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Layo & Bushwacka: For Every Guetta, there is a Hawtin (interview)


“Many people have no concept of the culture of music in its breadth and history and I think that is very sad, they are missing out on so much. It's like those many people who never read books or anything else: these things are tragic.”

Chatting to Skruffff this week to promote their new season of Shake It! Friday night parties at Ibiza superclub Amnesia, Layo from British house duo Layo & Bushwacka is philosophical about the rise of Lady Gaga/ David Guetta style dance-pop.

Nowadays based in Sao Paulo, the erstwhile Londoner admits he agrees with Vegas/ Lions Owner Facundo Brazilian club entrepreneur Facundo (owner of Sao Paulo clubs Vegas and Lions) who recently pointed out that ‘the next generation of clubbers has a completely pop background’.

“I agree with him there, but counter culture survives,” says Layo.

“For every David Guetta, there is a Richie Hawtin. Underground music just has to be good and it will survive. It is also cyclical,” he says.

Richie Hawtin will be appearing alongside James Holden, Marco Carola and Nina Kraviz at Amnesia though ironically not in the Shake It Room, but rather MTV’s space on the terrace for their I Want My Ibiza’ events.

While Hawtin’s being lumped in with pop stars including Snoop Dogg and Robyn, Layo admits their own career has yet to be affected by the pop-dance commercial explosion.

“Well our biggest album sold 100,000 which is quite big in the dance world but nothing in real commercial terms and we never made great videos so we’re not hugely affected by it, no,” he says.

“And the modern explosion is so commercial, whereas we are making music for labels like our own Olmeto and Plus 8, so we’re still pretty far away.”

Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff); Jow big a project is it hosting a night like Shake It in Ibiza: are you having to base yourself on Ibiza all summer? Or how much work is involved in practical terms every week? (are you having to manage flyer teams?

Layo: “It is a huge team effort; we will be based there for half of the season: we would have preferred to be there for the whole season but we are recording an album. We’ve booked most of the artists, were involved in artwork but MTV set the tone of the overall event and they plan promotion. But we’re not specifically managing flyer teams or anything like that, we are working with Amnesia who have a little more experience on the island than us (smiling).”

Skrufff: How much are you believers in the magic of Ibiza; how likely is it that revellers- and you- can find the magic in a superclub?

Layo: “Well it definitely exists, just on the collective magic that’s created by so many people coming together from all over the world to enjoy themselves there: there are so many clubs and so many events.Regarding the super club concept, it sounds a bit 90's now. There will always be a vast difference between small intimate spaces and big ones but you cannot help but be impressed by Amnesia in full flow.”

Skrufff: How much pressure- or temptation-is there- to play more accessible tunes, to make yourself Vegas friendly?

Layo: “None. We have played more commercial parties in the world but have learned to simply start more easily then draw them into our sound. Playing what you think people will like, rather than what you feel  to play yourself, is not the way.”

Skrufff: How has your attitude towards making money from dance music/ club culture changed compared to when you started out 20 years ago?

Layo: “Well what I love about club culture and dance music, I still love. From the vibe of a great track to a fantastic club, from mixing to creating something special. I am more aware of other aspects as I am less naive but I will always believe in success on my onw terms. For us making money is a byproduct of our passion, not the driving force of why we make and play music. And as for promoting, we always earn more money DJing.”

Skrufff: Looking back- were they any opportunities you refused that you’d now accept?

Layo: “Only with hindsight. . .  I think making a downtempo album after the success of Night Works was not the right move, but we were against just creating dance hits, there was maybe a different way to do this but it is easy to look back. I loved making Feels Closer in NY but we were under a certain pressure which was not the best creatively for us at the time, we missed having a manger then but when we were younger we were full of a certain energy, for better or worse.”

Skrufff: You’re now based in Brazil, there was a big controversy in clubland a few months ago when club owner Facundo recently suggested underground club culture- and international DJs – were no longer viable in Sao Paulo, how much do you agree?

Layo: “Well I agree with the idea that Brazil has become more commercial, however the second statement is not true. Sao Paulo's best clubs are D-Edge and Clash. They are not commercial and are rocking. There is a great wave of fantastic new house and disco records.”

Skruffff: Where do you usually play in Sao Paulo; and how often a year?

Layo: “We play 25 shows a year in Brazil, maybe 3 in Sao Paulo at the above clubs and some one off events. And as for international DJs not being viable, it depends on the DJ, but Brazil has a lot of great home-grown talent too.”

Shake It! All Night Long @ Amnesia Ibiza
Friday 1st July – Friday 2nd September – 10 weeks across the summer
Residents Layo & Bushwacka! plus guests including: Josh Wink, Marco Carola, Magda, James Holden, M.A.N.D.Y and more

Jonty Skrufff:

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