Since debuting with his first EP on Hotflush back in 2012, Locked Groove is the Belgium born artist navigating genres with his constantly evolving sound. Having released on the likes of Life&Death, Hotflush & Permanent Vacation his ingenuity, understanding & knowledge of music production has propelled him into a select group of producers.
Written over a one year period with a combination of analogue and digital equipment in his Berlin studio, Sunset Service documents the synthesis of a carefully studied musical background into one coherent body of work. Ahead of the album launch party at London underground venue, The Cause we sat down to learn more about Locked Groove’s inner workings.
You are a Belgium national, a country that is sometimes overlooked when compared to Amsterdam or Berlin. However, it has for many years been at the forefront of underground music and continues to thrive to this day with a lot of emerging talent. How do you think the scene compares to others across the globe and should we keep an eye out for any brand/ artists in particular?
Belgium is a lot smaller and Belgians have a strange habit to not fully support their own artists until they have had some sort of success abroad which is a shame sometimes.
However, there’s a positive side to this as well since it makes people work really hard to make it. So there’s less room for relaxing and the people that do make it (most of them) made it through hard work.
Innershades is someone you should also have on your radar, as well as Pelace. The latter are two young guys from the province of Limburg, who are coming up with some pretty interesting stuff.
A lot of your music takes influence from classic Chicago house however you also incorporate elements from growing up in Belgium. What were your big musical influences & inspirations growing up in this scene? What was it like coming through?
I’ve never limited myself to drawing influence from one specific thing.
I think it’s important to be both musically & intellectually voracious. A lot of music on my album – aside from the obvious trance/rave influence – was actually inspired by jazz. I love sitting at the piano for an entire day and just trying out different chord progressions.
Growing up in Belgium was pretty normal, I come from a very small village close to Antwerp, there was always music in our house and during my childhood I listened to everything from Bill Evans to S.P.K. A lot of music that influences me, stems (sub)consciously from the music my dad played in the house.
You have been a regular on Scuba’s Hotflush. You are also playing at The Cause, as part of the launch for your new album. Can you tell us a bit more about the album as well as what it means to have instrumental figures like Scuba supporting your output?
One day I sat down and decided I’m making an album. It took me a while to figure out what I wanted it to be. Making an album that is -in part- inspired by Old school sounds comes with a whole set of difficulties. Firstly, I didn’t want it to sound ‘old school’ which is easier said than done.
Secondly, I set myself a one-year deadline which in the end turned out to be (luckily) a challenge I succeeded in. Maybe the biggest challenge of them all was actually saying stop, it´s done now.
Because my longstanding relationship with Hotflush it was always pretty clear they had to do it. Over the years it’s grown into a home where I get absolute freedom to do what I do. Something I’m very grateful for. Scuba´s supported since the very beginning and he’s also put up with a lot (Sorry Paul). They released my first EP so releasing my first album with Hotflush felt like, sorry for the cliché, ‘full circle’.
What do you feel is the most detrimental mistake emerging artists commonly make & do you have a solution to help them combat this?
Not following your heart and going for the money grab!
There´s no easy solution to this. I get that paying your bills can sometimes mean you have to make some tough calls artistically. But it also means it can get pretty comfortable quick and you lose yourself in an endless spiral of mediocre drivel that serves only VIP tables and/or people who are solely into it for the money.
As a producer, you have proven to be quite versatile having tracks signed to labels like Life&Death, Hotflush & Permanent Vacation. How have you engineered these relationships? Do you approach the label or does the label approach you?
It depends from label to label, with some of them I had personal contact before I ever signed something, with others I just sent out a demo and hoped for the best.
Is there a story or moment that stands out more than the rest in your career so far?
Getting to do what I love on a daily basis is standout enough for me.
If you could produce a track with anyone past or present who would it be and why?
I’ve been dipping my toes in the jungle waters recently (just for fun and nothing really releasable) and Peshay is one of my favourite Jungle artists.