Ibiza Voice Podcast 570 :: Ralph Lawson
Download :: https://www.unlock.fm/a0v
Ralph Lawson has been at the heart of Leeds dance music scene pretty much since day one. He famously played the first record at Back to Basics more than a quarter of a century ago, and just last month he was part of a team who pulled off the hugely ambitious, city-wide inner city electronic. It showcased plenty of Leeds venues, artists and collectives, as well as offering talks and workshops and, because of its success, looks likely to become an annual thing.
On top of that, Ralph continues to be a DJ in demand across Europe and further afield. His knowledge of house is peerless, so he’s as conformable warming up a room as he is headlining in Ibiza. His label, 2020 Vision, continues to innovate as it evolves, and here he talks about its current outlook, about releasing a first ever EP featuring Mathew Jonson and his brother, and more besides.
Ibiza Voice - How are you? How has the year been so far? What’s been good and bad?
Ralph Lawson - I’m fine, feeling well. June is always one of my favourite months, everything suddenly kicks off and the early summer buzz has the most energy. 2018 has been good, new directions and departures for me which is a big thing as I’m such a long game player that changes don’t happen so often in my life! Inner City Electronic debut edition has been the highlight, but I also really loved playing at Movement festival in Detroit for the first time and Gottwood this month (June) too.
How did you record the mix and what equipment did you use?
I love recording mixes and have always done them the same way, which is live takes. They can be done either in a club or in my basement studio. I’ve always set up my studio based around DJing. I’ve got a choice of DJ mixers, depending on the feel I want for the mix, and decks.
I used to use effects and stuff but recently I’ve been striping it down to the bare bones and just enjoying letting the tracks do the talking. If anything, it’s a simpler set up than in the past. I still use my old Rane 2016 rotary mixer, but I am definitely in the market for a new mixer. I’ve had a play on an exciting new prototype valve mixer from MasterSounds that I think I’m going to have to buy. It sounds phenomenal.
Was there an aim for it from the start, did you have a certain thing to say, certain records to play, a sound to represent?
I always try to let ideas flow freely, let my head go blank and allow tracks to pop into my head. I have a long history in Ibiza, the island means a lot to me as a place as well as an inspiration. I was one of the original resident DJs for Ibiza Sonica when the radio station first started so I had this picture in my head of recording the mix in their incredible San Rafael studio looking out over 'el campo'. I was also a resident at Space for nearly ten years, so I wanted to end the mix with a track that gave me the feeling I used to get playing on the terrace. Finally, I have always been inspired by DC10 and have been lucky enough to play there so wanted to throw in something that reminded me of a Monday session.
As far as sound goes I wanted to lay some pure electro, that's really exciting me at the moment then journey though deep house and end with techno.
Where do you get your music from and how long do you spend looking for it each week?
I’m massively buzzing that my home town, Leeds, has good record stores again. I get into Tribe Records as much as I can, and they hook me up pretty much everything from afro to electro to techno. I’ll also tap up Disque 72 Social for more eclectic and Balearic cuts.
Online I use Rush Hour the most. Their whole ethos, dedication and knowledge is second to none. It's astounding by how on it they are, in every genre. I also shop at Juno a lot and use the usual digital stores. I listen to as many promos as I can but do find it a taxing job as there’s just too many. I’ve always made it a point to play and support new artists and will happily play unreleased demos. Finally, I’ll road test our own 20/20 Vision productions. So many sources really.
How did you enjoy putting inner city electronic together - has it taught you things you didn’t know about the city?
Well it’s important to say that I definitely didn’t put it together on my own. I’ve really enjoyed working on the project as part of a really ambitious team. The whole thing has been a massive amount of work for everyone involved and pushed us all well out of our comfort zones. It definitely taught me that there are people that really care in the city.
I think the biggest buzz for me was getting everyone together - venue owners, local crews, artists, producers, photographers, film makers, designers all shouting about the city at the same time. If think it’s more a case of showing people outside the city what we have, as most of us already know! I had loads of friends come up from London who were really blown away.
Will it be an annual thing? I see you are hosting a takeover at Bluedot - will there be more things like that?
The investors really enjoyed the event and are dedicated to making it work. It’s up to us to make that happen and I’m confident we have the team to make it work long term. Yes, it’s very fitting that our first festival stage takeover is at Bluedot and also that we managed to get Helena Hauff to come and headline, as she is really the epitome of everything that is great about electronic music right now. Yes, we’d definitely be interested in hosting stages and events and have already had some interesting offers for next year.
And tell us about 2020 Vision—what’s the current outlook?
Current outlook at 20/20 Vision is sunshine vibes with an outpouring of warm electronic funk, Kristan!
We’ve got the same team behind inner city now so it's all feeding back nicely into the label. We’ve ripped up the rulebook and moved the office back from London to Leeds. That is a massive thing for me in itself. It’s all about investing in our local community and being there day to day in the office together, rather than working remotely on email. Looking back, I think the best years of 20/20 Vision were when we had a warehouse unit at Mabgate Mills and a core group of local artists and people working on the label. Our aim is to create that environment again and re-invest time and resources into the city and its people. We will still be releasing music from the very best international artists though. It’s a balancing act.
Specifically - we are going back to our electro roots, like the recent 214 project. We have a definitive collection of the best works from original 20/20 producer Carl Finlow called ‘Introspective’ sitting alongside some very exciting new talent in a similar vein. On the Ibiza Voice mix you can find a very special remix by Mathew Jonson of ‘Business’ on his brother Nathan Jonson’s EP. It’s the first time ever the two have appeared under their family name on the same record so we’re proud to be part of that.
Check out the rest of the IV podcast series: