LEFTFIELD’s seminal album Leftism was a game changer for electronic music when it was released 23 years ago and it is a record which still sounds fresh today.
Neil Barnes and Paul Daley will go down in history as one of electronic music’s greatest live acts and last year they released a very special reissue of the album. The album was followed by a UK tour led solely by Neil Barnes.
We caught up with Neil last week who had just returned from Australia and New Zealand touring Leftism and found him gearing up for the huge Arcadia show in London on May 5 alongside techno heavyweight Sven Väth and another home grown iconic electronic band, Groove Armada. Plus he revealed brand new Leftfield music is on the horizon.
You finished touring Leftism last year in the UK and last month around Australia and New Zealand celebrating 22 years of the album. There is still so much love for Leftism around the world. How were these shows?
The whole touring experience has been fabulous. We are one big family. No egos. Everyone knows their job. Every show has been memorable. The audience has been extraordinary from Brixton Academy to Melbourne. All sold out. I’m proud of the job we’ve done and the high quality of the whole show. I’ve stayed true to Leftism as I realise how important it is to our fans.
There is a lot of nostalgia in dance music at the moment with classical concerts, and throwback events. You have said that you don’t want Leftfield to be a nostalgic band going into the future. What have you got coming next in terms of new music?
I realise touring Leftism was a nostalgic thing but I felt it was valid if we didn’t mess around with it or dilute it. But Leftfield isn’t a nostalgia act. Moving forward I have a new remix of a Gaz Coombes track ‘ The Oaks ‘on the way for Record Store Day. Plus some other more underground remixes planned and new Leftfield music.
How important is DJing to you in terms of keeping in touch with modern underground dance music, influencing your own music production and also having other DJs playing Leftfield music?
It’s essential, but mainly because it’s such good fun. I’ve always stayed in touch. As a music fan I love new music of many kinds. I don’t want to look backwards so I’m ‘ear to the ground’ hunting out new music. The standard of the underground has never been higher. It’s a healthy sub culture that exists outside the mainstream. My sets are journeys through electronic music, I’m never happier than when I’ve played a good set and people half my age are asking me where my records come from.
How has technology changed your sound in terms of the hardware and software you perform and produce with live as Leftfield?
When we recorded Leftism we had 2 tracks of audio and we did everything with hardware samplers. Now I have more power in my iPad than the computer we used then!
Looking to the future, you have some great shows on the horizon. One that stands out is the exciting Arcadia show in London where you will be performing live alongside the likes of the mighty Sven Vath, Groove Armada and Eats Everything. What can fans expect?
It’s an exciting line-up. We toured with Sven Vath in Australia and he’s an old friend and pioneer. A true legend. It will be a Phat night!
Dance music is constantly moving forward reflected by the array of new talent coming through in terms of DJs and producers. Legendary DJs such as Sven Vath and Carl Cox are still at the top of their game there is new DJ talent coming through under him but that doesn’t necessarily seem to the case with new great headline live acts coming through on the scale of Leftfield, Underworld, Orbital,The Chemical Brothers, The Prodigy or Groove Armada. Where do you see the next Leftfield or Underworld coming from?
Nothing stays the same in music. Fashions come and go. When we all started performing live the whole festival thing was so small. Things have changed and audiences see the new DJs as ‘headliners’ who are blurring the definition between DJing and performing live. DJs like Jeff Mills, karenn, Kink ,Bonobo, Moderat and Bicep, all headline festivals and even some of the new underground techno acts like the Spanish act Regal have enormous followings that could easily headline the right festival. It’s already happening.
For more information on Arcadia London and for tickets head here.