So one of my favourite vocal house groups, the Layabouts, were recently in South Africa. There are no word sto describe the elegance of this act. Their music is something that I have become very intense with. Beautiful vocal house!
I had the honour of chatting to Oliver Lazarus of the Reel People crew, and he hooked me up (very grateful Oli) with the team for a quick interview. This is a very special moment for me. Take a read and share this awesome opportunityJ
For those who are unaware of the Reel People/ The Layabouts brand, tell us a bit about who you lads & ladies are, and what you do.
We are Leigh Darlow and Alex Paschali, both passionate music lovers, with my experience being in dance music production and sound engineering, and Alex’s being in Guitar playing and music theory. Together we have a tight working relationship and both bring our knowledge to the table while producing and remixing tracks. Our love for all things soulful has lead us down the path of working full time with Oli and Tony at Reel People Music, with our main focus on producing house music with a soul / deep influence.
Now, you did a tour in South Africa earlier this year. How was the experience?
The experience was great! First time for us in the country and we were treated very well. We truly had some amazing experiences and met some great people along the way.
You toured with the talented newcomers Mi Casa during your time here. What do you think of them as a unit?
Mi Casa is certainly the type of band you wouldn’t get in the UK, so this was very new to us. The guys were great and we loved hanging out with them. Musically they have some really good ideas and we can see their sound developing over the course of their following albums. I actually mastered their first album and I am very close to what they do now. Expect even greater things!
Did you get a good response to your visit?
The gigs were quite split in terms of attendance. The gigs were concentrated in to 6 shows, in 6 days, in 6 different cities; so it was expected that not every one would be packed out. But highlights included Durban, Pretoria & East London. The vibe and reception was amazing and we had a great time.
I just read a tweet where you guys are referred to as “the kings of vocal house.” I certainly agree! What does statement mean to you?
We think its amazing people refer to us as that, but for us we just do what we do and hope other people like it. We are influenced by so many other artists on the scene, so to us they are the kings of vocal house not us!
The depth and definitive style of The Layabouts’ music is incredibly emotive. It really taps into the subconscious of the listener. Is this a recipe that is adopted during the production of your tracks or is it just part of a natural unconscious surge in studio? (I feel like such a psychologist with this question. Feel free to lie down on a leather couch whilst answering this one! Haha)
We both have such a passion for music that I think a combination of different mindsets make the process possible. We’re both into different styles and we keep an open mind when it comes to working with each other. So when it comes to studio time, we both throw a few ideas in to the mix and go from there. With all this taken into account we listen to each others ideas and help grow our sound.
The UK seems to be a breeding ground for incredible vocalists. Both male and female. Vocalists like Shea Soul, Imaani, April Morgan, Pete Simpson, Darien, Tony Momrelle, and so many more. Are they sourced out by you guys, or is it mostly via demos that are sent to you and/ or the label?
A lot of these vocalists have grown within their adopted scenes already. The collaborations between the label and us come naturally. All of these guys mentioned have been successful already in their own right. What house music can do for a vocalist is steer them in a slightly different direction and open them up to different audiences. Which is where The Layabouts come into play.
What is the response to this particular genre of music in the UK? Is the reception to your music better in South Africa, where House/ Dance music seems to be a thriving market?
The soulful house scene is an older scene in the UK. In SA it’s a lot fresher with a younger crowd. This is where things start to differ. There are many more South Africans wanting to party to the music, where in the UK it’s died down a little bit. There is still a strong following in many parts of the world, but for sure SA has a strong relationship with the music.
You recently did an amazing remix of Lulo Café’s “I Wanna Love You”, featuring Nothende. Have you had the pleasure of meeting him? What is it about that particular track that made you want to remix it?
We met Lulo on our tour of SA. He is a top guy and we still keep in contact. Originally Carlos Mena of Ocha Records introduced the track to us. We knew we could work something with the vocal and we are very happy with the final product.
Are there any more SA artist remixes that we can expect in the near future?
We haven’t got anything lined up at the moment as we have been busy working projects with Reel People Music, but you never know for the future.
Who is your favourite South African producer at the moment? And who would you like to work with?
We have many favourites, Black Coffee, Culoe De Song and a few of the younger guys, such as Lulo Cafe, Da Capo, Essential I and Native Roots.
What can we expect in the coming year, musically? Possible to give us a sneak peak?
Were working on some original tracks with artists we haven’t worked with before at the moment and a really tasty remix. We can’t tell you too much more on that but it’ll be worth the wait!
One thing that I thoroughly enjoy about the Reel People brand, is the YouTube channel. The content that you guys upload is sensational. Can I make a suggestion? If you don’t mind. For the acoustic versions of the tracks; would it be possible to upload the chords and keys for us fellow musicians to perfect? The acoustic take on “Perfectly” could certainly be the catalyst for many potential romances!:)
The acoustic mixes are something that naturally progressed from the songs we’ve written. Whilst wrapping things up on tunes, Oli would bring in a camera crew, Alex would pick up the acoustic, and Leigh would engineer the stripped down versions of the tunes you hear on YouTube. It just adds another take on what we do. When we’ve got some time we’ll score the tunes for you!
Just before we wrap up; is there anything that you would like to add to the interview?
We just like to thank all our fans and everyone that has supported us over the years. It’s been a great journey and we’re looking forward to catching up with you wherever you are!
What’s The Layabouts schedule looking like in the next few months? I know that the Reel People crew are headed to Botswana for the New Year? What else can we expect?
We can’t wait to get out to Botswana for New Years! Reel People Sound System featuring the incomparable Tony Momrelle and The Layabouts will be a cool combo! As far as the New Year, we’re really eager to finish up the new songs we are currently working on.
Then finally; Is Russel Brand really an alien? Love that dude!
Russel Brand is quite a legend! The answer to that is yes! It takes one to know one ;)
– Hahaha! Fair enough.
The Layabouts are very popular amongst the South African dance community. If you have not heard, you can find their album “Pioneers Of House: The Layabouts”, released by Soul Candi. You will not be disappointed! It is one of my favourite compilations. It’s perfection from start to finish.