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In Conversation: Rene LaVice

In Conversation: Rene LaVice

Rene LaVice is moving into one of the most frenetic stages of his career, recently becoming the new host of the drum n bass show on BBC Radio 1, whilst also set to release his third album later this month.

The man who he took over from Friction frequently joked about struggling to find the time to put out an album whilst working as a presenter on the show, alongside being an artist and the head honcho of several labels. When the news emerged LaVice had a new album ready it came as a pleasant surprise to many.

The record entitled Far From Perfect includes ten imposing tracks that all provide interesting snapshots of the Canadian’s life so far.

Reflecting on the album you could instantly recognize how each song carried such a personalized meaning, by the way LaVice recalled the specific memories in great depth. The first song which the Ram Records’ artist was itching to talk about, ‘Can’t Get Enough’, was inspired by a crazy after party on the serene island of Jersey.

“Can’t Get Enough was written because I did a gig in Jersey and ended up at this random after party, staying up all night and having a really great time,” he said.  One of the people I met there, Isaac [Isaac Evans], was singing in the hallway with his guitar so I decided to take his info and we collaborated on the record.”

This moment became so special for LaVice he decided it wasn’t enough simply to produce a record. He also took it upon himself to create his own music video.

“We got so excited about how it turned out and I was like we have to promote it somehow,” he added. “It would be cool to do something extra for such a special track.  I ended up flying back to Jersey specifically to recreate that night. The video will be released soon and I’m really proud of it.  Everyone’s been asking when I’m going to direct one of my own music videos and this is the first one that I’ve directed. I guess you could call it co-directed with the help of my friend Nathan and Isaac.”

This record gives you a real sense of LaVice’s versatility as artist. As well as music video production you can also add singing to his list of talents, with his voice featuring on four tracks from the album.

One of the most prominent songs with LaVice’s vocals on it, ‘Cold Crush’ has been warmly received by the drum n bass community. This high-octane recor, which is one of the heavier numbers on the album, was supposed to feature a professional singer but Russian DJ/producers Gydra thought LaVice’s voice provided the perfect accompaniment.

At first LaVice was cautious about the idea, thinking that Gydra were just telling him what he wanted to hear. Several messages later and it was clear his Russian collaborators were deadly serious and content they had the right voice for the record.

Sticking with ‘Cold Crush’ it is fascinating to hear LaVice describe the unusual way in which the collaboration first began.

A lot of artists might see someone else they want to work with and go through the usual channels of contacting that person’s agent/manager and taking it from there. However this collaboration was the result of a rather different approach.

Rewind 18 months ago to the Space nightclub in the Russian capital of Moscow. Rene La Vice was set to perform at The World of Drum & Bass event alongside the likes of Black Sun Empire, Metrik and of course Gydra.

This is when a member of the Russian group, who is no longer part of Gydra, suddenly professed his love for LaVice’s work via a translator.

A few weeks later LaVice sent them a rather casual message and admitted he thought they’d just ignore it.

“I sent them a message and it was literally just a Facebook fan page,” he said. “It just said “collab bro?” and then I thought it was almost a joke and I didn’t know if I’d get a response. People don’t usually check their messages. They’re like sure that would be cool and then basically we just started working on the music.”

Whilst he might have been the one to write the lyrics to the record Gydra really added to the song, provoking the Canadian to craft the track in such a unique way.  Sometimes it can be easy for people to presume producing is all about the technical side of things but there is so much more to it, like making creative decisions and curating the work.  LaVice immediately turned his attention to the music industry, explaining how collaborations were sometimes just focused on big names.

“Cold Crush is not like one of these trap records where you get as many features of famous people as you possibly can,” he added.  “That’s fine and I think people should work with really famous artists. I want to work with Drake but it should bring something creatively. It should sound like a cool track it shouldn’t sound like you’ve paid someone £20,000.”

This album also strikes a rather personal chord with LaVice because of the limited edition skateboard which Ram have created as part of the launch.  Ever since his high school days back in Canada LaVice would be spending most of his spare time, practising tricks down town with his friends.  He continued to skateboard for several years, as well as taking part in other sports like athletics and had aspirations to be a professional skateboarder.  When LaVice was at a crossroads considering whether to continue skateboarding or explore his musical talents it proved to be a hard decision, giving up a dream he had been focused on for such a long time.

What became instantly clear was how much time and thought had gone into the plan to become a full-time DJ/producer. At a fairly young age it was striking to hear LaVice making such considered decisions.

“I love skateboarding and athletics,” he continued. "It’s something that doesn’t have an end. I eventually started leaning towards art and music because I thought I could have a little bit more longevity rather than hitting my peak at age 30.”

Being able to release a custom board with his own name and showcase a different side to his personality was something that provided a lot of satisfaction, according to LaVice.

“I’ve always had that dream of a pro board with your name on it,” he added. “That’s a real rite of passage as a skateboarder. This is not the same thing but it’s kind of like a homage to that whole lifestyle and culture whilst also celebrating the album.  I’m really happy with the illustration because it’s like a representation of my journey over the past eight years. There are also a lot of fun details in there like the octopus.”

Looking ahead to upcoming events LaVice is set to perform at a huge show this weekend, as Arcadia arrives in London for it’s only UK appearance of the year, following on to a huge after party at the capital city’s premier club, fabric.  When asked about the show LaVice spoke in such glowing terms about the events, admitting he had been looking forward to it for a long time.

“The UK shows are going to be incredible,” he continued. “It’s the first ones in London and it’s going to be really epic.  I’ve got a lot of new music for it and it will be an incredible performance. It will be amazing to be a part of that immersive experience whilst doing my thing.”

To finish we obviously put LaVice on the spot and asked him to tell us what his favourite party starter is at this moment in time.  After much deliberation he singled it down to a song by a group that have recently put out an epic album five years on from their previous record.

“I’m going to say ‘Wardance’ by Drumsound & Bassline Smith,” he commented.

“It’s just such a certified crowd starter but if you drop it right everyone just always goes whoa. The cool thing about it too is that it’s not the same exact formula as every other two-step drum n bass track.”

Catch Rene LaVice at the Arcadia 10th Anniversary Festival, Sunday 6th May, at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London and the official after party at Fabric, London alongside Bad Company UK, Calyx & Teebee, Coki, Ed Solo (Jungle Set) and many more. 

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