IN The last six months we have Seen René LaVice take the helm of the legendary Drum and Bass Show on BBC Radio One, play at major festivals and events across the globe, and now drop his latest Album “Far from Perfect” on the Legendary Ram Records.
A ten track belter encompassing all aspects of the Drum and Bass sound, shaken up and re-fixed in the way only René can… There is literally nobody in the scene at the moment that is able to produce such diverse sounds that fit so perfectly together in one body of work. Some say the art of album writing is dead… I say that René has just revived it.
We sat down for a catch-up with René to find out what came before, what’s happening now, and what’s still to come!
Your New album “Far from Perfect” has 10 tracks in total!
Yup Short and sweet, that was the intention, I’m just sick of albums that have 15-20 tracks on them but no direction, I don’t want to sound like I’m insulting any one, I just want this album to feel very immediate and of the moment! This is what’s happening with me right now! Maybe a year, two years from now we will look back on some of the tracks and they are still sounding fresh, and maybe some of them will make you go “oh yeah I remember that time” It’s a bit more of a snap shot… I just wanted to get to the point. I feel like right now drum and bass is in two places, you have the “Jump Up” scene which is “Drum and Bass in your Face, lets fucking GO… and its got the energy there and its great. And the other half of the scene is 5-minute intros with Orchestras and its beautiful stuff, it really is. So I’m looking at it all and trying to figure out how I can connect the dots between the two.
One of tracks on the new album “Cold Crush” is your vocal, how did that come about?
Yes it is, but I didn’t intend on singing on that track at all, I sang a demo vocal over the track with the intention of getting a vocalist to sing it. Because I’ve tried to sing vocals before and people weren’t really feeling it, or it didn’t really fit, so when I played it to people they were like
“Holy Fuck That’s Awesome, who’s singing it?”
I was like: “Err me! But we should get a vocalist to sing it right?”
I was really worried that it wasn’t good enough, but they were adamant, and you know the point of the story is that I didn’t really have the confidence to do that before, but we ended up going with it. I felt tremendously nervous about it. What are people going to think? And it’s so weird!
Now I’m not sure if I’ve disassociated from it or owned it, but now when I’m playing it out I’m singing over the top of it, it’s just really fun to be able to express your self that way with a track. Now people are asking if I’m going to sing on more records, which is really exciting!
And are you going to sing on more Records?
I would definitely like to, I’m always writing lyrics and I have a whole bunch of tracks that I’ve never released just sitting on my hard drive that could turn into songs. I think it’s just about finding the right track. I have a high standard for what I want to release, so I guess if it works it works.
So I hear there is going to be a video for one of the tracks of the new album!
Oh! that’s one of coolest stories to come from this record. So, I was on tour and played in Jersey in the Channel Islands and I went to an after party, it was so surreal, people were painting art on the walls and the vibe was super chilled, all against this back drop of the most beautiful scenery. I met this guy called Isaac at the party and he was playing the guitar and singing and he just had this amazing voice, I thought “Damn your voice is super cool” I chatted to him and got his email.
And so a few weeks later I just wanted to recreate the vibe from that night. It was one of those moments where you don’t want the night to end and its super dreamy and everything is just awesome. I chatted to Isaac about my ideas for the track and he caught the idea and totally nailed the vocal on it. And that became the track “Can’t Get Enough” You know I just wanted to celebrate that moment in my life and preserve it, and share those feelings with other people, that track its really special to me… But the craziest part is that we made the track and then months and months go by and then I didn’t really have any promo planned for it and my buddy Nathan was saying he wanted a project where he could make something really beautiful and I suddenly thought “OH MY GOD” I’ve got a really beautiful track (Can’t Get Enough) let’s just fly to jersey and recreate that night and make a video for the song… And so we did and it was crazy, We had a piano on the beach it was Directed by myself, Nathan High & Isaac Evans, I’d say we did pretty well considering we did it for the cost of a plane ticket!
It wouldn’t have been possible without all the great friends in Jersey who were a part of it and got involved in the video with us. And you know nobody has really seen me make a video before so it’s really exciting to see what people think when it comes out.
This album is being released digitally and also on vinyl right?
Oh! its so cool that we are having the vinyl pressing of the album out too, and oh another really cool thing is that what we are doing is a bundle pack! So you get the vinyl album and a bunch of other cool stuff as well as a SKATEBOARD! I grew up skateboarding, I love it, I’m obsessed by it, my instagram is a little bit of music and a LOT of skateboarding, its how I express myself, it’s a way I get ideas when I’m writing tracks, it’s so many things to me. I feel like so many junglists skateboard too. You know both movements have a similar mentality and what’s really cool is the design of the skateboard follows my adventure in music over the last 8 years. You’ve got the Ram horns and the blue jay, oh and there is the Octopus from my first release on Ram Records, and you know if you don’t want to get all deep over it, its just a bad ass skate board you can shred on (laughing)
Everything we Read or hear about you and your career focuses on the last Five years, give us an idea what you were doing before this?
I don’t think I was born (laughs) I did a lot of things… Wow, I was skateboarding a lot, and absolutely loving it, like I said before Skateboarding is so many things to me.
To what level were you skateboarding?
I had a few interests, really small sponsors here and there. I was making skate videos of my friends. Which led me into filmmaking and my music tied in with that as well and I was playing in bands, I’ve done LOT of stuff to be honest.
So tell us a bit about the bands! what instruments were you playing?
I was writing songs lyrically, and then I would play drums in the bands, every so often I would switch up and play bass or sing… I learnt how to play piano growing up, but I never really played piano in a band I only started integrating that into Drum & Bass. I also had a lot of crazy jobs before I made the move over here (The UK). I was going to university for The Visual Arts, A lot of people ask me if I went to school for music production, but I’m actually completely self-taught in that respect.
The music was something I did get away from doing all the visual arts stuff, which was schoolwork to me at the time. I did some crazy jobs before I was a full time musician, I was fighting forest fires in B.C. I did tree planting, I taught skateboarding lessons and worked at a skate shop and I worked at a coffee shop (I’m not going to say which one!) All I can say is I really loved the fact that I was dealing with people and I loved brightening everybody’s day, but I was not cut out for making 18,000 different types of Frappuccino’s, you know it wasn’t for my brain (laughs) I have a lot of respect for anybody who can really kill it at job like that, It’s so hard! It requires a skill set that I just don’t have. I have a lot of respect for anyone in public service, they are some of the hardest jobs you can possibly do because you have to deal with people, and everybody’s having a different day, somebody’s having a good day. Somebody’s having a bad day, somebody just wants to be a little troublemaker. and then you’ve got to brighten someone’s day who’s maybe sad. It’s so hard to have that resilience!
I think if you do that kind of work it stands you in such good stead for future situations in other aspects of your life.
I definitely agree. I think that even though I’ve not worked in those industries for a while now I can still apply those things to situations now, even as a performer it all ties in.
You were born and raised in Canada!
Yes From the City of Toronto, I was actually born and raised right in the middle of the city, I’ve always been very proud of where I come from, not just because it’s a big city, I think everybody should be proud of where they come from if it’s a small town or big city, just be proud of it…
Do you get to go back often?
I try to go back a few times a year. As I get busier and busier with work, the frequency I get to go back fluctuates, and sometimes I go back because I’m on tour, then other times I go back to just spend time with my family.
So tell us how your love of Drum and Bass developed?
I don’t know why but before I was really involved in the scene Toronto was a second home to Drum and Bass. “Play da Record” has always been my favorite record store in Toronto, and I would go there looking for Hip Hop Records and find Drum N Bass records. I would be listening to college radio stations, which is like our version of pirate stations. They would be rinsing out Drum and Bass, and I would be like “OH MY GOD WHAT IS THIS?” this is really cool! It was electronic music but it sounded like it had real passion behind it, realness and an organic sound. It wasn’t mindless it didn’t sound plastic and fake, it gave me the same feeling as when I heard “Breathe” from “Fat of The Land” by The Prodigy for the first time. It was that same feeling, I had never heard anything like that before with the same amount of energy and experimentation in sound. It just infected me. So then going to record shops and finding those records and being like “Oh my God this is the thing, THIS is what I’ve been looking for!”
And you know everybody knows that Drum and Bass originated in England, and much like Hip Hop originated in New York it’s a sound that has now disseminated world wide. Influencing and inspiring everybody, and now its more than just paying homage to something that started in New York or London. Its now at a point where people are bringing their own cultural influences and flavors in to the music and its enriching the whole sound and in a roundabout way, re-inspiring people from London the birthplace of the music to take another perspective on it and keep evolving it. It’s got the fundamental roots of the genre as well, really far out sub genres that are massive in their own right but have a completely different perspective on the music and all of it has integrity, which is insane. I mean it’s rare in a genre that you have completely different perspectives on it but they all have their own integrity.
How did you transition from Living and producing in Canada to the UK? How did you get your break in DnB?
I don’t know, I feel like I still haven’t got my break in DnB (laughing.) The thing is you just don’t get a break in DnB it’s just fucking hard… you know what I mean? That’s just the reality of it. You do something good and you get a lot of respect and then you might start getting some bookings, but it’s just hard! You have to keep on it. You have to keep putting out good stuff. There is a very very small roundtable of musical royalty/drum and bass royalty who can keep touring indefinitely, but even they have ups and downs. Mampi Swift is a Name who could be booked until the end of time just because of his legacy, but even he is currently on point! He is putting out a new album, the new music he is putting out has been incredible, he has been A&R-ing his new label really well, and they have had hits in the last year. The point I want to get across is it isn’t like you have a “Pop Hit” and then everything falls from the sky. The point is that we work. We work hard, it’s very much a lifestyle. It becomes our whole life. If you’re not dedicated to it, then it becomes a hobby. I got to a point when I was living in Canada where I had dedicated so much of my life to this (Drum and Bass Music) where I thought “hey lets just go for it” this is who I am, I’ve been told my entire life that I’m a creative person and this is my outlet so let’s try and make this happen. I went over and thought maybe I would be back home serving people coffee within the month. And as luck would have it “The Calling Blew up on the Radio…”
So you have recently taken the helm of The Radio One Drum and Bass Show. How did that happen?
So, they just rang me up one day and said they would like to give me a show on Radio One. At the time I was doing my podcast as well as DJing and producing. The whole reason why I did my podcast was to express myself. Being an artist and the pressure that can come with it can be really intense, sometimes a lot… so when you find an outlet like I did with the podcasts that you think people don’t really give a shit about. It means your just doing it to purely to have fun, and its not in any way high pressure, its just me going through my musical rolodex and just having a blast. It’s really great that I built a following by having fun and playing all the music I love and influences me. And I try to bring that sense of fun, enthusiasm and high energy I had on my podcasts to my Radio One shows.
The Albums out! You are the Drum and Bass ambassador for Radio One! So what’s next and what Artist should we be looking out for in 2018?
Oh ‘cos dropping an album isn’t enough ay, (said in a funny voice and laughing) I’ve got Tons of stuff happening with radio one, we have the a crazy feature called “The Triple Threat” I cant say too much about it because its with some really high profile guests, its getting amped up another notch or two and is going to be amazing. A lot of touring and some really big festivals, I’ve got some really fun stuff coming up and a crazy busy summer ahead of me. As for what Artist to look out for in 2018 it has to be Jareth, she is the vocalist on my track “Let you go” and is releasing an album and it amazing follow her on Social Media.
The Album Far from Perfect is available to download now from all digital download stores and is also available on limited edition double vinyl from here.