork. If the circumstances were different, timing was different there would be no tracks and hence no album - at least the one we have right now ) I’m glad the album shaped like that in the end.
8) So often these days music production can lead to prolonged periods of solitude, yet you clearly have a passion for collaboration. Is this a preferred method of working? or just a happy accident?
I think the music itself is a means of interaction between people - even if you write it on your own - you send out the signals to be received by the world. So I think music collaboration is a very natural and organic thing - moreover it’s exciting to step out of the box and work in a “new environment” - the results are usually pretty much unexpected. When you get the synergy - it’s really incredible!
In general I love both methods - some music pieces are best developed on your own, others - with your friends, who have talents you don’t have, like a good voice, for example!
9) How do you prefer to produce, do you have a specific idea which you then thrive create? Or is production a more improvised, loose journey?
When starting a tune I usually don’t know where it’s gonna go in the end - I usually go with the flow, developing elements which feel natural and organic together. Starting with a main groove and then working on the rhythm section to get the things swinging. On a certain stage I get the direction - more or less clear picture for the structure / concept of the tune (that when I usually get the name for the track as well) and I try to develop it correspondingly.
For example on “That Dream” I was experimenting with sound and structure - I wanted to make a “proper” banger but with odd time signature and eery melodic elements to create a feeling of a strange surrealistic dream. When starting, I came across the book of M.C. Escher’s works. So I ended up drawing visual inpiration from his “Relativity”, “Ascending and Descending” and “Cycle”. Eventually I came up with that 5/4 loop for “chorus”, supplemented with field recordings, “the sounds of ghosts” sampled from an old library record, a dissonant acid string (reminiscent of “Hey Boy, Hey Girl”, by Chemical Brothers), courtesy of Moog Prodigy, etc. Actually in the second part the stab and bass notes are played exactly in reverse, creating a mirrored progression, sounding tottaly different but with the same melodic and rhytmic elements on top. So you get the feeling of running pretty much nowhere, like on the impossible staircase - “You keep on running, and running, and running…”
10) … And finally Alex, in an ideal world, where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
Just keeping on doing my thing! You don’t need a perfect world for that…
Lay-Far’s debut LP, ‘So Many Ways’ is out on the 30th of October, and is already garnering support from the likes of Osunlade, Mad Mats, Kuniyuki Takahashi, Rainer Truby, Simbad, Volcov, Kev Beadle, Roberto Rodriguez, Tyler Askew, Mark De Clive-Lowe, Ronnie Herel, Red Rack’Em…. amongst others.
Have a listen to the snippets on Juno now