Lone: Ambivert Tools

Lone has established himself as one of the most unpredictable people in electronic music. Through 7 years of working with R&S, as well as running his own label, Magicwire and an ongoing residency at NTS, he’s released material spanning everything from hip-hop to house to ambient and techno.

More recently, he’s been sporadically releasing a series of new EPs, and in so doing returned to a more housey, club oriented approach, something of a departure from his impressive four album run from Emerald Fantasy Tracks in 2010 all the way up to Levitate in 2016. Titled Ambivert Works, the first two volumes came out last year, the third has only just arrived and the fourth is pipelined, so it seems like an optimal time to speak to him about how it all came together.

You started rolling this new series of EPs last year, did you develop them all at once or have you been developing them gradually?

They tend to not exist until nearly release time, in fact the last two weren’t handed in until the night before they were mastered. Each one has been very last minute, that’s a big part of the driving concept, they’ve acted as a steady flow. Pretty much everything I’ve made in the past year has come out, since I’d been on an album stretch for so long with things taking ages to come out, so here I wanted to take a more rapid approach.

Do you feel like this sequential approach to the process has changed as you’ve released each subsequent EP?

The influences have certainly changed, if not the process. The initial idea was to go back to house music, I didn’t expect this to happen but different inspirations have come about as I’ve worked, so this latest one has more of a breakbeat vibe, which isn’t something I’d intended at first. I’m on the fourth volume now and at present it’s kind of all over the place so I’m interested to see how it pans out.

Is there any kind of narrative which passes through all of them?

I’m not sure really, I’d like to think so but I think it’s a bit too much of an accidental process for that to happen. The whole idea behind it is that every track in the series is meant to be suitable for club play, whether that be peak time, 6am or the start of the night. It’s my take on club music that could fit any timeslot.

Was there any thought process which sparked that off?

I’d been Djing at home a lot, just for the fun of it, and my last album, Levitate, was intended as a live piece. After that I found that the more I played around with sets and found records, the more it fed into my production, so I thought it would be nice to develop a whole new range of material to play out when I’m Djing.

You’ve said with previous releases that you wanted to move away from sampling and more towards creating your own sound, but it seems like these new ones have a bit of an even split between both, where’s that coming from?

I’ve not been all that conscious of it. Being stuck in the album pattern made me want to follow feelings more than big concepts. It’s very reflexive and the approach just maps to impulse. I’m the complete opposite of a studio nerd, I have a very limited setup, I just stick to what I know really well, so I haven’t felt any need to bring in new tools or anything like that.

Have you noticed a change in the crowd vibe when you’ve put this new stuff down?

It’s gone to plan in that respect. There’s a few chilled ones I’ve been opening sets with and others which have fit really well into peak time. I’ve literally played out every track that’s been released on these EPs, so really what I’d been aiming to do with this has worked out as it was meant to.

You said the third EP was more breakbeat, have you looked at any other structures outside of house?

Yeah, I’ve got a really small attention span, at the end of the day, once I’m finished with a set of tracks in one style I move on very quickly. With the breakbeat I just started messing around with that tempo and it followed in. I mess with everything that I like to hear in a club so there’s naturally going to be some moving around.

There’s a lot of callback and recognisable vocal samples

Yeah, it kind of harkens back to the work I did on Emerald Fantasy Tracks back in 2010/2011. I think that was probably the closest thing to this in terms of previous work, that was where I was at then and this is where I’m at now. You could almost say that it’s a bit of a follow up to that.

You once said that you move on from things once you’ve done 100 tracks in that style, is there a particular ‘set of 100’ which you’ve yet to turn your hand to that you’d like to try out?

I’m still very much bogged down with this, but it’s letting me discover how much scope there really is in club music so I’ll probably end up putting out more club stuff even beyond this series. I don’t know exactly what form it will take, but it will continue to change, just with the same intent.

Are there any venues which you’ve hit for the first time recently which have left a distinct impression?

Yeah, definitely. The most recent one was Panorama Bar in Berlin, which was a huge deal, quite daunting actually, but it was the best gig I’ve ever had and probably the best club I’ve ever been to. I came away really fucking inspired. I was alongside Pearson Sound and Ben UFO but I was on the 10am to 1pm slot, it was an amazing experience. Every time I’ve been to Berlin it’s left a lasting impression.

When you were working on Galaxy Garden you mentioned that you’d started skating a lot as a kind of reality testing thing, have you been doing anything similar with this?

I’ve been painting actually, I don’t think it feeds into the music in the same way, it’s more another creative outlet to keep my mind occupied. It’s very much a synaesthetic thing though, I’m certainly trying to paint sounds.

Do you have synaesthesia?

I think so, yeah, it’s probably quite a mild form of it for sure. I used to draw obsessively when I was a kid and then music kind of took over from that. It was only more recently that I started having a go at painting and hopefully further down the line when I’m feeling more confident about it I’ll use one for a cover or something. Then I’d be in control of the whole thing.

In that vein, you’ve said before that a lot of your ideas come from dreams that you’ve had. Is there any particular vivid or memorable dream which you’ve yet to translate into music?

Yeah there’s tons, that’s what spurs me on, you hear a sound or melody in your dream but on waking it’s just out of reach, so you run into the studio to try and replicate it before it goes but it’s like chasing a distant memory. Dreams are a massive pool of inspiration which I don’t think people tap into enough. I had a dream last night which was animated, I’d never had that before, really fucking weird.

What style was it?

It was kind of just generic cartoon style I guess.

Have you ever tried lucid dreaming?

I did try for a while but it takes a lot of discipline. I had one as I was just getting into it where I jumped out of a bunk bed but I didn’t hit the ground, I was spinning in mid air, but the moment I was able to consciously understand that it was impossible, and therefore I must have been dreaming, I woke up.

You’ve been working with R&S for 7 years or so now, if you look back to your relationship with them during your early releases and then now, where’s the biggest contrast?

There’s been a lot of changes, but I’ve done my own thing so it’s hard to really read any contrasts in that regard.

From my perspective it feels a great deal more varied, and it makes me wonder if working with artists like you who are harder to nail down has helped encourage that?

You’d have to ask them, I don’t think it’s directly to do with me but it’s definitely more eclectic. They occasionally send me and Sammy who I run Magicwire with things to listen to, mainly old things which are being reissued, just to get our opinion, really. Nothing beyond that though.

House is undergoing a pretty big resurgence, what’s your take on that?

I find it crazy how rapidly things change now, I think music for clubs is here to stay, there’s more DJs than ever and record sales are nuts, but house and techno seem to be constants. Things flare up and fade off, for example I’m hearing a lot of breakbeat and electro at the moment, but those two just seem to maintain.

In an ideal world, if you were going to develop a concept album with as many resources as you wanted at your disposal, what would you make it about?

The only thought I’ve had so far in that regard is to bring everything that I’ve done so far together, so I guess in that sense the concept would be my own career (laughs). I mean, it could easily turn out shit so I’d have to be careful, but it’s a dream to just amalgamate everything from jungle to rave to house to hip-hop with guests on and make it a really definitive thing, and for it to not be shit. In terms of other outside concepts though, I’d love to try something darker, since I was a kid I’ve made loads of dark music but none of it has ever come out, it’s all been kind of relentlessly positive thus far. I want to do something scary.

Words: Callum Davies

Ambivert Tools Volume Three is out now. 

Order it here

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