iDJ meets Texan beatsmith and BRØKEN Syndicate boss Chris Lund
For the first time in almost a decade, it really feels like breakbeat is enjoying a serious wealth of new talent.
No longer are we subject to a wealth of poorly produced bootlegs, electro or dubstep conversions. No longer are the old guard hogging line-ups (or completely denying they ever made breaks at all... ahem). Instead we’re enjoying a wealth of original, creative and exciting breaksmithery... and Left/Right is one of those at the forefront.
Dallas-based promoter, co-founder of new label BRØKEN Syndicate and music production teacher, Left/Right (real name Chris Lund) has been no stranger to the breaks scene since the mid-2000s. But, after a short break around 2012, he returned last year with a fresher, deeper, rolling sound. It instantly resonated with the Stanton Warriors, with Left/Right releases now coming regularly on their currently unstoppable Punks imprint.
This year has been especially fruitful for all Left/Right fans, with a seemingly constant slew of releases, remixes, freebies and bootlegs, including one Jamie xx bootleg that was so hot Soundcloud removed it and told him off. His latest is Can't Stop, an ice-cold stepper with partner-in-crime Zander.
We thought we’d call him up and find out more. Get to know…
Other than beats, what was the last thing you broke?
"Oh man, I break things all the time. Things are meant to be used. Probably my sunglasses - I do that on the regular."
You almost broke the internet with that Jamie xx bootleg!
"Thanks man. Yeah, the support on that was unreal. Soundcloud taking it down was a tough loss. I could be upset with them but they have the right to do that. They really should switch their model to YouTube, though – when they flag something for copyright, they leave it but the original artist gets money from ad revenue. That’s how it should be!"
Did you hear from Jamie xx about it?
"No. I did put out some feelers at the time but maybe I should again. It always does incredibly well. Stanton Warriors played it at Coachella, and you can hear the crowd roaring on the recording when it drops."
Has it scarred you from making bootlegs forever?
"No, not at all. It’s just scarred me from using Soundcloud to share bootlegs/mixes with people. I have no plans for any boots in the near future anyway, as I have a stack of original music coming. No matter the format, I just try to be delivering something forward-thinking that’s fresh and sounds like me."
I saw you post the other day about how you’d rather be known for making forward-thinking, often-unknown music than trendy chart music. Was that a shot at someone? Can I smell beef?
"Ah, I just hate to see people copying sound-for-sound what’s big. That’s really all it is. Everyone imitates their influences - that’s how we learn and discover how to write. But to me the next stage is to make music that’s your own. A lot of people continue to copy and don’t work to find their own voice. Not only does copying get lost, it kind of oversaturates the market.
"The trend machine bugs me: something becomes popular, full-hook sample packs come out, producers put those samples into a song and put it out as their own. My goal is to make something you can't find in a pack. That's what I try and pass on to my students."
Amen! You’re working with one your former students now, aren’t you?
"Yeah, Zander and I have partnered on quite a bit. We run our label BRØKEN together and have put on various events under that name. Funny story: he booked me for a show but had no idea it was me. I don’t tell my students I’m Left/Right and do stuff like this outside of my teaching capacity, so when I turned up he was like, ‘What are you doing here?’! He’s a great promoter, so we’ve joined forces on quite a lot of things."
Yeah, BRØKEN hasn’t put out a bad release to date! You guys must be thinking of ramping it up?
"As we speak! We’ve got the distribution up and running to put official releases out in the next two months or so. You might have the release exclusive to buy for a few weeks then give it away for free."
You’re one of the A&Rs for Stanton Warriors’ Punks imprint, too. Any conflict of interest between the labels?
"There might be a little bit of crossover, but for the most part our labels are different enough that it's not difficult. I was worried about it at first but really it's just about an open dialogue with everyone (including the artists). For the most part BRØKEN tends to be a bit harder and darker but it can be a great testing ground for newer artists."
Yeah, I can hear the difference. So we’ve managed to get through the whole interview without the dreaded ‘Is breaks alive again?’ or ‘What do you call your music?’ questions. Let’s bring this shit to a climax!
"Ha! I’ll answer a question with a question: who cares? What’s important to me is music that's fresh. To me, the best stuff is hard to define because it doesn't fit into normal categories. If I had to use genre terms, I'd say I play between UK bass, garage, broken beat, breaks and bass music.
"A lot of the old guard used to worry about the term 'breaks' but what I've found is much of the newer generations don't have the history to care about the terms as much. Whatever you want to call it, all I want is for people to enjoy it."
Words: Dave Jenkins Pic: Javier Ruiz Photography
Can’t Stop by Left/Right & Zander is out now on Punks.