Destination North Wales: LSN grab the wheel on the latest 1 More Mix mission, taking us on one of the most interesting scenic routes we’ve had so far.
Rolling out a tale of their influences and interests – while staying true to the bass and soundsystem mindset they’ve always been rooted in – over just 40 minutes they take us from iconic turn-of-the-century bangers to classic electro via all kinds of timeless twists and turns.
Breaks, booty bass, minimal, tribal, UKG… Even to those who follow the duo’s music closely it’s an exciting curveball.
There have been a lot of dispatches to follow over the years, too. First emerging as a six-heavy collective in the early 2010s, LSN have had a consistent presence in low end circles on labels such as Uprise, Deep Dark & Dangerous, Artikal and Sentry.
Now a duo, LSN sounds can range from their autonomic-inspired collaborations with kindred northern spirit Synkro, to their Black Space Quartet operations with poet, artist and Midas Sound royalty Roger Robinson, a project that’s best comparable to Massive Attack in its essence, soul and depth.
There’s also the recent matter of their powerful and politically charged second album Misuse Of Power on Sentry. Released last December, it hits hard with some of Jim and Dan’s heaviest 140 cuts and features the likes of Flowdan, Rider Shafique and Kujo, which is where our conversation happens to start.
Read on and find more about where Jim and Dan are at with their forthcoming release Every Little Thing / Heavy Mingling, how they came to arrive in their current inspired boundaryless mindset and what the dickens LSN actually stands for. Most importantly, press play on this mix. You won’t be disappointed.
I’m still buzzing over Misuse Of Power! That Sanctuary track with Kujo. Wow. Creatively, energetically and politically that song sings to me big time.
Dan: Haha, us too mate. Kujo is a sick MC. We’re trying to get him in the studio again. We’ve sent him some beats. More people need to know about Kujo.
Jim: Yeah, Sanctuary is all about him. He smashed it.
You guys are smashing it! I can’t keep up with so many releases and tracks you’re sending me right now. The album, the Synkro collab, the new EP, cheeky little jump-up tracks, now this mix, which is really different from what I thought an LSN mix would be!
Jim: Haha, thanks man. We’re into all kinds of stuff but we bought a load of new tunes lately to play out. More breaky, garage-based stuff and things that have always influenced us so we went on more of that type of vibe.
It works! You go through so many sounds and touch on so many different reference points. Even Chemical Brothers Hey Boy Hey Girl, which I don’t think every DJ could make work in such a way.
Jim: That’s a really old bootleg of ours!
Dan: Oh mate that’s super old.
Jim: We made it for a gig in Bristol then forgot about it for seven years.
Dan: It worked really well in the mix though. The whole idea was to make an influences mix because they’re the same influences that were behind the new release.
Okay sick. So this is a new explorative moment in the LSN story?
Jim: Maybe… I mean, we’ve always made loads of different things but never released much of it. We’ve made absolutely loads of weird stuff over the years. And there was always a hint of it in our releases. If you look at the stuff we did on Uprise there was the odd D&B tune, for example.
Dan: Yeah true. We’ve not explored the two-step and electro influences as much in the past but it’s always been part of the soundtrack. The main thing is versatility. We want to make what we want to make. It’s more than just making beats to DJ with.
Yeah you don’t want any boundaries or limitations, right?
Dan: That’s it. That’s the thing in life, whether it’s creativity or politics. Why would you want to label yourself? Who wants to put themselves in a box from the get-go? I’ve been thinking a lot about genres lately. It’s another way of labelling isn’t it? It makes it hard to experiment when you’re attached to a genre.
When you’re labelled it’s easier for people to find you but harder to be free as an artist. When you’re free and experiment, it’s harder for people to find you. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
Dan: Yeah I’d agree with that.
Are you sitting on hard drives of WIPs and different styles that you’ve not been able to sign?
Jim: Oh we’ve always got plenty of things. We’ve been working on some metal, some strange funky stuff.
Jim: That started over lockdown. It’s pretty mad.
Dan: Yeah I think we’ve got eight metal tracks finished now, right?
Jim: Something like that. We’ve had this loose idea to give them to MCs and see what they can do over them.
Dan: Crossover vibes!
Jim: Rider Shafique came to stay with us for a few days last year and we came up with some cool ideas.
Wow! What?? Metal with Rider on vocals? I need to hear this!!
Jim: Yeah man. We’ve got two tracks pretty much done instrumentally.
Dan: It was good fun. He came up for a gig and stayed for a week and we got on a bunch of tunes. One was really nice and that set the tone and a bit of a benchmark. We said once we get to five or six tunes we’ll go down to him and record them.
I have a lot of time and respect for Rider Shafique!
Dan: Yeah he’s such a talented artist and very open minded so collaborating is always fun. He has so many ideas and different styles.
Salute! So how about you guys? How often do you two get together? Sounds like you’re constantly writing
Jim: We’re always writing but in terms of getting together then pretty much every other day. As often as possible.
Dan: We both lived here together for a long time so we were on it constantly back then.
Jim: We didn’t even have a living room, the studio was our living room.
Dan: It was pretty much 24/7 beat making then but we’re still on it.
When you work so closely together you develop a short hand or some type of weird telepathy. Do you both ever experience that?
Dan: Yeah I think so. After working together so closely on so many different projects over the years we’ve developed some intuition on when to get things done.
Jim: Yeah just always leave “record in” on, bound to get something.
Brilliant. That Synkro collab is very sick btw
Dan: Oh thanks man. That’s taken us all by surprise. I prefer his flipside being a big Synkro fan, Tomorrow is so sick. But we love everything Joe does to be honest.
When did this new EP come to be? Are they all new tunes or do they take root at different points over the LSN years?
Jim: They’re all within the last half year or so, I think?
Dan: Heavy Mingling was done after an event we did with Basic Rhythm headlining, so that was about a year ago. It was a party coming out of lockdown on our mate’s soundsystem: ROOT. Everyone was looking for a party at the time and it all came together and Heavily Mingling was the result. And then we made Every Little Thing recently. We sent Inner Terrain a bunch of tunes and he heard Every Little Thing and asked if he could remix it.
Jim: He turned it round super quick. It landed as we were doing the mix for you, which was perfect timing to put it in the mix. And it’s a fat tune, big up Inner Terrain!
Dan: Every time.
Love it when it comes together! And more of this vibe is coming?
Dan: Yeah we got loads of things we want to release.
Jim: We just want to focus on releasing our own music for a while. We’ve worked with a lot of labels over the years – and still will – but putting our own music out gives us more flexibility.
Dan: Yeah for sure but I have to say, I think it’s really important to release on record labels and contribute to the culture in that way. You learn a lot from every release you do. I think there comes a natural point in an artist’s career where releasing your own stuff works.
I think you’ve definitely got to that point! It’s getting to the point where you can cut through the noise and get people to listen!
Dan: If we did a proper label we’d definitely call it Listen Up, though. That’s what LSN stands for. Listen.
WOAH! I’m now years old when I found this out.
Jim: Haha, you’re not alone. It’s a little secret that we never meant to keep.
Amazing. For some reason I thought it was initials of all you or something. Originally LSN was a crew, right?
Jim: Yeah we were six strong at one point. But as time got on and we started to live in different parts of the UK it became harder to work collectively the way we had for however long before.
Dan: Everyone had things to do or careers taking shape and me and Jim just carried on with the project. It’s cool though because the others are involved in creative things and in the arts. Gwen is doing bits working as a sound artist in London right now. Declan has become the manager of the Yes Bar in Manchester.
Jim: He’s making tunes with Joe, who was also in LSN, they’re making this really cool kinda techno stuff under the alias TAU23. They’re planning on doing some modular live sets in the future which is really inspiring. I think Tristan has gone on to do a bit of journalism, or is on the way at least.
Sick. You guys keep the LSN torch firing. Plus other projects. There’s the Black Space Quartet project with Roger Robinson too. How did that happen?
Dan: Roger was on our first album, not through a collaboration but because we sampled one of his poems. We had the decency to ask him permission before it was released and he said it was sound but don’t credit him because he was promoting King Midas Sound at the time. So we had this nice anonymous Roger feature on our debut album then five or six years later he randomly got in touch and asked if we were up for writing an EP and it developed over the course of a few years.
Jim: It changed a lot as we developed it. We learnt loads.
Dan: It was the best of the tunes we wrote over three years. The best of the tracks we wrote ended up on the EP released in Boomkat’s ‘Documenting Sound’ Series.
Jim: Some of the very first stuff we wrote ended up on the Artikal EP we released not that long after (Always Sinking).
Dan: We were more into those earlier tracks. We were like ‘how have we ended up writing these?’ So we asked Roger if we could release them as LSN and he was cool.
Jim: I think there’s more stuff there for the future, too.
Dan: He’s just really busy writing, being an author and a poet. The tracks are there, it’s just waiting for Roger to be ready. It’s a really nice, no stress working relationship and very inspiring. He’s a creative powerhouse.
I’d say you guys are, too!
Dan: We’ve got something going on, maybe. It’s a therapy, it helps me exist and I think it does for Jim, too.
Jim: Yeah totally. It’s something I’ve always had to do. Whether it’s LSN or just writing anyway, making music is something I’ve had to do.
Dan: I honestly don’t know what I’d do without it!
So we can definitely expect more music, then! What’s next?
Jim: We got a breakbeat EP coming out on Orgin8a and Propa’s label Hardcore Energy.
Dan: A few bits coming out on Artikal too, we’ve got a remix of one of J:Kenzo’s tunes from Taygeta Code album which is on a bit of an autonomic vibe, but yeah loads more in the pipeline, stay tuned mate.
LSN – Every Little Thing / Heavy Mingling is out Apri 7: Bandcamp