Written by Maya-Rose Torrão
London-based producer and DJ LTHL started his journey into music over a decade ago and has been going from strength to strength ever since. In 2014 LTHL began to gain a substantial amount of recognition for his exploration of emotive and experimental grime and has now found himself immersed in the wave scene. LTHL has also recently had major success with the radio station turned label he co-founded, called Liquid Ritual, that centres on the wave sound and wave musicians.
LTHL has compiled an exclusive mix for The Playground, a wild ride of wave and hard-hitting bass, which you can listen to here:
We got to catch up with LTHL and chatted about beers, old-skool hardware and music as therapy.
Set the tone for us. Why the arts?
I’ve had a passion for music since I was young. I played a couple of instruments during my childhood and teens, but I gave them up as I found it really hard to read the music for some reason.
A friend of mine showed me Reason when I was about 13 or 14 and I’ve been using it since. I found that with creating sounds on a computer, I was able to make the music that I wanted but without having to read music, as I could (and still do) make everything by ear.
In my 20’s I decided to try and get serious with production. It’s been a long process, because to begin with it was actually therapy which quickly escalated into somewhat of a musical career.
LTHL was my first serious go at music production because it was born out of emotional struggle and acute social anxiety. This is why initially, I gravitated towards emotional and beatless Grime, and later on Wave.
Since then, so much has happened. I founded Liquid Ritual with my friend Kareful, a radio show which we do monthly (now on 199radio as of 4-6pm BST 25th August). But this has now evolved into a label with help from our friends Stohou and Cadena.
The short answer to your question though, is self help.
Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?
It very much depends, in all honesty. I might hear a beat that I want to try and replicate and a tune will develop from there, based around a drum loop. But I would say that most of the time my productions stem from a singular sound that I have created and then I build everything around that particular sound.
Does your material feature any collaborations?
I’m currently not collaborating with anyone on any pieces. I find it quite hard to do collabs unless I am sitting down with whoever it may be in the same room. This is mainly because very few people use the same DAW as I do and sending parts of tunes back and forth can make the process really long, especially with the software I use.
What’s on your current playlist?
Lots of i ( a friend and producer from Cornwall) at the moment. We (Liquid Ritual) will be releasing a tune by him soon, which we are very excited to get out into the world.
Sorsari, Outsidr, Swimful and Kavern all feature heavily on my playlist at the moment. Very much anything that I would consider to be Wave/Grime hybrids.
Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.
I kind of zone out on stage and switch between mixing and grabbing my beer. Well, at least I thought I did until I saw footage of me playing at one of the Liquid Ritual nights. I was head banging and punching the air. After that show people came up to me and said that they loved my energy while I was performing, and that was the first time I realised that I do that while playing.
Prior to that, I thought my chemistry with the crowd came mostly from having people drinking in the crowd and interacting with people, as opposed to sitting behind a stage in a room.
What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?
Field recordings feature quite heavily in my tracks, but as snippets of sound that are cut down and shoved through a sampler and then messed with. Arpeggiated chords feature a lot in my tunes at the moment too.
Take us through a day in the recording studio.
Unfortunately, I don’t visit studios all too often, nor have I set up my home studio yet since moving to London in early 2018. Every tune of mine is either made while sat on the sofa at home or on a train, travelling.
Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?
I’ve never thought that to be honest. As I stated earlier, to begin with it was therapy for me, which became a hobby and then it all got wildly out of hand. I’m very lucky to be in the position that I am, but it really did just come out of nowhere.
What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?
Tyskie and Vodka. I never play unless I’ve had a few beers and some shots.
Any emerging artists on your radar?
What gets your creative juices flowing?
Rain and beers seem to help me get down some music. Its proving quite hard with the current heatwave over Europe, as I only have access to one of those things.
Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.
My hardware and software options when it comes to production are truly archaic. I use Reason 5 and a beaten up Alesis Q25. I use Reason still because I’ve spent some many years using it, and I’m now able to get the sound out of it that I want to. For example, I have created over 100 variations of a square wave using it, because it’s super easy to build synths once you know what you are doing. I have considered changing DAWs, but I don’t want it to affect my rate of production.
Any side projects you’re working on?
Nothing that I think that will ever see the light of day. I’m a huge fan of Dub Techno and have been making that for about 2 years now, just for myself to listen too, and sometimes just to test myself to see if I can make it. Who knows, maybe one day I might put something out there.
How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?
That’s quite a hard question to answer. I would say my production is an amalgamation of my early days as a Grime producer and current Wave. I would say that with time, that my work has just become a lot cleaner, as about 2 years ago it used to be extremely gritty.
Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?
Well, this year I’ve had a EP released called ‘Vanitate’ on Prime, a release on the Liquid Ritual compilation and a remix. As for the rest of the year I have another remix due and a single release on the way.
In terms of playing live there are a couple of Liquid Ritual nights later in the year in London, which are usually amazing, as we have people fly in from all over the world to join us for the night, and then also I will have a few gigs abroad starting early next year, however it is very early days, so I shan’t say where yet.
Listen to LTHL‘s latest track, ‘Achlys’, below.