We speak to one of the most well-respected house & techno producers of the moment about the New York music scene and his old school sounds before he plays secretsundaze this NYE
Levon Vincent’s profile rises and falls like the tide. We’re currently at the top of one of his arcs given the release - on his own Novel Sound imprint - of Impression Of A Rainstorm, as well as plenty of on-point DJ sets across the world. The musically trained (and obsessed!) Vincent’s latest 12” is a grey skied, razor sharp journey into the nether regions of house and techno as are many of the man’s productions.
Alongside Jus-Ed’s Underground Quality stable, Levon and his labels are responsible for rejuvenating the NYC scene and laying down a new school house and techno sound which has been lapped up across the pond in more traditional European hotspots. As such Levon is a top booking for Londoners secretsundaze on New Years Eve, where he will play alongside Âme, Kyle Hall and of course residents and promoters James Priestley and Giles Smith.
Dazed Digital: So musically what’s got you most excited recently?
Levon Vincent: I think it's a great time, I'd say the revivalist stuff peaked. There is very inventive music coming in the past 6 months. It's a serious time for dance music- make or break!
DD: How much do you make music for yourself as against with an audience/situation in mind? Is that how you work, do you have a finished track in your head and then try get it down or…?
Levon Vincent: Sometimes. And other times it's just experimenting... I'm the same as any other; I have different mindsets and moods, so each time I sit down it's pretty fresh.
DD: Is there anything which ties all your music together would you say? A certain vibe you aim for, a certain bit of kit, a certain emotion or?
Levon Vincent: Well, I hope so. I try to convey a singular sort of personality across all the records, but I'd say it's more ambiguous. I think the last 20 years has been about style over dexterity...the dexterity gets handed to the machines more and more... So, that’s probably more important to me than being a great keyboard player or whatever; doing what you do in a stylistic way. As they say, "Concept is King"
DD: Do you think there are certain ties between a certain sound or instrument and certain emotions? Is that something you consider when producing or is it a looser process than that?
Levon Vincent: Timbre usually is the culprit as far as emotion is concerned. Why can you play the same note on a piano and a saxophone, and yet you can tell the difference between the two of them? They have different builds and therefore, different timbres. I am obsessed with grouping sounds that compliment each other. I like sexy sounds. I want there to be an element of static. Or, chaos works nicely for fun parts, too.
DD: You’re clearly someone with well-formed views about music; production etc, how important is it not to over-intellectualise it though? Or do you think house/techno needs to be more serious like that?
Levon Vincent: I believe in everyone and every thing, to the fullest.
DD: And how important is it to you and your famous associates to be a part of a New York scene? Is it important at all or, or do you just do your own things or…? I mean the fear is it could become another Berlin, and I'm assuming you guys wouldn’t want that!?
Levon Vincent: Berlin is cool. They are all cool - London, Paris, New York. Most musicians are happy to be part of the current era. Movements are happening beyond local areas for the first time - a scene can develop in more cities than one these days, thanks to the internet. It's the best time to be making music for 250 years – the last time there was such a boom in the technology was when the piano became available as standard... I am very happy with things and I feel that I am meant for this era.
Photo by Sophia Drevenstam