July 23, 2014

Rising & Falling: Layo & Bushwacka!

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The week of their new album’s launch party, Layo Paskin and Mathew Benjamin—aka Layo & Bushwacka!—are in great spirits, but on seemingly two different planets.

Paskin is writing a script and working on opening a restaurant with his sister, Zoe. Benjamin is getting accustomed to his newly set up home studio and branding his Just Be solo persona. Yet both are still focused on what they have created with Rising & Falling (Olmeto Records).

“We went into the studio for about six/seven weeks and wrote sketches of tracks,” says Paskin. “We would work anything from four hours to six hours on a track, writing all the lines that were coming to us in terms of inspiration at that moment. When we began to slow down and struggle, we put it away. We left them for a couple of months and then did a ‘yes, no, maybe’ and began to craft and craft, going back and forth.”

Adds Benjamin: “Do we really want to write, mix, arrange, record all these pieces and then at the end of it decide we’re not going to use them? It felt more productive to do it in three stages. Stage one: sketching. Stage two: arranging. Stage three: mixing.”

Recorded at Benjamin’s recently dismantled Plank Studios in West London, Rising & Falling revolves around Logic and numerous virtual synthesizers. The main draw is the ability to keep using new sounds without having to spend piles of money on new synths. The album’s stark minimalism focuses on the tech side of house on tracks like “Raw Defined” and it gets soulful on cuts like “Can’t Hurt You.”

Since the duo’s separation from XL Recordings and the dissolving of End Recordings, L&B’s main musical output has been dancefloor singles funneled through Olmeto. With Rising & Falling, they give themselves leeway from the dancefloor, yet still rely on it to inform the tracks.

“The dancefloor influenced the record a lot,” says Benjamin. “Because we wrote in stages, what we thought we might do with something, we edited as time went on. There was a period where we were headed in a more Minus-type direction and then we decided to keep more of our own warmth and feeling.”

Their DJ sets take on different forms. If they only have a couple of hours between them, they keep it to CDs or a USB stick, using Pioneer’s CDJ 2000 units and the rekordbox music-management software. If they are doing an all-night set, where they each have a minimum of four hours, things get elaborate with Native Instruments Traktor, controllers, effects units, as well as CDs, USB sticks, and laptops.

“If it’s a short set, you’re not going to get that in-depth into the music—you’re going to be more straightforward to try and make an instant impact,” says Paskin, a co-owner of the late, legendary London club The End. “If it’s a longer set, I’m going to want to be looping, doing more effects, and mixing older and newer tracks. I want the scope that Traktor can give me.”

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