Michael McLardy is no stranger to house music. Both a DJ and producer Michael has gained a great amount of recognition from working with a wide range of labels. Not to mention his stand out DJ sets. We get the chance to catch up with the man himself and discuss his new project Left Wing Recordings.
Hi Michael, how are you? Has 2013 been kind to you so far?
I’m very well thanks for asking. It’s been great so far although very busy with producing new music and remixing as well as sorting everything out for my new label. I’ve also just signed with Itchy Pig’s artist agency who will be managing my bookings from now on so I’m very happy to be working more closely with those guys this year.
Tell us a little bit about Left Wing Records, your new Label you are looking to launch.
It started as a concept to release my own material to then have remixes done from other producers who are good friends or who I have worked with in the past alongside some collaborative work but I’ve decided to cast the net wider now as I’ve had a couple of really nice EPs sent to me which I’m looking forward to releasing as they are going to fit perfectly.
In terms of the output it will start off as a fairly low key affair then hopefully I can build it up into something a lot bigger!
What inspired you to begin the label?
I’d been toying with the idea of launching my own label for a couple of years now and had kept putting it off for one reason or another. At the beginning of November last year I had the sudden urge to just get on and do it and thought that if I worked hard enough I could be in a position to launch it early 2013 which thankfully is now the case.
Having worked with a wide range of record labels such as Deso, Itchy Pig, Back To You, Baker Street, deep edition and many more. How have they helped influence you to begin the Left Wing project.
I know it’s a bit of a cliché to say but it felt like a natural progression to move to releasing stuff myself. Working with other labels regularly and seeing various peoples different approaches has been great as it’s helped me feel comfortable with the way a record label runs across all aspects of the business; the difference now being I have total control over the output and can shape the sound as I want to without having to fit into someone else’s vision which I think is really exciting and will certainly be a good next step in my career.
What is the vision for the future? What can we expect to hear from future releases?
I think the sound is always going to be the same from the off being that it will be pretty deep and quite melancholic forms of house and techno; I ‘ll also be releasing some ambient/down tempo electronic tracks as additional EP tracks that can be used as DJ tools or just for listening pleasure. Hopefully this will give the producers on the label (myself included) a chance to expand our scope in terms of production and do something slightly different at the same time; that’s the initial idea anyway.
The first release will be from yourself and friend Dudley Strangeways. Tell us a little bit more about your relationship with Dudley and the vibe you will be trying to create with the first EP.
I’ve known Dudley for a few years now as we are both live in Nottingham. We were in touch for a while then I did a remix for his Back to the Future label at the end of 2010, since then we have become friends and I’ve done two separate EPs for his Back To You label one being a collaborative effort between the two of us.
We DJ together regularly and play back to back, sometimes playing longer sets so know each other’s music well and I wanted to capture this with the EP to sound like something we would play out as a kind of combination of both our styles; although we do tend to like and play very similar records.
You have had an array of successful releases alongside plenty of DJ gigs. How did it all begin and when did you really begin to take DJ’n and music production seriously?
I started DJing 10 years ago at bars and parties in Sunderland where I grew up and have carried on collecting records and playing out ever since. I’ve dabbled in production for a similar amount of time which started as a bit of a hobby that I didn’t really take too seriously until a few years ago. I was introduced to Ableton Live in around 2006 from a friend I lived with who was into similar music and was also a producer so started learning from there (making some very dodgy bootlegs around that time) releasing my first record in 2008 and ended up getting the bug so to speak.
How long did it take to define your sound you have today? What’s your secret?
No secret unfortunately haha. I suppose it has developed over the last ten years of producing on and off and playing records and I think it’s evolving all of the time as with anything you spend more and more time doing. From releasing my first EP 4-5 years ago to the tracks I’m making today you can certainly hear a development and most definitely an improvement in terms of the production and although the tracks I released back then I wouldn’t necessarily play out in a set now I do think there is a common consistency throughout in terms of the ideas. It’s important for me to stick with something I am really feeling and work on developing it from there so I can look at my back catalogue and see a natural progression in my music over the years. Certainly I think it’s helpful to try producing different genres and to try out completely different things from time to time but for me it’s important to keep a common trend running through my work and to keep working on the sound that drives me. Through doing this I suppose you could say I’ve managed to start defining my own sound.
Tell us a bit about your studio set up. What works for you old skool or nu skool?
My studio set up is pretty basic and consists of Ableton Live with a handful of soft synths and a shed load of recorded audio and samples. As far as hardware goes I have a MicroKorg synth which I use occasionally to make bass sounds and to mess around with but am definitely going to be looking into getting some new outboard synths over the course of the next year and expanding my setup. I also have my turntables running through my soundcard at all times which I use for sampling vinyl when the need arises.
Now for the harder question, production or DJ’n. Is it possible to answer?
I don’t think so haha but I’ll try to expand on that. Although both of these things run alongside each other hand in hand they are completely different, I couldn't imagine doing one without the other. It’s great to get lost in the studio for hours in your own head with just your ideas and an outlet to create something new but it can also be quite isolating if you are working on a solo project which is more than often the case for me. In contrast when Djing you are sharing your creations and those of others with a venue full of people who are there to let loose alongside everyone else in a massively sociable environment which is very external in comparison so is a completely different vibe if that makes sense. I love doing both.
As a DJ, do you have a preferred format? I understand Left Wing will be releasing records via mp3 and limited vinyl.
Yeah that’s right. The idea is to start up digitally with exclusive for ‘vinyl only’ material for a couple of releases throughout the year to run alongside the digital stuff then by next year I plan to do vinyl and digital for all of the releases, carrying on the limited vinyl only stuff on an ad hoc basis.
As a DJ I play mostly vinyl, alongside CDs of my own unreleased material or tracks I like that I haven’t been able to get hold of on wax. Quite a simple approach considering the wealth of technology available these days but I do prefer it that way.
Moving on, you have been booked for the highly anticipated Vertigo Festival in Italy. It looks set to be an eventful couple of days. Tell us more.
Yes I’m really looking forward to it as will be my first time playing in Italy. I’ve been booked to play alongside Deep Edition boss and good friend Martijn representing his label. Saytek who has also done some work for the label is playing over there as well as some very prolific DJs so should be a good few days. It’s taking place in Pragelato not far from Turin across three days in a mountainous ski resort so should also be a good chance to see some very scenic views I imagine.
What other events are in the pipeline and where can we find you next?
I haven’t been as hectic as last year in terms of gigs so far this year which has been nice as it’s given me some time to concentrate on the label and some new material. I’m playing back to back with Dudley at a newish night called Tahanan in Milton Keynes shortly and will be playing in London for my residency at Clocked which they will soon be announcing the new dates for as well as a few local bits. I’m also in the process of planning a couple of label parties which I should be able to announce very soon.
Being based in Nottingham, im sure you have a knowledge of the nightlife there. Is the House music scene strong? Anything we should watch out for when visiting the area?
There are a couple of strong house and techno nights here I’d recommend one being Zleep who do a monthly night at Stealth and another being 808 who have been doing parties at various venues in the city over the last couple of years. Between them they have brought some fantastic artists to the city. There’s also a new night that’s just popped up that’s worth a mention called Inner Circle who I imagine will be here for some time to come based on their first party a few weeks ago.
Finally, what record labels and DJ’s are doing it for you at present?
Off the top of my head label wise I’d say Mojuba, Ornate, Drum Poet Community & Supplement Facts always all generally mean a guaranteed purchase of late. As far as DJs go Sven Weisseman stands out for me at the minute.
Nice speaking with you Michael, we look forward to hearing from yourself and Left Wing very soon!
My pleasure, thanks for having me!