After successfully assimilating the Ivy Lab outfit into the scene alongside fellow beat machines Sabre and Stray, Laurence Reading a.k.a Halogenix has returned to the floor with a solo project, further cementing his own presence on the circuit. A solid four track EP entitled ‘Take The Lead’ showcases his most recent efforts, aligning once again with Dispatch Records, through whom the young Londoner has previously released two records.
We sat down with the man himself to discuss the EP, his summer endeavors, the current state of drum and bass and much more…
Hey Laurence, how’s the summer been treating you this year? Outlook fun?
Hey man, Summer’s been great thanks. I’m a regular complainer that the UK weather is generally whack, so the fact that we had more than 4 days back to back of Sun was definitely a good look. Outlook was also great, my first time out there (and my first festival ever believe it or not!) and it was a great experience, went out with my fiancee as well so was generally good vibes!
Much lined up for the coming months, gig wise?
Yeah quite busy, off to Vienna in November as Halogenix, then loads of things with Ivy Lab keeping me busy.
So the new EP, ‘Take The Lead’, how you do you feel it’s been received in the early stages?
Pretty well I think. I took a bit of a time-out with Halogenix after the Ivy Lab thing kicked off so it was nice to come back to a pretty solid release after about a year with nothing to my name. Ant’s been a great support of my stuff ever since I came about so it made sense to put my first debut single out with Dispatch.
You’ve got a knack for what I’d call, ‘movement based thought music’, in that your drum work is crisp and dance-floor orientated, but you’ve also applied time to progressive atmospherics for more intent listening. Has this been a culmination of your previous works or is it how you’ve always approached production?
I’d say the combo of music and crisp beats is definitely a relatively new thing for me. I’m used to making quite wacky beats that don’t really conform to the ‘dnb’ rule books, I’d say the B side of my EP ‘Each His Own’ definitely has echoes of my older approach to 170 music… quite frantic, lots going on etc… I enjoy the lack of precision, everything’s quite messy but that adds to the character of the music I think.
It must be nice to be working with Dispatch again, they’ve obviously given you the freedom to really express yourself on this release…
Yeah exactly, Ant’s a really great label boss, he’s willing to take a risk which i think is pretty rare these days, people just want to guarantee record sales so you’re ultimately going to have to make a creative sacrifice if what you’re focused on is sales. The labels I’m fortunate enough to work with seem to have the knack to have both so it’s great.
What are your thoughts on the drum and bass scene at the moment? There’s been an obvious shift in the output coming from a host of producers over the past few years, a lot of experimentalism on show. Have you felt at all inclined to pull other musical influences to your productions now that there’s perhaps a wider receptivity from your audience?
I think the scene’s really healthy at the moment, the diversity has brought a lot of really needed, positive attention back onto the scene, which in my point of view is fantastic. The fact that someone like Machinedrum is releasing a predominantly 170 album on a label like Ninja Tune is great news for the likes of me and other producers who prefer straying from the beaten track as it really gives us a chance to fully express our ideas without fear of there being no labels out there who’d wanna sign it…
To be honest, I’ve always been a huge advocate of experimental stuff, it’s pretty much all I made coming up in the scene, it was only until I wanted to release music that I started to slightly conform my ideas, it’s a path I’m not too proud of but ultimately it’s left me in a position where I can release more experimental tracks along side perhaps more conventional stuff and it’ll get heard.. I think back in the day if you wanted to be really experimental, before the Autonomic days for example, you’d have a hard time getting heard, so it’s great yeah.
With regards to my own output, I’m not really making what you might call ‘conventional dnb’ any more, I find it quite hard to be honest with you, I find it hard to catch a vibe. It’s so much easier for me to get a groove going if it’s totally messed up, I feel like I’m making something that’s not really been heard a lot so it makes me a lot more excited than say, laying down a 2-step dnb beat pattern…
I’ve read that you’re also into film making. Have you ever considered score writing for video content?
Yeah I did some back in the day, it’s really hard as there’s no grid to write to, you just have to vibe off the pictures and then create your riffs based on what you see, it’s quite refreshing to have different restrictions, forces you to think differently..
The Ivy Lab trio, with yourself, Sabre and Stray has really taken off. Has this success, as much as anything, spurred your own solo conquests?
It’s definitely made me hungrier to pursue getting Halogenix to a similar position yeah, there’s a definite cross-over of ideas as the result of Ivy Lab, one day I might be vibing off a loop that was initially intended for a Halogenix beat that’ll end up being donated to the Ivy Lab pot, and another day might set off to write something for the sake of Ivy Lab but end up making a Halogenix beat… it gets quite tricky sometimes when I make something that I wanna run solo but it’s better off in the Ivy Lab pot but, it’s all for the greater good I guess so I don’t mind. It’s great being in a position where everything I make has a potential output and won’t confuse people as to my ‘sound’ it’s like I’ve got every angle covered if you know what I mean.
– Perhaps you can shed some light on a track that has been bugging me for a while…At Echo Festival this year, Kasra ended his set with a tune (a banger by all accounts) that was around 120bpm. When I asked him what it was, he just said ‘new Ivy Lab’…?
120?? I have no idea. We’ve got a new EP dropping pretty soon so perhaps it’s something from that…it’s all 170 though so i don’t know haha! Unless someone’s been making house and sending it to Kasra labelled Ivy Lab.. I’ll have to investigate.
– Your twitter description ‘Asians and Cats’ made me laugh. Would you ever consider making a beat using samples from both? What could go wrong?!
Haha – yeah that could be quite fun I think. Would be a hit in Asia for sure… they love cats out there…
The reason for that is that my fiancee is from Indonesia and we have a cat (called Jim) (that I think she loves more than me sometimes).
Thanks for the response, Laurence. Lastly on my ask list; being a man who started out young and has now reached a notable level of accomplishment, do you have any words of wisdom for prospective beat junkies?
Nothing particularly profound I don’t think… the best advice I got when I was coming up was just stick at it; the more time you invest, the more you’ll get out.
‘Take The Lead’ is out 9th September on Dispatch Recordings