“I don’t want anybody to be A&Ring my projects. I want it all to be natural relationships.”
James Connolly, aka L-Vis 1990, co-founded envelope-pushing clubnight Night Slugs with Bok Bok close to a decade ago.
The stock of both producers and promoters has risen significantly since, with L-Vis being a key cog in the UK’s forward-thinking electronica scene.
While he’s kept his head down in terms of solo releases of late, his new mixtape is a roaring return to form. A “progressive vision of hip-hop, R&B, dancehall and pop music” ’12 Thousand Nights’ will feature artists as diverse as Jimmy Edgar, GAIKA, NA (Daniel Pineda of Nguzunguzu) and Awful Records’ Lord Narf.
I catch up with him over Skype a week before the tape drops. Check out the new single with Jimmy Edgar and Ohno below too.
In terms of the new release, I saw recently that you said you don’t like sending people beats just to rap over, you prefer to meet with them and see what they’re all about. What exactly do you do to gauge someone in a meeting?
It all just comes with meeting and chatting to them and seeing If you get on personally first. I don’t like to jump into a session straight away. I like to just chat to them and play music to each other, and just get on a level and vibe, you know?
From there you can see where it’s going to go, whether the track is going be fresh or whether you’re going to start with something you’ve already produced.
And was that decision from experience? Did you initially send people over productions and you just realised that process just doesn’t work.
I’ve just found that over time you get such better results when you’re actually in the studio with someone. Sending stuff back and forth on the internet is just not the same. You can’t get the same performance. I’m very hands-on as an engineer and when recording vocalists as well. I push them to get exactly what I want.
The Tiko Texa$ track on the mixtape, we spent three to six hours recording that and I was getting her to do a different voice for each bar. I’m pretty hands-on with the engineering.
And what about someone like Lord Narf, did you meet her over in Atlanta?
Actually the Lord Narf one was the only one that was done via the internet. That was kind of later in the process. Yeah, I actually sent her a beat that I did with NA and she rapped something over that, and then after I got her vocal back I decided ‘man this needs a totally different instrumental’. So, I redid the whole instrumental and gave it something totally new and fresh.
She’s absolutely excellent. You must appreciate what the whole crew at Awful Records are doing?
It’s so cool. Awful are really sick.
Ethereal’s productions and even the vocalists they work with. They stand out, there is something sort of UK about it I think, if you know what I mean? It’s similar to say Night Slugs in that they’re pushing boundaries.
Totally, and it’s different say coming out of Atlanta where there is so much rap and trap music. They really kind of shine as a beacon of a new kind of light.
And it’s the sort of tongue in cheek nature of it as well. I find that really interesting.
Totally, for me as a producer there always needs to be that little element of fun to it. I think people think of fun as being like goofy or cheesy, but fun can be something different. That’s what I like to get across in like all my music.
All of your mixes feature quite a diverse amount of music, do you find it hard to keep up to date with new music when your running loads of club nights, releasing music and everything else you do?
It’s so hard. Actually this year I decided to take a step back from DJing to finish this project because I find it so hard to concentrate on other people’s music and on my own productions at the same time. Plus I do club nights and travel around. I really wanted to just focus and get this project done and not have to worry about other people’s tracks.
Also, listening to other people’s music when you’re in the process of finishing a project or mixing music makes you very aware of what you’re doing. It’s like ‘oh this mix doesn’t sound as good as that’ or ‘why can’t I make my track as good as that one’. It’s a pretty fucked up thing. You need to just kind of go into your own little hole for a little bit and just finish the music.
Especially if you’re just listening to music as avant-garde as yours, are you thinking ‘oh I need to be like this’?
Totally, what I find is I listen to a lot of older music, that has no relation to what I’m doing. I think when I started the whole process, I was listening to mainly to mid-80s Japanese new-wave music that inspired me to make some of the melodies, the early productions. I’ve just been listening to jazz and various other things too.
Yeah stay completely away from the weirder stuff.
Totally, I dip in sometimes if I need a little bit of inspiration. Then I come straight back out. Now the process is over I’m going to dig straight back in and get on that shit.