Following on from features in Pitchfork and XLR8R, MTV Iggy interviewed me earlier in the week to talk about Tuff Wax, Aberdeen Truth & all things Lockah. Enjoy!
The Full Life of A Scottish Producer/Label Head/DJ
Forget London, let’s talk about Aberdeen. According to Lockah, hometown label head and producer, it’s birthing a scene. Okay, it might be a scene made up of mostly himself and his friends, but we are not complaining — his label Tuff Wax puts out strange and delicious sounds from acts like Grobbie and Bones & Money, and the label’s regular party, Acid Thunder, has a loyal following. Tuff Wax started its Aberdeen Truth 7-inch series in August 2011, and less than a year later they’re taking over the blogosphere.
In case you think Lockah has his plate full, he’s also a producer — one whose bass-synth confections have made waves across the Atlantic. His remix of Lana Del Rey’s “Videogames” kept the original’s bathos, but drowned it in an ocean of analog-y synth and gritty wobble. On June 14th, Lockah is dropping his first EP, When U Stop Feeling Like A Weirdo and Become A Threat on Jeffries, a Mad Decent imprint.
The first single shows you why the lengthy EP title is no joke. “The Sour Drink From The Ocean” splits the difference between E-fueled synth bliss-out and bass banger. Lockah launches you into a technicolor dreamland where R&B marry bassline jams and get in touch with their inner child. Yeah, it’s deep. And earwormy.
Read on to discover why Aberdeen’s small size works in artists’ favor, Lockah’s fantasy of a Lana Del Rey vs. Ashanti face-off, and what illicit drug Scottish cash tastes like.
Label head, producer, DJ – you’ve got a lot going on! What does a typical day in the life of Lockah look like? Are you a good multitasker, or is it a beautiful chaos?
Unfortunately wax doesn’t press itself and ‘bills bills bills’ are a constant thorn in the side of the otherwise wonderful life of Lockah. For this reason, a vast portion of the day is spent working my day job.
At night everything changes & I get locked into production, promotion & label stuff. I share the latter duties with my boys Bones and Money though, so the weight on my Tuff Wax shoulders is always spotted. Aberdeen’s nightlife is quite concentrated and I don’t get asked to gig outside of town much, so right now DJing is always a treat and never a chore!
What is the origin of your name. A probably offensive wild guess – it comes from the Loch Ness monster?
Lamely it doesn’t mean anything. All of a sudden everywhere I looked there were names like Kutmah, Loefah, Rekordah and for some reason I just went with my name. If I had known I’d end up making more than a few bleepy hip-hop beats I’d have probably put a bit more thought into it. As for offensive, Chrissy Murderbot thought it was a reference to the Lockerbie Bomber so your guess is probably OK.
What are your top five desert island records?
It’d probably change day to day, but here are 4 all-time Lockah classics and my best guess at a classic in the making. 1. The Unicorns – Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone 2. Edan – Beauty & The Beat 3. Wu Tang Clan – Enter The Wu Tang (36 Chambers) 4. Nas – Illmatic 5. Rustie – Glass Swords
What’s the music scene like in Aberdeen and what do kids like to do for fun?
Aberdeen’s music scene is so great in some ways but lacks diversity. You have a lot of people who talk a good alternative club scene but don’t show up to support the events. That said, Tuff Wax and our affiliated club night Acid Thunder has a hardcore following, and there are pluses to playing in a city with less choice.
For starters, most of the time you’re not going to end up listening to one style of music for 4 hours; there just isn’t enough demand for a regular UK Garage night or a dubstep night or so forth. You end up going to see one or two people spin and find yourself tuning into sounds that you weren’t originally there to hear.
We’re holding it down locally alongside other producers like my man Cruicky who recently produced several tracks for Bang On! but there are some big dogs out there who hail from around these parts, like Big Dada resident DJ and producer A La Fu and producer/design guru Offshore who are both friends of ours.
You remixed tracks by both Ashanti and Lana del Rey. If the two of them had a UFC showdown, who would you bet on?
Ashanti’s got more credibility in the violence stakes having been signed to Murder Inc. and keeping company with dudes with relatively tough credentials, like Fat Joe. She’s big on philanthropy and stuff as well, isn’t she? I guess she would have more fight in her to keep her worldwide causes alive. The Ashanti remix goes harder as well. That said, isn’t Lana Del Rey’s father mega rich? He could probably just have Ashanti killed. Either way it’s depressing as fuck. I’d rather they just held hands or something.
How would you describe the sound on your upcoming EP?
The EP was put together in December and draws together a few key styles. I’ve gone for UK Garage-influenced drums and found sounds at times, with big choruses which percussively fall somewhere between ‘trap’ influenced programming and boom-bap drum hits. As with the majority of my stuff, it’s very heavy on melody and layered synths. There are some vocal nods to classic Hip-hop records & obscure bassline tracks from yesteryear. The whole thing is pretty full-on with pop sensibilities too, something I seem to be fairly helpless to tone down.
Your press shot features you holding what looks like a big wad of Scottish cash in your mouth. Was that your own idea, and what does Scottish cash taste like?
I don’t often see stacks of cash that fat so I guess that’s the reason I wanted to stuff it all in my mouth and have a friend take photographic proof. I’m not sure what it tasted like – probably a mixture of sweat, Irn-Bru and traces of poor quality cocaine.
Who are some of your music mogul role models?
The obvious choice has to be the RZA, a guy who said enough was enough, gathered the funds, and just got to work to put himself and those around him into the spotlight.
When I came up with the concept of the ‘Aberdeen Truth’ 7″ series it was mostly spurred on by the fact that all my friends who made productions sat around and did nothing with them. I couldn’t believe how much good stuff wasn’t coming out.
Your upcoming release on Jeffries is called When U Stop Feeling Like A Weirdo and Become A Threat. Is that a premonition of what will happen once the EP drops?
It’s kind of tongue-in-cheek so I’ll save the tough talk and keep it Tuff instead. The name’s not so much a premonition as a reference to how things turned out with us. We were nobodies and now we’re onto something. We’re respectful to the greats but people fall off or get lazy if they’re not careful.
It’s also a personal thing I guess. Have you ever felt like an underdog and come out on top?
I may have my facts wrong but this is what I believe to be Aberdeen’s first multi-stage outdoor festival and the lineup is really impressive. I’m sharing the bill with fellow Tuff Wax posse fam Bones & Money and Dolfinz alongside guests such as Oneman, T Williams & A La Fu, with more acts to be announced!
Click the pic to head to the site & keep up to date with lineup announcements.
I will be warming up with an hour of on-the-fly beats before the main event takes place: featuring founding fathers Bones & Money, the long-awaited return of Cheap Date and the king himself, Ace Inhibitor. Be there or be forever shunned.