Since releasing his debut album Sweat, Sweat, Sweat back in April, Not Not Fun’s LX Sweat has become a firm favourite on our daily playlist. Bowlegs braved intergalactic check-in queues to bring you some fresh thoughts from the E-Funk futurist, taking in R&B, hybridity, codeine and the ‘LX Sweat vibe’.
Bowlegs: Bowlegs really enjoyed your latest record. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the methods and ethos behind the LX Sweat sound?
LX Sweat: Thanks! Basically I’m a music-producer & visual artist (painter) from germany who is interested in the possibilities of music and art.
Bowlegs: There’s a definite sense of playing with new possibilities on the record whilst still referencing past productions. What is the LX Sweat approach to its musical legacy and where do you see the sound going?
LX Sweat: My music and my thoughts about it are very hybrid… It refers to styles like E-Funk, Dirty Chicago & Detroit House-Music, Rap and of course to R&B. I don’t believe in being about some modernist-rules and trying to do something completely new, but I’m also not trying to create a certain retro-sound which refers to times were everything was better then today.
At the moment my 90s R&B-Vibe is getting stronger & stronger because I’m listening to 90s-R&B all the time, but I really can’t calculate my output that much. I just have some interesting samples which inspire me or a certain atmosphere in my mind… Then I just groove and select the results.
Bowlegs: There are many electronic music makers currently smudging the co-ordinates of dance music history often in the form of sample based approaches attempting to breathe new life into established genres. Where do you place yourself in this and what are the primary LX Sweat influences?
LX Sweat:Yeah, I really like that way to work with established genres and I definitely have something to do with that. It’s interesting to re-contextualize music from the past by combining it with new elements and to turn it into something else.
When it comes to dance-music I think that’s a way to save the genre, like 100% Silk does… Because it’s about freedom, energy, hybridity, and it’s still expressive and not only functional. Most modern dance music sounds too functional, calculated and clean to me. When it comes to my music I would say that I work with all kinds of body-music and I’m not afraid to mix them all together.
I still get heavily inspired by that specific 90s R&B-Slow-Jam-Atmosphere (for example Freakin You by Jodeci or One In A Million by Aalyiah). For me this Vibe also has some similarities to DJ Screw’s method of down-pitching records (but of course DJ Screw’s vibe is much more fucked up)… So I’m vibing somewhere in between. But off course I’m not on codeine.
Bowlegs: Indulge our inner techno geek for a moment. What’s your studio set up and what are the secrets of the LX Sweat sound?
LX Sweat: I work with Ableton Live and I have an Akai LPD 8 Midi-Controller (Akai-Pads are the BEST), that’s all. For mixing and fine-tuning I use a pair of KRK Rokit 5 monitor-speakers. After I finished some tracks I record them on tape. Finally I’m recording the tape with my computer again.
To answer your second question: I do not know if there is a secret… I’ve been Djing for a long time, so I guess I have a good feeling for grooves & atmosphere. And I’m interested and able to reflect what I do and to learn from that. Some of my tracks have a similar structure like house-tracks, but they are not that functional and obviously they’re slower.
Bowlegs: What’s next for LX Sweat? You are signed to an American label but are based in Germany. Do you feel the need to develop a live version of the sound or are you committed to the studio based approach?
LX Sweat: I just finished all tracks for my second LP, which will be released on NNF, but there’s no release-date yet. Then I started remixing the tracks from my upcoming album. Adriana Donatella and I will do some new LX Sweat-Videos soon and I’m working on a live version of my music right now.
Bowlegs: Your music shares some affinity with the ‘smudged’, blurry aesthetic of the NNF label and its artists –do you feel you fit in and if so what do you feel are the production characteristics that link you to the other artists?
LX Sweat:I’m happy that you avoided the term “Low-Fi”, which I think does not mean much these days. To answer you question: Yes, I think Not Not Fun is the perfect label for me.
My music could sound much more “Hi-Fi”, it would be easy for me to mix it that way. But I want to create that specific LX Sweat-Vibe. It’s not about being the realest Underground-Low-Fi-Artist on Earth, it’s about the atmosphere which gets created. I only can speak for myself, and for me that aesthetic is a formal decision, it has nothing to do with a lack of mixing-skills or other things that are often associated with the term “Low-Fi”.
Bowlegs: Who do you feel are your contemporaries in terms of production and what are the great records that you aspire to when putting together your productions?
LX Sweat: Maybe Hype Williams, Maria Minerva, LA Vampires and James Ferraro. Each one of them uses different equipment to make music and has a different development Process, but i think intentionally there are some similarities to what i do.
When it comes to inspiration for my music: Aalyiah, Early R Kelly, Jodeci, Keith Sweat, H-Town… Luxurious 90s-Rap-Tracks like “Sky’s The Limit” from Biggie Smalls or “Drugs” by Lil Kim… And of course dirty chicago & detroit-house, music from 100% Silk-Stuff and E-Funk-Shit in general.
Bowlegs: What’s a typical day for LX Sweat? Studio based night dweller or a normal life of nine to five?
LX Sweat: I try to live a normal life while being a Studio based night dweller.
The LX Sweat debut, Sweat, Sweat, Sweat, is out now on Not Not Fun Records
-Interview by Mark Williams-