It's been an incredibly busy 12 months for London's Les Elston aka Lab4, so we thought a recap on things was long overdue. Covering the upcoming HTE Production and DJ Retreat, an exciting new Lab4 vinyl and fresh classic remixes on their way, his new side hussle, and also where you can find Lab4 over the coming months..
How's things? and what's happening this week in the world of Les Elston?
This week I have been finishing off a couple of tracks, a remix of ‘The Darkness’ by DJ Wag and a collaboration with Yusef Kifah from Malaysia, both very different in styles.’The Darkness’ is a hard Reverse-Bass type track and the Yusef Kifah project is more of a choppy number with various Kick and Bass Line changes throughout, I can’t wait to play them both out!
Been a busy year for Lab4, care to recap?
Yes it’s been a great year, I’ve had heaps of releases come out, digital and vinyl plus an amazing trip to the Netherlands with HTE for the ASOT after party, followed by Australia where we of course got to experience the incredible Esoteric festival, it was so amazing being back there again! We got to see and play alongside all the familiar faces, Scott Alert, Anthony Hellraiser & Ben Engineer. Then I had a trip to Ibiza and got to play at Eden for the first time, doing a back to back Hard Dance Classics set with Amber D at One More Time. I also got to visit the amazing Pikes up in the hills which was a first also. I also got to enjoy playing a number of UK festivals and events including the HTE Weekender in Liskeard (Cornwall) WeLoveOldSkool (Bristol) , Frantic’s 30th Birthday (Ministry Of Sound, London), Bring The Noise @ The Mill (Birmingham) to name just a few. We also released a follow up to number one best-selling Loopmaster sample pack, Hard Trance Europe. HTE Volume Two Hard Trance loops and samples, which was really good fun putting together!
What's coming on the horizon? Anything exciting?
A new album and a total rethink, I’m kind of ok with how things are but stuff needs to progress, move things up a notch or ten. I don’t want the Lab4 brand etc to stagnate and get boring.
You will soon be joining us for the Hard Trance Europe Production and DJ Retreat in Devon, where 10 lucky people will get to spend 3 days with yourself. SHOCK:FORCE and myself for a weekend of production, learning and sharing of industry knowledge.
What have you got in store for our first HTE retreat?
Yes, I’m currently designing some Logic templates, its a case of thinking what would I want out of a one to one session like this, so going from basic track construction to layering sounds, getting the foundation production elements working, de-mystifing some of the issues young producers may have, ie arranging, sound design, solid kick and bass symbiosis etc. We’re going to be sending out a brief questionnaire asking what areas people want to learn about, from what I can gather it will be rhythms and arrangement mainly.
We are keeping it limited to just 10 places so everyone gets as much of our time as possible, and I believe there now only 2-3 places left
so hurry if you'd like to join me, Nick and Jo at this super-cool Devon ranch in October.
A few years ago, you decided to fly solo after Adam announced his retirement, how have you found things moving forward as a solo act?
Well, it’s much easier only having two USB sticks and a set of headphones to worry about.. lol,, as opposed to a car full of hardware, having to be at the venue 3 hours before it opens and being the last to leave when everyone has left. I don’t miss doing live one iota, it’s a perpetual ball-ache and to be honest I’m not sure if it’s even that relevant now, to much hassle and hard work for very little.
Any plans to ever reform for a one off-show together?
No, neither of us are interested, we both have completely separate lives. It was a cool and unique 15-25 years ago but I really don’t think it would be of any interest to anyone now.
What's hot in the studio VST list for you right now?
I love Nexus N4 which is by far the best sounding soft synth on the market, followed by Dune 3 and Serum, Vengeance Avenger. I tend to use those and Kontakt for solid work horse production, anything more left-field I will go for Reaktor and Massive. Pretty much everything has some kind of distortion/saturation staging on the channel, even if it’s only to subtly bring out the harmonics and overtone characteristics of the sounds a bit more.
Care to tell us about your sideline day business, you've had some exciting visitors to your house this past year?
Ha, yeah I rent my house out every now and then to film companies. BBC, Netflix, MetFilm, Goldsmiths Uni, Sony, Warner Bros, it all started right after lockdown finished, I took such a massive financial hit during the pandemic I had to make it up somehow. It’s a really good way of networking within the industry at a good level.
Release wise, you've been very busy this year in the studio, what releases are in the pipeline?
New vinyl.. yayyyy… AlexMo and myself did a remix of S.H.O.K.K.’s classic ‘Folie Á Deux’ which will be coming out on a limited HTE splatter vinyl in time for Christmas (Pre-Order it now from the Hard Trance Europe Store) Alex also did an awesome remix of the Lab4’s ‘Concept of Love’ which is still in the Beatport top 40 after a month of its release. Also Phutek has done a blistering remix of ‘Candyman’ and we’re just thinking about when will be best to release it. So yes loads coming up, I also had a couple of cool house releases with my Jai Ruvek AKA, along with “Dj Blond & Dave Tre” from CentreForce Radio, we received some amazing support on it with the best from main stage players Hardwell and Don Diablo.. very surprising.
I understand you are working on some new merch ideas for your global fans?
Yes I’m currently headhunting cool fonts and ideas, I keep going up to random people asking to take pics of their T Shirts if I see a cool design I like .. lol I’ll probably get arrested and put on a list before long I’ll be adding to my full range that is already available on here - www.hardtranceeurope..com/lab4
Funniest thing that has happened to you in 2022?
Oh God, I don’t think I can really go there.. lol
Finally, where can people catch you playing over the next 12 months?
So the ones coming up are Cosmic in London on the 7th October at The Albany Great Portland Street, Evolution at Karma Cafe Norwich on the 24 November, NYE I’m in Plymouth for Tranz@ction vs Hindsight, and of course I will be back at the 2024 Hard Trance Europe Weekender on The Grand Pier In Weston Super Mare, Which looks set to be the biggest one to date! At the moment I’m not taking that many due to me requiring major back surgery due to nerve compression. As soon as its done I’ll be in a better position to think about jumping around behind the decks, nothing worse than standing there and not being able to give it your all.