Lefto Talks About His Illustrious Career, Favourite Indian Records & Much More Ahead Of His Upcoming India Tour

Lefto

There aren’t many names that come to mind if we are to talk about some of the world’s most respected and beloved selectors and DJs. And that too for someone to have stuck around for almost two decades and continue to make a mark every single year with his globally famed radio show on Studio Brussels is a whole another ball game. As you might have guessed by now, we’re indeed talking about one of Europe’s finest exports, Lefto who commands his position as one of music’s foremost tastemakers, “your favourite dj’s favourite dj“, and so much more. With his deep roots in jazz and hip-hop, Lefto is renowned for his eclectic selections, his stunningly curated compilations and being the globetrotting DJ who makes sure to take listeners on a musical adventure with each performance.

As the Belgian virtuoso gears up for his debut India tour which kicks off later today in the national capital, we caught up with the man himself to talk about his supremely influential career, his journey towards becoming the selector and DJ he is, his favourite Indian records to play and much more.

Read on.

 

TBB: Hey Lefto! It’s great speaking to you. How’s it going?

Lefto: Great, just got to crazy India, I was in Cuba two days ago.

 

TBB: Starting off, can you tell us a bit about your path of becoming the selector & DJ you are these days?

Lefto: I started in 1995 after being influenced by some friends in school. In 1997, I began working at the local record store where I would open up my mind on other things than hip hop. In 1999, the major local radio station asked me if I was interested in having a show on the station, 20 years later I’m still on the same station, and a few others.

TBB: This is your first time playing in India. Is this also the first time you’re visiting the country? What are you looking forward to the most during your stay in India?

Lefto: First time is always a special one. I look forward to the chaos, the culture clash, discovering the different flavours this country has and curious about what the youth are vibing to.

 

TBB: You play a really diverse range of music, and your music discoveries span so many genres from across the field, right from hip-hop to funk, jazz, soul and even world music. Can you tell us about your music development and how you manage to keep a tab on all the new music that continues to keep coming out almost on a daily basis nowadays?

Lefto: I was lucky enough to have a father who was into jazz and more. The local record shop I worked at was another influence, the love for hip-hop music and the productions behind was another, there has been a lot of influences that got me where I am today. And the passion I have for it is the motor to keep me going and being fascinated by everything that comes out musically. I get a lot of music thanks to labels in my mailbox, I dig a lot on the internet, listening to other specialists and what they have discovered, especially DJs who have a very strong game in one particular genre.

TBB: You’ve donned multiple hats throughout your prestigious music career, be it being a world renowned selector, radio DJ, a touring DJ and most importantly, a passionate lover of music. If you could reflect back on your illustrious career spanning almost two decades, what would be your biggest highlight?

Lefto: Looking back at my career I sometimes forget everything I’ve achieved; the amount of awards I won in different categories shows me what I’ve been doing, how active I’ve been for the scene in Belgium and in the world. I’ve won the title of Best Belgian DJ in 2014, got Best Radio show a few times over the years as well, these awards organised by Red Bull Elektropedia are a kind of barometer of what’s happening. That’s one thing; another thing would be great releases I’ve had on prestigious labels like Blue Note in 2005, BBE, Universal music, Brownswood Recordings etc… And meeting or being friends with some of my favourite artists is maybe my biggest highlight.

 Lefto

TBB: If I’m correct, your most recent release came in the form of your ‘My Friends Make Music Too’ compilation which you curated for Serato. How often do you dabble within your craft as a producer? Do you hope to put out more music in the near future?

Lefto: My latest release is a double compilation of the best young jazz musicians Belgium has to offer, it’s called Jazz Cats. My Serato project was highlighting some of my friends’ music, and they are very talented. I drop a record a year I would say with own productions, I don’t have to but that’s the way it happens to be every year since 2015.

TBB: How would you describe your approach to your DJ sets? Are there any favourite Indian records of yours which also make way into your sets?

Lefto: I don’t really have an approach, I test people sometimes with a few difficult songs I’d say and if they are into it I try another (haha). I push people to their limits sometimes but my main goal is to make them travel throughout my DJ sets. It happens in my sets that I drop music by Tamil artist Ilaiyaraaja, it’s very good and funky.

TBB: If you had to choose your Top 3 albums of 2018, which ones would they be?

Lefto: Difficult, but Kamasi Washington is 2018 if I’m right, the new Action Bronson is really nice, Basa Basa as well, that’s music from Ghana. Makaya McCraven’s record, jazz drummer from Chicago… to be honest there’s a lot out there… too many.

 

TBB: Before we finally leave, what would be your advice to young, creative individuals who are consistently trying to make a mark within the community with their diverse contributions to culture, be it through music or art?

Lefto: Maybe the first thing is not to think to make a mark within the community? I think everybody should always make their moves for their own personal enjoyment, without thinking about getting somewhere with it. If you’re talented, someone at some point will discover it; there are many ways to make yourself known, different platforms, on internet for example, so keep doing what you like and drop it here and there and eventually you’ll get somewhere… the music industry is a cruel world and if you’re getting too focused on career and numbers it might break you, so remember to always make music for yourself first, with feeling and passion.

 

Lefto will be kicking off his India Tour starting today in New Delhi at Auro Kitchen & Bar, before playing at Disrupt Festival in Mumbai on 16th November and Fandom in Bengaluru on 17th November. You can grab your tickets here.

Disrupt Festival 2018