Lee Brinx is a true stalwart of underground electronic music. His role as an east London based DJ, producer, label owner and promoter has put him at the centre of an underground scene that yields its influence the world over. Spreading his diverse musical manifesto far and wide, Lee has become an established name on the scene, garnering critical acclaim and respect throughout the industry. We caught up with him recently…
Welcome to The Underground! It’s hard to keep up with you with all your gigs these days! Where in the world are you now?
San Francisco Airport on route to Mexico City.
When did you take the step from DJing to producing?
I first started producing back in late 90’s, making garage beats with a couple of old friends. We had our own little independent label, pressing and distributing everything on vinyl.
You play the guitar…how has this helped you in your productions?
I started playing the guitar when I was about 10 years old. Musically it taught me the use of chords and build structure – once you learn to play an instrument you can apply that knowledge in electronic production.
You started the label Lower East with your friends Cozzy D and Dexter Kane, what was the inspiration behind the label?
The inspiration was a simple one – We were all making music, sending it to labels and not getting it signed. We believed it was good enough to release, so we created Lower East as a platform from which we could do that.
Who should we look out for on Lower East in 2012?
Well Rebel is certainly someone to keep a firm eye on. The lead track from his ‘Hearing Voices’ EP which came out in February has been one of our best sellers to date and the new material he’s working on just keeps getting better and better. We also have a great EP out in June from an artist called Alfred Taylor who is one half of Dusky. Being a London boy, his city influences are very prominent in his sound and his take on house music has a very individual flare. Michael Jansons has some great music in the pipeline – He’s been a pivotal part of the Lower East crew since day one and will certainly move more into the lime light once his EP drops at the end of the summer.
I’m sure you get sent a fair share of demo tracks, what does it take for a track to get noticed by you?
Demos are coming in more and more every day. We like to try and listen to everything we receive, which is proving more difficult as of late. We look for original ideas – grooves / vocals / basslines and of course tight production. Once we’ve heard something we’re keen on, we listen to it on a variety of systems and test them out in sets. There’s not one specific sound or genre we look for, I think it’s better to have an open minded approach.
Lower East has now also turned into an agency, what can you tell us about the lower agency and the reasoning behind it?
It was basically a case of keeping the family together and moving forward as a unit. The agency has been formed by myself, Alexis Raphael and Luke Passmore, who is working as the booking agent and looking after the day to day running of the company. It’s very important for us to have our own identity and this is another piece of the jigsaw we are creating. We have just launched the new website, check it out; www.theloweragency.com
You have your own party “off key” that’s been a great success since it began in 2009, are there any plans to expand the event?
We had a great couple of years throwing parties with the like of Carl Craig, Jamie Jones, Seth Troxler, Dennis Ferrer & Timo Mass, with the highlight being Sasha headlining our second birthday last year. Unfortunately we had different views to that of the venue owners, and so decided to go our separate ways at the end of last year. We were unable to find another suitable venue in time to plan this years events and so decided to take a break – Who knows what 2013 will bring?
Your latest EP on Lower East – Multiple Choice has just dropped, guide us through the release and the feeling behind each track
The lead track ‘Summa That’ started off life called ‘Hold On’ at the end of the summer last year, around the same time I made ‘She’s Pretty’, again with myself on the vocals. I played it to Cozzy and he hated the percussion. I took his advice on board but I at the time I couldn’t hear what he meant so I shelved the track and decided I would go back to it at a later date with fresh ears. In January I did exactly that, went back, stripped all the beats out and completely re-programmed them and added the ‘Gimme summa that’ vocal, hence leading to the name change.
‘Choices Featuring Tina Geru’ was something I started after I finished the above. After initially laying down the beats and groove I spent a while playing around with a vocal sample but just couldn’t get it to sound right. I laid a few vocal hooks down myself and then spent a week or so listening back and writing a full vocal to go with it. I then got Tina in for a session and she nailed it in only a few hours (as usual). I reverted back to my garage days and chopped the vocal up across the key board and put together those stabs and fills that really give the track its groove. Certainly my favorite on the EP, it’s always rewarding hearing someone sing vocals you’ve written, especially when they are sung as you envisioned.
Lastly is Freaky. I have had this finished since the end of last summer. It’s a deep house chugger with a sexy pitched down vocal, again chopped up into hooks. At 117 bmp its one of my slowest productions to date but still has manages to have real punch on the dance floor. I featured it in my Fabric podcast at the begging of the year and had quite a bit of interest from other labels but decided I wanted to keep it for Lower East – I always planned to have EP from myself around this time of the year, provided I could come up with the goods!
Do you have any exciting remix work or collaborations coming up?
I have a remix alongside Cozzy D of ‘Anymore’ by Alfred Taylor forthcoming on the aforementioned ‘Akagi EP’ which is out in June. Then I have a track featured on our summer compilation, Inner Circles Volume 2. I have an EP that currently in the process of completing for Lo:Rise and I’m about to start working on another remix for Tom Budden’s label ALIVE.
Collaboration wise myself, Cozzy and Alexis are starting up a new project soon so keep your eyes open for that.
What advice would you give to anyone looking to start up a label like you have done?
Believe in the music your putting out and never compromise on quality, set a standard and it will only get better. Most importantly take your time, grow organically and learn from your mistakes.
What do you like to do away from music?
In all honesty, I don’t really do too much away from music, as my favorite past-time outside of work is raving. That said I swim a few time a week and go to the gym and love to Thai box.
Lee’s latest EP on lower East is out now and available from Beatport by clicking here