Published on | by CCPAR0
Leo Laker | Interview | Hardtechno
Version Español | Pica Aquí
It´s been a while since we have heard about Leo Laker, but thankfully he has not been away for too long!
After following his music for a number of years and admiring his contribution to the Techno scene the CCPAR speaks with Leo about how music became a part of his life and how he has evolved from this adventure. In this interview we get to know how deeply Leo has experienced music at a personal and artistic level and what the future holds for this talented musician.
Without further ado we welcome Leo and we hope you enjoy reading his soulful and meaningful words!
How did you discover techno? What is your first memory of hearing techno?
I think the first time was when I was kind of living (as I went home for weekends) in this psychiatric hospital, and my friend used to play “Members of Mayday: Rave Olympia” and Prodigy, things like that. I just walked past her room and heard this “Hyper!Hyper!”, and it was fucking cool. I listened to black metal and stuff like that then, also at some point Eurodance, but yeah.. it really hit me then. After that I bought Thunderdome compilations and a lot of hardcore. Then later moved to house, psytrance, jungle, back to house etc. and then eventually techno.
What were your influences when you were growing up?
For techno Cari Lekebusch and Adam Beyer. That’s an easy one. For other styles, Megadeth, Sepultura, King Diamond. Also my father played me a lot of music, jazz mostly. Didn’t understand it until years later though.
How did you get into your music career?
Listening and playing with demo music and trackers. Before that I played guitar and drums a bit, but ProTracker for Amiga was what really started it for me. People used to make remixes and clones of famous tracks. First I just changed and tweaked them, but later started making my own stuff too. Later I got a PC and changed to ImpulseTracker. A bit after that we started buying records with a friend and playing with regular turntable and trying to mix it with cassette 4-tracker which had a pitch control. No mixer or nothing. Later I got decks and mixer too and started buying vinyl seriously. Then started going to this old legendary rock place in Helsinki where they had house/techno parties from 5am. Our friend was working at a party equipment renting firm and they had discos and other parties there. We kind of ended up working for them even we were underage then and sometimes I got to play at the beginning of the parties. This was when I listened a lot of Swedish techno and was trying to make something similar too. Some point I had a few tracks I thought were good enough to send somewhere so I looked at my record box for a label. I think Tresor was the only one that had address so I sent them a cassette. Sometime later I got a fax that said they liked my stuff and asked if I was interested in appearing on a compilation. So I said sure and asked if they wanted more tracks. After they got them, they said they want to do an EP with me. This was really amazing since I was still 16 back then. Well, 6am EP came out then in ’98 and this really started it for me.
How would you describe your musical approach?
It’s just what comes out I guess. I very rarely have a plan what I want the track to sound like, or if I do it still comes out completely different. Sometimes I have a good sample from a movie or something and I start building from there.
Thinking in your releases on Tresor from 1998 and your productions amongst your career, in our opinion, you are one of the originators of the hard techno sound. Could you please tell us, in your opinion, what is the root of hard techno and how do you think it has evolved through the years until the present day?
The track that summarized what I wanted to do was “Cold Dust: Nervehammer (Michael Forshaw Mix)” The bass-drum is just so fucking good. That was the thing I had been looking for when searching for a harder sound but not hardcore. I made the first Switchblade EP in 2001 and I think DJ Rush started playing it a lot or that’s what I heard. I’m not sure what else was going on then but soon after I met Frank Kvitta when I remixed his “Tourette rap”. Then I started playing more outside Finland and heard a lot of this hardtechno sound. Then it was a bit easier unlike now when it’s 160+ machinegun bassdrums and all these crazy breaks. To be honest, I think a lot, if not most sounds the same.. That’s why I’m looking for something a bit original now for my label.
What is the present state of techno and hardtechno music? Please Discuss.
Sorry but at the moment it’s really hard for me to say because I’ve been away that long. I didn’t really listen to techno for about a year. Only now what I’ve heard about hardtechno, is that all sounds too much same. I wish to make some change to that.
How has the music industry changed over the course of your career?
First at Tresor everything was so professional, but it’s a big and respected label and they were so much older than me. I felt like a kid every time there, as I actually was then. I got statements from sales and got paid from sales twice a year. Now vinyl is risky to press, a lot of digital labels. So much new people on the field so it’s not unusual not to get paid for gig, even with contract. Also a lot of new DJ’s coming all the time because to start, you don’t need 1200’s and a mixer at home anymore, a laptop and controller is enough to start.
Your Finnish hardtechno label LKR Music has had some great releases so far. Are there any new artists or productions coming up on your label?
Thanks, I’ve had the privilege to work with really talented and nice people. Not only with the label, but in my whole career as well. Crazy people too, as you can hear from the releases. Now as one part of school is done I’ll concentrate full time on music and my label. There’s some cool things coming up, but I can’t tell all of it now. Firstly, I asked Finnish producers to send me stuff to release. Mainly because I want to help and support the hardtechno scene here in Finland to grow as much as I can. Secondly, I have some good, both old and new artists working on tracks for me. And I think those releases are going to be massive. I might do a solo EP soon also, but we’ll see.
Could you please tell us about your present plans in music production, are you working on any surprises for us? We are really looking forward for some banging tunes from you!
I’ve listened to a lot of old Regis, Glen Wilson and such. I think they evolved past that so it’s stupid to expect the old style from them. So, why not do it myself updated a bit? I’m learning a lot of the mastering and mixing theory so I think it’s gonna sound a bit better. Also we make some melodic tech style with my fiance, but don´t have a place where we want to release yet.
Do you have any plans to get involved in promoting club nights? Which one would be your ideal line up?
Yeah, I already had few LKRMusic nights, but now I don’t have a place and it’s really risky with hardtechno in Finland. Sometimes we had 3 or 9 people the whole night. It sucks but got to keep pushing.
Line up would be:
Can’t think of anybody more right now..
What are your thoughts on the electronic music scene in South America?
Sorry haven’t followed that so much lately either.. But I see Pet Duo is pretty hot there. When I was there it was fucking nuts!
Do you have any special memories of the time you visited Colombia back in 2007?
I remember everybody being super nice to me and it was nice to stay at Felipe’s. He made me arepas every morning. And they actually take me to places like museums and such so I didn’t have to stay at the house all the time. The party was fucking grand! Sadly I was still an alcoholic then and drinking so much it’s hard to remember much. Glad I got over that now. 16 year battle.
What have been the highlights of your career so far?
Deal with Tresor. Getting to meet all these wonderful crazy people, I’m really lucky for this. Meeting Datablender Posse and getting LKRMusic running, thanks Ray Ray and Vitalius. Getting to travel so much. Making music that people like. Being still alive after all this.
To finish, can you please share with us your favourite tracks at the moment?
The Hasbeens: Make the world go away
College: Les Automates
Futurecop! -Street Hawk (Stephen Falken remix)