If you’ve been following the more broken beat and breaks-led side of bass music then you will already know exactly who the hell Left/Right is…
Texan born Chris Lund has been ploughing low end harvests since the late 2000s both locally, with a long-standing reputation as an event promoter and production tutor, and globally… His debut UK set, for example, was at none other than Fabric.
Having taken a short sonic sabbatical in the early 2010s he returned two years ago with a much deeper, more measured sound on Stanton Warriors’ Punk imprint with the agenda-setting Time EP. It’s been followed by a consistent flow of activity including a series of high profile singles on Punks (where he’s now one of the label’s A&Rs) and the launch of his own label BrØken.
A platform at the stark frontier of the busted-beat underground, BrØken boasts cuts from rising and respected artists such as Zander (who co-runs the label with Chris) Celladore, Hypho, Echo Knight, Evil Nine and many more. With heavy support from the likes of My Nu Leng, and all music available for a big fat $Ø, if it’s not on your radar it’s highly recommended.
Three other Left/Right activities that come highly recommended all landed this month. Firstly there was his Dirtybird debut with this bumping remix of Shiba San…
Then his latest single with fellow Dallas-based songwriter Jacq: Bad, the follow up to last year’s sultry, purring Lies
Most importantly, though, his Punks Shadows Selection mix: a seismic selection of some of the sharpest, shadiest and deepest broken music being made right now. Boasting 28 tracks of his own plus material from the likes of My Nu Leng, Pelikann, Taiki Nulight, Worthy, Distro, Sly-One and Punks bosses Stanton Warriors, it doesn’t just represent Left/Right but it represents where bass music and broken beats are at in 2017.
Fresh from his recent Miami and SXSW schedule denting, we caught up with Chris to wrap up one of the busiest months in his career so far…
So you’ve been around for a while now. Many people will know exactly who the hell you are!
Hopefully! In the past I think I’ve been more of a producer’s producer but I’m always happy to be seen as a newer artist than an older artist by people just now finding me. There’s definitely been a new wave of interest in the last few years as I’ve been working with Punks and doing my thing and people are more open to new bass sounds.
In a way the sounds you’ve developed since the Time EP hit two years ago are Left/Right 2.0 – the rest was practice or a dry run. Would you agree?
Yeah, that’s where I felt I’d really found a groove and sounds of my own. A lot of that came from taking a break. I took my head away from the music for a while as I was getting sick of all the same sounds coming out and when I came back I had a different perspective. I went back over the underground UK stuff and really got back into it. UK funky, garage, two-step, UK bass. Back to where it started in a way – the first breaks acts that put me on this path were Way Out West and Hybrid. Now I see it all as one big thing – there’s broken beats in every genre, it’s not just ‘breaks’ and that’s an important distinction.
It’s also cool to have so many genres to cherry pick broken stuff from. The emphasis is back on digging deeper and broader again….
Yeah it really is. It’s funny, it’s actually more work now compared to what we did digging for vinyl. Just the amount of releases to dig through, it’s a never ending challenge to really find unique sounds.
I guess that’s the same for releases on BrØken? You’ve developed a distinctive sound for the label.
Thanks. I think that sound is developing a lot at the moment. The growth we’ve had is amazing – especially as we’re being picked up in the UK where the sound is influenced by in the first place. And as we’re growing, we’re getting more demos from further around the world.
Where is Talkre from? Warlord is a banger
That’s a big one. My Nu Leng have supported that one heavily. We’ve worked with Talkre before, back when he was called Magistrate. He really is killing it. Another exciting artist from the UK is A.Motion. I’ve been really into him since I went through that phase of getting back into UK bass; he makes really cool heavier garage and two-step. I was already following him so when I saw he’d submitted a tune to the label I was really pleased. Another key act for us lately from Europe is Khesis. He’s from Hungary and he’s bringing a whole new dimension of influences. That’s really important for Broken; bringing in a lot of sounds that work well with garage, with drum & bass, with house.
A little like your Shiba San remix on dirtybird… Any more of that to come?
Yeah that is more on the house vibe and works well on a lot of different dancefloors. Will any more come that way? We shall see. I was stoked to release music with Dirtybird and I’m working on a lot of things that are similar to that sound at the moment. I want to start representing what I play in my sets more. When I play I get a lot deeper and leftfield and delve into elements of techno and house. The Shiba San remix is a good example of that type of sound that works well in a house set but is still broken. I’ve also got some really chill leftfield tunes and of course some bigger bass bangers in the works for Punks.
Tricky balance to get right isn’t it?
It is, but as long as I like and believe in the music I make, I’ll release it. It’s not drastic diversions from what I’m already known for. People will either like it or not but that’s not why I make music.
So who’s Jacq? You’ve worked with her on two prominent releases of yours in the last year…
She’s a friend who’s had success in all kinds of genres; trap, EDM, Billboard hits, even something on Armada. She’s also doing this really cool lowkey pop and soul stuff. She’s got a lot of range and is really versatile.
You can hear that across both tracks. Did you make them at the same time?
Both tracks had been done for a while. Lies was maybe two years old before it came out. It was finished in 2013 or something. I don’t remember the exact history of Bad but we’d been sitting on that for a bit too, so I’m pretty sure it was finished before Lies came out. In both situations they came together so easily – she’s a great singer songwriter and would pop out ideas that I could really work with. There wasn’t a huge amount of back and forth – we both really appreciate what we both do.
I was wondering if Jacq was a student of yours?
Oh no no. We just work well together.
You do have some noteworthy graduates don’t you?
Yeah I’ve been proud of a lot of my former students in the Dallas scene that have really blew up in the electronic world. It’s really cool. The labels Audiophile XXL, Audiophile Deep and Audiophile Live have come out through people I’ve taught and worked with.
Zander was a student wasn’t he?
Yep, a long time ago. He’s a partner on the label and we used to do a lot of events together too. I would say, without question, he’s one of the hardest working promoters in Dallas. Sometimes holding down five or six events a month. It’s a really exciting scene here at the moment.
Where else in America, besides the obvious big cities, is popping from your perspective?
From my recent tour, Charlotte has a surprising cool scene with bass and broken beat stuff. St Louis is also a lot of fun. I just played there at a party and came on just after Bare Noize. That was a cool vibe; going from the heavier dubstep sound of theirs to my deeper sound. I just went in on the heavier end of my sound. A lot of Pelikann and Crawford releases. Basically the sound you hear on my Shadow Selection mix.
Yes, your mix!
I’m pretty stoked about it. It’s got 10 of my own tracks on there. Bits from My Nu Leng, Taiki NuLight, Worthy, Evil Nine, Stanton Warriors, Pelikann, Crawford etc. It’s been a great project and is essentially my own artist album but with a bunch of my heroes on it too. It shows where I’m coming from, and where my place is on the label.
I think it sums up where we’re all at with the broken beat right now. Everyone’s at it!
Yeah it’s good time musically. There’s a lot of great things around from a DJ and label perspective and a lot of talented people out there. But it has to be said… I see this trend going both ways. You’ve got guys pushing it into more of a mainstream EDM direction but there’s also a wealth of people pushing it into some interesting underground sounds and directions. What’s exciting to me is house guys – like Lenny Kiser or Sacha Robotti – applying breaks and getting everybody popping with a little ghetto vibe for a moment or two. That’s a really exciting crossover for me and something you’ll hear in more of my music in the future.
What else can we expect in the future?
Well I’m working on more DJ mixes. I haven’t put out that many mixes recently and now that I’m done with Shadow Selection I’m on a roll to do more. So as well as my next few originals I want to put out some mixes that showcase more of my broader sound. I’ll also be getting some remixes of Bad coming very soon…
Photo by JaviPictures