Upon the release of his long-awaited debut album, London's eclectic producer talks to us about embracing all tempos and genres
“We knew one day the dreams would come true, so we begged for longer days and shorter nights. Vague flashes that trickle over the galaxies for eons, rapid eye movements lace the memories with neon.” In the 1980s, Sigue Sigue Sputnik created a record that envisaged how the world’s greatest band would alter the future by revisiting the past. That band was called L-Vis 1990.
'Neon Dreams' is the debut album of L-Vis 1990. Inspired by the early days of Chicago and Detroit house it’s a dance music album but one that works at different tempos and different styles. A nostalgia evoking selection of rhythms that take you from the hard knock life of an inner city to the good life where you know, you want to go. The opening monologue sung by Corey Black is about setting up a narrative to the album. To bring people into the space of the album and set them on their journey into a world where House Music embraces all styles of music and people. From LA to New York, From London to Paris, and right into your Neon Dreams...
Dazed Digital: could you tell us more about the narrative behind the album?
L-Vis-1990: Narrative is so important within everything I create, I want to tell a story and take people to a different place and time. Neon Dreams loosely tells the story of my love and life over the last year through the voices of Javeon and Sam. For each of the tracks I asked the vocalist to write about a certain point or feeling but not to go into too much detail, so it could be more open to interpretation by the listener. Neon Dreams is the exciting journey into the unknown.
DD: what production kit went into getting the original house sound? Do you need analogue equipment these days?
L-Vis-1990: The whole album was recorded using the original drum machines and synthesisers producers would have used in the formative years of House music. It was so important for me to write like this, you cannot match the energy and excitement of using the real thing. More often than not I wouldn’t use midi, just played the synths and drum machines live to give the record a more human feel. The key synthesisers I used were the Roland Jupiter 8, Juno 106, Moog Voyager, Korg Ms20 and Poly 800, and Yamaha DX7. I also used the Roland tr707 and 505 drum machines on each of the tracks.
DD: The first half of the album has that darker bass vibe but then it seems you’re going for a much more poppy uplifting vibe?
L-Vis-1990: To be honest I don’t think that statement is correct. Here With you, True Romance and Neon Dreams are the most bass heavy tracks on the album and they are track 11, 13 and 15 respectively. Bass is prominent throughout and is still the key element to all my music. I think most of the tracks on the album have a dark edge to them through the bass yet they also have an uplifting vibe though the major chords, neon synths and arpeggios, this is something I consciously wanted to achieve. What I felt from Detroit House and Techno was that "it’s a hard world out there but there is hope".
DD: ‘Shy Light’ feels very Daft Punk but isn’t using autotune pretty cheesy?
L-Vis-1990: Shy Light is more a reference to Farley "Jackmaster" Funk than anything else, but of course I was working with two Parisians, Para One and Teki Latex so the chords do have that French touch! It was autotune used on this track, a tool used buy Pop producers these days to make terrible vocalists socially acceptable. But we thought we would give it a go and turn Teki Latex (formally of my favourite French rap group TTC), into emotional robot Disco House vocalist! We weren’t taking ourselves too seriously with this track, but what’s dance music without fun?
DD: What made you want Julio Bashmore to work with you on this album?
L-Vis-1990: I've been a great supporter of Julio Bashmore from day one so it felt right to work on a track together. We’d done a few bits together in the past that haven't seen the light of day but I wanted to bring him into my world for the album. For all of the collaborations on Neon dreams I set the parameters and theme so the vibe fitted with the album, we had to use only the 707 and 505 drum machines and the synths I had in my studio.
With the Bashmore track I knew I wanted to do something different so we slowed things down to 80bpm and created this weird Human League and Daft Punk mutation. It wasn't until I got Javeon McCarthey on the lead vocal that it went to a totally different place.
DD: In label news, Kingdom has set-up Fade to Mind, do you see them as a sister label to Night Slugs in the US? What kind of collaborations can we expect? Or is it more about pursuing a similar sound?
L-Vis-1990: I am so excited about Fade to Mind! Kingdom and Prince Money have some big ideas and a really tight crew of amazing producers, so I'm sure the label is going to flourish over the next year. Bok Bok and I totally regard them as a sister label, they’re our family. Kingdom approached us saying he was going to do this label but he wanted it stylised in the same way as Slugs which was totally cool by us.
None of the Night Slugs or Fade to mind crew have ever gone out to pursue a certain sound, it’s so hard to describe what bonds us all, we are just all in a similar place and it feels like we work under an invisible collective conscience. Who knows what the future holds! We’re all just working on our own things right now but I'm sure there are going to be crazy collaborative parties and releases come next year, hold tight for Miami and SXSW 2012!
L-Vis 1990 will be having his Album Launch party at Fabric with Night Slugs (Bok Bok, Julio Bashmore, Jam City, Girl Unit and Kingdom) and Illum Sphere's Hoya Hoya, whilst the main room sees Zombie Nation, Sinden and Boy 8-Bit next Friday 9th September.