London-born, Brighton-based DJ Lorca, aka 22-year old Xxx Xxxxxxx, remains a relatively new emergent from Brighton’s resilient house music scene. But off the back of his debut white label release ‘Moments’ on Live Ones last July, Lorca is now known not just as prolific but also as critically acclaimed, dropping an unrelenting string of 12” singles on high-profile record labels Left_Blank, Third Ear and now Dummy.
It was the latter label, Dummy Magazine subsidiary Dummy Records, which served up Lorca’s most successful single to date this March; a breathtaking and rhythmically-charged 12” release by name of “Can’t See Higher/Missed Me”, infused on side A with a deep, angular bass, hypnotic samples and a searing, drone-like fuzz, affording on side B something of a more low-end tribal undertone to Lorca’s signature focus and endearing drive.
Throughout Lorca’s rapidly expanding discography, it is clear that the headphone-panning idiosyncrasies in the rhythm-section are key to the success of his sound. But whilst a subtle influence from dubstep (most apparent on ‘Moments’) has tended to fade over time, tentative shades accrue on occasion in the whirring, errant instrumentation of tracks like ‘Hold Back’, ‘Giant Star’ and others. Sample-wise, Lorca is consistently soulful and selective, tending towards the subtle re-layering of female vocals in line with his nostalgia-driven choice of samples and patient, slow-burning compositional ethos.
Acclaim has come (deservedly) from all sides. Not only have his tracks made the cut for BBC Radio 1 Essential Mixes curated by the likes of Modeselektor and Scuba, but Bonobo included ‘Can’t See Higher’ in his 2012 Bestival DJ set. Since the start of his collaboration with booking agency Elastica Artists, Lorca has made appearances across the Europe and the UK, including festival sets at Croatia’s Dimensions and Echo Festivals, as well as acquiring the position of DJ in residence at weighty Brighton club night AKA AKA ROAR.
Following Lorca’s most recent release, a blissfully smooth Faith Evans vs Nuyorican Soul remix on Corsica Studios’ club night-turned-label Church, and ahead of two new remixes due out before the end of the year, I caught up with Sam to discuss his gradual shift away from dubstep, ideas for a new live show, and first-hand take on the place of vinyl in a scene where DJs are increasingly shifting towards CD and digital formats…
tP: Lorca isn’t your first project, how did this one come about?
L: I was originally making dubstep, but then I started making other stuff as my taste began to develop. I ended up getting into more chilled out stuff. I just got bored of dubstep after a while.
tP: Why ‘Lorca’ the name?
L: I was living on a houseboat called ‘Lorca’. The houseboat was named after the poet, ‘Lorca’, who I’ve checked out and I like – but my DJ name is not quite so romantic. He is no great influence on me.
tP: Who would you consider your contemporaries?
L: They change all the time. When I first started doing Lorca in 2009, Joy Orbison and Scuba were huge, and ‘HYPH MNGO’ had just come out. That was a real turning point for me.
tP: What kind of effect has working with bigger labels had on the way you like to work? Does it affect your ability as an artist to refine and rework your tracks over time?
L: When I’ve done a track – they are done. I’ll never go near it again. But it varies – with Dummy, Leo came to my house in Brighton and just said ‘play me everything you have’ – and I played him my demos, some really rough demos – and he kind of let me choose what I wanted to release – that’s the way I like to work. tP: But can too much perfectionism in your writing hurt?
L: Yeah – its very confusing when you’re working on tracks. I’ve had tracks I’ve been working on for months, and if you listen to the fine grain of them, you end up messing the track up entirely. I’ve done that enough times. I’ve done 15 versions of some tracks before switching back 10 versions and settling with that. I think sometimes I pay too much attention to the fine grain and not enough to the feel of the track. Its ultimately more about the feel – you can get lost entirely if you go too far into the grain of it.
tP: And does reaching this wider audience have an impact too?
L: It does. Can’t See Higher on Dummy Records brought me up a level and really put pressure on me to make something just as good every time! But you can’t think about that. For now I’m going to try and make what I want to make. tP: So what else have you got coming up we should know about? You’ve just put out a record with Church…
L: That remix with Church was my choice, I thought the two tracks blended together well. I also have two more remixes for different labels coming out. One is coming out in October, and then another definitely before the end of the year.
tP: Have you ever thought about doing gigs outside of clubs, maybe in a more relaxed setting?
L: Yeah, definitely. The more I DJ the more I think about doing something slightly different. I’ve been thinking about a live show. So many people go to clubs for the madness rather than the music. Its just the setting DJs have to play in if they want to advance themselves. Thing is I’m in this DJing scene now where my music is played by DJs, so I’m not playing in the library just yet…
tP: Do you think there is much place for vinyl now that so many DJs have been liberated by the CD?
L: I use both vinyl and CD. CD because you can burn so many tracks, and I find myself a few days before a gig wanting to work something new into my set. Beatport has so many tracks you won’t find in your record store down the road. That is the easiest way to get new music – its instant. I still pick up records when I can, I prefer the sound of them and they are definitely more fun to mix with.
reprinted with permission from USSU Pulse Magazine.
P: Tell us a little bit about Housewarming Records. What inspired it? Do you run it alone?
E: Housewarming Records is (as of now) a free, digital record label that I started in the beginning of May 2011. I run it alone, and I am very pleased with how it’s going so far. The real reason I started it was because I was always raving to my friends about all this great underground music, and I wanted to do all that I could to help it reach the surface, or at least help them get more listeners. I am friends with a lot of independent music lovers, musicians, and some people who write for blogs, so I would initially show them what I was releasing and go from there. My basic goal is to keep the music as consistent as possible while maintaining a high quality. Right now I have over 15 acts from all over the world, and it is an eclectic mix of artists/bands and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have made many special relationships with people I have never properly gotten the chance to meet, and I try my hardest to keep in close contact with them. I couldn’t do this by myself without the help and guidance of my Lord and savior Jesus Christ, he gives me all the insight and keep me going strong to do everything that I can to help these musicians succeed . I am very thankful for Housewarming Records, for it has shown me a lot about myself, as well as the kindness and determination of others. Many Housewarming artists inspire me, and in turn, push me to make my own music that much better. I feel very blessed to be working with such great musicians, and people, and I thank them for their trust in me. I am also very grateful for everyone who has supported me, and everything that they’ve done to help my label reach a wider audience.
P: How would you describe the music on your current roster and how do you choose new artists?
E: I would describe the music on the current roster to be eclectic, emotional, and very promising. I choose new artists basically the same way I would choose what music is on my iPod, it’s music that I thoroughly enjoy listening to. I usually come across the musicians when I am searching through loads of music on bandcamp, and then I narrow down the releases that affect me the most and go from there.
P: I love the Housewarming Records selection of art. Do you think there’s as much of a place for beautiful artwork with the decline of physical releases?
E: I am very happy to hear that you feel strongly about the artwork, for I am very grateful that the artists on Housewarming have such good taste in artwork selection. I think that with digital releases artwork goes a long way, just like it does with physical releases, especially when using a site like bandcamp as a platform, because they have a place for artwork on every release that you upload, and it truly has a way of speaking to you, even before you press play.
P: Any plans to showcase Housewarming Records? Plans for the new year?
E: I have been thinking about putting together a Housewarming showcase/show at some point or another, but to be honest I don’t see that happening any time soon. It’s hard to get the artists/bands involved when they are located all over the world, but hopefully the pieces will come together in the future.
I am very excited for the new year, but only God knows what 2012 will bring. I’m just very thankful Housewarming had 22 successful releases in 2011 since May, and there are some amazing new releases coming in the new year, including full length releases by some amazing musicians.
P: What kind of music do you make yourself?
E: I have two solo projects, one is Not a Thing to Believe In in which I have released a full length, two singles, a number of unreleased songs, and I also have a new full length in the works. I would classify the music as lo-fi pop/rock and some of my influences for the project include Sufjan Stevens, The National, Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, and The Antlers. My other solo project is Beater Ban in which I have only released one song, but I was very pleased with the initial response and kind reviews I’ve received. I am currently in the process of putting finishing touches on my first proper Beater Ban release, which I am extremely excited about. I would classify this music as electronic beat music, and some of my influences include Four Tet, Nathan Fake, and IVVVO (who is an artist on Housewarming Records). Both projects are very emotionally driven, and rely heavily on the atmosphere of the tracks. I am also involved in other outfits, but I am not the sole member like in these two projects.
P: Favourite records of the 2011?
E: 10. Miracle Fortress “Was I the Wave?”
09. The Antlers “Burst Apart”
08. Grandpa Was a Lion “The Whalestone Tapes”
07. Future Islands “On the Water”
06. Coldplay “Mylo Xyloto”
05. Kurt Vile “Smoke Ring For My Halo”
04. Mogwai “Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will.”