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Luke Thomas talks us through the twists and twines of his longstanding career in the music industry!
Reported by Jessica Alici
Submitted 01-07-20 17:16
Luke Thomas aka BaseTwelve has been DJing and Producing since long before it was considered 'cool'! Heralding from Brighton in East Sussex, the town was paramount in plenty of chance meetings that opened up many windows for him in the scene. We decided to find out more about these serendipitous events; ahead of his upcoming debut release on Onhcet Republik!
Where were you born and how do you feel your upbringing influenced who you are today?
Just along the coast from Brighton, in a town called Shoreham. From a young age I was exposed to many different styles/genres of music, my Dad is a composer and would often play the music he wrote on the piano. Sometimes I’d try to join in - though usually not very successfully and I was always keener on tinkering and messing about musically rather than trying to learn theory. I partially regret this now because having a good understanding of music theory makes many things in music SO much easier! When I was at school I was in a band - I played the bass guitar and loved it - I definitely dreamt of being successful at that. I would practice the bass every evening for a few hours and got pretty good at it. I could play a lot of different styles and really enjoyed being able to do that. When I left school I went to art college and got into another band, we sometimes practiced on a Sunday in a closed Chinese takeaway. The band consisted of a heavy metal drummer, a lead guitar player who could play most things, a goth keyboard player and myself. At that time I was heavily into funk but also punk bands like Husker Du, so we made a real strange racket! We didn’t last particularly long as a unit.
What’s your earliest memory of music?
That’s a tough one, it could be my Dad playing the piano, it could also be him playing Holst’s The Planet Suite or some Bob Dylan. It’s difficult to say for sure which memory came first… I just think I grew up listening to lots of different genres.
John Alexander, Luke's Father
Did you always want to be an artist? What got you into making music professionally?
I always wanted to be involved in music, either with a band or on my own; as long as the creative outlet was there, that was the most important thing. Towards the end of art college, I gradually became more interested in ambient house music and then acid house as that started to kick off. I went to a few early raves and was pretty hooked on DJing. A friend had a record deck and a tape deck and a crude old mixer so we used to try and make mixes with them, it was pretty much impossible to beat-match, but it was still fun trying! Just before going to University I managed to scrape enough money together to buy a crude first production setup and I was properly hooked at that point!
Describe your sound…
I produce under a few different aliases so it’s difficult to describe a sound for me but over the past year or so I think I have honed my sounds somewhat. I used to be somewhat scared of not fitting in, from a DJing point of view - I tried to play sets that were pure in one particular genre. I still like that but it’s not me - I much prefer being able to traverse the musical landscape. It’s becoming similar with production; I can almost feel my chilled alias becoming more adventurous and evolving towards the other aliases. My other aliases are also somewhat evolving; I still enjoy trying to create tough bouncy techno but my releases are becoming influenced by my enjoyment of multi-genre electronic music.
Do you feel you have changed as an artist over the years?
When I first started producing, I was mostly interested in making tech house and techno. I was DJing out a lot at the time but would not always play tech-house/techno sets. Quite often I’d play pure Drum & Bass but I never got into producing that. After a few years of DJing and producing, the itch came back with a vengeance. At that point I was listening to a lot of Electronica and ambient stuff but I still loved techno! When I started producing again, I moved towards that style with a new alias. I had a couple of releases and then got back into DJing and then into producing more techno-based music, though I’m definitely on the more Leftfield side at the moment.
You’ve released on some good labels, including the legendary Bush Records. How did this come about?
Towards the end of my time at University I was DJing in Greece for the summer. I did that two years in a row and met some other DJs out there. One of them was a DJ called Errol Russell, we became good friends. When I told him I lived in Brighton he mentioned he’d been thinking about relocating as one of his good friends, Eric Powell, lived there. When we got back from Greece, I started getting more DJ work in Brighton and had a residency at the BN1 club. I played at the bar from 8-11 and then did the warm up slot in the club downstairs from 11-1, I’d often end up going to the Zap to hear Eric play and eventually we became good friends too. That resulted in me getting involved with his night at the Zap - I mostly played the back room, sometimes all night which was a real treat! Through Eric I also met another producer called Mike Corrigan. He was in a band and super talented at production. I learnt a massive amount from him, the two of us formed as the alias ‘BaseTwelve’. Eric loved a few of the tracks so we got them released sometimes on Boo (Bush’s sister label) and other times on Bush. Later on, I asked Mike if he was OK for me to use the BaseTwelve alias on my own and he agreed.
Eric Powell, Bush Records
What is your studio set up?
My studio setup has had several incarnations. Originally I was working on a PC with Cubase, an EMU sampler, a Roland JP-8000 and a huge Behringer mixing desk, I also still had a bass guitar so used to play a lot of the bass lines through that. After a break from production I sold most of my kit and when I returned to production I started again on a Windows laptop with Cubase. After a few months I was introduced to Ableton Live and was almost immediately converted. I sold the Windows laptop bought a fast Macbook Pro and got a full version of Ableton Live. I now use Ableton with Push2, a really nice Novation midi keyboard - I still like playing on a normal piano style keyboard. I have some nice Genelec monitors and a sub, an UAD Apollo audio interface and some Beyerdynamic headphones. I’d like to get some analog and more hands-on stuff but at the moment Ableton with the 2 midi controllers I have are working well.
John Alexander, Luke's Father
Who and what inspires you?
Many people inspire me, starting with my Dad as he definitely sowed the musical seed! Eric and Errol were also big influences - I loved both of their DJing styles. Errol introduced me to the deep soulful side of house music and Eric introduced me to deep, raw peak time techno. Eric’s label Bush was also a massive influence; getting released with him was epic. I don’t think I realised at the time how much of a good thing it was! I’m also really inspired by a couple of locals - Phoria are a Brighton based band producing the most beautiful, haunting ethereal music I’ve heard in a while, I was lucky enough to remix a couple of their tracks under my more chilled alias (Fyu-Jon). Alex Banks is another talented local producer - he’s had stuff out on Monkeytown Records and more recently signed to Max Cooper’s label ‘Mesh’. Given the fact that he is releasing alongside Max Cooper and Rob Clouth I think Alex is in excellent company; I’m really looking forward to hearing his new stuff! Finally, the labels that inspire me are the ones who try something different; the ones who have a great identity but are still able to release a wide range of genres and make it all work. Tough stuff!
DJ Errol Russell
You also run a radio show called ‘Frequency Ratio’ – tell us about this…
I was lucky enough to land a slot on Brighton’s great underground radio station Code South FM. I named the show ‘Frequency Ratio’ after my label which I began 3 years ago. My purpose with the show is to really spread the word about upcoming local talent where I can (particularly with regards to Leftfield Techno/Breaks/Bass and Electronica) but also to spread the word about perhaps less obvious labels, like Ilian Tape, 3024, Graded, AEX, Scuffed, Ostgut Ton, Delsin Records, etc.
You have an upcoming release on Onhcet Republik called the ‘Think Feel EP’. Talk us through the tracks, describe them in your words…
It’s a 3 track EP all of which are on the deep/raw side of techno, maybe throw in a twist of hypnotic techno groove for good measure. ThinkFeel and Bao Gong are both 303 based and have the 303 as the main hook with some other stabs floating about. Junctions is deeper and does not rely on the 303 to drive it. All 3 are percussion-heavy. Basically, I’m pretty crap at selling my music! ;-)
If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
That’s tough. I don’t know if choosing to make music production a viable source of income outweighs equality/diversity within the industry. Both of these are hugely important, maybe we could change both? ;-)
What do you love most about making music?
The creative outlet, the luxury of freedom of expression, being at that point when you can write something intended and it mostly comes out how you desire/expect it to. However, not turning your back on a happy accident is also pretty cool. That moment when something unexpected turns up and works really well. Sometimes it can complete a track, sometimes it can be a catalyst for a new track or new direction. I love that.
What are your plans for the future?
More of the same. Continue with the radio show, making sure to showcase new talent and labels as I find them. Continue releasing music under different aliases across electronic genres - I find that at the moment this works best for me as I can roughly group my releases into different genres according to how they sound and which of my aliases they suit. Finally, keep up releases on the label - I have a couple of artists that I’m hoping to get released soon!
BaseTwelve - 'Think Feel' EP is out on Onhcet Republik exclusive to Beatport on the 20th July 2020!
Click here to grab your copy when it's out:
To listen to teasers of the EP - click here:
To follow BaseTwelve (Luke Thomas) on Facebook click here:
All images courtesy of Luke Thomas, John Alexander, Eric Powell, Errol Russell & Onhcet Republik. Not to be reproduced without permission.
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Other Features By Jessica Alici:
New Techno Rising Star DKLUB talks about his debut release White Rock on Onhcet Republik!
PAN expands on many things including his new album 'Hyperbolic Oxymoron' due for release on the 14th April 2022 on PsyWorld Records!
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N-Kore talks Jean-Michel Jarre, unfinished tracks and fatherhood!
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The views and opinions expressed in this review are strictly those of the author only for which HarderFaster will not be held responsible or liable.