Interview: Lemon D


This Friday [19th October], the legendary Valve Sound System will reach Mint Warehouse in Leeds for a special night presented by Jungle Jam.  Along with sets from Logistics b2b Nu:Tone, N-Type, Dillinja and a 90 minute set from Metalheadz main man Goldie, Valve founders Dillinja and Lemon D will of course also be playing.

Lemon D is set to play a mixture of both jungle and footwork, so Leeds Student Clubs caught up with the man himself to chat about his newfound appreciation of the Chicago house offshoot.

Thanks for speaking to us Lemon D. Your set at Jungle Jam is billed as a jungle and footwork set. What first sparked your interest in footwork?
I had heard the Baltimore beat thing for a minute and stuff from the Chicago scene but it was when a good friend of mine got Phillip D Kick remix for an artist – I heard the jungle-fused stuff and was like ‘this is banging’. It was fresh because it was the re-work of old classics that I already knew but with a lick for the new generation coming through to absorb. I got his digits and hit him up to give him some props. For me I instantly could see that making new fresh tracks within that tempo was the one.

Have you played footwork to a drum & bass crowd before? What has the response been like? 
I find it’s the people with musical know-how that jump on it straight away and get it. The newbies are kinda lost because they’re so indoctrinated into hearing the same generic format, they don’t have the grasp of this rich musical evolution of electronic music in the UK – but with all things new… it’s like all forms of any new art, something gets presented – it goes over peoples heads… Some ‘futurists’ get it because they want music pushing envelopes, barriers, but the masses tend to follow once it becomes mainstream. I played a bunch of footwork-influenced beats at the Redbull (SA) event last year and they were so down with it – it was a great responsive show. It’s the best when playing to a crowd who want new fresh groundbreaking music and are responsive to new sonics.

Which artists do you rate most from the genre? What did you think of the Phillip D. Kick footwork edits of classic jungle tunes?
I’m really into the stuff thats fusing current genres and established – Machinedrum is sick! There’s also the fusion of even going half time then dropping back in! So it’s all hip-hop/boom bap then bang! Back into the double speed! I think people have to understand the science behind music and tempos/genres – right now this is open to experimentation and musical freedom – there are no rules and that can only mean wicked music being made instead of predicable tracks with a painting by numbers ethic applied! It was a fresh approach bringing the jungle with the Phillip D Kicks series, the edits were long gone and now it seems to be back in my eyes when you listen to whats coming out of L.A. and around the globe where the fusion of tempos and genres are moving! I think the tempo is perfect as it sits in after dubstep and tucks itself behind DnB. You can apply wicked beats and basslines as the tempo has the perfect dance floor energy! When I hear a new track that’s executed right I’m like I need that! It’s so fresh!!

There is the obvious connection to jungle/drum & bass in that they have a similar tempo, but do you see any other connections that make them work well together?
It’s all about the producer having the vision to make it creative – it’s an open page! You can add in anything and make it happen, that’s the beauty. That’s what made me excited working on my forthcoming music project – but its great you can step it out and drop in breakbeats as you feel. Jungle was 160 it just got sped up by the DJs!

Have you started producing footwork? Do you make a conscious effort to differentiate it from the Chicago-based sound and make it more relevant to the UK? One thing about jungle was that it couldn’t have come from another place, it had a distinct UK feel to it.
I have a bunch of tunes I produced in the last 18 months – tons of music – I’ve made a huge effort to not just think about generic structures but make sure I’m having fun with it. Either I play chords, use samples, whatever feels good. I find the most important thing is I’m enjoying what I do so it transfers into the music. The sound is totally different from the Chicago sound. It’s a hybrid! It has a definite salute to the innovators but also a quintessential UK lick to it! I’ve heard tracks from Chicago where the producers using a UK track from back in the day like 90s ! It was bananas! The beats I think I do fuse the US and UK sound.

You’ve not released a new EP since ‘Dead By Dawn’ in 2009. Now you’ve got your new K-AZE alias, can we expect to hear anything from you in the near future? 
It’s not an alias really but it’s the next phase for me! K-AZE represents the two initials of my birth name, where Lemon D was strictly associated with jungle/DnB – This is me being me putting all influences into the cauldron and turning that spoon!  I stopped producing DnB 4 years ago and just went back into my old music collection. That gave me a great boost because things were so much about the music back then through each decade I would go back too. I experimented for 18 months with various tempos, genres, vocalists and rappers. Got a happy medium, for the last 12 months I’ve been producing a whole set of new music to DJ with. I get to take it from 70 BPM – 160 BPM and back!

I have forthcoming releases on my own Valve imprint, also I’ve had music picked up by other established record labels where I will be releasing 12’s or EPs. I have also completed some remixes. There’s also free music in November via our website and Soundcloud account so it’s kinda busy… I don’t really stick to a genre, instead I fuse them together and have more fun! Fun is the key…

‘Jungle Jam presents: The Valve Sound System’ is tomorrow night [Friday 19th October] at Mint Warehouse, 10pm – 7am.  If you haven’t yet got a ticket, they’re on sale for £16 via Ticket Arena or Skiddle.

photo courtesy of Jungle Jam

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