North Eastern trio Last Waltz are making moves in the right circles. Releases on Futureboogie, Audio Parallax, Tusk and more have ensured Geoff Leopard, Mick Rolfe and El Dee are keeping abreast of the contemporary electronic music world. Speaking of Tusk, the trio are playing for Recession Sound System's Tusk WAX showcase this coming Friday, the 30th November. Ahead of their appearance, The Waltz have put together an exclusive mix, as well as shedding more light on themselves through the medium of a good old-fashioned interview. Geoff Leopard took time out to chat to Pulse...
Your sound is a very alternative one, lots of focus on the smaller nuances in sound and a very percussive edge... how would you describe your sound, and your ethos behind it all? I have to point out from the outset that I’m just one member out of three of us, so anything I say will probably be entirely disagreed with by Mick and Foss. I’m afraid that they’re also the more entertaining two as well, but they’re both busy at this second in time, so it looks like pulse may have drawn the short straw for this interview. The fact that there’s 3 of us actually makes it quite difficult to describe our sound. I guess it’s basically the sound of us locking ourselves away in the studio and having a massive hissy fit with each other until there’s something that we all agree on. There’s quite a wide range in musical taste between the 3 of us, so reoccurring things like percussion and odd flourishes are just the points where our tastes all meet. The rest is just a product of whoever managed to win the argument on that day.
What are your influences outside of electronic music? Do they influence your work as well? I think everything you’ve ever encountered, musical or otherwise, must have some effect on your work. Even if it’s just whether you’re in a good mood or not on that day. Some personal direct influences have to be people like Vangelis and Tangerine Dream etc, but that’s not to say that I’d sit at home listening to them all day, that would send you mental. Not one of us actually just plays electronic music, not even in our Last Waltz DJ sets, so it’s a fairly big subject to address I guess. I’ll listen to any new music I can at home and decide on its merits just based on how I react to it, rather than its genre. I think the other two are the same, more or less.
How does the dynamic work between the 3 of you in the studio and also when out DJing... I’ve made it sound like we fight a lot in the studio, but that’s not strictly true. For three big mouthed North Easterners (I really want to say Geordies, just to piss Foss off. He’s actually from Sunderland which is kind of a rival city to where we’re based, which is Newcastle) we actually have a lot of respect and time for each others opinions. The same principle extends in to DJing. As much as I take the piss, the 2 of them are, without question, my 2 favourite DJs to listen to. The 3 of us tend to take the dancefloor in very different directions when we’re playing, which I think is why we started to develop a following back home. With us all being behind the decks at the same time there’s always an element of none of us being able to go too far down one personal route. Plus, there’s always an element of each of us trying to out do each other too, or even stitch each other up in some cases. Hopefully that keeps it exciting on the dancefloor, while our areas of shared taste still keeping it flowing. That’s the theory anyway. God knows if it works.
You're going to be playing for Recession Sound System in London - what's the best thing about playing at underground club nights, compared to playing at 'clubs'? Both are cool but I think that we’re just of an age where we’re more likely to be attracted to a smaller party where everybody is there for the music, rather than a large club where there are other considerations. That’s not to say we’ll be knocking back Fabric if they ask us any time soon. We’ve got a bunch of big club and festival gigs already booked in for 2013 and we’re really looking forward to most of them. Some of the bigger parties are fantastic. For instance, we played the Garden Festival last year and loved it.
Are you looking forward to playing with the likes of Coyote, Tusk and Scott Fraser? Again, I can only speak personally but I’m really, really excited about the entire line-up. Some of the people on there we’re already friends with, particularly Jamie (Fahkin) Blanco. Others I’m just a really big fan of. I honestly can’t wait for Friday.
Have you got some more releases coming up on Futureboogie? Or any other labels for that matter? We’d love to release on Futureboogie again and we have been talking (in fact I think that Dave Harvey is sick of me talking to him, but that’s nothing to do with our music. Hi again Dave if you’re reading). Our most imminent releases are a full EP on Tusk. A remix on a new label called Lost Paradise, which is out any week now and then releases on Is It Balearic, Lets Play House, Magic Wand and Ene Japan, which are labels we’re big fans of and who we’re honoured to have release our work.
Tell us about your relationship with Tusk ... OK, well other than releasing with them (first as remixers and now with our full EP) we’re also part of a new artist community which is starting up in early 2013 with us, them, and a whole bunch of other really exciting producers and DJs. I’m not sure how much more I can say about the community at the moment, so I’ll keep it a minimum, but at the moment Tusk is touring these label parties and flatteringly asked us if we’d be one of the acts to play. Hopefully the community will offer the opportunity for more collaborative events like these showcases. Other than that I can’t say anything about Tusk himself as he’s basically attempted to turn himself into a balearic Keyser Soze, and I’m not sure what the punishment would be for divulging any info on him.
You guys also have your own imprint... how important is it for underground producers to have their own base in today's climate? Is it essential? I don’t think that it’s essential at all, and that’s certainly not why we did it. We just had a record to put out and wanted to be in charge of how that was done. Also, Mick and Foss only play vinyl exclusively, so it was nice for us to make a small contribution to it staying alive. I suppose a label is one route to getting some additional profile, but there are others such as throwing parties and making your own music. To be honest, I don’t think it’s got us any gigs or anything, although I do think it gave us a bit of insight in to what the other labels putting our music out were actually doing.
What's the secret ingredient for your Pulse mix? Well, strictly speaking it’s not a true Last Waltz mix, as time constraints (and hangovers) have prevented us from getting in together to record one with all three of us. When the three of us have recorded mixes, we’ve programmed them to reflect our varied tastes but to still flow naturally. The last mix I recorded on my own was very, very house based, so I guess I’ve tried to keep it away from that, which probably also explains why some of the tracks probably aren’t mixed together seamlessly, as well as staying away from the sound of the ones we’ve recorded together. So yeah, the mix is probably a bit Bi-Polar, but to be honest I’m pretty sick of listening to some of the perfectly synched house music mixes that people are doing, so hopefully this might present a bit of a welcome, rough-edged change for some people (or they might just think it’s sloppy and odd, which is also good I guess).
Finally, what's next? Is there a plan for Last waltz or are you taking it as it comes? I think the immediate plans are to just keep on creating sounds that we like and working with people we respect (that doesn’t necessarily always reflect our feelings about each other though). I think there’s a really nice network of people from all around the world who have the right attitude and are working together on worthy stuff. Whether it be the UK, our friends in Japan, our friends in New York, or anyone else from anywhere else, we’ve been incredibly lucky to come in to contact with some truly talented and committed people who are just in to good music and good parties. I think as long as we keep on doing what we’re doing and keep working with these people, then we’ll be happy with what we produce and with who hears it, which is all you can ask for really.
Last Waltz appear alongside Coyote, Scott Fraser, Tusk and more at 'Recession Sound System presents: Tusk Wax', Friday 30th November at Dalston's Hysteria club. If you fancy bagging a pair of guestlist entries for the event, and also fancy grabbing a copy of the new 'Tusk Wax Vinyl 9', simply email [email protected], using the subject line 'Tusk'. The successful entrant shall be contacted on Thursday the 29th; good luck! For all the rest of us, tickets can be found here.