Leftwing and Kody – London will always have a place in club culture

Given the impact they have had, it’s hard to believe Leftwing & Kody only launched in 2012. The duo’s first EP brought them immediate recognition from their industry peers and the rest they say is history. With an infectious sound that draws on swinging hi hats, low slung synths and masterly crafted basslines, and by joining the dots between the past and the present in their own unique way, Leftwing & Kody have since been back in the Beatport charts with three top 10 records. No wonder Mixmag and DJ Mag ear marked them as ones to watch in 2013 where the guys were also nominated for the “Best Breakthrough DJ” at the Best Of British DJ Mag awards

In 2014, L&K expand and experiment with their music and has included remixing and working with House music pioneers such as Robert Owens, Todd Terry, Romanthony & Roger Sanchez. With their style touching all the basses between House & Techno, it’s no surprise support has come from the likes of Carl Cox, James Zabiela, MK Coyu, Loco Dice, Booka Shade, Yousef, Steve Lawler, Adam Beyer, Jimmy Edgar and Huxley which shows how broad their production palette is.

Grant Richards recently caught up with the duo out of their busy schedule

I know you through a mutual pal and know a little bit about life before Leftwing & Kody. I know that like many of us DJs that have been in game a while, you’ve put the graft in over the years. You’ve done the dodgy bar gigs, worked on sketchy pirate radio stations and probably got knocked by promoters. Do you have any good anecdotes from those early days?

Not really any good ones to be fair just played in a lot of empty bars with decks that didn’t work properly and had no monitor but tried to make the best of those situations.

Like myself, you had the City job and was partaking in the rat race on a daily basis. You took the gamble, left that behind and concentrated all your efforts in to your music career. Thankfully it’s paid off, but what was going through your mind at the start of that journey? It must’ve been quite anxious times?

It was a massive gamble especially as I have a family to provide for. But music was something that I always wanted to do full time and when the opportunity came up to leave the day job I took it. I just kept thinking if I don’t take this opportunity it may not come around again and I wouldn’t be able to live with myself regretting that I never took the risk. Jon (Leftwing) was the same he was in an extremely well paid job but took the risk and a huge pay cut to do something that we we’re passionate about every day.

If for some crazy reason, things slowed down for L&K and the bookings dried up, would you consider getting the suit back out the loft? Or was all your work clobber given to a charity shop?

Whoa! Are you trying to jinx me Grant lol! I almost burned all my shirts and suits then my wife reminded me that I will need them for weddings and christenings. So I kept one lol.
At this stage I don’t think I could ever return to a day job in the office and I work more and longer hours then I ever did at a 9-5. For me that was always a means to an end. Nothing wrong with doing an office job but for me I always knew it was not what I was going to do for ever it was just necessary to pay the bills and that. If things dried up with L&K then I would find another job in the music industry.

Your music has evolved somewhat from your early material and you now describe this as ‘heads down’ house music. Was that a conscious move to distance your productions, from what was fast becoming an over saturated sound?

Yes definitely. We felt that we had done everything we could with that particular sound. There’s only so much you can do and as artists you want to explore sounds and express and experiment in different ways. We were getting asked to do remixes and when we were submitting them people were saying “Oh we wanted it to be more like You Were or Lost” for us that wasn’t what we wanted to do. If you start making things that all sound the same then 1) it takes away from those tracks and the special something that they had and 2) you may start to be considered as a one trick pony. We never wanted to pigeon hole ourselves.

Going back to that early sound, OFF Recordings boss Andre Crom was the man to take a bit of a punt on the then pretty much unknown L&K. Are you willing to do the same with your own label Lost Records?

Many labels like to keep it tight knit and release stuff by their mates. Yes Andre did take a risk with us and we are forever grateful for that and the truth behind that story is that those tracks were sent to Andre by Audiojack who already had a great relationship with him, so he listened to the tracks straight away because Audiojack sent them which was a great help. So we also owe Audiojack massively for where we are today.

I think we have already taken a punt with the label.A good example of this would be PAWSA we put out his first ever release which was the third release on Lost so we were still a very young label. But we believed in those tracks and it worked out well for us and PAWSA. Videos showed up of his track being played by Damian Lazerus at DC10 and he’s gone on to release on Cajual and some other great labels. We are all for supporting up coming talent as we have been in those shoes and were lucky enough to get a break so we feel like it’s a good thing to be able to do that for others. We also have a compilation coming out during the summer that includes a lot of up coming talent.

You’ve recently announced a remix competition via Beatport for people to remix your track with Robert owns called ‘I Wanna Be’. This is fast becoming more of the ‘the norm’ with these types of competitions, don’t you think?.

Cynics could say it’s a lazy/cheap way to get a remix package, but the flip to that is you can unearth and showcase fresh talent that may not have got an opportunity otherwise. I think this goes back to the previous point about using the label to give up and comers an opportunity to have their music released. These days it is very difficult to get your music to A&R’s.

I can see from both sides of the coin now because we run Lost Records ourselves (we don’t outsource to a management company) we get a lot I mean A LOT of demos and if your looking at 900 unopened emails in the inbox even if you took 1 min to listen to the track (which wouldn’t be enough to make a decision) that’s 900 minutes and that’s only if there is one track in the email which isn’t the norm. So that’s a lot of spare time on top of everything else that has to be done in the week. But I also know what it’s like to send a demo and not get a reply so we do try our best.

Cynics are always going to be cynical but I like to put a positive spin on it and look at the remix comp as a great opportunity for producers to get their track on a label and maybe have a door opened to other opportunities in the future.

You obviously don’t need to enter such things, but if one came up for an artist you really liked, would you give it a whirl?

We were actually thinking of submitting a remix of the Robert Owens track under a different name!

When the pair of you hit the studio, how do the break up the tedium of listening to that same drum loop for hours? What’s the studio snack of choice? Do you have a few drinks perhaps?

Ok so we are both really health conscious at the moment so their certainly isn’t any fun snacks happening, but there is this amazing Caribbean delivery near the studio so when we are feeling in need of a break from the monotonous spinach and turkey and lentils, then we’ll get a jerk chicken rice peas and coleslaw delivered to the studio. We never really drink in the studio we are very straight laced when it comes to making tracks we feel like we get more done with a clear head.

Talking of drinks, you enjoy a nice glass of red wine don’t you? What’s your favourite wine and have you ever stuck some on your rider? Oh and if you got really caked, would you invest in a wine cellar? They always ask this in Shortlist Magazine as an indicator of Middle Class leanings along with whether you eat Quinoa?

I am partial to a glass (or bottle normally) of Red. Cabernet Sauvignon would be my choice and yes there has been a couple of gigs where I’ve had it on the rider lol. I don’t think I would get a wine cellar to be honest as the bottles tend to be drunk within 3 hours of coming through the front door. So the cellar would be empty most of the time. I do eat Quinoa though so I guess that makes me half middle class.

You’ve said you would like to go B2B with the Martinez Bros, how much high fiving and chest bumping in the booth would go down at change over points, as they’re rather animated when they are in full flow. Or would you play it cool?

A load of high fives and that would be occurring. Me and Jon tend to be fairly animated when we play, so I think if we went B2B with the Brothers there would be a lot of energy behind those decks

Talking of playing it cool, I’ve tried to ask a few DJs in the past about the ‘techno uniform’ of black on black on black, and it seems to get brushed under the carpet. Can you talk about it or is there some secret code I don’t know about and you’re going to skim past this question too?

We don’t really go for the whole black on black look. Jon has what he calls his uniform which is normally jeans and a navy tshirt and I tend to dress ten years younger than I should. Maybe the all black thing is about hiding the weight as black is supposed to be quite slimming, no?

You shared an article recently online about pills and the dangers of what they may/may not contain. It’s another thing that often gets skimmed past in the press. Do you think that a more proactive and/or open approach should be taken on the subject in clubland in general?

100%!! Let’s be honest the consumption of recreational drugs is involved in clubland and it would be naïve to say that it wasn’t. Not everybody uses drugs, but there are certainly people who do. I think if you look at countries like Holland (which is always brought up) they are more proactive about safety in the club world. And I think that it’s because they have an understanding that adults with their own minds that are fully aware of the dangers of taking drugs, are going to do as they wish, so why not make people aware if there is a dangerous batch of something going around?

In Amsterdam when 2 tourists passed away from taking what they thought was cocaine, turned out to be white heroin, there were digital signs around the city with warnings on. That says a lot about the powers that be over there. They understand that people make their own choices and want people to be safe making these choices. There was a bad batch of pills going around the country at Christmas time and I remember Mixmag and the Warehouse Project posting about it at the time but it never showed up in the news or press until Feb/Mar what good is that going to do??

I’m keeping on a roll here with another thing that isn’t talked about that much, maybe coz it’s not very rock n roll, but you’re a married family man, how does your DJing and producing impact that? Does it work for the better in some instances, but then the polar opposite when you’re away for a longer time?

There are pros and cons for sure. I have children and when they were younger and didn’t realise as much, it was only really affecting me, because I missed them especially being away for three days at a time, but now they are a bit older they realise a lot more when I’m away and they do tell me on a Wednesday that they don’t want me to go to work at the weekend and that is painful. But on the flipside when I don’t have that much going on work wise I can spend more time with my family during the week and weekends off we really make the most of. One thing my three year old really gets excited about is when I pick him up from nursery so I try and make that happen as much as possible.

There have been occasions when my family tag along though which is great fun. Over Easter weekend we had 4 gigs and they all came on the road with me (not to the clubs obviously) that was cool. It made a huge difference to the norm of coming back to an empty hotel room. My wife is amazing too she has supported me from the very beginning and without her help I certainly wouldn’t be living my dream

You were once quoted as saying “That crowds in Berlin have access to the absolute cream of the crop of DJ’s, producers and music”. Do you think that with all the closures of London clubs over the years, that LDN no longer has the same anymore?

I think London will always have a place in club culture. Over the years the clubs have come and gone. I remember people saying when Bagleys, The Cross and The Key all closed that London will never be the same, but new places open and new energy brought to the city. I don’t think that will ever go.

We’re about to hit the crazy summer season with all the Festivals and Ibiza etc. Any survival tips for anyone looking to maximise their Summers. What do you boys make sure you always have packed away with you on your travels?

Paracetamol, Dioralyte and ear plugs

Finally before we go, can we just mention the beard? You used to have resplendent face fur, but you’ve got rid. Did you find that other random people say things like ‘nice beard’ when you are out and about and it could often be some sort of unintentional ice breaker?

Yep, beards gone mate! RIP the beard. But yes it was a conversational piece and a definite ice breaker. It may see a come back after summer though.

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About the Author

Resident DJ for Kinky Malinki for over 15 years. Trainer enthusiast, goalkeeper and collector of too much stuff. Have been dipping my toe in to the world of writing for quite some time having written for Azuli Records in the past, along with doing Kinky Malinki’s press work and writing a sneaker spread for an urban lifestyle magazine called 24/7 Live Listings. I’ve always go too much to say, especially when it comes to the dance industry, so what better way than to channel it in to articles for Decoded Magazine.