Responsible for igniting global dance floors for what is now 3 decades, and a staunch champion of the higher BPM's, we catch up with Mr Les Elston from Lab4 to chat about his forthcoming album, music for film, catastrophic weeks from hell and victorian ghosts on stage..
Hi, thanks for speaking to us, how are you, and what’s been happening for you this week?
Yes all good thanks. For the last few days/week I’ve been working on a short film soundtrack for E2 Film production from Canada. It’s a promo piece for a project they’re sourcing out to companies for investment. It’s a horror/sci fi titled ‘The Liminal
For a previous globetrotter like yourself who is not very used to sitting still. How have you been coping this past 12 months?
Working on as much as I can, to be honest Lab4 has taken a little bit of a back seat to other overriding projects, like the film project mentioned above and a new Commercial House project I wanted to get off the ground, so while the club and live events issue was undecided due to lockdown, that down time has kind of allowed me to focus on other things. The House track is part of an ongoing project with a friend of mine James Bolton who Quinn, Baby Doc introduced. The first track got picked up by ULYBUG, Jonathan Ulysses’s label. so now we’re working on a follow up.
I hear there is a new Lab4 album in the works?
There is yes, I have had a long hard think about it though, what format should it be released on, what general feel and direction. I want to write say eight or so typical Lab4 tracks,, I want to go fast again, I have dark desires when it comes to muzak haha…
So there will be a Reformation 2 Lab4 rework, maybe another few fast ones, a couple of collabs, a guest artist remix of a classic, maybe a few off the wall unexpected ones.. one of my fave bands/producers is Nero. they get such an epic sound, if I can approach that level of production but in an underground form I’ll be a happy camper.
But yes there will the a new one planned for the latter part of 2021, plus there’s now a glimmer of hope with live restrictions being lifted, so at least an album can be promoted with live events backing it up.
Last time we spoke, you were working on some film-score projects, how did all that go, and anything new in that area coming up?
Yes as mentioned above, there’s a few coming along this year, including a full score, the film is called Neurovenge, a track has already been licensed and the intro and outro credit rolls need writing, maybe some other incidental pieces as well.
Lab4 underground anthem 'Reformation 2' has just been given the remix treatment for 2021 on HTE. Are you happy with how the project has gone?
Yes definitely, it looks incredible and the mixes are totally spot on, each one giving it’s own unique take on the track. So looking forward to actually seeing the thing up close and personal now. Pic disks are always cool, everyone likes a picco disk, I remember hunting pic disks down in record shops.. I’ve still got a few.. Motorhead, Iron Maiden haha.. they still look great.
I bet you are looking forward to taking your live show back out in the clubs this year? Where can we find Lab4 when hopefully the restrictions are lifted?
Tearout festival (DJ set), Contact on the Pier (Live show), HTE Weekender (Live Show), Hindsight Boat Party, Torquay, there’s a few more as well.. With the live events I’m only doing venues with a decent stage and backstage area to use, I know this sounds Diva-ish but it’s not,, if I’m going to be there from 6pm until 3 am I need a safe place to put equipment and to get organised, having no backstage area and nowhere to put your car keys and other important things isn’t going to happen anymore, I’ve been through that and it sucks, I’d rather not do live and DJ instead in those circumstances.
Made any changes to the live set-up during your forced sabbatical?
Yeah kind of, I’ve got a few ways I can do it.. one is with the Akai APC & Ableton, I’m actually thinking of getting a Pioneer RX and incorporating that somehow. I’ve got 4 months until the first live show at Contact, Portsmouth for Matt, so it gives me time to work something out.
Hottest 5 tracks right now?
Haha the 'Reformation 2/021 EP' and Yoji’s upcoming remix of Concept Of Love, I’ve not heard that yet but we had a really good nerd session over WhatsApp last month about the direction we’re taking our sound in.. it’s eerily along the same lines, even without previously talking about it. I really liked the last Alex Morailty track on HTE and the Cyrez remix of Resurrection he’s just finished. Also coming soon to HTE.
Tried Chilli Marmite yet?
Oh no although I have seen it,, I think there’s a Marmite and Cream Cheese Spread as well now.. I used to hate it but now I’m quite partial to it..
I understand you had a pretty shambolic week not so long ago?
Oh God awful.. so all in one day.. went for my Covid stab at 8am.. which I was nervous about.. My iMac had died a few days before so I planned to take it to to the place I normally take it in Cambridge, on the way up there the car broke down eleven times on the motorway, had to call the AA out, he got it started and found nothing wrong with it. I managed to get home only to drive down a street which was normally two way and had just been made a no entry with a sign that was obscured. So thank you Waltham Forest Council, utter pond life scum.
What's news for your label Atomika?
I’ve just finished a new one for that.. another 128bpm techie track called Solon,, I keep all my ‘weird and off the wall’ tracks for it.
I’d rather them go on AtomikA and get tracks released and out there quickly than me spending six months trying to get something signed, I lose interest pretty quick if something takes too much faffing around with.
Having been on the scene since the 90s, you must've seen a lot of names and faces come and go. Anyone you miss, and would like to see return to the scene?
Commander Tom, he was a good mate of ours, Laurent Garnier as well.. we used to see them at Club UK quite a bit.
Can you please tell us one un-heard crazy story from the Lab4 tour archives?
Phhwwaa.. OK a spooky one for you!
We played a venue in Swansea called The Palace Theatre, I’m not sure if the guy who lived there squatted it or owned it, but anyway the history of this place was pretty amazing and what he did was also amazing, he kept the place running and put on some really cool events, it was virtually derelict then in 1999 -2000 when we played there.
So during the evening he told us it was haunted, not just like joking funny haha haunted, but really haunted, if you google - The Palace Theatre Swansea - you’ll see it and also read about it’s history.
So we’re on stage playing and about half way through the set Adam leans over and says did you see someone standing in the corner, back of the stage behind us.. I thought I did as well. no one there,, this happened about 3 times throughout the set, we found out that when we went on stage the door was shut to prevent anyone wandering up on to stage by accident, so no back access from the corridor , we both also said it looked like a guy in kind of victorian style hat and coat, apparently Laurel & Hardy played there along with numerous performers of that era. Great venue.
Any final words?
Well after almost what seems an eternity being locked up I’m so looking forward to seeing everyone again, it’s been tough, really tough. the reason people create is so others can enjoy it and not seeing anyone smiling and enjoying themselves is like like a sad one dimensional copy of life. So fingers crossed and hope to see as many familiar faces and new as possible over the upcoming months.
Keep up to date with Lab4
HARD TRANCE EUROPE MERCHANDISE NOW AVAILABLE!
Over 500+ Products from over 50 Labels, Artists & Brands!