Finnish drum & bass act L.A.O.S., aka Large Amount Of Soul, have just dropped their debut album Finally via the Bass=Win imprint. Having been in the works for some time it gives true meaning to the phrase: good things come to those who wait. Kmag caught up with them to talk about the making of the album, taking drum & bass to the live stage, and why pandas have so much soul.
Welcome L.A.O.S., for those who don't know, please introduce yourselves...
We are a four piece band from Helsinki, Finland. The band consists of three producers/DJs - Abraham, D-Bex and Jayem - and vocalist /lyricist Alexx. We have released tracks from labels like Hospital, Viper, Spearhead and Midnight Sun.
You've just dropped your debut album 'Finally'. It's been four years in the making, how does it feel to have it finished?
There's a feeling of happiness and relief amongst us all. It was a long process and to be honest, at one point, we started the whole thing again from scratch. We weren't happy with the direction we were going and we wouldn't have been true to our music or our fans if we released something half-assed. A lot of things happened during these years professionally and personally with all the members of L.A.O.S so we can all agree it feels like giving birth to a healthy baby boy or a girl we are so proud of.
Talk us through the lead track from the album, Warrin'?
It's funny as it is actually a statement against fighting and warrin' each other. Essentially it's a rave track with J.Majik's Spaced Invaders kinda riff and the lead synth is quite weird and unorthodox, but somehow it worked and we're really happy with it. It goes down nicely with crowds both raving 'n' misbehaving, yet at the same time it's saying something quite important. Production wise it's straight to the point - no difficult gimmicks or tricks.
When did you decide to put together 13 tracks into one LP, rather than release a set of singles and EPs?
Our fans started asking for an album about five years ago and since we listen to our fans very carefully we started thinking about it. We had released about ten singles through various labels but we didn't really have any release schedule or plans on how to get our music delivered to our fan base. After a few brainstorms we thought that now it is the right time to take a step back from releasing a single every now and then and focus on something bigger. We wanted to deliver a package that represents our versatility in a coherent manner and we think we have succeeded with that on this album.
Is there any one track from the album you are particularly proud of?
Hush Now is something that personally I'm really proud of. It was written a few years back with vocalist Xara. The lead vocal is made up of a lot of first time takes - somehow they had this special feeling of despair and edge the song needed. It has a somewhat weird structure for a vocal song but it works. Plus, of course, the 501 remix is amazing; he really made it something we would've never thought of.
How did the creative process work over the course of writing the Finally?
We work a lot within our separate setups. Meaning someone does something and then someone else adds to it or takes away. It all comes together in our studio though. There we mix and produce the song to the final mix stage. At some point our vocalist or vocalists are in the studio and we sketch the vocals, but usually re-record them once the sound for the song is set.
Our set-ups are very Mac oriented but each of us has our personal weapons of choice. 80% of it is Logic Pro but there's some Reason stuff in there as well, and even Cubase. In the studio we mainly work on a quad Mac Pro with a Focusrite interface. There's some outboard stuff used too, such as analog compressors. An old BSS DPR-402 can be heard on lot of tracks as the main vocal compressor. A lot of Focusrite Liquidmix was used on the mixdown stages and even an old Akai S2000 on Numb3rs's pads. Whatever works, we'll use.
One of your earlier releases, Panda Style, has a giant panda face as its artwork. The album artwork for Finally also includes the creature. Is there something particularly soulful about the giant panda?
Yeah, weird isn't it? Haha! Pandas are cuddly and soulful and the creature has been our mascot for as long as we can remember. Somebody once gave us the nickname "Panda Boys", and it has been following us since then. Of course the song Panda Style really stamped that on us but we're proud of that. They're rare, soulful and cute; as are we. I guess their slow way of life is something everybody should pick up, at least a little.
For our album cover we wanted a panda once more but if you look closely - the girl on the cover is undressing a panda-suit, so it is some kind of a metaphor. Our artist Kalle did an amazing job with the artwork.
L.A.O.S. perform as a live band, will you be touring the UK any time soon?
We've always done live sets but only during recent years have we made it a 'proper' L.A.O.S. live. We have a bass player with us and a drummer might be joining us as well. All the music and beats are played live. Sure, there's pre-programmed stuff going on which is just necessary for modern live music but sequencing patterns live is a whole lot of fun. There is always a certain sense of danger and uncertainty playing live, and that's what makes us do our best while performing. Currently there are six of us on stage so taking that set-up to a tour isn't very easy or cheap. Right now there are no plans for touring the UK but we're open for booking - would be a lot of fun.
What's in store for the rest of 2012?
Gigging and making music is. Now that Finally is out we naturally await what kind of ripple it makes in the scene. We're hoping to do more interesting collaborations this year and remixing.
Anything else to add or shouts to give?
We'd like to thank all people that have supported us to get this far. A huge thanks to all who have released our music during the years and made it known like Hospital and Viper being the most important. And of course shouts to Terry Hooligan and Rico Tubbs for signing us to Bass = Win. An extra-special-panda-thanks to Chris Blu Mar Ten, a friend and our first true supporter in the UK. And lastly our fans - you keep us going. Much love. Thank you. You can check our Facebook page for more info on the album and latest news on the L.A.O.S. planet.
Words: James Paterson
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