Know your style, keep it consistent, and don’t try to be bolder than comes naturally.
This is exactly what Laurence Guy has been doing for the past few years, and having released on Church, Monologues and Cin Cin among others, his understated approach to production certainly hasn’t gone unnoticed.
The London based producer’s soft, sample-heavy, melodic house is dropping in LP form this year for the first time on Church; a label doing consistently well at exposing producers with a subdued yet self-assured air to their music (the likes of James Booth, Jesse Futerman and label head Seb Wildblood also demonstrating pretty elegantly that often, less is more).
We asked Laurence about production, perfecting the craft of DJing and what it means to be an emerging artist in the capital.
So your SoundCloud tells us there’s an album soon to come on Church. How will it follow sound-wise from your previous releases? What are you trying to express in an LP that you wouldn’t capture in an EP?
The album is (I hope) a continuation of the sound I’ve been exploring with my previous two Church EPs, with a few surprises thrown in. There’s lots of samples, live instruments, and also a vocal track. It’s been great to experiment with different styles without the pressure of the tracks having to work as part of a 3 or 4 track EP. There’s some house tracks, but also a few ambient bits/some weirder music that I hope people can get into.
What was it that triggered the desire to move from DJing into production as well? Has your attitude changed much from the early days?
I started DJing a little bit before production, but I was kind of interested in both from the start. In terms of why, I’m not really sure, I just had innate interest in both. DJing always felt a little more natural to me, where as production was a struggle for a while. I’ve always enjoyed creating music, but I spent a long time bogged down in the wrong aspects of the process, thinking that buying new equipment or plugins would dramatically improve my productions, when in actual fact it’s a very small part of making good music. I also spent a lot of time trying to steer my sound in too specific a direction, rather than relinquishing control and just letting tracks take their natural course. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I finally felt like it had become genuine self expression. It’s still a frustrating process, but the end result is immensely satisfying.
What’s your production set-up like? Do you have a routine production process?
I run a fairly simple set up. Logic Pro, a Moog Sub Phatty and a turntable for sampling. The routine is roughly the same every time. On the days that I have dedicated to music, I get up early (ish), have coffee/breakfast, then start looking for a sample to get started. This might involve scouring youtube, looking through my collection, or heading to the record shop to pick up something fresh. Then I’ll start sampling different bits, make them into playable instruments on Logic, and just mess around until something comes together. Generally, I’ll either have something done in a few hours, or bang my head on the desk for 8 hours then give up.
As someone who’s been DJing for quite a while, have you reached a point where you’re always satisfied with a set? Or can there always be room for improvement at the craft no matter how experienced you are?
I’m definitely not satisfied with every set! I think there’s always room for improvement. Every time you play is an experiment to a certain extent as you don’t really know how things will go and how different tracks will be received. I’ve been DJing for a long time and I like to think I know what I’m doing, but sometimes everything goes out of the window when you’re faced with an expectant crowd, differing set ups, technical difficulties etc. Making sure you are consistent every time you play is probably the hardest/most daunting part of the job.
How big is your record collection? Which records are closest to your heart?
I have no idea to be honest! It’s not too crazy though, I mainly buy new releases in digital format and then second hand stuff on vinyl. Generally, the records that mean the most are the ones that people have gifted to me, or that I can tie to a certain time or place . For example, I bought a few 7”s from a car boot sale the other week, whilst away with my girlfriend, so those have now taken on extra meaning to me. Instances like that are a perfect example of why I love buying records.
With Church, Cin Cin and Monologue releases under your belt, you’re obviously part of a likeminded London-based network. In what ways do you find yourself influenced by others in the scene?
I’d say the main way I’m influenced by others in the scene is by the scary amount of work everybody puts in, which in turn makes me want to work harder. Competition probably isn’t the right way to describe it, but seeing your friends and peers killing it is definitely an inspiration and much needed kick up the arse for someone that takes things as slowly as me.
What do you think sets London apart from other cities with rich underground culture?
I’ve not spent enough time in other cities to give a proper answer really, but I guess the thing that sets London apart is the sheer amount of parties happening week in, week out around the city. You could probably see any of your favourite DJs play on a weekly basis here.
What are your favourite clubbing spots in the capital? Any lesser known underground parties you’d recommend checking out?
You say you used to be a skater and hip hop enthusiast. Do you ever find yourself going back to the genre for influence (or just for pleasure) these days?
All the time, for both!
What do you hope to get out of the rest of 2017?
I hope to play a lot of interesting gigs and make a lot of interesting music! The album will be out early July…