An Interview With – Halogenix [All Blue EP]

Halogenix Landscape Portrait

Laurence Reading: 4 years in the signed game and recently taken under the wing of the Metalheadz compound for his latest release – the man called Halogenix – the All Blue EP.

We’ve been in touch with Halogenix for well over a year now, after our Peter bumped into him during one of the boat parties at Outlook Festival 2013 – sound guy and an all-credit-due powerhouse of a producer within that concrete realm that we do so love; drum & bass.

The man’s an innovator – a game changer – his style traversing the liquid horizons and mountainous sheer faces of tech. One third of the Ivy Lab production outfit and someone far too good for someone so fresh on the scene. We caught up with Laurence to talk about his latest musical endeavour and how it came to emerge on the biggest label in the dnb game – Metalheadz.


Hey Laurence, cheers for taking the time to chat with us, how’s tricks?

Yo, all good! Things are good, EP’s out this week so taking the time to chill. It’s been a busy year!

I read in a previous interview that you come from quite a musical background and have dabbled with various instruments in the past, so how was it that you came to fall, by-in-large, within the realms of drum & bass?

Music’s been a massive part of my life since I can remember, it wasn’t until I was around 10 when my brother came home with a Pure DNB mix CD that I really discovered dnb though. I remember I always used to sneak into my brothers room and see what new CDs he’d bought and was absolutely taken a back with this mix CD, I think he must have been looking for it for a while not knowing it was neatly stashed away in my CD player. Fast forward 5 years and I got my first laptop which had Garageband on it. Me and my mate Simon (Kollectiv) would make the shittest sounding tunes whilst really stoned and things kinda progressed from there really.

And now that musical path has lead you to the open gates of the Metallic Capital! We caught a little whiff of this last year, as you fronted the Metalheadz camp for the colossal Exit Vs. Metalheadz night (@ the Studio Spaces, London) – BIG night! How did the journey into Metalheadz transpire?

Gotta give props to Lenzman for the hook-up really. I made Shores back in 2013 and sent it to Lenz, he then hooked Goldie up and one day as I was sitting on a bus going through Central London I looked down at my phone and I’d got a text from a number I didn’t recognise saying ‘Oi Halogenix, it’s Goldie. I want that Shores tune..’ and that was it… We spoke on the phone a bit and he asked me if I’d be up for writing more to which I obviously said ‘nah mate you’re alright’, he then twisted my arm a bit and I agreed haha.

So are you an official Metalheadz crew member (signed?) now or is this just a temporary home for some new material?

Nothing official, just enjoying releasing amongst the camp for now, watch this space.

Speaking of which, the All Blue EP: the very latest in Halogenix releases and oh my sweet liquid days, what a ride across warm fluffy clouds, rich sub-driven gentile breaks and beautiful dives into Drum & Bass’s calm and serene rolling soul-rock it is. If there was a building called ‘Halogenix’ and you’d been relaxing on a level called ‘Her Waves’, each track of the All Blue EP represents an adjacent floor; equally evoking in sublime natural score. How long has this one been in the pipe-line?

Ha – great analogy! I’ve been working on this project for well over a year now, obviously with all the Ivy Lab stuff going on around the same time I had plenty of inspiration although there was never an intention of writing an EP as such, it was more just me exploring this particular moment in my sound which led to these tracks coming together.

And we’ll talk about that “particular moment in (your) sound” in just a moment…

But first; what’s the story of the EP? I was buffeted into imagined dreams in listening but once I caught a glance of the EP’s cover art I couldn’t help but re-imagine the context of the material. Considering that this artwork comes as a full A3 pin-up poster with vinyl orders, I question whether there’s any tale to be told here? Where is this Cali-reminiscent post-modernist beach-pad? Who is this darling, toe-dipping the rock-tipping shore, leaned up against the Headz branded classic soft-top, bandaging an apparently damaged leg? I’m half expecting a Bond-like Halogenix figure to appear, looming up on the balcony. Or am I reading too far into a simply ‘cool’ piece of artwork for a deliciously fresh release?

The artist is actually a very old friend of mine whom I’ve wanted to get to do me some art for a very long time. The prospect of having full colour art for this EP came up and it seemed a great opportunity to get him on board. I took inspiration from another of his pieces and asked him to use the track titles as inspiration for the rest, the only firm directive from me being that it used an all blue colour palette. I’m so impressed with how it’s turned out. Make sure you go check him out. With regards to the content of the art, you’d have to ask him! Although I reckon the girl looks a lot like Eva Green.

Green’s had her part in spy-fantasy so that’s definitely fitting. 

Anyway, on to “that sound” we were talking about… There’s a real definition in the liquid tones of the EP, one that had me back-track memory and re-consider your production rolls and influence within the Ivy Lab triangle – more specifically, within the outfit’s highest profile (IMO) releases: Oblique, Make it Clear, Afterthought etc. There’s a definite audio reflection between the sounds of the Ivy Lab’s highly accredited, liquid-centric releases and your own more liquid-based productions. Perhaps suggesting that a large hand of the production within these releases was driven by yourself – any truths there?

You got me, I am the brains behind Ivy Lab. Haha!

Seriously though.. I think it’s inevitable that through the work with Ivy Lab, the sound you speak of would rub off into my solo endeavours. I think it’d be fair to say that I’m more active in pursuing this particular sound in my solo efforts as the other guys are and as such more of that liquid vibe comes through in my own stuff. 

Well I’m glad you’ve got a love for it man – the results are outstanding!

Within the bounds of All Blue, you only make one stab at wobbling and frantic – the aptly named Shank is the only deviation from eyes-closed, cocktail-supping relaxation. It seems healthy to shake up the overarching feeling of the EP though a part of me feels that it sits somewhat out of place – how do you feel it fits within the 4-5 fingered (exclusive 5th track on digital release) glove?

I think all the tracks share a similar theme in that they’re all quite moody, I like to think of my music as being a really great accompaniment to a journey.. All Blue sets the scene for this epic voyage that you’re about to go through, a kind of naive hope yet subtle fear of what lies ahead can be felt. Beyond The Bounds for me is the track that signifies the storm or the challenge, it’s the part that tests your will to go on but through the odds you manage to persevere and make it through the eye. Shank then comes along just as you feel safe again, you’ve let your guard down and are ready to relax but you’re forced to find your limit as the journey takes on a new dimension adding an extra arc to the story. The reward for getting this far is then dealt up as Shores & Paper Sword and thus ends the Journey.

Now there’s the analogy I was looking for!

As mentioned, there’s a potential 5th finger in the digital exclusive, Paper Sword. As far as digital exclusives go, they’re often nice but rarely of the same calibre as the rest of the primary product. Here: we find a rarity – if not one of the most precious tracks on the release! I’ve recently spoken about the current struggles of the vinyl production line [info via FACT] in the face of its resurgence in popularity – something that I assume is tied closely to the return of exclusives popping out on Compact Disc. In the digital decade a CD exclusive track seems almost laughable, though genuine concerns for the sustainability of vinyl have been voiced and are seemingly being addressed by certain ‘underground’ labels.

You might get an A3 poster of the cover art with the vinyl release, but the beautiful fifth string, Paper Sword, is not on the All Blue wax agenda at all – is there a vinyl-based agenda at hand here?

I know what you mean about the digital exclusive world, it’s more often something that’s been lying around thrown into the package to bolster it up but, I was lucky this time as I was really passionate about all the tracks I was proposing for the EP.

My choice actually just came down to which tunes I thought people want to play most in the club, and as Paper Sword is the most chilled off the EP I felt it was candidate enough for that reason to stay off the record. Sorry to anyone who felt different though, as you can imagine it was a hard choice.

I’m sure! Almost as hard as fighting off Goldie for the release! The bald lairy bastard! 

So what’s next for Halogenix then dude?

Not sure at the minute man, I’ve just finished up a remix for Goldie which should be surfacing soon, other than that I’ve been spending lots of time in the studio, both on my own and with the guys so expect to hear something soon!

Woah! Hold up! You can’t just mention remixing a Goldie track all blasé and then move on… Goldie’s one of the most prolific figures within drum & bass, an iconic staple in the history of British music, the owner of one of the/if not the biggest/most respected drum & bass labels in the world and through his vision and collective of incredible associates, rebuilt the face of jungle and opened the gates for the drum & bass era. He’s Timeless FFS! I mean, you must have made an impression to be allowed passage into moulding with his golden produce?

Ha, yeah I guess I must have…

During the time, whilst I was writing the EP, we were in contact quite a bit, he’s very involved when it comes to offering feedback and had some very handy and very specific tips on how to progress certain aspects of the music… After it all he phoned me to say how pleased he was with the EP and how impressed he was with how I took on board his feedback (his words not mine).

He then went on to speak about a project he’d worked on called ‘Broken Man’ with Kwabs (From his TV music group thing), which never got finished and asked me if I’d be up for engineering it for him. I got sent the stems and mixed it down the best I could. The project was full of live instrumentation, classic 90’s sounding Goldie’esque drums & synths and this very haunting vocal track from Kwabs. After about 10 different versions he was happy with it and asked me to reinterpret all the elements into a Halogenix remix… As if engineering a track for Goldie wasn’t enough potential kudos, I’m now doing an effing remix!?

So yeah… I set to work on it and it’ll be coming out alongside the original sometime soon…

Big movements man – well done and well deserved! And when you say that you’re doing some work “with the guys” – we got some more Ivy Lab action in the works?

Oh yeah plenty more Ivy Lab material in the works, we’re in the studio 3/4 days a week at the moment, there’s an LP, a bunch of very cool collabs and about 4/5 remixes due out over the coming months.. it’s very exciting.

Laurence, it’s been a pleasure, stay golden brother!


Nab up your copy of the All Blue EP here

www.metalheadz.co.uk

soundcloud.com/halogenix

Josh

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