Two and a half years after his last album Play With Fire, Rene LaVice has confirmed that his third album Far From Perfect will be released on May 25 on Ram Records.
The album is a powerful, punchy 10 track collection that showcases the Canadian-in-London’s widest sonic palette. It features men of the moment Gydra and singers Isaac Evans, Jareth and Ivy Mairi (who you may recognised from his previous tracks The Calling and All My Trials) Far From Perfect also debuts Rene’s vocal skills as an accidental singer himself.
Only six months deep into his new role at BBC Radio 1 as the main drum & bass ambassador, and already dropping a new artist album; this the most active chapter in Rene LaVice’s career so far. Does he even sleep? Is he even human at all? We asked him some questions to find out…
A new album! Big news. How do you feel about this right now?
It’s an incredible feeling, I’m buzzing. One would think that having done this twice already, by the third album it would feel sort of normal, but it’s not the case, it’s all very exciting.
We all know the ‘difficult’ second album cliche. But how about the third? How was the process in general?
In spite of receiving a lot of compliments on my mixdowns, I personally felt like achieving the right balance on the last two albums was an incredibly strenuous process. I’ve continued honing my engineering skills over the last two years and arrived at a place where I’m really confident in my abilities. I can’t explain how cathartic it was to pull out a blank page so to speak, and utterly let loose on this album production wise. Any creative or musical idea I had, I would just lay it down and before long I had a final result that I could test out in the clubs. It was sheer joy to create these tracks. Regardless of the countless sleepless nights, the all-nighters, the days and weeks spent endlessly tweaking minor details, the crashed and corrupted project files, and the challenge of getting other people to believe in my ideas; the whole album was so much fun to make.
It’s not like you’ve got a lot of time on your hands is it? How did your radio and touring commitments affect how you wrote the album?
Funnily enough, my touring commitments are what made half this album possible. And by that I mean I don’t have anyone helping me find vocalists or setting things up for me. So the vocalists featured on this album are all people whom I’ve met while on tour. Often it’s a really random chance meeting at an after party or something and then we decide to try to collaborate on something later on. I love writing and co-writing songs for other people’s voices and styles. Maybe it’s the actor in me, I love getting inside that character and exploring their world. It’s made for a really diverse album in that way. But yeah, apart from that I just don’t fucking sleep.
Obviously with the radio show you’re surveying an even wider drum & bass vista than ever. Some artists have said they don’t listen to any drum & bass at all when writing an album as they don’t want to be indirectly influenced / sidetracked by current stuff. But there’s no way you could do that with your show…. What are your thoughts on this?
There are a whole bunch of ways I could answer that, but it’s not something I worry about in terms of my own music. I have a pretty strong identity as an artist and I know drum & bass inside out. When I’m working on the show I’m letting my analytical side come through and really thinking like a DJ. And when I’m in the studio, everything else melts away; I’m alone with whatever strange ideas come to me. I’ve always had that ability to disengage and let thoughts become more free-form. It’s something friends of mine had commented on years ago and part of what made me realise I was a creative person.
But if you’re someone who doesn’t inherently work that way then yeah, maybe limiting the things you’re exposed to could be useful. It’s hard to comment on other people’s creative processes because everyone has a different path.
Far From Perfect as a title seems like it might have a good story behind it… Or at least a nice bit of humility!
Well off the bat the album wasn’t made under ‘perfect’ circumstances. There were a whole host of circumstances which made things less than ideal. But instead of let anything hold me back I decided to incorporate some of my disadvantages into my creative process. Also, sometimes when I get some time to clear my head, I think about the gap between what people perceive on the outside, versus how things are. It’s not a complete picture, and in spite of everyone thinking that someone like me has “the best life,” it’s far more challenging that people may perceive. A lot of those artists who brag on their twitter saying things like “omg I do anything I want” are almost always doing so to keep up some kind of illusion for their fans. So I guess it’s a bit of a weird juxtaposition and I’m toying with it a bit.
But I guess the most basic explanation is that I can be a bit of a perfectionist. So it’s sort of an inside joke about the album, and trying to “finish” something which is truly never perfect.
The album is very punchy and direct. Like an old school LP… Bam: 10 tracks, ‘have some of that’ vibe. Was that the plan?
For the most part this album was made while touring on and off. So the way I decided that a track was finished was literally by testing each one in my sets as I made them. And the moment the crowd erupted in cheers on the drop and everyone’s arms went up, that’s when I knew each track was done. I wanted the whole album to be full of music that has feeling but also makes the dancefloor explode when I DJ. The best way to accomplish that was to have fun while making the album. Not being a perfectionist about the order of the tracks, or worrying about the tracks I removed from the album was part of what made it more fun. I was a perfectionist in so much as I had to be in LOVE with every track on there, and absolutely smash the mixdown with tons of bass.
Also sometimes when you tear yourself to shreds about which tracks to choose for the album and you can’t bring yourself to remove tracks, what you’re really broken up over isn’t the music, it’s the countless hours you spent making the music that might never be heard. So I just adopted this attitude like ‘fuck you,’ – to myself. I came at it with a meat cleaver and I was brutal with the whole process. If I chopped away something which took me two weeks to write, I didn’t care. All that mattered was the end result.
I’m also just really sick of ridiculously long albums with like 19-20 tracks. I find them really irritating and they often lack direction. I just wanted to cut through the fat and get to point.
Amen. And no tune covers old ground either – each one tells a different side to your musical psyche, right?
In terms of the diversity on the album, there were just different stories to be told. And the way I told the story of Can’t Get Enough, just wasn’t the level of intensity I wanted for Let You Go. Some artists don’t really give a fuck about the content of a song and just plaster the same lead synth over every drop, but I’m more into making a really complete sounding track.
I’m also really obsessive about exploring new ideas. Sometimes it a bit much, but on this album I think it has a nice balance. You can hear my style coming through on each track and there’s flow to the album if you listen through, or on shuffle.
What do you feel this album achieves that the previous two didn’t?
A fucking ridiculous level of sub bass. These records will utterly demolish everything in sight. Oh also, I’m really happy with the songwriting on this album. I think some of my pop sensibilities are showing through a bit more. I’m really happy that I’ve managed to get my song lyrics in there and put them side by side with some heavily underground tracks like How Do I Kill and Slappo.
If we were to eat any meal while enjoying your album what should it be and why?
Sweet potato fries. Because they’re delicious and fun and they have a lot of vitamins.
Anything else we need to know?
Yeah, I originally wrote the lyrics and melody for Cold Crush with the intention of having someone else sing it, but when Gydra heard the demo vocal I recorded they asked me who it was, I told them it was me they lost their minds and got really excited. So in the end, it’s me singing on that track. If it wasn’t for them having such a positive reaction to it then the song probably would have turned out quite differently. But it’s cool how that happened.