Firstly, we would just like to thank you for inviting us into your studio for a private listening session of the new album. Being a long-time fan of London Elektricity means it was a real treat, so thanks very much for that.
That’s wicked and thanks for attending the session, I’m glad you enjoyed the album so much!
Can you tell us a little bit about the concept behind the album and the inspiration which led to the idea?
‘Building Better Worlds’ started when I was having lunch with a photographer friend of mine, Ben Beech. He takes photos of abandoned institutions in Japan and Taiwan. He showed me a series of incredible shots that I found really inspiring, and as I was starting to sketch for my next album, it occurred to me that I could marry each sketch up with one of Ben’s photos. Then the title of the album crystallised, as Ben’s photos are about the decay and destruction of the world, and we live in a world that needs to be rebuilt.
Looking at the artworks that go with each track it’s clear that a lot of thought went into the idea. Is there a particular message you are trying to portray with the album themes, or would you prefer it to be ambiguous and let the listener create their own story?
I have a philosophy that any great art or even a great piece of music or album is kind of like its own planet that you can visit when you want to get away from the real world. So, each track on this album is its own little world. I’m not saying that my music is great, I just aspire for that!
How do you think this album compares to the other 6 albums you have put out? Has the approach to this been different to previous works?
I put a lot more thematic composition into this album and threw a lot of rules out of the window. I didn’t for one minute consider the dancefloor, which is unusual for a drum and bass album. I think I put more of myself into this album than any previous album. Also, this album sees the debut of ‘Bulgarian Goddess’ on two tracks, and amazing undiscovered vocalist I plan to continue working with.
I definitely recognise some the vocalists on the album… can you tell us a little bit about the people who collaborated and contributed to some of the tracks?
Emer Dineen featured heavily on my last album ‘Are We There Yet?’, and Elsa Esmeralda is best known for her work on ‘Syncopated City’ and my best-known track ‘Just One Second’. Also featuring are, as I mentioned, ‘Bulgarian Goddess’, and I brought in Vonne on backing vocals on three tracks. She was brilliant. Cydnei B is a soprano singer I went to college with and she sings on the opening track. Last but not least, my own son The Secretary General who is 9 features alongside Inja on ‘Time To Think’.
One thing that has always stood out for me with London Elektricity productions is the weighty, punchy drums and clarity of the other musical instruments. How do you manage to achieve such a rich sound? (Do you records instruments live?)
I do try to use live sounds whenever possible - I play bass, guitar, piano, real Wurlitzer and Rhodes, but I also use drum breaks which I tend to make my own by resampling using a plugin called SPL Drum Xchanger - I have my own workflow for creating and morphing breaks that I have developed over the years. I love the Spitfire orchestra libraries and am fortunate to be supported by them. On most tracks, the artist Natus supplemented my virtual orchestras by overdubbing his own violin and some of his orchestral friends, to add the real touch.
One of my favourite tracks is ‘Final View From The Rooftops’, did you use a full Orchestra and opera singer for that track?
This track I started in 2006! I wrote the rhythm track then, and then shelved it because I couldn’t find any singer or songwriter who could make sense of it! I pulled it out of retirement for this album and sent it to Steve Pycroft, who arranged all of my music for the London Elek Big Band in 2016. Steve sent back a brilliant orchestration, which I had re-played by Andrew Natus, and I drafted in the skills of Cydnei B for the operatic interpretations and the whistling solo!
Which track was the most fun to make?
Probably ‘Final View From The Rooftops’ - when Cydnei started singing the hairs stood up on the back of my neck, and also we hadn’t seen each other for about 30 years so we had a lot of catching up to do!
Love the track you recorded with your son… Are we likely to see a new member on the Hospital roaster in the near future?
Haha - it’s early days but he’s been smashing that track live whenever possible - e.g. at Glastonbury in the Gas Tower, Hospitality on the Beach and also on the boat for our 400th Hospital Podcast!
Finally, can you tell us about the shows you lined up to promote the album?
We’re launching the album at the Dolby Atmos cinema on Oct 12th to a very select and lucky 60 people - I mixed the entire album in 23 channel surround sound. Apart from that, I have a lot of DJ shows - some with short sets that will feature my music exclusively, and some with 5 or 6 hour sets that enable me to take my crowd on a real journey:
19.10.19 Hospitality at Motion, Bristol
01.11.19 Hospitality Lincoln
02.11.19 Hospitality Birmingham
08.11.19 Sfinks Club, Sopot, Polan (6 hr set)
09.11.19 Hospitality Edinburgh
15.11.19 Studio 69, Riga, Latvia (6 hr set)
16.11.19 Hospitality Vienna
22.11.19 Circus, Tokyo (6 hr set)
23.11.19 Circus, Osaka (6 Hr Set)
30.11.19 Gretchen, Berlin (5 Hr Set)