When Friction announced he would be stepping down from Radio 1’s Drum & Bass Show after six years of service there were many questions surrounding the future of the show. Who will provide us with our weekly drum and bass fix of guest mixes and exclusive dubs? Who will entertain us with hilarious jingles and catch-phrases?
Step up René LaVice: The man tasked with taking the reigns of the show and driving it into a new dimension. Three broadcasts deep, he’s already demonstrating why he was picked to fill the Friction sized void. Fittingly he commenced his role with a brand new single entitled Woohoo…
Still a relatively young producer, some people may have been surprised to hear his name in the Radio 1 hot seat. But years spent surrounded by fellow music enthusiasts in his hometown of Toronto, coupled with his burning desire to explore new and interesting music avenues, have placed him in a valuable position of musical knowledge and appreciation.We caught up with him to find out how he landed his new role and what his plans are for the future of the Radio 1 weekly D&B tradition.
How are you finding your new role?
It’s been very exciting. The whole transition has been emotional because the show means a lot to so many people. It means a lot to me too, having come in after essentially being raised and inspired by the show for many years. To step up and take the reigns is an amazing feeling. I was blown away by the feedback from the first show! I wasn’t entirely sure how it would be received. I went in there to do whatever I thought would be a good show and a good building block for the rest of the shows, maybe freak a few people out too…
You seem to be settling into it nicely.
It feels right – like something that has been building up for a long time because I have been enjoying radio for many years. I used to take part in college radio and I also started my own podcast, which I completely fell in love with! I started doing it as an outlet because I get sent so much fucking music… I get sent house, hip-hop, trap, dubstep, rock, but a lot of drum and bass. I was like – man it would be good to put this somewhere because I’ve got my vein of where I want to go as an artist, but I wanted something that would open up the doors and show people my appreciation of music. This is an opportunity to demonstrate my love of the music and my nerd brain interest in the family tree of music and how it all evolves. Being able to do that on the biggest drum and bass show in the world is incredibly exciting.
It must be a real honour to be able to represent the music on such a large scale.
Yeah it’s a real honour! If there’s one goal for the show, it’s to represent the best of drum and bass. I’m not just there to make people happy. I want to lead people on a journey and show them something that they wouldn’t have otherwise listened to, exposing them to something they might go on to like. That’s a really big goal of mine.
I noticed in the first couple of shows you were playing tracks from new producers from around the world. Nice to see you reaching out so far and educating us about what’s out there.
This is English music right? It’s part of the culture and the heritage, but the genre itself is a fusion of different music. From Jamaican styles and sounds to African and North American. England is the birth place of it, but now it has gone worldwide. It’s a worldwide genre and one that is here to stay. A true staple of music. That’s why it’s on Radio 1, so this show is very much embracing that and the history of it.
Judging by the amount of exclusives in the first two shows, you must be getting sent a ridiculous amount of music?
To be honest it hasn’t differed that much from before because I used to get sent loads. I would say it probably doubled though because now instead of downloading it and doing what I want with it, I’m much more involved with setting up premieres and things. It’s all about making the show as exciting as possible. If I feel passionate about a piece of music then I want to give it a platform to present it to others. It’s a real catalyst for artists and independent musicians to get their careers flowing, as opposed to just uploading blindly on Soundcloud and being like – lets hope for the best! No, lets actually tell people how awesome this music is and why it matters.
Looking back, I can imagine you really appreciate these producers sending their music to you, seeing as you would have done the exact same thing when you first started out!
Yeah of course! Funnily enough I used to send music to Friction in my early 20’s because I somehow had his email. I wouldn’t get a response to the tracks I sent him and I’d sit there thinking – man, what the fuck! You don’t have five minutes to listen to my track and say no thanks? But now I’m on the other side of the coin and I literally don’t have five minutes… It’s funny looking back at these things. Ed and I have been good friends for a while. I used to really look up to him as a DJ and now he’s handing over the show to me, it’s completely surreal!
How did you taking over the show come about in the first place?
I don’t know! Haha… The BBC literally called me out the blue. I was having a terrible day… But they rang and asked me to come down to the BBC because they wanted to chat to me. I had no idea what it was about! I went down there and recorded a test run. They wouldn’t even tell me what it was for. They kind of hinted that they were looking for a host. They then rang me and offered me a specialist show on Radio 1 two hours a week. I was like – are you serious?… Hell yeah!
I imagine having a background in radio and a good relationship with Friction helped?
Yeah definitely. Friction and I met each other at gigs here and there and we always got on well. I don’t know what it is, but I can make him laugh really easily. If I’m in an elevator or something and he happens to walk up and see me, all I have to do is look at him and he starts cracking up! But in terms of music, I guess we would just talk about things every now and then. People are quite surprised by me taking over because they think – ah he’s just some young guy that maybe isn’t that educated on music or whatever, but I have been surrounded by some really good guys in Toronto who would always show me new music when I was coming through. We’d hang out and go through endless records. Old Renegade hardware stuff to Metalheadz, or even things without a label. So I don’t know if some of that came through, but I can imagine the people that knew me as a person thought I would be good at filling Ed’s role.
Before you took over the show Friction kindly passed on some words of wisdom from Fabio & Grooverider didn’t he?
Yeah when we did the passing of the baton, we were chatting and I was feeling pretty speechless. He was sat across from me and was like – you’ll be fine mate, it’s in good hands! He then goes – so now I am going to pass the baton over to you. I’m going to leave you with some advice that was passed onto me when I took over the show from Fabio & Grooverider. Don’t crash it René…
No pressure! Speaking of which, considering how influential the show has been to so many labels, producers and fans, do you feel pressure in continuing it?
Yeah there’s pressure, but as soon as you start giving in to the pressure and making it about the legacy, then that’s when it all goes to shit! Oh we’ve got to uphold the blah blah blah. Fuck that! No we’re going to do what is relevant now. We’re going to make the best show and bring all of that history into it. So you’ve got to take that pressure and just fire it out of a cannon. It’s all about the show. The legacy is something people can think about later.
It still feels like you’re experimenting and working out how you want the show to be opposed to how it should be.
Yeah 100%. Right now I’m doing a lot of shifting and working out the different ways the show can flow. I think some shows get really standardised with a segment here and another there. I’m never going to rule anything out, but I think it’s cool to have everything modular right now. If I want to have a segment or do a little thing then we can try it out and have a bit or fun with it. But there’s no reason why I can’t just turn up and go into the mix for two hours straight. I think it’s almost like writing a song. When you write you’re in a certain mood and there’s a human element. It’s the same thing with this show, it’s like you’re infusing your feelings and the world around you.
One element you definitely need to keep including in the show is your reference to a track as a baby maker…
It’s a baby maker baby! That GLXY Lucid tune, it’s the baby maker of the week. Your Wednesday hump day playlist addition. I’m telling you…
I literally can’t get that reference out of my head!
You can’t stop thinking about making babies? There you go! It’s PG as well. You’ve got to do it now haha, no pressure…
I’ll keep it in mind… Looking ahead to other non-baby related goals, one of the things Friction found most difficult was working on his own music alongside the show. Are you still planning to keep the releases flowing?
Well at present I’m releasing one track a month, so it’s pretty fucking nuts to be honest. I’m dropping an album in spring next year, so everything was planned out before any of this happened. It’s really just full steam ahead man. I don’t have any time for hobbies or anything… Sometimes it feels almost like a military exercise. It’s a 24 hours a day thing, it’s not like having a day job. I try to reward myself by taking breaks and eating properly. I cook a lot of my own food nowadays because I’m getting tired of hydrogenated, over salted crap!
Being from Toronto, I bet you’re especially tired of the ‘traditional poutine’ that is on offer at some of the places in the UK…
Yeah they’re all doing it wrong! They don’t understand. It’s literally glorified fries and gravy bullshit. It’s these hipsters man! I admire the effort because we should all share culture. You’ve got to get into poutine the same way I got into English breakfasts. I’ve been addicted to them for a solid seven years. I’ve recently had to back off because I’m like – that sodium man, it’s getting high… But yeah, poutine is the staple of the Canadian diet. I mean it’s not really because if you eat it every day you will probably die… But it’s all about having the cheese curds that slightly melt. I’ve gone into places in England and even Canada that are fucking around. You get the fries with the gravy on and then they whack a piece of American cheese on it. It’s so wrong! Poutine is so simple and if you get it right, it’s gooey goodness that will treat you right on any night. Just like the show…