LoKo: Hold Tight
‘It’s obviously been f*cking amazing working with RAM because they are RAM’
LoKo‘s about to appear as part of RAM’s traditional Miami takeover, the stupendous RAMiami 2015. His track is ‘Hold You Tight’ and it’s the sort of energised D&B that teleports you to somewhere sundrenched and where the nights and days timestretch into something in parts surreal, grimy and random. But all at once.
However right now LoKo’s not feeling so festive…
Hi Loko, how are things?
Afternoon! You know what, I’m feeling like sh*t, I have a horrendous cold so I am sat in bed watching the tele and having a chat with you guys while drinking a mug the size of a baby’s head full of coffee.
Let’s step back a bit: I know you from your previous work with Chords on RAM’s Annual 2015 and I wondered if you’re of the same mindset? In that I mean do you have the same take on D&B, the same love of interesting textures, combos of sounds… ? I feel you’re kindred spirits.
It’s funny, I feel like a lot of people will have me and Chris/Chords down as the opposite to what we are probably really like.
I’ve made pretty dance-floor techy tunes over the last few years but really I am a huge lover of the big paddy chordy, dare I say it, cheesey synthy tunes. Chris is a massive fan of the absolutely filthy techy Noisia/Mefjus/Break sound but makes stunningly beautiful music so when we work together I am like ‘Chris, make it lovely’ and he’s like ‘Nah, add some nasty twisted bass’ so working with Chris is easy because I absolutely love his sound.
I think we complimented each other pretty on ‘Diamond Light’. This tune was something I started that was very Chords-esque inspired from the get go really. I had the vocal and bass running together and sent the idea over to the guys at RAM and they asked if I would be up for Chris jumping on the tune, to which I obviously replied Yes.
I went up to London and me and Chris spent a couple of days on it but we ended up making it a bit too dark so I let Chris take the reigns, as he had the most updated project file. He smashed it out the park really.
Then I just spent a session on the arrangement before Chris finished it off with about 10 minutes to go before the deadline, it was one of those projects that just worked.
At no point was it really a struggle for us to get it to sound like how we wanted it. That’s a rare thing in my production life if I’m totally honest.
You’re appearing on the forthcoming RAMiami comp with a wicked tune ‘Hold You Tight’, what inspired it? I feel like there’s a story behind it…
Ha ha ha, right. There are two sides to this tune’s story, the ‘I wrote it with a broken heart’ side and the ‘It started off as a collab then wasn’t, then was, then wasn’t’…
It took a long, long, long time to get this tune sounding close to how I had it in my head and that’s why it ended up coming out as a ‘LoKo’ tune and not as a collab. I started the tune off with a mate of mine called Dan – who I’m working with on some new stuff, so expect something from us in the future.
We did a session together and came up with the main musical elements of the track, then I went deep on it and started adding more and more layers. I was trying to build something that had that ‘love song/break up’ feel to it but still keep it raw with a dirty edge.
Heartbreak is sometimes a good place to write from and with this tune I had this vision of a film scene where the tune was playing while you, a person, are going through the different stages of being heartbroken and I kinda molded the tune around that vision I had in my head.
There were different layers coming in and out and the whole second breakdown was on a hip-hop vibe.
How did it develop from there?
When I initially sent the tune over to Jim, the label manager at Ram he liked the idea but wondered if I was up for doing it as a collab with Chris, which I was up for after working with him on ‘Diamond Light’ but by this point my attachment to the tune was pretty deep. I had a clear idea of what I wanted the tune to sound like, so I sent Chris the project file.
On the subject, any producers out there working with other people, check out ‘Splice’. You can upload project files to a drop box and have two or more people working on the project file without having to re-download the whole file etc etc, really good bit of software if you’re doing collabs over the net.
I felt like we were going in different directions with where he/I wanted to the tune. So I said I just wanted to roll alone and he was cool with that and so were the guys at Ram.
Can you give us a sneak peak of what’s to expect with the new RAMiami album? Anything ‘RAM’ and ‘compilation’ means something totally electrifying.
A bit of everything, I know that’s a cliché but it’s true you have some absolutely filthy tunes on there like ‘Colbalt 60’ and ‘Wipeout’ and then the complete flip side like ‘Hold You Tight’.
I really think the RAM camp have smashed it with this album. I’ve been lucky enough to have the full compilation for a few weeks and having listened to it several times throughout I can confirm it’s f*cking sick all over.
Each time I’m like ‘Oh that’s my favourite tune’ then next listen ‘oh actually, that tune’s better’, so I think that shows how much quality there is on the comp and how much effort the RAM team have put in to selecting the tunes for the album.
It’s really nice that it’s not as up front as lot of the RAM compilations/releases as a whole. It’s nice to see some of the artists – myself included – get a chance to put out these kind of tunes on RAM that aren’t essentially club tracks and it’s also really nice to see a few new artists get a chance to have something out on such a massively marketed product like the RAMiami series.
Back to your work, your VIP of ‘Rage’ is great… it’s a real LIVE tune, so do you love DJing?
I’m a DJ at heart to be honest, I love producing don’t get me wrong but DJing is an experience like nothing else.
I was a pretty young raver I guess, kinda feel like that’s lost these days with militant steroid enraged ID hunting security on the door at every club now.
But I was going up to Bristol and partying at 14/15/16 at huge clubs and watching people like Andy, Friction, Dillinja etc and was just like “I want this, what the f*ck do I have to do to be like those guys”…
Turns out, you gotta make tunes ha ha. But you didn’t have to as much back then and DJs used to get shows based on DJ talent alone. Because I was already DJing at this point I just practiced for hours and hours each day with the belief that if I got good enough I would start getting booked for shows, the f*cking stupid thing is I suffer from panic attacks so it’s actually a massive achievement me just being able to get on stage in the first place.
But I love it so much and once you’re there and double dropping tunes and get a good response it’s the best feeling in the world, the only other feeling as good is hearing another DJ playing your tunes in their sets, which is another reason why I started making dance-floor tunes like ‘Rage’ and the VIP that I would rave to at a club.
How do you structure the live set then? I mean it must be tricky if certain ‘big’ tracks are in others’ sets and you’re all on a big bill… or do you not think about it and concentrate on works for your set?
You know what, I am firm believer that you have to get up on that stage with the belief that the mixes you have with the tunes you have on you are better than any other DJs on the bill and go for it.
There are so many young whippersnappers coming through at the moment and equally so many up and coming artists who will be charging a similar fee as you and fighting just as hard to get booked, you ain’t got time to NOT go all out when you DJ.
Tell us more…
If you come unprepared to a show and play some great tunes and do some ok mixes the crowd will have an ok time and the promoter will be like ‘cool, nice one’ then they book someone else next time who comes in and tears the place apart.
If the crowd are going f*cking mad, then for future shows who’s the promoter going to think about rebooking? I plan my sets meticulously, I know from the moment I play my first tune where I’m going and what’s coming next… I do have different sections that I can go to if the crowd are feeling a particular style of tune but these sections are still planned. They might be from previous shows or promo mixes I’ve done.
I do like to test the crowd though: I like such a wide range of drum and bass I like switching it up and having a deeper/slower section in my sets. It’s hard to just play smashers for an hour/two hours etc, I think the crowd get a bit bored. They like things to change every now and again.
The only time sh*t ever hits the fan is when the DJ before plays your intro tune as his/her last tune or a few tunes before the end but I always have a backup intro for that situation anyway ha ha.
What’s it like to work with the RAM crew? What have you learned? Must be some interesting things that may not occur to you as when you are just starting out…
Honestly, my biggest mistake was thinking it was going to be easy after they signed ‘Bassline Secret’ on Program.
I thought to myself that I must be at point where my tunes will be good enough release after release. And that’s just not the case.
I took my foot off the gas and it backfired and I am still playing catch up for that mistake really. It’s obviously been f*cking amazing working with RAM because they are RAM.
And if I told myself as a 14 year old kid off his box at some club or sat in the school playground listening to tape packs that one day I would playing in these clubs and having releases on RAM and Viper etc I would have probably p*ssed myself laughing and told my future self to p*ss off.
OK LoKo, thanks, any shouts?
Yeah, I’d like to wish my mum a Happy 50th as it was her birthday last week and she’s obviously been pretty instrumental in me being here, so thank you mum and happy birthday.