In the Middle with Lenzman

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Ahead of the release of his new album, Bobby, this Friday, we caught up with DnB legend Lenzman to chat about his influences, favourite tracks from the album and memorable performances…

First of all, can you tell us a bit about your influences growing up?

I have so many influences, this feels like a difficult question to answers because, were do I start, where do I stop. But as far as music goes, as a teenager I feel in love with Hip Hop – this is in the mid 90s – and specifically East Coast stuff, “Nas, Mobb Deep and Wu” – has probably had the most consistent plays for me. Also people like AZ, Tribe Called Quest, Pete Rock and Premier productions. Some years later I became intrigued by Drum & Bass. That, along with living a life split between The Netherlands and The UK (during my holidays). This duality is also my passion for Hip Hop and Drum & Bass, which I listened to with friends in The Netherlands and the UK respectively. These two things I’ve tried to connect in recent times, in my productions, in vocalists I try to work with, and more recently in A&Ring on my own label, The North Quarter.

Is there anyone who has influenced the sound or production of the new album?

Mainly stuff that I was listening to in my younger years, specific albums actually. Mobb Deep “The Infamous”, Erykah Badu “Baduism” are examples of really stripped back, Jazz influenced pieces. I wanted to translate that minimalist approach, heavy on piano, into my music.

What’s your favourite track from the album?

I have a couple that stand out more than others, but I think my favourite is Hollis. I just really liked the musical progression in it. It might not be a track that will do a lot of damage in a club, but I just like how it flows and the vibe for me is as close to Jazz as I think I can get.

The track “Old Song” features a much more jungle-esque beat, is this a direction that you can see your music going in the future?

Not really. I see that a lot of people are on the jungle revival thing, but I’m not really one of them. For me this track was really a nod to some of my early inspirations. A little wink towards Dillinja, DJ Die and Optical, all kind of mashed together. A sonic mood board collage of bits and pieces that I was into when I first got into Drum & Bass. I did something like that on my first LP too. For me it’s about paying respects to the past, but for me the present and future are about other things.

To what extent have advancements in music technology changed your production style?

I’m not a massive tech head when it comes to production. I have one of the most basic setups, and to be honest, I don’t care too much about it. For me it’s all about catching a vibe. So in recent times, not much has affected my production style. I would say though, that if things were still like they were in the 90’s I likely would have never made it. Back then you had to invest so much into outboard equipment to even be able to make any music. I did attempt it, I had some friends that had some bits and pieces, but it was all so basic, I don’t think we ever had a chance. It wasn’t until computers and software became powerful enough to write “in the box”, that I managed to learn how to write properly.

Bobby features collaborations with the likes of DRS and Children of Zeus, can we be expecting special appearances in any of your upcoming live shows?

I’m lucky enough to do live shows with DRS pretty regularly, he’s a legend in the Drum & Bass scene and off the back of the Still Standing Remix, we have all been booked together a couple of times. I’d really like to do that on occasion. But honestly Children Of Zeus are flying off the back of their Travel Light LP, so they really need to be doing their own thing.

What has been your most memorable performance to date? Why?

This is a hard one to answer. I’ve been in this game for a long time now and I’ve played a lot of memorable shows. One that was really special recently was my “Curated By”. I’ve been trying so long to push Soulful D&B in The Netherlands, and it’s been a tough battle in all honesty, so it was really nice to have such a legendary venue absolutely rammed with a lineup that was completely from the heart.

Finally, what can we expect from your upcoming shows?

Deep, Soulful Drum & Bass. These days I play a lot of forthcoming music on The North Quarter, as well as my own work. I’ve been working a lot with Fox and Abnormal Sleepz on hosting duties. 

Bobby comes out Friday 29th March. You can check out Lenzman’s Album Special on Rinse FM here.

(Main image: Chelone-Wolf)