“I wanted it to sound like an earthquake,
but not an earthquake without HD!”
Earlier this month Labrinth was in Belgium to open for Drake at Vorst Nationaal in Brussels. Just before he took to the stage I had a chat with the British singer, songwriter and producer extraordinaire!
With his Tinie Tempah featuring hit single “Earthquake” being one of the slickest productions in recent pop history and his debut album “Electronic Earth” available now on Spotify and iTunes we had plenty to discuss.
So treat yourself to Labrinth’s online album sampler and check out the interview for everything from the importance of artwork to his rumoured collaboration with Tulisa and the age old quesion… Is Simon Cowell as scary as he’s made out to be?
Charley: It’s super lame, but I have to ask, how many phone interviews have started with the journalist saying “Labrinth, come in”?
Labrinth: *laughs* So far, in Belgium, none! You can be the first!
Charley: I saw you tweet about getting to discover Brussels before your show here, how did you like it?
Labrinth: Brussels was really nice! It’s just weird to be here though, cause it’s such a different culture. The way everybody is and the way they approach things, it’s just very different.
Charley: I have to congratulate you on your album “Electronic Earth” being number 2 in the UK mid weeks, that must be awesome? [Note: Since this interview Labrinth’s album did in fact get to number 2 in the album charts where it’s still comfortably top 10]
Labrinth: Yeah, it’s really wild! I’ve been working for a long time and with a few artists and stuff like that, so you never expect these things, you just keep pushing for it, man.
Charley: For those who haven’t yet checked out your album, how would you describe it?
Labrinth: I would say it’s quite mixed, it’s got quite a lot of variety on it. If you’re into commercial variety, then I’m the guy for you.
Charley: I saw on your official web store that there’s this amazing 10 disc Limited Edition Boxset of your album with specially created artwork. How important is it for you to have that kind of releases?
Labrinth: It’s definitely important for me. It feels more engaging. It’s getting me and my fans closer and letting them know what I’m about and what I’m into. I just felt like sometimes we forget about the artwork in albums, cause of course there’s a lot of digital sales these days. I feel like this album will sell well physically cause there’s been a bit of time put into it.
Charley: Do you have any prized possessions like that in your own album collection as well?
Labrinth: Yeah, I think “Purple Rain” was sick, it was the first album I ever bought and I love the artwork on that. Parliament-Funkadelic album sleeves were insane… Of course Earth, Wind & Fire… Loads of old school bands! Especially from the 70’s, they have amazing artwork.
Charley: Back to your album, one of the singles was “Earthquake” which had a super cool video. Now, at one point you’re in this black cloak, and this might just be me, but is that a Star Wars reference?
Labrinth: It is! I’m a Jedi fan! I’ve always loved it, so I thought why not have a little tribute in my video to something I’m into.
Charley: One of the best things for me about “Earthquake” is how there’s so much going on in the production and yet it doesn’t feel cluttered. How do you find the right balance for that?
Labrinth: That’s definitely me going absolutely insane and throwing all the paint on the canvas while working closely with Serban Ghenea, who’s an amazing engineer. He helps me find some clarity in all the madness. I wanted it to sound like an earthquake, but not an earthquake without HD! *laughs*
Charley: One of my favourite tracks on the album is “Sundown“. I love how even without listening to the lyrics it’s dark and dirty and sexy… How do you go about creating an atmosphere like that?
Labrinth: That’s all mood, man. “Sundown” came to me randomly in the middle of the day. Sometimes those are the best songs where the melody comes to you, the vibe comes to you and you just have your way with it. That track for me is one of my favourites on the album, cause it’s just honest. You can hear my heart and my soul in it, honestly. Maybe not lyrically, but definitely in terms of the vibe, definitely.
Charley: I saw this YouTube clip where you show a camera crew around your studio and you just seemed to lit up talking about it. Is that your happy place?
Labrinth: Yeah, man, it definitely is! Oh my God, I love my home and my home is the studio, so… When I go back to the studio I just feel like… “It’s creative time!” It does take me to my happy place, but the stage as well!
Charley: To go from the comfort of your studio onto that stage, what was it like taking that step?
Labrinth: It was scary, man! Cause of course, I was performing alongside Tinie Tempah after producing his first two records and he brought me on a lot of shows, but it was a bit weird thinking about being the artist fronting your own music. It took a bit of time, but we just kept on working at it and it feels like I’m the right place right now. If you come down to my shows you can hear how my sound and the vibe works. I feel like I’ve got my music on stage now and people are hearing it and it’s full of integrity.
Charley: You mentioned producing for other people and one of my favourite productions of yours is Ms Dynamite’s “Neva Soft“. People mainly know her from her big mainstream hits, how do you go from that to those amazing minimalistic D&B beats?
Labrinth: I think one thing that everyone’s going to learn about me is that I’m not an artist that has one style. It’s not me trying to blow my own trumpet or anything, it’s just that’s the way I like music anyway. One day you’ll hear me producing a dirty hip hop record that sounds amazing and then the next you’ll hear me producing a jazz record. That’s what I’m about, I just want to make music and hopefully people love that and enjoy what I put out.
Charley: Is there any truth to the rumours that you’re working on Tulisa‘s solo album?
Labrinth: She asked me to work on some tracks for her and we had a chat about it, but we haven’t confirmed yet.
Charley: Well I hope you do anyway!
Labrinth: Excellent, thank you very much.
Charley: Now one last question, you’re signed to Simon Cowell’s record label Syco. Is he as scary as people make him out to be?
Labrinth: No, man! He’s definitely not! I think it’s about giving him the right stuff. If he likes your music he doesn’t turn into the horrible person he seems to be on The X Factor.
Charley: Well, with your track record that shouldn’t be a problem!
“Electronic Earth” by Labrinth is available on Spotify and iTunes.