Lee Coombs interview: Future Sound of Retro
Friday, 7 April 2006
Breakbeat has endured the hype and the ensuing backlash to become the soundtrack to Australia's extended party season. And, as one of the UK's original breaks tourists, Lee Coombs is happy to be doing his second Two Tribes.
The breaks revolution first rumbled in Australia (possibly in tandem with the US) but the music has never penetrated the British mainstream - in spite of being touted as the 'next big thing' before electro. Coombs is unsure why Aussies have taken to breaks yet feels that even our sensibilities have progressed from the beginning of the decade.
"It's a good party sound and, when it really kicked off years ago, the biggest breaks sound in Australia was the more funky stuff - Krafty Kuts and Kid Kenobi and people like that - and I think it's evolved a little bit now with people getting into the deeper sounds, which is where I come in.
"The early breaks stuff, with the Freestylers and people like that, that's quite an accessible sound and it works well in a good outdoor environment - and that is what all the big parties in Australia are about, aren't they- Festivals and stuff - the combination works really well."
The UK's breaks movement is healthy, too, Lee assures. "It's never been stronger for me, it's just constantly growing. You've got clubs like Fabric and The End in London and there's loads of other little underground nights. Every major city in the UK has a night that either supports breaks or is a complete breaks night. It just goes in phases, but it's constantly evolving. You get certain people who are burnt out by various things in the club world and they might give something a bad name, there might be one element that pisses someone off but, at the end of the day, there's a lot of people who wanna go out and dance to good music and we've got plenty of that around, so I don't think it's ever gonna die. It's just getting bigger."
Lee has a strong camaraderie with other breaks artists, such as Meat Katie. They trade record tips, for starters. "We've definitely got our own sound," he says.
The acid house vet, who made his mark with the track Future Sound Of Retro, stretched himself as a producer with his recent 'artist' LP 'Breakfast Of Champions' - collaborating with the likes of Plump DJ Andy Gardner - on Fingerlickin. Lee admits that he'd love a crossover hit like the Freestylers' Push Up, but he's content with the response to his LP. "I learnt how to make records exactly how I wanna hear 'em in a club," he says.
"I'm not gonna go on and do crazy, weird concept albums, I'm about club music, I love making people dance and happy in that environment, so it'll always be an evolution of that. I wanna make people dance and I've just learnt how to make people dance really well - I'm gonna carry on."
This year Coombs will be issuing a mix CD on his Thrust Recordings (he last did 'Perfecto Breaks').
"It's a little bit similar to the first album I did with Fingerlickin, which was called 'Future Sound Of Retro', where every track I've had a hand in it somewhere - I've either made it, remixed it or edited it or been playing it for ages or someone made it for me or something like that - so it's just a continuation of the Lee Coombs sound."
Coombs has come some way as a DJ. He maintains that these days his approach is more "creative" with him dropping his own exclusives. He believes in the DJ's inherent entertainment value, interacting with punters. Lee, a self-described "ol' skool DJ", deploys CDs but not Ableton Live. "I'm not that much of a computer nerd. I can't DJ with a laptop! [laughs] I appreciate what people are doing with it but, to be honest, I don't really feel that looking into a laptop monitor is the same thing as giving to the crowd."