Published on November 21st, 2014 | by Fifties
Interview: Lee Coombs & Kostas G
For those of you who haven’t yet delved into Lee Coombs & Kostas G – Kaleidoscope LP [Thrust Recordings] yet, I strongly recommend you do so! It’s an unostentatious trip around the subterranean depths of Thrust boss Lee Coombs and Fresh Out The Box’s co-founder Kostas Goustas aka Kostas G with a swanky helping of bass porn house, sassy techniques, luscious breaks and spacey downtempo!
[Ju] Firstly to both of you, congratulations on the birth of your timeless new album Kaleidoscope!
Thanks so much for agreeing to the interview. I was like a fly to jam on your tracks Cycles and Phunked when they came out. You boys seem to have gelled well sonically and have a lot in common in musical terms, so it was good to hear there was an album on the way!
Hi Kostas! Unfortunately we haven’t had the pleasure of sharing a dancefloor, but I’d heard top reports about your sets at your club night with Ed Steele at Fresh Out Of The Box, The Cellar Oxford. Not only have you been rinsing it like a bad yin, you’ve played alongside our underground treasures such as; Meat Katie, D Ramirez, Elite Force, Plump Djs, Stanton Warriors + oodles more!
How did you and Lee become production brothers?
[Kostas] Hi Julie-Anne, we started producing together after I entered a remix competition for Thrust Recordings. I managed to bag 3rd place so when the email came through with the prizes I sent Lee a link to my Soundcloud. I sent him over a couple of new tracks I had been working on and soon afterwards he asked if I wanted to make an album, and I jumped at the chance. So it was through working together on the album that we started producing. I think we’ve got similar tastes, it felt like a natural progression and we share an appreciation for geeky synthesiser stuff so that helped too!
[Ju] Spill the beans on your musical journey so far…
[Kostas] I started out as a DJ playing at free parties and raves in my late teens and that progressed onto playing in clubs. I got a residency at The Cellar in Oxford and started the Fresh Out The Box nights which ran monthly from 2004 – 2010. I also got into production and slowly learned my way around the studio until I reached a point where I was happy and felt comfortable with what I was doing. Since then I’m fortunate enough that my music has taken me abroad where I played at the Miami WMC, I perform yearly at Gottwood Festival and I’ve been lucky enough to remix and work with some respected artists & labels like Lee, Thrust Recordings, Lot49, Future Funk Squad etc… So musically speaking life is good!
[Ju] What was the first thing you did after you agreed to work on Kaleidoscope with Lee?
[Kostas] I started to think about what kind of album to make and I got busy in the studio. Lee was open to working ona variety of styles at different tempos. It was a blank canvas so I started to think about what would make for good listening. There are a lot of compilations out there in the dance music world and a lot of singles and EP’s. In comparison there are not so many multi-genre albums that are written for full-length listening. There used to be back in the day but I think the way modern music is consumed has changed that, and I don’t necessarily think that’s a good thing. So I looked on it as an opportunity to do something a bit different- something that leans to our Breaks roots and a mutual appreciation for grooves, but something which would also hopefully stand the test of time.
[Ju] Have you produced with other people before? What happened?
[Kostas] I have but nothing serious, just messing about in the studio with producer mates really. I’m open to the idea of collaborating but generally I don’t tend to- the mojo has to be right musically and that’s not often an easy thing to find!
[Ju] Any hot tips for anyone coming up in the ranks on the production front?
[Kostas] In terms of producing music just make whatever feels right and what feels natural to you- play to your strengths. The world is a big place and so it stands to reason that there is a place out there for your music somewhere, even if its not what seems to be hugely popular at the moment. When you have made some tracks don’t splurge right away and start putting out everything you make, get a few tracks together then cherry pick the best ones. Make the most of the times you are feeling creative & inspired. Above all, FINISH THE TRACK YOU ARE WORKING ON! If its really not going anywhere then you can guarantee there will be ideas in there worth saving, so put them away somewhere ready to use on another track.
[Ju] Where can we keep up to date with your shows/ mixtapes etc?
[Ju] What was it like to work with Lee?
[Kostas] Working with Lee has been great. I was bouncing around to his tunes in clubs when I was younger and he’s someone I have always looked up to musically so working with him was a slightly surreal experience to begin with! But he’s a cool guy who’s very down to earth so pretty soon we were getting music finished. He’s got a wealth of experience and having him as a mentor and production partner has taught me a lot.
[Ju] Can you divulge any of Lee’s secrets (production or otherwise!)?
[Kostas] Its not so much a secret but he’s a really good cook- its all healthy food & its absolutely delicious!
[Ju] What else you got cooking?
[Kostas] DJ-wise I’m planning gigs in Europe early next year and working on filling up my schedule. We recently started running the Fresh Out The Box nights again with just a handful of dates planned throughout the year. The next one we have is Nov 29th with the Stanton Warriors and we have also been given the green light to host the Walled Garden stage under our ‘Boxford’ guise at Gottwood Festival next year: http://www.gottwood.co.uk
Studio-wise I’ve just been working on a track with Lee which is nearing completion, lots of analogue goodness in that one Generally though I’m experimenting with a few different ideas at the moment and starting to think about where to go next. There’s some ideas I want to try out and expand on so watch this space!
[Ju] Hi Lee! Your music has teleported you across the globe with tours of Asia, Europe and obviously your home USA and you closed the Burning Man festival as the sun came up his year too! You’ve had a plethora of solo releases on your label Thrust, Finger Lickin, Lot 49 etc, collaborations as Freakazoids + more. Its safe to say you’ve gained much respect from industry chieftans and groovers alike for your consistently epic output over a span of 20 years!
[Ju] What was your vision for Kaleidoscope?
Hey there! Kostas sent me some of his tracks after he had been one of the winners of the last Thrust Remix competition. I really liked the grooves and style of his production and there was some depth to his sounds which I really liked. Then I asked if he had more tracks that were not just full on dance floor tunes and he sent some over. Immediately I saw the potential of an album. That is when I decided to help Kostas produce his stuff and eventually co-write the album with him. It was very organic with nothing being forced to fit. It kind of wrote itself really. The way it should be.
[Ju] What influences inspired you along the path of its creation?
Well we have stayed true to the Breaks scene in our own way. We both love house and techno but we wanted to do something that kind of broke the mould. There’s not enough groove based Breaks for the dancefloor out there at the moment so we wanted to show people that it can still be done.
[Ju] What was it about Kostas and his production skills that drew you together?
What can I say, I like the grooves that he makes, he is also not afraid to put some actual music in a track. There is too much dance music out there that basically has no real music or emotion in it and is a bit soul less. It was a breath of fresh air when I listened to his tracks.
[Ju] You’re famous for your renegade 303 house and breaks wizardry…
It’s true I do have a soft spot for my TB-303, I just had it repaired so now it’s like a new machine! All the buttons wore out so I had to get them replaced. Get ready…there will be a tidal wave of real 303 tracks coming at you soon.
[Ju] You must have encountered obstacles to complete the album?
It took a long time to write the album, about two years on and off and we made a lot more tracks than are actually on it. It was hard at first because we did all of it over the internet and Kostas would send me the tracks with all the parts separated out, which I then had to import into my studio and go to work on it. This took forever as we were both writing and improving the sounds as we went along. Eventually I got Kostas to switch over to Cubase which I use and that made it much easier to send projects to each other. I then mixed the whole album in my studio.
[Ju] The track Kaleidoscope is a magical tripfest! Why did you choose that name for the album?
It just seemed like a great name for the album as the sound of it is very much a Kaleidoscope in our minds. Plus the track Kaleidoscope is kind of epic and we both thought that it would make a great title track.
[Ju] Can you share some tips on how you deal with creative block?
Put it away, go do something else and come back the next day, you will immediately see what the problem is. You have to disconnect from what you are working on to be able to see what you actually have in reality. Then you can improve or add to it much better.
[Ju] The Moog Vs Coombs synth module you made this year…..crazy!?
I was very fortunate to be able to go to Moogfest in North Carolina this year. I got myself a VIP ticket which let me be part of a special workshop that was to build your own Moog synth in their factory in Asheville. It was amazing and very nerdy at the same time. I love all Moog’s synths so it was one of the highlights of the year for me really.
[Ju] How do you stay at the top of your game mentally? Is there any advice looking back on your career you can give?
I try to keep up date with what is going on in the music world, some of it I take on board and lots of it I just ignore. I think staying true to what you really love to do is most important. If you are a bandwagon jumper that just moves from latest trend to trend then you will never have any depth or credibility and no future either. People love to see passion in the things they want to buy into personally. Do what you are passionate about and the rest will happen naturally.
[Ju] Can you tell about the remix competition for Kaleidoscope? What will win you over?
Yes we are very excited to have another remix comp. I am looking for that spark of creativity that stands out of the crowd. It doesn’t have to be the best produced remix but it does have to have its own identity and vibe. I’m really looking forward to listening to what people are going to do. We have two tracks to choose from this time (Step Off and Reach Out) so there are options for people to choose musically. The remixes can be any style but we do ask to keep in mind the sound of the label. We put out Breaks, Tech House, Electro and Acid, so there is a wide range of styles that people can go for.
[Ju] Rumour has it you’re thinking of constructing a live show. What’s the situation with that?
It is true! I have been working very hard on putting this together. I dawned on me that I could do this the way that I want to if I tried hard enough. I am VERY uninspired by so called artists turning up with a laptop and then calling it a LIVE show. What a load of bollocks. I want to go back to the old school way of doing it and create sounds live in the show using Analog synths and live drum machines, also a Bass Guitar. The show will be a mixture of some of my classic tracks and remixes and also some new productions. It’s coming together nicely and I can’t wait to
[Ju] Where’s the best place to find out more about your output and gigs?
My website has it all
Remix comp http://thrust-recordings.com/2014/11/10/kaleidoscope-remix-competition/
For a little sample as to what Kaleidoscope is all about, check out this free giveaway: