Lakeway’s been meddling with bass monsters for almost five years and his tracks have been supported by the likes of Rockwell and Dub Phizix. Chances are you already know the answer to this question.
But with the release of his OXT EP on Diffrent last week it feels like the sound he’s been carving has levelled up another unique notch once more… And it’s time we all got up to speed.
Sitting somewhere between Ivy Lab and Mumdance, armed with a palette of swooning sci-fi synths and slippery grimey beats, the crafty art of surprise and intense shots of melodic emotion, Lakeway – real name Liam Ralph – is on a mission that resonates with drum & bass’s primary principal: to sound like nothing, or no one, else.
Turns out he even quit his music degree to help him focus on his quest. Here’s why…
Are you in Bristol?
No I’m back in Exeter… I was studying music in Bristol but it wasn’t really working for me so I’m back here and working things out for myself
Why did you quit?
I was paying £9000 to learn things I can learn from YouTube. Plus when you send tunes to labels they don’t say ‘ah mate this tune is sick but you haven’t got a degree, sorry!’
There’s no degree in original gully studies last time I checked
This is it. There’s little creative freedom, it’s all very formal and boring, so I’m best off working things out myself and finding my own sound, not one that’s taught to everyone. In this way, I’m only just working out my sound and seeing what the music is saying. I’m taking my time and trying not to put anything out that sounds like anyone else.
Need to acknowledge that you’ve been on this since 2012 with the dubstep EP Anger Vent… Five years into the game now.
I never know how to gauge how established I am. I put out tunes and hope for the best. Anger Vent when I was in secondary school. Maybe about 14 or 15. It’s all changed a bit since then.
Yeah it sounded like you started to carve a sound from Digital Serotonin…
That was when I really started getting into it and realised I can’t just recycle the sounds I’m already hearing.
I can hear grime influences on the new EP…
Yeah the new wave of grime has definitely been a big influence on me. Guys like Mr Mitch, Mumdance, the Weightless stuff. Traditional grime but a lot more focused on the melodies rather than how hard the beats hit. It’s been inspiring so I’ve tried to reference a little of that in the new tracks.
It’s important to be checking what’s going on outside of D&B, right?
Yeah – I’m always worried about staleness. Even elements of halftime are starting to sound stale. People listen to something and say ‘this is sick, I’ll make something that sounds like out’ and more and more people do it without bringing anything new into the mix. Bring your own inspirations into what you do and keep the genre fresh.
What’s the concept with OXT. We talking oxytocin?
Yeah. It’s based on my time in Bristol – because I wasn’t happy there and wasn’t sure about my course I was on I felt isolated and didn’t connect with people. Oxytocin is the chemical in your brain released when you connect with people on an emotional label which was something I missed in Bristol. I wanted to make the EP personal to me. Lakeway is me. It’s not an alias – it’s me. I wanted it to be honest as possible. Like you say, I’ve been around for a bit now and I wanted to make an EP that really represented me personally.
I hear you’ve had some big label interest?
One label who I really respect wanted to sign me exclusively but that meant I could do anything with Diffrent who I’m really enjoying working with. I didn’t just want to jump ship when I’m happy where I am. I feel like things are picking up with support and interaction from people I really respect, which is incredible. It’s quite scary.
Who was the first big DJ to start playing your stuff?
Rockwell was the first serious artist to support my music. He’s definitely been the biggest champion and played my stuff on Radio 1 and supported a lot of my releases. We’ve not met properly but he seems like a real geezer.
I’ve got quite a lot of things written and ready to go but we’re sitting back and working out what will work as a follow up. We’ve got plans but we’re not strict with them, we’re taking our time and making sure what we do is the right thing.
I have to ask… What’s your favourite lake?
Oh mate, I’ve never even thought about it.
It’s in your name!
That one in Central Park, that’s a nice lake.