When looking for a melee of spaced out crunk and synthesized hip hop mayhem music there really is no one who exemplifies the sound better than the American duo of Lazer Sword and their network of tight knit homies that includes, Lunice, Hovatron and the Mega$oid family. With a split 12” of Lazer Sword’s solo work (as Lando Kal and Low Limit) set to be the first release on the new amalgamated home of Scotland’s super labels, Numbers; and their debut appearance in our club space we thought we’d let them lay the groundwork for you, introducing their steez in the best way we can... through their own words.
Can you introduce yourselves for those who may not be up on you?
We are Lazer Sword, from San Francisco, California. Lando Kal now resides in New York, while Low Limit continues to hold down SF. We're a live electronic act and production duo that makes what some would call ‘future music,’ fusing anything from electro, beat shit, rap, grime, techno, hip-hop, glitchy thangs, and the likes of… together to form a new kind of club experience. On stage we are a hands-on act. Our performance is very improvised yet controlled and not one set is the same as the others. It's dance music with a flair for the boom-bap.
How would you class your music? Terms like 'lazer bass' suck balls. 'Wonky?' 'Beats?' I mean you’ve got a Low Limit track on Beat Dimensions Vol 2. Is that the company in which you see your music?
LANDO: Well everyone will always try to classify an artist's sound which is understandable because it makes it worlds easier to get the point across... and we've gotten many terms to identify our sound itself. It's hard for us really; it is different but has a lot of characteristics of other genres melded together. We definitely don't like ‘lazer bass,’ its not 'wonky,' and not always ‘beat’ style either. We both dabble a little in the beat world, Low Limit of course a little more than myself, but we also tend to rock more four on the floor patterns and very choppy, electro influenced sounds as well. And rave stuff, we do that a little too, “raves are cool,” as our manager Noah would say. We once threw out the term ‘future blap’ which kinda had a nice ring to it and stuck for a hot minute but, yeah the answer is: it's complicated : (
LL: How about ‘Adventure Music’?
How did you get to the sound you produce today? LANDO: Well we both met about 4-5 years ago mainly as a cause of our similar musical tastes. We both produced loads of more underground hip hop, and sample based instrumental beats, similar to that of DJ Shadow, or Dan the Automator kinda stuff. A year passed and by then we were living in the same house and developing new sounds as a group. The Hyphy movement hit hard in the bay area after a while, which was a big factor of our 'electronic beginnings' and experimenting with more synths and synthetic drums. We also both worked at XLR8R Magazine for a good while, LL longer than I, but that of course totally opened up our minds and helped to expand our palette and influence in more ways then one. We began purchasing gear, both analog and digital, learned the hell outta Ableton Live and the rest is history.
How does the collaborative relationship work between you? In the studio and on stage... I mean like do you both just come with ideas or... LANDO: ...more or less. We think in similar ways when it comes to the Lazer Sword sound but both know of each others particular tastes and styles as well. We admit, at first it was as collaborative as it gets... 2 people in front of one computer, synth and a drum machine, working on the same song at the same time and going through bar by bar, each chiming in on what we should add here or take out there, but obviously after a while, it made more sense to trade off a song back and forth, with one of us starting an idea and swapping it until we are both satisfied with the end result. Of course you get a lot more done that way. Each song is completely collaborative and we both contribute equal amounts of work on them.
LL: On stage, the level of live collaboration is probably at its strongest.. After so many shows together, we've developed a rather comfy system where we can keep things as improvised as possible, while making risky group decisions on the spot, as to where to go with the beat next. We enjoy ourselves on stage quite a bit... there's a always a good amount of surprising each other on the fly, as well as the crowd.
You’ve both got side projects, how do they differ from the Lazer Sword project?
LANDO: With our side projects, naturally both have many of the same Lazer Sword qualities really. As far as the more apparent differences go... I guess my solo stuff tends to go in the direction of more contemporary yet choppy electronic music, a lot of times with a hip-hop flare to it. And I guess Low Limit at times tends to touch more on beat and bass heavy projects and experiment a tad more in the dubstep genre more than I usually do. But nothing's ever limited. These 2 outputs are exactly where Lazer Sword meets in the middle and to us they work well together. We both have strong interests in many styles and delve in all sorts of approaches at making music. Overall, it's ever-changing.
What’s your performance set up like?
LL: Our performance situation right now is a dual computer/Ableton Live PA, each of us equipped with our own respective midi controllers, which we run on hi-gear for the duration of the set. We toss the beat back and forth like a football throughout the night, improvising to the max while recreating and reinventing our recorded material, for the live environment. We like to keep things fun and interesting for everyone in the room.
What have you got in store for the fabric punters when you get here?
LL: Generally our plan is to touch on the entire spectrum of our production styles throughout the night, which can stretch anywhere from swampy rap tempos to faster electro thumpers. We'll surely be traveling through a nice range for this show at fabric. Expect some of the material from our recent/upcoming releases (Low Limit / Lando Kal split 12" on Numbers, 'Gucci Sweatshirt' 12" on Innovative Leisure), and many other goodies that the streets haven't felt just yet. We hear the system there is quite nice, so we hope to give it a run for its money. You can definitely also expect a handful of spaced out explosion noises.
LANDO: …and our newfound dolphin noises! Ladies love ‘em.
How do you think clubs differ from US to UK?
LL: It's hard to say, since we've played just a handful shows in UK, but I'd say they were a fairly comparable selection of clubs to what we have in the US... though, from our experience I feel like there is a little more emphasis on having a great sound system in the UK, which is very nice. As far as the crowds go, I think it's agreed that overall the UK peeps are more open to electronic styles than here. In the situations where we've played to a room of unfamiliar ears, it hasn't been proved to be too difficult to get results on the dance floor, so I'd say that all checks out ;)
As visitors to the UK have you noticed any quint essentially English-isms that we might not be aware of?
LL: Hmm... for one, your version of 'bacon' is very different, and a little disappointing, in comparison to our superior bacon in the US. Ours is made in thinner strips, and is cooked longer... where bacon over there is much too thick and chewy. We've also noticed that it's WAY more difficult to find an inexpensive and convenient internet connection in most parts the UK...
Mary Anne Hobbs has been pushing the West Coast sound in the UK, who would you say are some of the essential artists putting in work on your side of the ocean we should be checking out?
LL: Yeah, Mary Anne has definitely been giving the West Side incredible love lately, which is a blessing for us out here, as she's obviously got the ears of many throughout the world. On the west, some of my faves that we play shows with, would be guys like Nosaj Thing, Daedelus, Flying Lotus, Eprom, Gaslamp Killer, Ghosts on Tape, Salva, Dnae... damn, there’s so much more… many of the same folks that MAH's been covering, really. On the east, a grip of other guys like Machinedrum and the Montreal fam (Megasoid, Hovatron, Lunice). Really, these are just our more immediate 'contemporaries' though, the list of peeps that are grinding hard out here which may not fall anywhere under the same general category as us stretches far longer.
Catch Lazer Sword alongside The Gaslamp Killer, 16 Bit and Rich Furness in Room Three on Friday 23rd October AND keep your eye lids strapped back for an EXCLUSIVE Lazer Sword mix coming next week!