Subtempo Guest Mix 024
Based in Bristol, LTO first made waves as part of mysterious electronic collective Old Apparatus. As a solo producer, LTO has since attracted attention with his praised debut LP 'The Number From Which All Things Come' [Sullen Tone] and subsequent ambient/modern classical-focussed 'Storybook' LP [Injazero]. With 'Déjà Rêvé', he's expanded on that classical sensibility, creating a highly expressive and nuanced release for Denovali Records.
Hi Steve, first of all, thank you for taking the time to put together this mix for us and for the interview.
My pleasure. Always like an excuse to put a new mix together.
I wanted to start by asking you about the mix. How, where, and when did you record it?
I just arranged the tracks on the timeline in Ableton so didn’t record it DJ style as such. Just in my home studio in Bristol UK.
Is there a theme for this mix?
Not really. It’s just an ecletic mix of music that’s been exciting me recently. It moves between ambient, drone, experimental and dancey stuff with a little jazz inbetween for good measure.
I’m very happy to have your contribution to the series, as it feels serendipitous in some way. I first discovered your music through one of your side projects, Hirola, together with Edapollo. It feels right to start there. Tell me a bit about that project and how it started.
I first met Ed when I moved to Bristol from London in 2014 and responded to his ad on Gumtree looking for likeminded musicians to form a live electronic act with.
After a few years of experimenting with different workflows and getting to know eachothers tastes and musical strengths, we formed a 6 track release that we felt had a consistent sound that we were happy with. We were enjoying a lot of music like Kiasmos, Floating Points and Rival Consoles at the time.
And together you’ve released a couple of EPs, that have gained some early recognition from people like Mary Ann Hobbs. But you self released those, right?
So the first release was actually with a small Brighton-based operation called Phantom Limb who we did a limited run of cassetes with but our more recent Night Carvings EP was self released.LTO playing live at a recent event.
So now you are both focusing on your solo projects due to the distance. Any plans of collaborating again? Or is being in the same room part of the magic?
We are actually passing some things back and forth at the moment which seems to work remotely but fitting things in around our own projects and work means that it might be a slow burner!
So this brings me to your solo project, LTO. How long ago did you start writing music under this moniker?
Well I first used LTO to credit myself in a series of Old Apparatus EPs written by each individual member of the collective. My contribution was the ‘Realise’ EP. I might have been posting stuff on soundcloud as LTO before then but can’t really remember!
You’ve put out 3 albums as LTO, all slightly progressing and maturing towards your current sound that combines these nostalgic tones evoked by that tape modulation with piano, contemporary classical and cinematic sounds. Almost like a soundtrack to an imaginary film. Is there something you were searching for with every release?Field recording is a source of inspiration for LTO. Photo by Tim Roderick.
With every album I put together, I’m always trying to tell a story, even if there isn’t a conscious concept behind it. Each is kind of like a tour around the inner workings of my brain as well as expressing the different emotions I’m dealing with. I feel ‘The Number From Which All Things Come’ expresses a fair amount of my personal frustration and anger whereas the latter releases tap into more of my depressive and sentimental tendencies as well as moments of contentment. For my latest release ‘Déjà Rêvé’, I was inspired by the grandeur of the Andean landscape that I explored extensively on a 9 month trip between 2013-2014. The artwork for the album was from a photo I took on a trek in the Cordillera Blanca mountain range in Peru (home of the Paramount Pictures mountain).
And you’ve been working with renowned Denovali Records as well as Injazero Music to release the music. Two labels we love here at Subtempo. It seems like a good fit for your music, at the intersection of classical and electronic sounds. How does it feel to be part of their rosters?
I love a lot of the music they both release so feel very honoured to be a part of both their rosters. They do feel like perfect homes for my music as you say. I feel especially grateful to have had my music released on vinyl and shared with a wider audience.
You are based in Bristol, a mecca for that downtempo, trip-hop sound back in its heyday. So many amazing bands came out of there, Massive Attack, Tricky… Do you feel living there has influenced you as an artist?
I don’t think my music’s particularly influenced by the local scene of where I’m living. It’s more just an evolution of everything I discover over the internet, listening to various mixes on mixcloud and soundcloud, online radio shows like NTS and recommendation from friends.LTO's studio in Bristol. Photo by Tim Roderick.
How about on your current sound, do you find any local collectives or events that explore similar music?
When I first moved here in 2014, I made a lot of effort to connect with like-minded artists and made some good friends (like Ed from Hirola), but I’ve never felt totally integrated in a local scene really. There are some really exciting things going on but I don’t often come across regular nights or collectives where I feel quite on the same page. I can’t help but feel my music sits in an awkward space between not being club friendly/conventional enough for more accessible nights/gigs but also not experimental/extreme enough for more fringe experimental/noise kind of nights!
You were part of a collective yourself: Old Apparatus. Is it still active? What were some of the things that tied you together?
No we disbanded around 2014. Although Asher from the group and I collaborated on a couple of the tracks on my latest album.
We were listening to a lot of dubstep and dubstep inspired sounds at the time we got together (~2009) as well as all sorts of ambient and experimental stuff. Two of us were also already living together which probably helped!
What role did it play in shaping your current sound?
A major role. Most of the music I made before that period was a lot lighter and less moody although I hadn’t released anything properly at that point. I also learnt a lot from the other members about production and mixing, as well as developing more appreciation of the vinyl format.View over Bristol from Troopers Hill, near where LTO lives.
And in terms of the creative process, what are some of your essential tools? You play the piano, do you always compose on the piano first?
I always have some sort of piano/keyboard by my side but I don’t necesarilly start with it. It might be a particular patch that I come across or create on a synth or it might be a looped sample that I’ve processed in some way. I often create a beat first too. I’m mostly software based in Ableton and use a lot of Kontakt instruments these days. I do have a hammered dulcimer and a couple of kalimba/thumb pianos which I record in sometimes, as well as a Dave Smith Prophet ‘08.
We are doing this interview in the middle of this global pandemic. How are you holding up?
Pretty well really. I lead a fairly reclusive life anyway so it’s not a massive shock to the system as it probably is for many! I’m lucky to have my girlfriend with me for company and we live in a part of Bristol where there are some nice green outdoor spaces. So can’t complain!
What is next for LTO? Is there any new music in the pipeline that we should be aware of?
Yes there is indeed. You might have to wait a little while but it’s coming!
Well, thank you so much for taking the time to do this with us. Hope you and yours stay safe through this mad time.
Thank you for having me. Same to you.
LTO's latest album 'Déjà Rêvé' is available now in Vinyl, CD and Digital via Denovali Records. Support them by getting it here.
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- Stenny - Detraction [Ilian Tape]
- Ben Salisbury & Geoff Barrow - The Turing Test [Universal Studios]
- Matthew Halsall & The Gondwana Orchestra - Dawn Horizon [Gondwana Records]
- Telefon Tel Aviv – I dream of it often: [Ghostly International]
- Tibor Szemző - Let's Go Out And Dance [Leo Records]
- Laurence Pike - Dance Of The Earth [The Leaf Label]
- Clark - Forebode Pluck [Throttle Records]
- Chris Watson - Cima Verde [Fondazione Edmund Mach / LoL Productions]
- Clifford Jordan - John Coltrane (Live) [Savoy Records]
- Boss Kite - Stillness at Knight [unreleased]
- Pascal Schumacher - Lift [Neue Meister]
- Francis Bebey - Sanza Nocturne [Born Bad Records]
- Chekov - Swerl (33'ed) [Peach Discs]
- Ben Lukas Boysen - Empyrean [Erased Tapes]
- DjRUM - Hard to Say [R&S Records]
- Stephen Packe - Ballad for a Post-Truth World [Latimer Records]
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