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Interview: Layo & Bushwacka

We talk about commercialism in dance music, their residency at Amnesia for I Want My MTV and more. Read on, folks.

Layo Paskin and Matthew Benjamin (Bushwacka) met as the famous London club The End, which was co –owned with Mr C and Benjamin, story began in 1995. Since then, the duo have become close and struck up an extremely productive working relationship as Layo and Buskwacka. From The End, their music, their record label and their future, Spotlight's James Chapman delves into the mind of Layo.

You're hosting the main room at Amnesia for the Friday night party; I Want My MTV Ibiza. Explain the concept behind the programming. Are you both hands-on with deciding who plays?

“Well I (Layo) did all the bookings for the room. The biggest problem was that we only got the green light in late March and of course many clubs have some of the best artists already as residents, and then we put forward ideas of who we considered strong both as artists and on the island and then amnesia gave their verdict on how they were perceived in Ibiza... it was not easy but we got there and in year one I think it's a good looking line up...”

Was Amnesia always the venue you wanted to work with in terms of hosting your own room each Friday?

“Amnesia is a fantastic club. When I'm walking around before it opens I am always so impressed and it works so well when it's rocking. It's a great thing to be a resident there, no question. The only problem with Fridays is that we often have to leave with no sleep on a Saturday to play elsewhere!”

There are a couple of parties on the island that try to put live music together with dance music; MTV and Come Together in particular, do you think the idea works?

“I think when the balance between DJs and live in the main room works then it's fantastic and when that is in total harmony with our room, then it's off the hook... So, the best nights of the first set for me were 2 Many DJs live, Plastikman live and Mark Ronson but with Snoop it was also great, just a very different party in each room.”

You guys have been around for a while now, how has your sound or the sound you like to play in your sets developed over the years?

“Well of course we are constantly inspired and into different things as the scene moves around but the constant is energy, depth, emotion, music that is house in feeling, techno in attitude and tribal in rhythm...”

You released the track ‘Love Story', which was a great success but many purists will consider releasing tracks in the charts to be like becoming a ‘sell out', or becoming too commercial. Do you agree or do you feel this is necessary sometimes?

“Well we signed to XL which is the coolest independent and yet successful label there is. I mean when you have Radiohead, The White Stripes, Prodigy, Basement Jaxx, Dizzee, and so on as label mates you can't just say it's a sell out... however, there is a big but... We always made a diverse range of electronic music, from really down-tempo to breakbeat and house and techno, we have never been just one thing but as the scene moved into minimal and then techno and so on, this made things like Love Story feel more commercial, it began as just another track, rhythm, soul and so on... We have had to work very hard in certain areas for some people to realise that. As for some people it's just about Love Story... but really if you listen to our first album Low Life and then recent tracks on Plus 8, you get a much fuller picture...”

Obviously when it comes to two people working together as a duo, such as you do, you have to have a certain amount of chemistry. How does it work for you with regard to live performance and production?

“The chemistry is more the balance of how different we are and that helps each other as people and also creatively. Production is led technically by Matt; he is fantastic in the studio, very natural and engineers everything. Ideas and writing are shared as are the details of arranging and producing, but programming is again led by Matthew. As DJ's, it's both, but over the years I have taken on much of the way we present ourselves as artists and through image and ideas for album artwork, etc...”

What new music do you have in the pipework's?

“We are working a new album for release in 2012, and this year we have a new EP on Plus 8 called Storm and Stress, a new single on Olmeto called The Big Dream with a Martin Buttrich remix and we remixed Sasha's first single for his new label. So a little...”

Undoubtedly dance music is becoming more commercial, do you see it is a good or bad thing in terms of the genre growing or becoming overcrowded?

“For me not great, I like music to be interesting, different, vibrant, that does not mean not popular but just not commercial... I love things this year like Bon Iver, Black Keys, John Tejada and the Audiofly album. But no, I'm not going to buy Justin Beiber or a pop song with a dance beat...”

Are you taking your Shake It parties anywhere else other than the MTV residency this year?

“Yes we are looking at maybe Rome, Tokyo, South America, where we are touring and it's appropriate... I say not commercial and then I'm getting busy thinking about branding nights, difficult to find a balance I guess!”

How has life been since The End, er, ended? Any plans to resurrect the club or perhaps start a new project?

“The decision was right, it was a great opportunity and I like the fact we had the courage to say cool, let's end the story... But, I miss a lot working with such a creative team of people... I love DJ'ing and making music, and it's cool to be an artist with no business pressures. But I look for more, and yes for sure I will start some new project at some point.”

How's the label coming along, Olmeto Records? What do you have planned for it in the future?

“We have a new single, and also some other remixes coming up from other artists on the label so enough for the next few months, though I think we will put the album out elsewhere...it's great the label as it is just the music of me and Matthew, it's kind of unique like that...”

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