Rise and shine… LSB has just launched a brand new label, Footnotes, and there are a few things you need to know about it.
Following the likes of Lenzman’s The North Quarter, Alix Perez’s 1985, SpectraSoul’s Ish Music, The Prototypes’ Get Hype, Icicle’s Entropy Music and many other exciting new labels, Footnotes is another commendably grounded and legit artist-run label to launch in recent years. But while it’s a more-than-welcome addition to the current exciting groundswell of independent labels, it wasn’t launched from the same perspective.
To put it simply, LSB (real name Luke Beavon) had no plans on launching a label in the near future. He was happy where he was: Marcus Intalex’s Soul:r
Under Marcus’s mentoring – and not without serious levels of instinctive craft of his own – Luke flourished and developed as an artist on Soul:r, culminating with the release of his evergreen debut album Content in late 2016. More was expected to follow, including the immaculate four-track EP he’s launched Footnotes with, and a second album was already being discussed. They even made plans on the golf course the day before Marcus tragically passed away.
Everything changed when Marcus left us. For his family, for his friends and for everyone in drum & bass who he inspired personally or musically. The hole he left will never heal. But the help and guidance he’s given artists will live on forever… And Footnotes is a key place where we’ll feel that influence and inspiration. It’s evident in the music alone – from the DRS-fronted New Day to the tunnelling acid techno workout Tripped via the Calibresque haze of Jazz Strings – but it’s in Luke’s approach, vision and unhurried attitude you feel it the most.
We spoke to Luke about the label and the circumstances it’s developed from. Two of the most important things you need to know about Footnotes are as follows: It should be recognised for its own output and accomplishments, it’s not a Soul:r mark two and has no ambition to be. And this will be the only interview Luke will give about why the label has launched in the way that it has. Get to know:
Was a label always on the cards or is this a reaction to what happened last year?
Totally a reaction. I had no plans of running my own label for the next few years, if at all. Marcus and I were talking about plans after the album, what I was going to release and how I fit into the wider picture of the label. We talked about doing a various artists album with a little A&R assistance from me. The plan was to really help Marcus push Soul:r forward and build on the amazing legacy he’d done. We had a lot of ideas, we’d started running some events together in London, we were talking about my second album for Soul:r and had the Footnotes EP ready to release.
You were pretty involved in the label
We were friends and I was helping him out. I knew it was a big thing for him to delegate any type of label responsibility to me. It’s hard to explain, but we spent his last day alive on the golf course thrashing through all of this. He’d signed a lot of great new music. He’d got a guy, Dan Blindside, on board for admin and management. There was a real sense of focus and positivity about him, about the label, about everything.
This is so sad to hear
It hasn’t been easy for anyone. Especially his family. Personally it affected me in a lot of ways. I’d lost one of my best mates and a mentor and felt a lot of guilt about his passing too.
A lot of people assumed you might take on Soul:r after some time had passed…
I think there was an assumption by some that I might be able to do that, but it wasn’t meant to be. It wasn’t mine to continue and, as sad as it is that we have lost Soul:r, the real tragedy is that we have lost Marcus.
You must hear his voice in your head when you’re doing things. Maybe as you’ve been setting up the label or when you’re working on music. When can you hear his advice?
I just experienced that on the golf course actually. We played golf on his last day and I hadn’t played since then until the other weekend. I could hear him the whole way round. I was playing quite well and driving alright and I could hear him talking about the tempo. I was thinking about him the whole way round and it was one of the first times I’d thought about him in this way and it felt good to remember him.
Obviously I’ve thought about good times and miss him and get very upset that he’s gone way too soon, but this was different. This was his effect on me and how he’ll never be forgotten in the things I do and how I do them. It felt nice. And in terms of how I’ll hear his thoughts and advice as I’m developing the label, I kinda have this to come…. The first release was already approved by him. It was always meant to come out on Soul:r. The second EP was trickier. I didn’t have his seal of approval and it will take some time to judge my own music without him. I was very honoured to have him as a friend and as a mentor. His support and advice in a scene so big and fragmented meant the world to me. It was amazing. I’ll never forget what he taught me and will use that as I move forward.
One of the most important things he taught everyone, in both D&B and techno, was restraint and less is more. He taught us about the value of music.
Yeah. It was all about integrity for him. He loved groove, he loved simplicity, he loved realness and authenticity. That was something that we shared an interest of. It was never about a certain a sound or technique, we both seemed drawn to things written for the right reason. His taste was impeccable privately, within techno and in drum & bass. Anyone will tell you, if Marcus liked your tune then you knew you were onto a good one and if he didn’t like something he was also very good at pinpointing exactly what it was that needed working on. But those moments when Marcus did come back saying he liked something were always special.
I can hear a lot of him in Tripped. The acid sound and the techno mentality behind it.
I really wasn’t sure if he was going to like that one. I was going for an acid house vibe on that which was inspired by him. The drum patterns with the rides were a bit techno-y and I wasn’t sure I’d got them right but he was into it. I wrote it a long time ago, now. All these tunes on the first EP were in the pool for the album but didn’t sit in the flow of the album. So we always knew we were going to release this EP after, as the footnotes of the album. It was going to have the same artwork but in red. So that was the plan.
Can you remember the first tune he ever got back to you with an approval of a tune?
Yeah I can because we developed a friendship through golf before we had a musical relationship. We’d known each other since around 2005 when I booked him for a night we ran in Norwich but we had a mutual friend who was meant to play golf with us in 2010 and the friend dropped out. I just asked if he was up for playing anyway, we played and we met up for golf pretty regularly after that. I didn’t want to be that guy like ‘oh I’m a producer, here’s my demos’ but eventually we talked about my music and he said he’d already listened to them and felt there was something missing from them. Then I sent him Leave and he came back saying he loved it and wanted it straight away. That was the first thing I’d actually sent him. Then I sent him some more bits, one of which became The View with DRS and Tyler Daly and it worked from there. But the friendship was much about the golf course first and it was a while before we chatted about music properly. I value that a lot.
Yeah that’s really important. How do you feel you’ll develop the label with other artists?
For the time being it will just be my stuff. I’ve got another EP that’s done and I have a few bits lined up beyond that. I have spoken to people about signing some music but I don’t want to poach from the same talent pool. Lenzman’s The North Quarter has developed incredibly well and is on a similar vibe musically but I wouldn’t want to step on their momentum. But of course I want the label to be run well and develop properly. I want people to enjoy what’s being released and see it as a label worth paying attention to. I guess it’s somewhere between a side project and a full blown label but I need to get over the confidence to put out my own music. Let’s see how it goes.
There’s a groundswell of artist-founded labels but they all set up theirs because they wanted a departure from where they were. You’re the opposite and that’s part of Footnotes character, it makes the label special and the whole vision behind it unique.
Yeah I would have stayed on Soul:r for a long time. I was incredibly happy there. But the most important thing is that I don’t want people to see this as a Soul:r part two. You can never replace what Marcus brought to that. There are a lot of great new labels around now and it’s exciting to be part of that new chapter in drum & bass. And yeah, the circumstances are very different but hopefully the results will be good. Time will tell. I’m happy with what we have so far. The music I write has never been particularly en vogue or trendy so hopefully it stands the test of time as good music. I’m going to take it from there really and see how it goes…