Get Familiar: Laksa
Bristol-born bass behemoth Laksa has been a mainstay in the U.K. nightlife for the better half of the past decade. His resident show on NTS, titled re:lax and club night under the same name alongside fellow musician re:ni has become a cult favourite amongst ravers worldwide. We caught up with the emerging DJ/Producer on a party boat somewhere amongst the Croatian Islands at Dekmantel Selectors. I think it's about time you get familiar with Laksa.
Can you introduce yourself to our readers and let them know what you do?
Hi, I go by the name Laksa. I am a Producer, DJ, NTS/re:lax re:sident and social worker from Bristol and I'm based in London these day. I've been supplying bassy beats to the heads for around 5-6 years.
How did music enter your life?
Sure I must have felt some serious bass lines at St. Paul’s carnival whilst in the womb, as I love them subs!
What journey took you to where you are in terms of the aesthetics you appreciate in music?
I suppose it’s a personal and sonic journey. I think there’s enough written on Bristol and it’s impact on musicians/producers, that I can’t add much to what’s already been said.
Personally ‘Energy’ and ‘Flow’ are the two things that interest me. When they’re balanced right, they draw me towards a tune. Grime comes to mind for me as a great analogy. You can have an mc with the greatest wordplay, skippy bars - the flow…..but if their voice doesn’t transmit something deeper, make you feel something, is it just pure form? Style over substance? As there’s not really lyrics in dance music, that substance is the emotion or feels of the track. Hype, rude, melancholic, ruckus, deep - that’s the energy. Marrying up the two has been the bedrock of the Hardcore continuum for me. Creating an energy but also pushing things forward with the flow - inventive, interesting and fresh sonics, sound design etc. It can’t just be flow though, too much focus on flow can be quite empty to me.
Found it quite interesting reading a Kode9 interview where he touches on this. He talks about situations where tunes become structural representations of music. It’s got the half-time snare, there’s some wub wub bass, all the elements are there...it sounds like a dubstep tune, but does it feel like one? And if it doesn’t, why is that? That’s the intriguing thing for me and where the power of energy comes into the equation. As I’ve been writing longer I feel I’ve got my ‘flow’ more up to scratch which I’m happy with.
How were the lockdowns for you as a musician?
Pretty crud to be honest. I didn’t write much music and then went to start a job full time. Been doing that for the past year now but hoping to get back on it soon.
Did you carry on doing the radio show?
We kept the show going and it was the main thing keeping me engaged with music to be honest. At times you felt like what's the point, but we’ve got a great lil following for re:lax and the chatroom jokes n love for the show kept me going.
And now things are relatively open again - how does it feel to be playing?
Feels pretty great to be back to be honest. I always get caught between thinking of packing music in and then not wanting to let go. Doing the re:lax party and then the dek gigs was very uplifting, and my love for djing flooded back. Been great to be back raving too. Kind of forgot how much it means to me and what I’d been missing for all that time.
We caught up at Dekmantel Selectors at the Future Intel boat party - which was a lot of fun - did you enjoy dancing with the sunburnt Dutch audience?
Too much fun to put into words. It was very vibey on the boat and I will remember that party for a long time.
I first discovered you through your productions and then as a DJ, how would you define the two activities and how they meld together in your career?
Long story short I’m still getting the hang of melding the two.....or I’m starting to think maybe I just don’t write dj friendly tunes? Who knows. I feel the recent Timedance and Hessle Audio releases were my best efforts so far to have something club friendly, and I feel my next record will continue that.
I think music journalist love to talk about this idea of a “hardcore contiumum” within U.K. Bass Music - how true is this concept to you?
I'm unsure of the relevance the hardcore continuum has at the moment. I suppose to me there doesn’t seem to be that FWD energy right now and along with the internet - mainly the turn from local scenes to ‘glocal’ ones & the rise of social media - scenes feel missing at the moment. Whether we need to set new mantras, go back to the foundations for certain things, or just stop romanticising so much haha. Who knows, probably a bit of everything.
When Fire Kit came out last year, it got spins from a lot of your contemporaries - how did the Hessle Audio thing come about?
I’d actually tried to work towards a record with Hessle back in 2016ish, but I just couldn’t write the final tune. I was sending a lot of crap to be fair, so the guys said it was best to park things. I decided to give it another go so I sent Ben some music around 2020 and then the record came together quite naturally which was nice. I had Fire Kit already written and then I made 2-3 more bits. Hessle is such an important part of the lineage of UK dance music so it’s great to contribute something to the label. Main thing I’d say to people struggling with writer's block is don’t be put off by setbacks or things falling through. Keep plugging away and don't let the fear stop you writing.
What have you got coming up that you can discuss?
Been working full time so had minimal time for music unfortunately. Managed to get an EP together though which i'll be putting out on a new label. Apart from that me & re:ni are keeping the re:lax shows and parties going . Our next party is with Zuli and a bunch of special guests, so we're hyped for that.