For their new album, Sebenza, out now on on Hyperdub, the British production trio LV teamed with South African artists—Spoek Mathambo, Okmalumkoolkat and the MC/producer duo Ruffest—to create an infectious and timely global bass sound. For their FADER mix, LV mix into that infectious brew American hip-hop, from Le1f to Madvillain to the ’80s rapper Brother D. They say it was inspired by handmaking mixtapes on minidisc: "All amazing tunes and that's it. No flashy mixing, no VIP mash-ups, no infinite layers of DJ tools. Just tunes, in an order, for you to enjoy." Take a listen and, below, read an interview with the group's Will Horrocks, Simon Williams and Gervase Gordon on being misunderstood, their favorite gear and Al Green snares.
Download: LV's FADER Mix
With Sebenza, how did you decide to focus so concretely on South African influences? What does that sound offer that you can't find so much elsewhere? HORROCKS: We didn't. The vocalists are all South African, but the influences on the album are not from just one place. Equally, the fact that they are all from South Africa doesn't mean they represent one sound or musical heritage. The process of being interviewed since we put the album out has been interesting and frustrating because there seems to be an assumption that there is a "South African sound" and that's what we were after with these artists. This was not the case at all, we worked with the vocalists because we thought they were the best we'd heard at the time, and it was only once we had a whole bunch of tracks that the album crystallised in our own heads. So there was no decision to focus on an undefinable, unified South African sound. WILLIAMS: I don't know if it's even possible to focus on influences—things either speak to you or they don't. I don't feel it's a process I have control over. There's loads of music coming out of South Africa that we love, but we get into good music no matter where it's from. Obviously working with vocalists from South Africa brings some of that country's flavor to what we do, but musically speaking there are lots of different flavors on the album and also there are lots of South African sounds that aren't represented.
How did you meet Okmalumkoolkat? HORROCKS: We finally met him once the album was finished when we were both playing a gig in Amsterdam. GORDON: A mutual friend put us in touch and he came to the club in Joburg, and then we chilled and did some recording in his kitchen the following day.
Do you use analog tools to make music, or is that more of a nostalgia thing? HORROCKS: Yes we do. LogicPro is at the heart of the studio, but we try to avoid using too many soft synths because we prefer playing instruments with knobs and faders. We've got a bunch of synths that we either own or have borrowed and they are all over the album. I don't think it's a nostalgia thing, it's just a better and more unpredictable way of working for us. Not all analog synths are old either—I'm on record already banging on about MFB and the great little synths they make. I also picked up a ’90s minidisc recorder for free off a local internet forum recently, and I've been using that to saturate drum and synth sounds, which is fun if you like that sort of thing. GORDON: A lot of the fun for us lies in exploring combinations of old and new. I think we've always quite liked listening to people mess with fidelity, whether that's Rhythm and Sound running their laptops through tape echo units, or someone like Pharell or Timbaland or whoever sampling roomy Al Green snares and making a glisteningly airtight beat with it, or Burial sampling a Pharell snare and submerging it again. I feel quite preemptively nostalgic for all these hardware/software analog/digital hybrids and all the crazy tools people are inventing to allow them to control and manipulate the signal in real time. I still haven't had a proper go on a Yamaha Tenori-On, but that looks good fun. Sometimes I wish the future would hurry up.