Find me a harder working DJ in Sydney than LEX DELUXE, I dare you. She's been taking to stages and dancefloors across the country, bringing her keen ear for electronic music and its history with her. She's in the middle of a huge transition period right now, making the decision to leave her day job to pursue music full-time.
The leap of faith will see her buckling down, writing music and taking off on a massive journey of self-discovery, finding her sound and having a blast doing it.
She's on the lineup for our thirteenth birthday bash happening on June 15 as part of Vivid Sydney, so we stopped by her newly minted studio in Ashbury to chat production, leaps of faith and her playlist at age thirteen.
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What are you up to at the moment?
I've just quit my full-time job and I'm focusing on producing and trying to hone in on my sound. That's one of the biggest things to work on, not just making the music, but figuring out what path I want to take. I have like three projects going which makes it a bit easier to put them into categories.
Was it a tough decision to leave working an hourly week vs. jumping into music full time?
Not so much. I feel like in making the decision, there was a lot of plotting, a lot of pros and cons and figuring out how I could work the two together. When I first started working, I was trying to do my producing on the side. Then I ended up doing more hours at my job and less hours producing, and then it turned into full-time work as well as full-time DJing, you know, working Monday to Friday and then DJing Thursday, Friday, Saturday. It was just very overwhelming.
So making the decision was more relieving than it was scary, but I definitely think I'll see how it goes in a few months and hopefully that big jump will have paid off and I'll have some work to show for it.
It's nice that you've got this new space that you're in. It's really creative and you're got a really nice network of people around you.
Yeah, every time I tell someone that I'm producing full-time and going to be working on that, everyone asks me to send them my stuff. I have like a mailing list of people to send off to once I start finishing off music, which is so great [laughs]. Obviously, being surrounded by people, you always feel inspired. Watching your friends do music live is really amazing.
Do you think coming into an environment like this will allow you the room to explore and make mistakes?
One of the best things is utilising your time to be free with exploring new things. A lot of the time that I would be making music previously was when I was travelling to and from a gig, so I'd be on a train, or a plane. I'd be sitting on the train thinking "Alright, I've got two hours before I get to Wollongong". Every minute of that two hours was like working further and further as opposed to exploring. I was working more linear as opposed to broadly.
Being in this space, obviously I have this 24 hours a day, I can come in anytime and I can dedicate an hour to learning how to make a 303 acid sound or listening to a song and completely dissecting it, copying down the structure, copying down the drum pattern, things like that, and allowing myself to spend an hour doing that and not freaking out because I have so much time to do that now. Thats what I'm really hoping this space will allow me to do. I'm still treating it like a full-time job, leaving the house and 9, getting here by 10, which still lets me leave before 6 so it doesn't get too dark. I'm not hiring this studio just as a fun exciting thing, I have to utilise it, and that formalises it for me.
Now that you've got the space, what kind of goals have you set yourself for this year?
So, I have some big pointers. I'm doing a project with three other friends, and we're putting out a bunch of disco/house music which will come out later, down the track. Working with three other people forces you to pull your weight. That doesn't have timeline, we're still working it out.
I also have a four-track EP that I've been working on, I've got it planned out. I'd ideally like to release a song before Astral People's Winter Dance which is June 22, and have all four songs out hopefully before Splendour. Straight after Splendour, I'm going to be heading to Europe for two months. I would like to have all four tracks ready to be sent out to start securing some gigs for that time. Ideally, I would like all four songs, at least the demos, to be finished by mid-June, so that gives me a month and a half to have at least one song completely finished, mastered and out in the world.
I play very varied music when I DJ, there's a lot of pulled back, 100BPM funk and disco, but then prodding up to 120PM disco/house, and then going up to pretty intense rave, which is what I'd be playing at the Claptone Wollongong event or if I would play at the Flinders, things like that. I guess when I put out a song, I need to figure out where I want to put it. So I have one avenue for like the disco/house, and then I guess, is Lex Deluxe music going to be more funk sampled house, or is it going to be more acidy, drivey sort of music?
The Motorik guys have been really supportive and I've been chatting to them a lot about putting things out, so if I want to put out an electro/techno song, I have that. There's a lot of planning that needs to go into this, but I feel like at the moment I've just been doing a lot of two minute demos and seeing what I know, what I can put into a song, saving it, starting a new one and just churning them out.
How would you describe the Lex Deluxe sound so far? Do you have a vision?
Whenever someone asks me what music I play, I realise that it's changed a lot over the years. When I first started, I was playing like Hot Chip and Ratatat, very like 2000's indie-disco, that's what I labelled myself as. Then I went to strictly disco. If a disco song had drums that were too heavy, I'd ignore it, like it wasn't pure disco or anything. Now, I don't even know where it's at. I look at it like this nice little square where it's got funk/disco, house, tech and acid in all corners. In the middle of that is my sound. I guess the main thing is that it's dance music that you can listen to in a dark club, but it's still really happy, so I don't go too deep. I don't go minimal or slow, it's always like a bit of a bubbly vibe. It's really hard to pinpoint the sound. Feel good, big dance music.
What have been some of your highlights of the year so far? You've done so much already and it's only April!
I know! Obviously New Years, that period was absolutely phenomenal. I did Lost Paradise which was one of the first big festivals where I got to play my music that I wanted to play for the world. Rather than being booked for a gig and having to play to a brief, I just went for it. It was one of my favourite fun sets. The next day, I played on the Falls Festival, closed out the main stage to thousands of people. I played more of a briefed set, like 'Groove Is In The Heart', Armand Van Helden, but it was a pretty full on experience. After that, I played a Lovejoy party that was like 70% vinyl. Somehow I managed to mix it all relatively well. I feel pretty chuffed that I pulled that off [laughs]. That was a really good in to exploring what I want to play a little bit more.
I played at the RCC Fringe in Adelaide, that was a really fun vibe. They go off there. Revolver was crazy, that was a funny night. I think my all time favourite set of the year/of all time was Daydreams in Melbourne. It was on Pitch weekend. When I rocked up, there was a two hour line to get in. Obviously not just to see me, but for the night. Everyone in Melbourne was so keen. Every single song that was played, everyone loved. You really had the freedom to go everywhere. I started playing funk at 100BPM, really chugging it. Then I got up to 150 footstep, a DJ Assault track with a sample of 'Dilemma'; it's a really funny, breakbeat edit. To be able to play both ends of the spectrum in a two hour set, it's exciting. You're not putting any filler songs in. You go in there and you say okay, I want to get to there, so I'm going to play these songs to get to that point, and you bring it back down, and then I finished on 'U Sure Do' by Strike, and that felt really good. Finishing on that was such a high.
We'll be celebrating our thirteenth birthday with you very soon. What kind of music were listening to at age 13?
This is going to be good. When I was 13, what was that, year 7? When I was young, my favourite bands were Hilltop Hoods, were talking like 'The Clown Prince' that kind of stuff, Architecture In Helsinki, who I was actually listening to this morning as a throwback, Lily Allen. I'm trying to think of what I would have listened to on my walk to school. Warpaint, Jagwar Ma, The Ramones and Doris Day.
You've got a bit of everything there.
Yeah, fingers in all of the pies. It was all CD's that Mum and Dad had, and then I would burn the CD's and put them on my iPod. I had a little purple iPod Nano, and I would shake it and a random song would come on. It was definitely kind of like a cross between Pitchfork-indie, like The Shins, Jagwar Ma, artists like that, crossed with Doris Day, because I had her CD and new every lyric, and then bands that would have been playing on the Groovin' lineup, like Hilltop Hoods. Also Bliss N Eso. In year 7, there was a guy I really liked, and it was his favourite band. So I'd listen to it and rap along, hoping he'd hear and be really impressed [laughs].
Now that you've got this image of your thirteen year old self in your head, what advice would you give to yourself at thirteen?
Honestly, just keep doing it. My year 7 was pretty rough, you know like first year in high school, I didn't really know who I was. I was with a group of friends who weren't really nice to me, but it was just like a very weird, confusing time. Just keep going. Everything that has happened since I was thirteen until now, nothing really bad has happened. Apart from little slip ups, it's all okay. It gets better. I haven't reflected on myself in a while, little Lexy, poor thing! [laughs].
If I want to talk to a 13 year old, I'd be like just chill, don't run ahead, laugh at everything and explore being a kid for as long as you can. Not that it took me a long time to grow up, but I feel like my family were very jokey. I didn't grow up fast, I feel like I grew up really quickly in the last 3 years, since I've left high school.
Vivid Sydney, UNDR ctrl & FBi Radio present:
PURPLE SNEAKERS' THIRTEENTH BIRTHDAY
Saturday, June 15
The Lansdowne, Chippendale
Second release tickets on sale here.
Words & photo by CAITLIN MEDCALF