“I see it as a big opportunity to really restock & refresh” Lex Luca interview

Lex Luca is UK producer and DJ Alex Kenning. Included in Mixmag’s coveted Ones To Watch feature in 2018, he has scored releases on VIVa, Nervous & Desert Hearts, and has a regular show on Rinse FM. Clocking up over a million streams on Spotify, his music has been played on BBC Radio 1 with club support from Richy Ahmed, Marco Corola, Paco Osuna and many more. His DJ career has taken him all around the world from Ibiza & Berlin, to Mexico, Costa Rica, Colombia, Japan and beyond, playing alongside the likes of Dubfire, Derrick Carter, Harry Romero, Laurent Garnier and Eli & Fur.

He established his label In Tune in 2017 as an outlet for his own productions as well as to support other artists. In Tune’s latest EP sees the label selecting some of the gems from their own catalogue for the remix treatment, with Rare Two Inc., Horatio and Lex Luca all getting in on the action.

Thanks for talking to us today. The last 6 months or so have been crazy, and not what any of us were expecting. Is there any aspect of the pandemic in particular that you’ve found it tough to deal with?

Thanks for inviting me! Apart from the obvious, no DJ gigs… DJ’ing is a kind of therapy for me so it’s been difficult to not have that as an outlet. The toughest thing for me though has been not being able to socialise. I miss seeing my friends and family. Zoom calls only go so far! The simple human interaction is a big missing for me. Of course wrapped up in that is the clubs, the parties, the dance floors. Live streams are great, and they don’t replace the true dance-floor experiences. It’s also made more challenging with the incessant stream of news. Information and disinformation, it’s difficult to even know what’s true really anymore.

Some people have found lockdown quite liberating while others have struggled… where did you sit on that particular line?

It’s been a bit of both to be honest. On a personal level. I have so much to be grateful for. Creatively it has been quite liberating. I was able to remove the pressure I had around producing music. I’ve been able to take stock, switch up studio, and my whole sound palette, ultimately harvesting a new sound.

As someone who has lived in London and knows it well, do you think the city’s nightlife will survive the pandemic?

Yes I’ve lived in London since I was a teenager. I’ve lived in a few other counties too.

You know, nightlife will of course survive and flourish. I’ve no idea when that will be and, unfortunately, it seems like the way things are going, more venues, organisations will have to close, which will impact a lot of people who work in the industry, and many who are connected with it (Uber drivers for example have no business at night time for example). Without doubt, new venues will open, new parties will start too and a new boom will come back stronger and hopefully more united than before. Strangely I see it as a big opportunity to really restock & refresh.

You’ve travelled a lot in your career… what have been some of your happiest memories from touring?

There’s been a few, from DJ’ing on the beach in Costa Rica for a 6 hour set to over two thousand ravers to playing to over 10’000 at the first night of Leeds Festival. Absolute buzz and a half, it took me like two days to calm down froth the adrenaline!

Congrats on the label anniversary… what are you proudest of that you’ve achieved in that time?

Thank you! It’s been quite a trip so far. I think Pete Tong playing the first release Control Ya set the tone well and was a message that I was doing the right thing to launch a label. I’m also very proud that Harry Romero remixed that track, turning in a dope remix for the 1st anniversary. That opened the door for me to go over to collaborate with Harry which was super cool!

Tell us about the mixes on the new VA package…

The new EP is celebrating the 3rd anniversary of my label In Tune. Each year I invite an iconic house music producer to remix a track from the back catalogue, I invite a rising star producer to do a mix and I also do a remix.

What kit do you use as a producer? Lots of hardware or strictly out of the box?

Currently I’m pretty much ‘out of the box’. Plug-in wise, Serum, Sub Boom Bass, Diva, FM8 and the Kontakt are all in my template project. Then for FX, I’m all about the Soundtoys, FabFilter, Waves, Cabelguys plug-ins too. Also got my record collection in my studio. I’m really into sampling and I love going through my records and seeing what I can find.

You were a producer on Radio 1, do you think that working in that capacity and listening to so much music has given you an advantage when it comes to making your own stuff?

Oh yes! 100%. I’ve had one of the best on-the-job trainings, working on most of the dance shows at Radio 1 over the years. Of course working alongside some of the biggest names in the industry to curate their shows, gave me a first hand experience of what works in a radio sense. And being around so many DJs, guest mixes as well as the countless amount of promos we get sent…

How would you like to see the label develop over the coming years?

I’m committed to releasing quality dance music, and providing a platform for up and coming producers and adding value to the scene in any way I can. We recently launched some online writing camps which have been well received, and we’ll be hosting more of those in the months to come.

What else should we be looking out for from you for the rest of the year and into 2021?

Obviously, I’ve just released the 3rd anniversary release for my label In Tune. I have a collaboration with Harry coming out very soon on his label Bambossa. It’s called Use Me and it’s an absolute banger! Right now I’m just focusing on having fun with making music and continue to hone my craft. Next year I’ll be releasing some more for sure. For sure I’m itching to get out DJ’ing again but really looks like we’ll have to be patient for the world to start opening up again.

Finally, for you, what’s the greatest house track ever made and why?

Laurent Garnier – Man With The Red Face. Remember hearing it on a dance-floor at the Clinic in Gerard Street, W1 (which is now a cocktail bar!). It’s the tension, the way the track builds the instrumentation, the baseline, the drums. They all combine to full effect. I was already DJ’ing at that point but it was one of those pivotal moments on the dance-floor that I live for!