Mixing business and pleasure: Talking to Cari Lekebusch
The Swedish techno don talks producing, playing, and putting out beats.
By Martin Guttridge Hewitt | Last updated March 28th '13
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Ahead of his date on Easter Saturday, the Swedish techno don talks producing, playing, and putting out beats for more than two decades. Time to pay some respect. With the temperature in North West England still struggling to get much above freezing it seems fitting that a Scandinavian well-versed in raising club temperatures is heading this way. Needless to say, we're expecting things to get sweaty. Cari Lekebusch's background speaks volumes about what he does. Emerging from Stockholm in the early 1990s, original influences including James Brown, Kraftwerk, electro, hip hop, breakdancing and graffiti point to the way he DJs. Dirty, driving, energy-packed and unapologetic sets, delivered with a physical, ambidextrous style. At the same time, he's immediately identifiable as a member of his homeland's revered fraternity, delivering performances that lock you in and refuse to give up Alongside fellow countrymen such as Adam Beyer, Joel Mull, Jesper Dahlback, and Alexi Delano he played an integral part in cementing Sweden's place as a central marker on the international electronic music map, where it remains to this day. Meanwhile, his imprint- Hybrid Sound Architectures (known as H: Productions as of 1996)- has given us impeccable arrangements aimed directly at dark dancefloors via the likes of Tony Rohr, The Advent, and Industrialyzer. And that's within the last few years alone. Saturday March 30th gives Manchester and its people the rather rare opportunity to catch Mr. Lekebusch in action when Fundamental takes over Sound Control for an evening of heavy low ends, searing white noises and filthy drops. Excited at the prospect of his first appearance in town for longer than most will remember, we decided to dial in for a quick conversation about music, surprisingly enough. Ahead of the main event then, here's what he had to say about sounds and the like... Hi Cari, hope all's well with you today? All good here, thanks. Fucking cold though, how is the temperature in Manchester? Yeah it's pretty cold here right now. When was the last time you were over? I can't really think to be honest, five or six years at least. I've been all over the UK in that time- I play Fabric, also Glasgow, Edinburgh, but not Manchester much. Or at least not for a while. I do remember a great club there from last time, but unfortunately not the name... It will be good to check the temperature of the city and its parties. Obviously one night isn't much to go off, but still. H: Productions, your label, had a very busy year in 2012. Can we expect the same over the coming months? Well, it's been quiet recently as January and February are always like that, you need it. For a touring DJ it's the only proper break you can have really. Particularly January I try to have a vacation- there aren't many parties. So we haven't been releasing much at the moment, but we're working hard on changing the way the label is run, how we present the music, starting with a whole new strategy I guess. We have some singles coming up, one from me and another from Jason Fernandes. He's had some stuff out already, and he's a friend of a friend which makes sense in terms of working with people. It can be hard, with so many promos. It's impossible to get through them all, and even then you're completely unsure as to whether you can even work with the person or not. Everyone has their own idea about their career or whatever- where they want this whole thing to go and what they want to get out of it. After scouring for new talent for so long, has there been a change in what producers expect to get out of releasing music? I'm not sure about what they expect, but the one thing I have noticed is new producers seem to be eager to grasp new ways of doing things- producing, presenting, promoting, or writing. More established people have a tendency to cling onto things. The problem is, if it worked 10 years ago chances are it won't work anymore. Or maybe it will... I don't know... anyway, being prepared to adapt is important. It's something I've been thinking about a lot recently, dealing with new school heads and old school types together. For me that openness is refreshing, and it's easier to work with people who are willing to try something different. You have a background in business. Despite this, how difficult is trying to manage bookings, your own studio work, and A&R for H: Productions? Yeah, I used to do it all myself, now I have a manager and that's why we have been able to put out so many big releases, especially in recent years. Producing and DJing is definitely enough. Back in the vinyl days maybe it would be possible, but now there's so much more work involved. Maybe if you're 19 or 20 and have endless energy it's possible, but even then only for so long until you collapse. So I've cut down on what I do. Having to spend all my time administrating wasn't an ideal situation. Obviously, I always worked with others, like the Swedish guys- Adam Beyer, Joel Mull, Jesper Dahlback- but the aspects of running a label have grown so much it needs full time assistance. It used to be that you pressed a vinyl, gave it to the distributor, and then it sold, promoters called, and it went from there. There was no label work, no promotion needed, it was so simple. Now it's complicated, but I wouldn't want to go back. Things are more interesting now, and things change- that's life. So you prefer how the business works in 2013? In some ways. I don't know. Maybe if the tools available now were around then... who knows, it would definitely have made a huge difference. But then there are so many more labels and artists out there now, all the benefits of technology and stuff are kind of balanced out by the demand. The huge amount of releases out there means we really need all these tools, otherwise it would be crazy. On the whole I'm pretty positive, though. There are so many new ideas around right now- whether it's a website or an EP. That's the principle of techno for me too, and probably the reason this suits me- it's about being open to experiences and experiments, climbing out of the box or at least trying to. Sometimes we don't make it all the way, but there are always new directions being explored. The one thing that is difficult is the need to tour so much. I've always done it, and accept the restrictions that brings. It's hard to establish a relationship, I can spend a day at home before leaving again, and hardly see my mum. But then I don't feel the need to get all the dates done this year or anything like that. The difference now though is that in the 90s you could still make a record and pay your rent with it, whereas now it's all about the gigs, that's the only income for a full time producer in many cases. I'm not complaining, though, I can't imagine doing anything more fun. There's probably a point you reach when you don't want to be at gigs all weekend, every weekend, but even then options are there within music. Finally, what can we expect from your set in Manchester? Well they told me it was going to be a pretty old school session, so I'm thinking a couple of classics; I've put a few tracks to one side. Nowadays it's so nice to be able to loop and tweak things as you play and make something new out of them. I love turntables, but I'm using some different tools alongside Traktor, CDJs, and my record box. You can get much more control of the tracks, and create new music on the spot. It's like how you would play live- it's possible to do pretty much the same with three turntables or three CDs, an effects unit, equalizers... You can take anything out of anything. The bass layer, mid frequency layer, whatever you like. Take four tracks and make something new. So maybe you try some of that classic Jeff Mills The Bells type stuff, take one of those sounds everyone knows and put another underneath it. That's the kind of thing I'd do with older stuff, rather than just dropping classics and forgetting about it. Yeah, that could be interesting. Fundamental Saturday March 30th 2013 Sound Control; 1 New Wakefield Street, M1 5NP 11PM - 4AM / £10 ADV - £12 OTD Cari Lekebusch Gemma Furbank KERRIE Blasha & Allatt Hew Moriarty