Self-Portrait: Floyd Lavine

Dubbed as ‘an artist of a new African generation’, Cape Town-born, Berlin-based producer and label owner Floyd Lavine is paving the way for emerging artists to follow in his footsteps.

After years spent dedicated to his craft, releasing groove-laden music for imprints like Get Physical, Watergate and Moon Harbour, Floyd’s focus shifted to providing a platform for African artists and sounds. First came RISE, an event and label that played host to artists like Osunlade and Black Coffee, and threw events across Europe and Africa.

More recently he’s been working hard on his new label, Afrikan Tales, Floyd, through which he hopes to nurture and support a new wave of POC and African artists, using the resources and knowledge that he’s picked up along the way. Looking to the future he hopes that the label will help to reshape the narrative about Africa, giving producers a space to create without limitations and never compromising on authenticity and self-belief.

Seeking to take you on ‘an Afro-Futuristic Sonic’, his self-portrait mix spotlights some of the producers coming up through the ranks on his label — the likes of Black Soda, Deep Aztec, Khulile and more — as well as a batch of new material from Floyd himself that showcases his style, past, present and future. This sits alongside an interview about his production and creative processes and the ethos behind his label and his work at large.

Let’s start with an ice breaker, what’s your earliest musical memory?

My earliest music memories are from my childhood and the music that was played at my house. My parents would play records from acts like The Commodores, Marvin Gaye, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Ray Phiri, Chico Twala, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross.

Did you have a particularly musical upbringing?

No, I didn’t I was more into drawings and sports when I was younger.

What led you into music production?

I got interested in producing music when I was in high school. I fell in love with music by The Neptunes and Timbaland. I was such of big fan of their sound in the early 2000s. I loved how different their music was, the sounds they used were fresh and electronic and weird and out there. They made the record jump and that inspired me to produce my own music.

Are there any producers or artists who have inspired your production?

There are many producers who inspire me. Legends like Carl Craig, Moodyman, Neptunes, Timbaland, Kanye, Dilla, Brian Eno, Louis Vega, Kenny Dope, Black Coffee, Manoo and Vinny Da Vinci. Alongside these artists you have my favourite electronic music producers and contemporaries such as Philou Louzolo, Deep Aztec, Portable aka Bodycode, Esa, Shinedoe, Jayda J, Felix Laband, Afriqua, Culoe de Song, Enoo Napa, Mr Joe, Lore Vain, khulile, DaSoul Prince, Liam Mockbridge, Vanco, Tonijah. There are many more producers I’m inspired by and influenced by but these are the ones who come to mind.

Are there any particular rituals you go through before you head into the studio?

I love to wake up early during the week around 5am-5:30am. The mornings are special for me; I get to have a few hours to myself before the world starts. I normally arrive at my studio around 11am, but before I go to the studio I try to do most of my morning rituals like listen to podcasts or read something inspiring, research and spend time with my girlfriend. Before her work I usually go for a coffee with her. Sometimes I’ll go to the gym, then I will go through my emails and then off to the studio.

Do you come in with a destination in mind before starting a jam?

Yes, I usually have a concept in my head and then I try to create what I am imagining it to sound like. I find inspiration in my everyday life first and when I get to the studio, I make that idea come to life.

Are you the type of producer to work on a track until it’s perfect, or are you more of an impulsive creator, happy with first takes and sketches?

I believe in perfect imperfections, meaning I love to create something raw and I really love first takes. I am not a machine and I like giving a track personality rather than perfection.

Can you talk us through how you might construct a track?

I begin my track with constructing the groove, once I have the groove on lock I can progress to the bassline. I love to make sure the groove and bass are tight. Because most of my music is dancefloor-orientated it is very important for me to have the bass and groove working well together. After that I’ll progress to the melody or hook, depending on the vibe I’m looking for. The vocal is the final part that usually gives the track that extra personality.

Once I have all the elements working together, I start working on the arrangements and tell the story. The final part is automation and mixdown before I send it away for mastering.

How much of your material is sample based and how much is original?

This depends on the project, but mostly it’s 80/20 – 80% original and 20% sampling.

What’s the most important bits of kit that make a Floyd Lavine track?

Well, I’ve created my own bank of sounds so I have kits and sounds ready for my productions. I try to make sure my pre-production is done before I start to produce. This makes my flow much easier when I’m in studio.

Most of my tracks are software-based, this allows me to make music wherever I’m at, which I love. I’ve recently bought some hardware that I can use while traveling which is the Roland TR 6S. It’s fun for grooves and drum patterns.

Can you tell us a bit about where the idea to start your label Afrikan Tales came from?

I always wanted to have my own label to release music that I loved and believe in. I used to run labels with friends in the past and that was fun. This time I felt like I wanted to do something very personal and with a different vision.

Afrikan Tales is more than just a label; I want to help build and nurture fresh new artists, focusing on POC artists and mostly artists from Africa. As an African I feel the responsibility to share my resources and knowledge that I have gained over the years and support my fellow African artists.

What’s the philosophy behind it? How has that philosophy evolved since you launched?

I want the label to be part of re-shaping the narrative about Africa. A label that pushes boundaries and doesn’t compromise on its values. I want to create without limitations and to trust in the values that African and Africans bring to the world. Afrikan Tales stands for togetherness, humanity and no compromise on authenticity and self-belief.

Are there any labels that you look up to or have inspired you along the way?

There are quite a few, but the ones that stand out for me are Ninja Tune, Dekmantel, Warp Records, Ostgut Ton, Planet E, BBE, Perlon, Kalawa Jazmee Records, Innervisions, House Afrika Records, Rhythm Section and Rush Hour.

Since starting the label what has been the greatest difficulty you’ve had to overcome?

The most difficult part is finding the right artists and music.

And the greatest achievement?

Finding some really interesting, inspiring young new talents for the label 🙂

What advice would you give to someone who’s thinking about starting a label with a similar ethos to yours?

Focus on the music and finding the right artists that stand for the same values you believe in and have patience.

This mix is comprised of 100% original Floyd Lavine and Afrikan Tales material. Could you tell us a bit about it? Any tracks that are particularly special to you?

With the mix I wanted to showcase new music from Afrikan Tales that I’ve signed. From Tonijah, Black Soda, Deep Aztec, Khulile, DaSoul Prince. I’ve included my own original music that showcases my style, both older and unreleased music. I want to take the audience on an Afro-Futuristic Sonic journey. When you listen to the mix you will feel that true authentic expression; raw, fresh and unexpected, while at the same time the audience will feel the roots of the music, the past and present all together.

Anything on the horizon for you and the label? Any releases we should know about?

I’m planning to focus quite a lot on Afrikan Tales and nurture the artists that are on the label. I’m feeling inspired and grateful to have it as a platform. Look out for releases from Khulile and DaSoul Prince coming end of October. Likewise, I am really excited to welcome Cin City to the label. We’re going to have an Afrikan Tales V/A in November featuring a new original from myself, so look out for that.

Elsewhere I have a bunch of new originals and remixes out throughout September on labels including Cacao Records, Frappé Records, Connect Records, Zaina and a remix for Shimza on his South African label Kunye.

1 Tonijah & Deep Aztec feat Black Soda (unreleased) [Afrikan Tales] 
2 Da Soul Prince – (unreleased) [Afrikan Tales] 
3 Khulile –  (Unreleased) (Afrikan Tales] 
4 Floyd Lavine – (unreleased) 
5 Floyd Lavine – Pressure Point 
6 Floyd Lavine & deep Aztec (unreleased) 
7 Floyd Lavine (Unreleased) 
8 Floyd Lavine – Mr Bones 
9 Floyd Lavine – My African techno 
10 Floyd Lavine – Creda Mutwa 
11 Floyd Lavine  (unreleased) 
12 Floyd Lavine (unreleased)

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