Levela has been putting the ground work in at the forefront of the D&B scene for many years now as a DJ, producer, label manager & event promoter. A couple of years back he switched up his production style and gained not just a whole new audience, but catapulted his music onto the rosters of the drum & bass premiership of record labels, including Ram, Noisia’s Vision imprint, Critical Music & Friction’s Elevate. We decided it was time to catch up with Levela to get the full low down…
We’ve been enjoying your releases over the past couple of years. You must be pretty pleased with how your music is being received?
Ahh thank you! Yeah it’s been really cool to see my new sound going down well.
Let’s dig back into your history as a producer. What was it that got you into making music?
The Prodigy – Their album “The Experience” was the first proper electronically produced dance music I’d heard and it literally changed my life. My love for dance music grew and natrually ended up trying to make some myself. There wasn’t youtube tutorials or production videos around back then so I was totally self-taught through trial and error so it took a very long time before I got any good at it.
Has it always been drum and bass?
I learnt to DJ with happy hardcore and UK garage vinyl for a few years before I discovered drum & bass. I love all kinds of music though, if it has a vibe, I’m into it. But ultimately my heart will always lie with D&B.
When we first met you were known as more of a ‘jump up’ DJ / producer. There’s definitely been a development in your sound. Was this a conscious decision?
Oh I was jump up through and through for 10+ years. It’s the sound that got me into it in the first place and I loved the fun, playful side of D&B, and still do when it’s done right. I was just making it for so long that I found myself stuck in bit of a rutt recycling the same sound over and over. My first attempt at making something ‘different’ was my track “Exhale” which gained suprising amount of support across the scene and made me re-think my approach to writing tracks. I guess I never looked back after that!
I recall a few years back you putting out a statement to say that you were going to stop releasing on your own MultiFunction Music label to push yourself to other labels. That move clearly paid off!
Multi Function was my musical home for nearly 10 years, I never used to send demos off to labels or try to get signed elsewhwere, I just made tracks and put them out myself on MF.
We released 500+ tracks on Multi Function over the years including some of the first releases from the likes of Voltage, Kanine, Bou, K-Motionz + many more. Running a label is hard work, especially doing it all on your own. At points MF was putting out 2-3 releases every month and I found myself spending the majority of my time doing label work and it was affecting how much time I could spend on my own music, so eventually something had to give. I decided to stop the label side of MF so I could focus more on my own music.
We loved your Exhale track on The Prototypes label
Thanks mate, that track was a real turning point in my career and my sound as “Levela”. After I made “Exhale” I sent it out to a few DJ and only a couple of days later Noisia played it on their Noisia Radio show which was insane for me at the time! That sparked a whole load of DJs and labels contacting me for that track and it kinda blew up all in the space of a few weeks of me making it. It eventually ended up coming out on The Prototypes’ label Get Hype Recordings (big up Nick & Garv)
You now promote events under the MultiFunction banner. Do you have a prediction when club events might start happening?
Yes, although I stopped the label side of things, the Multi Function events were going from strength to strength in Brighton and I absolutely love promoting so I kept that going and brought on my best mate Chris to co-run them with me. We had so many events scheduled for 2020 which obviously all went to shit, so we’re just waiting patiently until things start up again so we can execute our plans and throw some proper raves again!
How frustrating is it that you’ve not been able to test all this new music out in the clubs where they really should be experienced?
That has been one of the hardest things as a producer through all of this as the dancefloor is the REAL test of how well a tune goes down. Ultimately this music is made for the clubs and designed to be heard on a big sound system. Writing tracks and releasing them without ever hearing them louder than your own studio is a strange one. But something we producers have to live with for the time being.
Your track Play Again kicked off the Ram Records 2021 release schedule. I heard you say that Play Again was influenced by classic Ram releases. Which tracks in particular did you take inspiration from?
When Ram asked me to write a project for them I wanted to encapsulate my favourite era of the RAM sound (2003-2008’ish) so I listened to loads of the back catalogue like early Chase & Status stuff, early Sub Focus, Ram Trilogy were pumping music out, DJ Fresh was on Ram at the time too. All of that period for me was what made me love Ram’s output and I wanted to give a little nod to their history on my Ram release, but with a 2020 twist.
Your EP with Document One is coming out imminently. How did you hook up with those guys?
This project with the Document One guys happened so naturally. I’d met Matt a few times playing at shows and always got on well. It was a particular show we done together in Spain when we suggested making some tunes together and seeing what comes of it. A week later I got an email from them with an idea they’d made and to see if I wanted to work on it, I did and ‘Heat Beams’ was born. So I sent them a sketch back, they worked on it their end, back and forth so much until eventually we ended up with the ‘Heat Beams EP’ (dropping March 5th)
Tell us what we can expect on the EP you’ve done with them
Personally I don’t think it sounds much like Levela or like Document One’s trademark ‘sound’, it’s just a collection of playful, not too serious, dancefloor tunes. Simple as that really.
Of course that’s coming out on Elevate, owned by fellow Brighton boy Friction. More releases lined up for the Elevate / Shogun Audio gang?
Shout out to the Elevate / Shogun guys for getting behind the Levela X Document One colab project, they’ve been a great team to work with. Who knows, there could be some solo Levela stuff coming with them in the future.
Finally whats in the pipeline for the rest of the year?
The ‘Heat Beams EP’ is released March 5th with another single from it called ‘In My Mind’ dropping Feb 19th. Then I have another solo EP coming on Critical Music in summer.
If this last year has taught me anything it’s that no matter how well you plan, things can always go tits up at any point so I personally don’t like to plan too much down the line, just one or two steps at a time haha!
Follow Levela on Facebook to stay up to date with his forthcoming releases
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