Interview: Swiss duo L’N'F’s Electronicwave
One of the acts I’ve really been digging recently is L’N'F, a duo from Switzerland who make stripped down, raw house music that works perfectly on the dancefloor. It’s deep at times, yet unpretentious and totally absorbing. The twosome have an album full of this kind of music due for release soon on DJ W!LD’s Catwash Records, so I caught up with them to find out more.
First of all can you both introduce yourselves individually and tell me about your history with house music and why you started DJing and producing?
Francesco: Around 1994, I attended some the first free and warehouse parties in Switzerland, and after a few years of clubber-life, I bought my first pair of Technics in 1999 motivated by my taste in music and my desire to mix on my own. For a long time I’ve been only DJing and digging for records and having fun on Fruity Loops. It was only in 2010 that I started producing music ’seriously’ after meeting Walter & Lenny.
Lenny: I started mixing in ‘95 and was going to the first warehouse parties in Zurich, but in 1997 the Rohstofflagger opened, which allowed us to see all the superstars, Derrick Carter, DJ Sneak, Ian Pooley, Doc Martin and so on. Regarding producing music, I really started with Francesco & Walter back in 2010.
Who were your main local influences when you were getting into the music?
F: Laurent Garnier. Always. He’s the master (‘el maestro’)…Ah? Local? From the beginning it wasn’t so much the local scene but international artists like Jeffs Mills, Sven Vath or Laurent Garnier. It was the summer of love back in the days you could still feel it and you could make love to a girl during a party without knowing her name, it had this taste of complete freedom, you could do whatever you wanted.
L: Raymond Ford, he is a techno artist from Lugano, he made records on Eukatek and Contrast. Walter was working with him on some records, he’s the papa of Swiss techno, and he had a record shop which was the first one I ever used to go to. It was funny because you couldn’t play the records by yourself, he was playing them for you and commenting on them, saying, “Listen to this young Milanese guy, his name is Marco Carola.”
And which were the best Swiss clubs back then?
F: In the mid-90s the best clubs were Oxa & Rohstofflagger in Zurich but the club where I have the best memories of, and the best place I’ve ever been, was the Groodoonia. It was in the basement of a mall. It was funny because you had completely wasted people in the middle of the shopping mall amongst normal people and back in the days nobody would realize or mind.
L: Groodoonia, Rohstofflagger… & Loft in Lausanne, and Da Cantine in Zurich! Vitamix also in Geneva, the Alcatraz near Lugano…
When did you guys first get together and decide to form a duo?
F: We met in ‘94 or ‘95 in a rave. We had a great weekend, because back then the weekend started on Friday, typically in a rave party, then you were driving hundreds of kilometres to get to the after party, then to another town for another after and so on until Monday morning. We ran into each other the whole weekend in all those places just by chance. That was perfect. Later, we met in the record shop both of us used to go and it was kind of love at first sight, musically speaking. Sometimes it’s difficult to play back to back with another DJ but with Lenny it was totally natural. Then in 2000 we started our own record shop, Electronicwave, and started promoting parties.
L: We met at the Oxa, it was an after-hour, it was in 95 and it was one of the best party of Swiss clubbing history, with Jeff Mills, Laurent Garnier. Then we started to play back to back and we still do now. He was playing a record, and I was playing another one and everything was going well. With the shop, Electronicwave, Francesco had the background culture and the taste for the project and was good for managing orders and everything office-related.
What does each of you bring to the L’N'F project? What are your main strengths?
F: Actually we work on tracks both on our sides and then we listen to them together, edit and finish everything, the process is quite easy and fast. It’s a bit slower when we work with Walter (with whom we form the trio WLF) because Walter is more of a pain in the ass (laughs, Walter is actually present during the interview). He’s a real technician in music, he’s more demanding and more of a perfectionist than us. Lenny is really productive, he can make three tracks while I do only one but he’s the one who can also stand in for Walter on the technician and mastering side.
L: Yes, Francesco explained it, we’re quite complementary… and also I sing!… Kidding!
Why did you decide to make an album?
F: It just so happened that we did a lot of tracks in a short period, we were really productive, and Guillaume (aka DJ W!LD) and Matthieu (aka Gulivert) from Catwash Records loved a lot of them so there was a little problem maybe in releasing too much EPs. As we were sending them even more tracks they liked, they advised us to release maybe an album (or two).
L: Yes it is true that it’s the Catwash guys that decided in the end! I was surprised first because for me an album is maybe more about trip-hop and down tempo music to listen at home you know. So this album is more like the result of six or seven months of work, a compilation for the dancefloor and it’s a real honour for me to think of being on Beatport with an LP coming out on Catwash Records actually.
How did you connect with Catwash/DJ W!LD?
F: We’ve liked DJ W!LD’s tracks for a long time and when I listen to him actually playing records, mixing I mean, I was like, “This is the kind of music I wanna do and play”. I said this to Lenny and Walter and they shared the same feeling so we started working on music. A few months later we had him as guest in our Electronicwave parties but we were to shy to make him listen to anything – we were like “We don’t have the level”, but in the end we gave him a CD to listen to. A week later he Skyped us saying that he wanted some of this music getting released on Catwash. Since then we’ve been to Paris and met Matthieu, Julien (Julian M) and Gauthier (Gauthier DM) and it was like meeting old friends. Catwash is like a family.
Does the album have a theme at all? If not, is there at least something which connects all the tracks?
F: The album’s title is dedicated to our former record shop and the concept behind the parties we still hold, Electronicwave. It’s a tribute to this name that we’ve established over the last 15 years. And you can also look at the album as a record shop itself in some way.
Your style is quite minimal and stripped down yet has depth and energy, what inspired you to produce this style of music?
F: The spark came from Guillaume like I said, but this is all the music influence I had in my life, which was really large from Jazz to rock and classic. I was lucky enough to experience a lot of music in my life through my father, my uncle, clubbing and digging for any kind of music at all.
L: It is the Catwash style, DJ W!LD, Chris Carrier, but also all the influence I had from the underground that I like. such as Mr G, Omar S, Theo Parrish, Cayenne, Gemini and all the deep and underground house. Catwash is in the line with all of this so we produced music in keeping with the style of this label.
How is the scene in your city at the moment? And what about Switzerland in general?
F: Like always in Switzerland there’s a strong underground scene with no mainstream. But there’s also nice and friendly places of course with no bottle service or VIP rubbish you know.
L: It’s a little, little scene here in Lugano but with the Living Room and some others, there’s the possibility to listen to international artists in this little town and also there is a lot of guys doing good music.
Any young Swiss guys we should be checking out?
F: Alci, of course, he has releases on Robsoul and Infuse, and, WLF of course, they are really promising!
L: Yes Alci ! And Paolo Tocci, he’s released on Claque Music.
What are your plans beyond the album? Any more releases forthcoming?
F: Of course! We have another album coming on Catwash with WLF and maybe later an Electronicwave Volume 2 from L’N'F.
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