Layo Kisses on Deneuve
by Cherish Lloyd
photos by Cherish Lloyd
Lunar: What style of music would you describe your style as?
Layo: Sort of (a) house, techno, (and) break(beat) background. But equally, it's house, techno, breakbeat, it's downtempo, it's some alternative dance. Our style has sort of evolved in the way that the dance music scene has. I don't like to think I'm "one thing;" I play different styles. I suppose the current theme in anything I play is that I tend to want it to be pretty funky, quite dynamic, a bit off the carpet, it can be underground or even slightly more commercial tunes, if I think that they are good enough quality. But I'm not like "I've got to play it because it's underground" or "I can't play it because it's a big record," I play what I want to play because I think it's right.
Lunar: Are you familiar with the Chicago house scene at all?
Layo: Yes, very much so.
Lunar: Now your style of house is definitely very different, don't you think?
Layo: Yeah, but in a way I think the Chicago house style hasn't really developed much in the past 5 years, realistically. It was probably a lot more forward thinking from the early '90's to the mid '90's, (now) it has not really evolved subsequently.
Lunar: I have always felt that the music in the U.S. is always a few years behind that of the European music scene.
Layo: Sometimes, but I think it has a kind of duality. I think it can go from being very forward thinking to quite conservative. You know it's such a big country there's so much that goes on. I think that things in America come in waves. For example at the minute, one of the big things in the U.K. are the new, New York bands, heralded by the Strokes, the Yeah Yeah Yeah's, you know, quite a few of these new bands coming in. What often happens is that England is very quick to pick up on it, quicker than America, because it's smaller so the word spreads faster and then it gets sent back to America. Like dance music; dance music fundamentally began in America, but America borrowed European ideas from people like Kraftwerk and all of that. And I think that's the nice thing about music, it's sort of thrown across to different countries and different people make their own interpretations and they take it a step further. I think that's one of the nice things about all forms of art, everyone influences everyone else. One of the good things about the world of mass communication is that people are able to communicate things very quickly and things grow very quickly.
Lunar: It's nice to hear that you have such an open-minded opinion about the American music scene.
Layo: Yeah, I think there some great music in the U.S., both historically and currently.
Lunar: This tour is the first time you've played live?
Layo: Yeah, we're not playing live tonight.
Lunar: Yes, I knew that. But the tours you have played live, up until now, have they pleased you?
Layo: Well, this summer is the first time we have ever done any live performances. (From) its very early days, it's been a gradual process. I'm very pleased with what we've been able to accomplish from scratch until now, but if I were doing the same thing in two years I wouldn't be pleased. At the minute I'm happy enough with it, people have seemed to have a good reaction, audiences seemed to want to come to see it and enjoy it and that's a good start.
Lunar: How do you think you live set differs from your DJ set?
Layo: Well, at the end of the day when it's live, it's all our own music, where it's not our own music when we DJ.
Lunar: What is your favorite track on your latest album, Night Works?
Layo: Probably for us, which is probably not going to be everyone else's favorite, is "Blind Tiger"; the really, really slow one.
Lunar: Why's that?
Layo: Because we feel it is totally unique and original and from our point of view, it shows a musical diversity and maybe (diversity) in areas that we will start to get into as time goes on.
Lunar: If you were to pick two of your favorite musical influences what would they be?
Layo: Well, I'd say vocal wise, I'd say it'd have to be Black vocals and Blues-led music. On the terms of music itself I think it's very hard to say because we take on so many influences, in fact you can hear it on the album. One of the criticisms we've had about our new album, I think the album has been very well received but we've had two criticisms; one of the criticisms we've had about the new album is that there are too many influences.
Lunar: Right, like it's all over the place?
Layo: Yeah, I suppose, if you want to look at it that way.
Lunar: Well, I'm an artist and I think that there can never be too many influences.
Layo: And the other is that it could've been longer, which is really like a compliment in a way because they want a bit more. And (as for) "all over the place," at the end of the day, would you want an album that sounded the same all the way through? It's not really our thing; it's not the way that we work.
Lunar: What plans do you have after this tour?
Layo: To be honest, I want to take it a little bit easy. After this tour I've still got a big live weekend tour in Europe, then Ibiza, then South America, so it's like another three weeks. When I come back from there I want to go away for a weekend with my girlfriend (who, by the way, is a 22 year old Art Historian, and they met at The End in London). I want to take a last summer's holiday, and then from there, I don't want to do any studio work for about four months, maybe try to find a singer, do some work at the The End, do some DJing weekends, maybe come back to the States in November for another week. Um, but try and take a couple of weekends off a month, at least one weekend off a month and maybe get my life (back) again. As much as I enjoy traveling and being on the road, it is great, but to be honest, your life stands still and you go home and you haven't seen your friends and I want to get into my life a little bit, because one day all of this will stop.
Lunar: And you have to deal with journalists like me, right?
Layo: Well not really, I don't mind press.
Lunar: I'm teasing you! As far as your working relationship with Bushwacka, do you each have a defined role that you play?
Layo: Yeah, I mean it's not really a stated role, but it's fundamental in terms that I tend to be the musical planner and director, not on everything, but I do a lot of the sample research. We write the music together, but Matthew (Bushwacka) is the engineer, so he's the technical side completely. We arrange and produce together. I'm on the "road" relationship, because of my experience with The End, I'm probably a better business diplomat than Matthew; I can handle people better. Matthew tends to get a bit grumpy with people and I tend to be a bit more smooth with people, so I steer a lot of way, obviously by consensus. Sometimes, because Matthew has been DJing longer than I have he will lead in that direction, it flows within those contexts as well.
Lunar: How did you two meet?
Layo: We met through Mr. C at the studio.
Lunar: How many hours a week do you spend in the studio?
Layo: Very much depends. In the final stages of the album I'd say about 70-80 hours a week.
Lunar: Sleeping in the studio as well?
Layo: No, we live quite nearby our studio. On an average week we may do two days or 20 hours, and then we do other stuff. You need a break otherwise we would go mad.
Lunar: Right, because then you are not refreshed.
Layo: No, and I notice when I'm feeling on it and when I'm not. The ideas are either flowing or stilted.
Lunar: What is the most embarrassing moment you've had on stage?
Layo: I've had a few, I've had nights where I've played terribly and it's been awful. It's a horrible feeling when you're not performing well. Everyone has bad days. I always liken it to England's soccer, like a football player, you can be the worlds best player and just have a bad day. However good you are, you have days when it's just not right, just like everyone in the world with their everyday lives. It's a horrible feeling to be in front of a lot of people and be giving it a bad day.
Lunar: What is the most memorable moment you've had on stage?
Layo: I've had a few. From Glastonbury, the big festival in England, to moments at The End, to places all around the world. You have to pinch yourself at moments and say to yourself, "I can't believe I'm living this moment, I'm very lucky". One day all of this will be gone and the only thing that will be left are memories.
Lunar: What is your favorite club that you've played at? And I know you're probably going to have more than one, since you have played so many of them.
Layo: Space, in Ibiza, has to be one of my favorites. And The End, because it is fundamentally mine, and I've had shared so much emotion with so many people in there. There's a club in Brazil that we play, called Sirena, which is a fantastic club. But having said that, there was a boat party in New York that we played at this past Sunday that was great.
Lunar: I'm sure that you are a soccer fan, who's your favorite team?
Layo: Oh my god! I can't believe you asked that. My team is Aslo.
Lunar: Mine is Westham.
Layo: Oh, that's okay, my cousin is a Westham fan.
Lunar: Since you've been to South America have you had a chance to do any sightseeing?
Layo: I have when I was in Brazil, I didn't when I was in Peru, I didn't when I was in Caracas, and I didn't when I was in Buenos Aires. A little bit, but not how I would do it if I were able to do it right.
Lunar: Next time you are in Peru you have to check out Cusco and the Nasca lines, they are breathtaking sites.
Layo: Well, when I was 18 years old, before I started doing all of this, I used to travel quite a bit, it's one of the things I like to do most when I go to these places, sometimes it's just not possible with our hectic tour schedule.
Lunar: As far as the places you have been to in South America, which place did you like most?
Layo: Well I've gotta say Brazil, but it's a biased opinion because I've got closer friends there, who have looked after me very well, and I'm also a resident there. Having said that though, the people in Buenos Aires are lovely as well.
Lunar: All right, my last question; Suppose a genie granted you the ability to time travel and you were only allowed one trip, during that trip you were able to kiss any person in the world, who would you kiss?
Layo: That's a very hard question because my image of women is from the 20th Century fundamentally, and time travel allows you to go much further in time. I can probably think of hundred others, but the one that comes to mind is Catherine Deneuve in her prime.
Lunar: Wow! I'm impressed. You have excellent taste in women. I do appreciate you taking the time to chat with me. I'm sure that interviews can be quite a drag for you, with all the ones you must sit through.
Layo: Not really, I don't mind the press. The only interviews I dread are the boring ones in which there is an endless string of monotonous questions that have very cut and dry answers. I really enjoyed this one because it was definitely left of center.
Thanks go out to Layo and Betty Kang from Formula PR for setting up the interview with Lunar.
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