It says a lot about an artist when Noisia compare your music to that of Konflict don Kemal. It also says a lot when you’ve collaborated with Current Value in the past… It says even more when Aphex Twin plays that same collaboration in most of his sets for over a year.
Such is the life of Lockjaw. AKA Louis Fourie, the Canberra-based artist with a penchant for minimal menace and an ability to squeeze inhuman amounts of roles and occupations into his days. Not only is he a student studying his second degree (psychology, his first was music), he also masters for Cygnus, runs Locked Concept Records, has a part time job and volunteers at Lifeline Australia. If that’s not quite enough, he’s also picked up his guitar again for the first time in seven years. Oh, and he makes music like this…
Taken from this month’s Unconscious EP – a powerful technoid fourpiece of late night weapons – it’s yet another prime example of Lockjaw’s stripped back science. A science he still feels he’s learning and refining. We caught up with Louis to find out more…
What’s going on in Canberra? I hear a lot about Perth, Melbourne and Sydney but less so Canberra…
It’s a kinda university and public servant city. It doesn’t have the most thriving music scene, the size of the city isn’t quite big enough to support that. But cool things happen here and there.
Does that have an influence on your music? You’re not neck-deep in a scene so you have less distractions from your music?
It’s interesting because I never got into the music because I was DJing. Producing has always been a very separate thing from DJing, so it didn’t bother me.
That’s cool. You’re not so governed by boundaries of DJ-based music..
Noisia said it sounded like you’d been listening to a lot of Kemal the other week on Noisia Radio when discussing your tune Automaton. What a compliment. Did they get that right?
Ironically no. I wanted to base a tune around a big synthy kick and it came through in that kind of style. It was nice of them to say, though. It’s always cool when Noisia play one of my tunes, or anything from the label. It feels like ‘okay, we’ve reached a level here’.
The Unconscious EP is your first original music since your album Human Research. Was that quite a freeing experience not having to write in album mode?
You’d think it might be but no, not really! It still took me for ages to write. I just don’t have the time to sink into projects like I used to.
I’ve noticed artists seem to of two different mindsets after an album. They’re either totally creatively spent and need to recharge or they’re inspired and want to write loads more…
I was kinda in the middle of that, I guess. The album was done but then took a while to come out. The whole logistics side of things and getting the album out and promoting it. It takes time. That’s the issue with self-releasing things: you play all the roles at once.
It must be a nice feeling though? DLR said to me the other day that’s it’s never been a better time to be an indie label. Would you agree?
100 percent. That’s why I’ve been doing that since 2014. I’d released on labels I liked for a while, ticked a few things off the list and started to think ‘why am I not releasing these myself?’ But it is a steep learning curve, dealing with all the parts of the process.
The remix album must have been another massive learning curve in itself. Lots of moving parts!
It was like herding cats sometimes. Not in any sleight on the artists, they were all on the ball and had everything ready on time. But liaising with 10 different artists all at different stages of the completion process was quite a challenge.
Did you pick specific tunes for specific remixing artist?
With some I gave them a few tunes to pick. I didn’t want to force people into doing one song. But the quality from everyone has been really impressive.
What was the first tune of yours to be remixed? And what was the experience like?
Yeah I can. It was a tune called Idol which was on Lifestyle during my early days. It was part of a remix competition so there were quite a few different versions of that. That was very strange.
Remix comps can vary in quality. You must have heard some rubbish!
There were some weird interpretations, but that’s the nature of remixes, right?
Did anything really inspire you in your remix album? Maybe moment that make you re-think your own tunes?
Definitely. I’d say all of them did in a way. The Ordure remix was amazing and something I’d never in a million years have tried. All of the songs took my originals to different places. That’s great though – that’s the point of a remix album.
What’s your own proudest remix you’ve done so far?
I don’t have many but the remix I did of Signal’s Indirect stands out. It was also on Lifestyle and I actually hated it. I honestly didn’t like one bit of it, but it’s the second most played song on my Soundcloud so there must be something in it. People can hear something in it that I can’t, but that’s great.
That’s the subjectivity of music!
That’s right. It feels like everything I release, I pick the favourite and think that’s going to be the big tune on the EP and the big tune turns out to be a completely different one.
What’s the big tune on this EP? My persy is Interference
Let’s see when the dust settles but my personal favourite is Optics.
Oh proper tune. It’s kinda techno influenced
Yeah I’m happy with how simple it is. There’s barely anything going on. That’s been my focus since the album. I just keep on subtracting until it has its bare essential elements in it.
A tune should be a like an Italian dish – minimal ingredients for a maximum flavour.
Totally. I zone out when I hear a lot of drum & bass. It can get too busy and your brain taps out, there’s so much going on and a lot of it is unnecessary. All you need is good drums, a good bass and maybe one other synth or sound and you could do amazing things with that. It’s impossible to focus on any more than that as a listener.
What are you focusing on now?
We got some things coming up on the label including a V/A EP coming up with a whole bunch of artists who haven’t appeared on the label before. And for me personally, I have a few bits and pieces here and there. I’ve also picked up the guitar again.
Ah, are you in bands?
God no. My music degree was based around guitar playing but I started producing because I didn’t want to be in a band anymore! I can record guitar myself and use the knowledge I’ve got from years of producing drum & bass to record myself. I studied jazz so I was in a band with friends, but we never toured or anything. It was all studying and playing at home.
Do you ever get any tune ideas from playing guitar?
Not necessarily but it’s true to say the way I think about music in general is based around guitar playing. My concepts of melody and harmony are rooted in the guitar. Even though until recently I hadn’t played it for seven years.
Was it like riding a bike?
Yeah it took a few weeks, which was quite surprising. I was back to where I was beforehand very quickly.
Nice! Can we expect a Lockjaw jazz album in the future?
Oh no, let’s spare the world from that! It’s just nice to play mentally. I get into a zen like state because when you’re playing guitar you can’t concentrate on anything else but playing. It clears your mind.
Do you get any zen from producing?
It’s different. People talk about getting into flow states and you can get deep into a production session when everything you do is the right thing and you lose a whole bunch of hours then realise you’ve actually made some decent progress. It’s an interesting one.
How often do you get that?
Maybe 20 or 30 percent of the time I’m producing. If I’m lucky.
Enough to make you know it’s achievable but hard enough to push yourself. What else does the world need to know about Lockjaw right about now?
I think that’s it. Thanks for listening!