Over the last eight years, Laurence Guy has crafted his very own signature of sophisticated underground music, amassing a core fanbase of loyal listeners and tastemakers all of whom are united in appreciation for his high-quality productions abilities as a producer and DJ. Having burst on to the scene in 2017 with his critically acclaimed debut album Saw You For The First Time via Church Records, Guy continued to take the scene by storm with follow up releases on a slew of esteemed labels such as Mule Musiq, Studio Barnhaus, Shall Not Fade and more.
Returning to the soundsphere with ‘Don’t Live in Oblivion, It’s Cold Down There’ last month, Guy has also announced his brand new forthcoming project ‘Living Like There’s No Tomorrow, But Killing Yourself In The Process’, confronting what he calls “the quiet desperation that you can feel after going too far the night before”. Following the single, and ahead of the new project, we caught up with Guy to discuss his new music, influences, collaborations and future plans…
You’ve been pretty prolific and consistent in your output since the 2017 debut album Saw You For The First Time. What prompted a new album in 2023?
The album had actually been in the works for quite a while, I think I started in 2021, it just took a lot of tweaking and different stages to get it to where I wanted it to be and also to find the right way to release it. I think the long play format suits me a lot better both in terms of creativity and also being able to get across all the influences that make up my music. I’ve been near constantly devouring all types of music since I was a kid and I really want all of this to come through in what I’m writing. There’s also a certain freedom in making album tracks as you aren’t tied down to any specific structures or arrangements. I like to create ideas very quickly and a lot of the time they’re really just tiny pieces, maybe just a piano solo or here or a wigged out sample there. I want to be able to release all of these different things and making an album gives me the scope to do that.
Do you sit down with a clear idea of ‘right I’m going to make an album’, or is it less structured?
For this album I basically decided that from point “a” everything I wrote would potentially be part of the record. This meant I could do it in stages…..the first stage was creating as many small ideas as possible and banking them, the second was bringing in the musicians and collaborators/vocalists to add their takes/elements to those ideas and the third was taking those demos into the studio to to then work on with the engineer and really edit all of the raw recordings/tracks down to what they are now. A big thing for me on this album was opening myself up to collaborate with lots of different artists, this was really a game changer. Historically I liked to be quite isolated from start to finish when working on projects, but now I feel that was me being egotistical and was actually holding back mefrom creating something with much more scope/meaning. Everybody has their special “thing” that they’re good at, so by combining skills with different people it creats something special, rather than trying to do everything yourself.
You’re quite open discussing albums/influences on your socials. What would you say was the biggest influence/s when producing this album?
Is there an artist you were listening to a lot or a particular sound you had in mind? I wouldn’t say there was any specific artist or sound in mind to be honest. What I really wanted to do and have been trying since I started is to find a way to make music that incorporated all of my influences at any given time and still come out sounding like me. This album I feel is the first time I’ve managed to do this and I’m super proud of it.
Your releases all share a certain quality, you can recognise when it’s a Laurence Guy track — what characteristics do you think make up and define your sound?
Thank you! I think it’s a certain kinda nostalgic, bittersweet kinda sound that runs through everything and sonically my music is quite warm, almost a bit muddy. I’d put both of these things down to the process being quite immediate… I try not to labour over anything too much and just translate how I’m feeling in that moment. Another element that ties things together is the use of samples and I guess a certain style of sampling, cutting things quite loose, leaving tails on the audio or not cutting frequencies so much. I find by leaving things quite messy during the writing process, it leaves room for happy accidents to happen. This could be the end of a sample leading into another for a bit “too” long or an unintended clashing of frequencies/harmonies. These things can sound orchestrated, but for me the best way to achieve this is by leaving as much up to chance as possible.
Tell us more about your single just dropped, ‘Don’t Live In Oblivion, It’s Cold Down There’. Where did the title name come from?
This is a phrase that entered my head at some point…. this happens a lot and I usually write them down for future use. It was the same with the album title. This one is referring to the fine line between hedonism and self destruction…. between partying to celebrate life or to escape it I guess. A friendly reminder (to myself as much as anyone else) that living at the party can leave you feeling lonely even if you’re surrounded by people.
Your highly-anticipated album is set to be released in July, do you have any favourite tracks on the album you can talk to us about?
The most special track for me is definitely “For John & Eileen”. This is named after my grandparents, who both sadly passed away in the last few years, they were hugely influential in me getting into music, I remember my grandma buying me the “Skream” album when I was 14 or so as she’d read a review in the paper, that was a bit of a gamechanger for sure. I recorded the piano part of the track on the upright that they passed down to my Mum, which now lives in a studio I share with my brother. It’s a beautiful thing for people to keep living on through this small gestures and it really means a lot to me.
Talk us through your live/tour plans for this album in 2023 and beyond. I know you’re playing festivals, any show that you’re particularly looking forward to?
Will be touring pretty heavily around the world tbh! Trying to hit all the spots. I’m really excited to share the live show, I’m playing it with a band at a few select shows and am buzzing for that, we’ve got something (hopefully) pretty special to share with everyone. Other than that I’m looking forward to Lost Village Festival, which was a huge highlight last summer and heading back to my favourite continent of Australia!
How much do you think about ‘the live element’ when producing a track? Either how am I going to replicate this live or how is this going to sound in a club/festival environment?
I try not to think about any of this whilst I’m writing initially. The first stage is always just writing without any other thoughts entering my head, all the admin of arrangement or how it’s gonna work live or if we need to clear a sample comes later and causes me and everyone else I work with a headache.
You’re releasing this on your own label (Accidental Pieces) talk us through your plans for your label. Is it something you’re looking to develop more over the coming years?
For now this is gonna be the home for subsequent albums and possibly some EPs….later down the line I’d like to open it up to more artists and have a few ideas on how to approach this in a more unique way, but I don’t want to say too much about that right now.
Do you prefer being in the studio or playing live?
Honestly I love it all!
As a frequent collaborator and remixer over the years what do you think makes a good collaboration?
I think a good collaboration basically comes down to having chemistry with whoever you’re working with. It’s also good to try not to be too tied to any particular ideas and just let things flow as quickly as possible. If you’re in the room together then just throw as many ideas at the wall as possible and go away and do separate edits/arrangements and see where you’re at after that.
Is there anyone who you would love to work with that you haven’t yet?
Always a bunch of people….. right now SZA, John Glacier, Duval Timothy, Men I Trust, Arlo Parks and Calibre spring to mind.
If you had to play one of your tracks from your back catalogue including this album to someone who had never heard your music before which would it be and why?
It would have to be Saw You For The First Time. This I feel perfectly encapsulates the kinda bittersweet, nostalgic vibe of my music and was the track that really changed things for me. I’ll always cherish this one.