Louis Carnell has sifted through dance music phases, and last year, came to rest at a sound he can call his own. Carnell, known to others as Visionist, has warped the influence of his early MCing days, of UK garage, grime and funky, of dubstep, and of South London into dazed, drum workouts that borrow elements from all of the aforementioned. Alongside the likes of Kowton, Pearson Sound, Beneath, Last Japan, and Wen, his tracks morph decades of UK sound system history into dark, dancefloor hybrids.
Following a 10″ for LNUK and a split 12″ for Signal Life, Visionist quite literally puts his spin on a grime influnce. He is one of five producers to remix Youngstar‘s grime classic ‘Pulse X’, in the debut release of the Liminal Sounds label. He Slackk, Blackwax, Pedro123 and label boss Elsewhere all contribute to the record, which comes out on Monday, January 21.
We spoke ahead of the release and got onto setting trends, Lost Codes, musical music and more.
Your ‘Pulse X’ remix comes out on Liminal Sounds soon. How do you approach remixes generally? And, did you approach this one any differently because it’s such a long-standing classic?
When I’m given a remix it’s all about making the tune my own so I take anything from a tune that I feel can be adapted and use the sample as I would in my original production. With the ‘Pulse X’ remix I wanted mine to be straight grime. The bass is the main feature on this tune so just changing the drums wouldn’t do so I wanted mine to be quite musical. I wanted to link it to where I’m from in South London where we had producers like Davinche and Delerious who used to be master’s of strings.
2012 gave rise to a lot of producers that probably aren’t, in your words, ‘musical’. Do you think a track being effective in a club, but musically bland, is enough?
I wouldn’t say it’s about being musical or not I just think 2012 has shown me which producers want to create something of their own and who just wants to conform and follow a formula, looking for the next club banger. I am not a producer who’s first thought is “this one is for the kids”. Those who I support know it, and although some of them have had the “club banger” this year, they also have their own sound. In a way it’s been good for me, it made me set up Lost Codes and discover music that somewhat is more left-field. So do I think drums and bass is enough in club environment? Well look at dubstep and early grime it works, not a problem. I think how early grime also has seemed to pop up a lot this year is interesting in correlation to techno, it’s raw and has constant repetitive rhythms for long periods. I don’t think that’s by accident. I wish I could just explain in full context… I chose the sound closer to home in many ways.
Early versions of Slackk, Pedro123 and Elsewhere’s remixes had already featured in a Liminal Sounds EP. Did you have them in mind when writing your own, or try to distance yourself completely?
Didn’t really care what they did was more about being happy with my own one. So no I wasn’t listening to there’s before I did mine, they’re great producers though.
How much do you experiment when producing? Have you been trying slower tempos, like so many others, recently?
If you look through my tunes there are different genres like grime, funky, bass etc but when I make a tune I put me into it. By this I mean I don’t create music I don’t feel right making I started off as a grime producer but it’s always been dark, emotive and I love shuffle in tracks. I’ve actually wrote a lot of tunes with very little drums recently and focus more on melodies and emotion and really enjoying it as it feels natural. 125bpm is the slowest I’ve gone.
Why do you think so many others have done this? Presuming you agree that more producers have begun writing at slower tempos than the other way around.
Yeah it’s hard to miss, house and techno has been 2012. The reason for this is that the underground scene is not that much different from the commercial nowadays, it starts at the top and people copy. I have made a couple tunes at 125bpm as stated earlier like the one Pearson Sound played on Rinse recently called “M” which was originally called “Set Trends” that was me setting a statement like here are some techno drums but look what else I can bring to the table keeping it original which a lot producers have forgot about. When a wonky hip-hop producer sends me a standard tech-house tune I lose any respect I had for their music before. Might as well make Pop as the thought process in this turn-around is really no different.
Visionist – “M”:
Do you think 2013 will be house and techno too?
Maybe, not really bothered if it is. They’re sounds that have been around forever not just now. I know what route I want to take musically and that is what I’m going to focus on.
How clear an idea do you have of what you want to achieve this year? What’s on the agenda?
From a whisper to a shout. Getting the respect I deserve and to be honest with some of the
big producers this is starting to happen. It’s great knowing some of your favorite producers
and DJ’s play your tunes but I want to be in a position where the tune is big because I play
Are you looking to work with vocalists/MCs?
I would like to, I’m sure it will happen.
To add to all the other end-of-year lists we’ve had recently, what were Visionist’s top 5
releases of 2012?
In no particular order
– Actress – R.I.P (Honest Jon’s )
– SD Laika – Unknown Vectors (Lost Codes)
– Burial – Truant (Hyperdub)
– Fatima Al Qadiri – Desert Storm (Fade To Mind)
– Evian Christ – Kings And Them (Tri Angle)
Who are you tipping for 2013?
Me, if things go to plan.
Liminal Sounds are hosting a ‘Pulse X’ remix EP launch party at Visions Video Bar, Dalston, on Saturday, January 19. RSVP here.