German DJ/producer LCAW (AKA Leon Weber) is a viral phenom , and one who’ll hit Australia for the first time later this month, mercifully just when things start to get boring and/or depressing amidst an Aussie winter.
Raised in a family of classical musicians, Weber himself was a prodigy. But then the cellist quietly rebelled by switching to electronic music and computers. It’s rather apt considering that his Munich hometown was once home to Giorgio Moroder, Disco King. Weber has circulated a succession of epic deep house remixes, unofficial or otherwise, though none bigger than his recast of London Grammar’s Darling Are You Gonna Leave Me.
He’s also transformed Australian acts’ tunes, from Sydney trio Mansionair’s beach-pop Hold Me Down to Anna Lunoe’s Jesse Boykins III-graced Heartbreak In Motion. Now Weber is plotting an ‘artist’ album – but he still aspires to compose a symphony.
Listen: Mansionair – Hold Me Down (LCAW Remix)
Music Feeds: You’re headed to Australia for the first time on a huge tour. What have you heard about our scene? And what can we expect from your DJ gigs?
LCAW: I’ve been following the Australian music scene for quite while now and, in my opinion, it’s one of the most interesting and promising scenes worldwide. About the party scene, I’ve heard a lot of great things – for example that people are open to a lot of different music styles and always appreciate something new.
I’m more than excited to experience that myself. At the DJ shows you can expect to hear some vocal-based deep house, but I tend to pack a lot of surprises in my sets.
MF: You have a classical background, studying cello and piano at the Munich conservatory. What sort of career did you see for yourself in that world?
LCAW: My mum started giving me piano lessons when I was two-years-old, but my main instrument became cello, which I started when I was three-years-old. I took the path most professional classical musicians go in their youth – playing in music competitions and the German National Youth Orchestra, etc.
I love playing with other musicians, so the first idea that came to mind concerning my future was playing in an orchestra, but that’s a really tough market. I wasn’t really sure if it would be the right thing for me. I didn’t see many other options for myself in the classical music world, so I was pretty stressed when I was about to finish school and decide what I wanted to do next.
Listen: Anna Lunoe – Him (LCAW Remix)
MF: How did you discover the electronic music side? Were you DJing or producing first?
LCAW: Growing up, I listened to anything but metal and electronic music. It was only when I met a girl I liked who was really into electronic music that I gave it another chance and found myself liking it more and more. When Berlin Calling by Paul Kalkbrenner was released back in 2008, I had that record on repeat for months.
I sneaked into a Paul Kalkbrenner concert in Munich and had my first live encounter with electronic music and won’t forget how it felt to feel a 4/4 kick pumping your chest for the very first time. It took quite a while until I got the idea to try producing music myself. I was 18 when I got Ableton – just months before I was about to take my final exams in school. I got really caught up and spent unbelievably [a lot of] time with that program – much more than in the library.
After approximately six months, and with the success of the first few tracks and mixtapes, I received emails from promoters in Belgium and France, asking me to play at their clubs. I took a friend who already had some experience with DJing with me and we played those shows. So the first time I really touched a CD-player was in front of a 1000-people crowd. Learning by doing.
MF: As a classical student, did it ever worry you that the music seems to appeal to a largely older, conservative audience? Did you even feel limited in that world?
LCAW: I started playing concerts when I was about six-years-old and, because for a five-year-old everybody seems much older, I got used to it. Older people have a huge appreciation for young people who play classical music. It got difficult when I hit puberty – as a teenager you don’t just want to impress old people, you want to do something people your age think is ‘cool’.
I never let that affect my music-playing, though – I just didn’t talk to my friends outside of the classical music world about it. Now my audience is significantly younger and I’m having
troubles explaining what I do to older people. I’m trying to bring these two worlds more together.
I’m very patient when I’m explaining to older people what electronic music is like and what a DJ is doing and, at the same time, I’m trying to make classical music more attractive to people my age.
Subconsciously I felt like there were limitations in that world, because teachers would always tell you precisely how to play a piece and you always play music other people created. I had a phase were I was very enthusiastic about the idea of becoming a classical composer. I had so many ideas and I didn’t really have a way at the time to set them free.
Now I can realise these ideas – it doesn’t even have to be electronic music. Ever since I started producing, I feel like there are no limits. At one point in my life I want to write a symphony.
Listen: London Grammar – Darling Are You Gonna Leave Me (LCAW Remix)
MF: You’re best known for your remixes – but we hear you’re in the studio! What are you working on at the moment? Is it your first EP?
LCAW: I’m currently in the studio working on my debut album! Hopefully the first tracks will be released in 2015 and in the beginning of 2016 the full-length album should be revealed.
MF: You have remixed some big names – ZHU, London Grammar, Daughter… Have you had any feedback directly from the artists? What can you tell us about the Lenny Kravitz (!) one?
LCAW: I have gotten feedback from every single artist I have remixed so far. London Grammar even posted about it on Twitter! ZHU also told me that he really enjoyed the track [Paradise Awaits] – and two months later we agreed to have an official release.
Daughter’s management told they all loved the remix [of Run] but, unfortunately, just two weeks later, their publisher deleted it on all platforms due to copyright infringement. It’s true that I was asked to remix Lenny Kravitz but in the end unfortunately it didn’t work out.
MF: What do you think you are bringing to the house scene now that is distinctly ‘you’?
LCAW: I believe already now with my remixes I’m bringing my own sound aesthetics to the scene, an organic sound focused on melodies and vocals, but what is really going to [distinguish] me from the rest are my originals. I have some great projects in progress where I’m going back to my own classical roots and will combine that with my approach to electronic music.
MF: What are your ambitions?
LCAW: My ambition is to be a pioneer in the electronic music scene. I have projects coming up that are really exciting and could have a big impact. Besides that, I want to evolve even further and push my productions to new levels. In 20 years I want to look back and be able to say in full confidence that I’m proud of what I’ve created – something that will live much longer than me.
MF: As a young player in the dance scene, how important do you feel it is to be aware of the history of house and techno, in Germany and beyond?
LCAW: I think it is very important to understand where the roots of house and techno are – mostly to pay respect to the work countless creative minds have done to build this beautiful scene. Much of the good electronic music would not exist without the inspiration from these house and techno legends.
My manager took it upon himself to educate me in this matter. Every once in a while I get books and articles about people I need to know and albums I have to listen to in order to understand where the beginnings of my sound were.
MF: Who are the producers and artists you yourself rate today?
LCAW: I get a lot of inspiration from producers such as Paul Kalkbrenner, Jamie xx, Nicolas Jaar, Bonobo and Flume. All of them found their unique style and have so much creativity – limits don’t exist for them.
LCAW hits Australia next week for a run of dates. Grab the deets below!
Listen: ZHU – Paradise Awaits (LCAW Remix)
LCAW Australian Tour 2015
Thursday May 28
Sunshine Coast, The Helm
Friday May 29
Adelaide, Cats @ Rocket Bar
Saturday May 30
Friday June 5
Melbourne, Brown Alley w/ Kolsch
Saturday June 6
Brisbane, Coco @ The Met
Sunday June 7
Sydney, Civic Underground w/ Lancelot