Few Drum and Bass DJs possess such a diverse musical background and unique production style as Loz Contreras. The Leeds-based wonder has established a name for himself by combining elements of 70s Disco and Soul with modern DnB. From early releases on Liquicity, to more recent work on Shogun, Spearhead, and Fokuz, Loz Contreras goes from strength to strength. Alongside frequent collaborator Macca, Loz has been responsible for some of the most captivating Liquid to grace the scene in recent years.
Loz Contreras returns with Macca on Fokuz in November. Read on for the latest information on this, as well as talk about his influences, production, and future plans…
Firstly, congratulations on your recent wedding! We’ve heard that recently at Kasra’s, a nice wedding-inspired edit of Mr. Happy was played later in the evening… were there any similar DnB antics at yours?
Thank you very much. No way, my wife doesn’t like Drum & Bass one bit!!
You recently confirmed to us that you have been working on a new EP. What can you tell us so far about it?
It will be out on November 12th, and it features 3 new tracks from Macca and myself and a remix by DJ Marky of one of our early releases, a life goal achieved right there! There should hopefully be another 4 track EP on Spearhead to follow as well, plus tracks on the new Shogun and Liquid V compilations.
How does collaboration work between you and Macca?
We largely send stems but manage to get together in his studio in Portsmouth a couple of times a year…We live at opposite ends of the country, I am in Leeds, so it is an absolute mission to meet up. There is a shared dropbox folder of ideas and we try to call or FaceTime when we can.
Do you have any other collaborations in the works? Who would you like to share a track with at some point?
I am sure many people saw on social media that Macca and me were in the studio with DJ Marky a few weeks ago, we managed to get 2 tracks finished which we have all been dropping….We have no idea what the future holds for these ones though. I’ve also been in the studio with Facing Jinx and Fluidity recently and have some fresh music with those guys. In the future I would love to make a track with Redeyes, Submorphics and sit in the studio with LSB too.
I saw that you had a residency in Leeds playing disco sets earlier in the summer. How long have disco, and other genres apart from DnB, been a major thing for you?
I began getting into DJing though House music in the early 2000s which was heavily disco influenced… I got into drum and bass through High Contrast’s – High Society album, a style which I now refer to as Disco Drum & Bass music. It wasn’t until I was 18 or so that I found that loads of the music I loved was actually just being ripped from tune from the 70s so I’ve been on a disco and soul path ever since!
My first sets out in bars were all vinyl house sets in 2007, but now I play 12 hours every weekend at the Sky Lounge in Leeds just freestyling through any appropriate genre I feel like playing, and have a monthly garage residency too. I truly believe being an open format DJ improves your skills on the decks no end.
A lot of your tunes have disco and soul influences. How do you incorporate these? Do you sample old tracks, use multi-sampled instruments, or even record elements yourself?
I am really into sampling old music. I realised how prominent the samples were in tunes I had loved for ages, I got into other artists like Leon Ware, Ahmad Jamal, Roy Ayers (the list goes on and on). I taught myself to sample on Cubase sx3, and it it’s still what I use most of the time, Cubase is mint with audio. I also use a Mixed in Key to guide my with pitch shifting different samples to work together.
What is the most important element of a DnB track to you?
It’s such a cliché, but, the vibe. Not the drums, not the bass, but the piece of music as a whole and how it makes you feel…to me it should sound good without drums, or having a hip hop beat instead…it has to have those hooks that give it a strong feeling.
Other liquid producers have previous musical experience – for example, Hugh Hardie and Keeno are both apparently talented piano players. Do you have any other musical talents yourself?
I am a self-taught piano player. I used to go to the music block in my free periods at school and learn songs by listening through my mp3 player…I can’t really read music and I am not a whiz with the scales, but I can hold my own when putting ideas down for a track or writing chords and I am proud to say I have never used a pad or musical loop from a sample pack in my music.
Some people have noticed that Liquid has waned in popularity compared to other subgenres of DnB over the past 3 or so years… what do you think can be done to change this?
I actually disagree, I think liquid is at one of its strongest points since I started to go out in 2006…at least the more soulful side of it anyway. The old guard (Calibre, Spectrasoul, Lenzman) are still releasing amazing music, but there is so much fresh stuff from the likes of LSB, Hugh Hardie, Phaction, GLXY, Tokyo Prose, Pola & Bryson, SATL, Submorphics, Redeyes…I could go on. – The North Quarter, Shogun, Spearhead & Fokuz all have huge sell out shows plus labels like Integral & Soulvent are constantly putting out top releases. Even Critical and 1985 have been released some really deep stuff through Halogenix, Monty, Ivy Lab, Alix Perez etc.
What advice can you give to up and coming producers, especially those who aim to get their work featured on channels such as Liquicity, as you did?
Listen to other genres, the music you make is influenced by the music you listen to…if you make Drum n Bass and listen to Drum n Bass, your tracks will sounds just like everyone else’s at best….and make music for yourself, not for labels or channels.
DnB listeners are often well versed in other genres, as DnB can incorporate elements from music as diverse as Reggae, Metal, and Soul. How do you think we can expand DnB’s audience so that listeners of other genres can equally appreciate DnB?
I am not sure it can be achieved. Drum & Bass is so unique, on the first time of being heard it immediately makes the listener decide if they love it or hate it. What’s great about that is the people who get a buzz from that first listen become passionate about the genre, which is why the nights are so much fun…nobody is there by accident or half-arsed. That being said, I am intrigued to see if the hit tunes from Wilkinson, Sigma et al act as a gateway for an unprecedented amount of followers.
Personally, I am a massive fan of your 2017 album with Macca. Do you have another album on the cards?
Thanks I appreciate that…It’s not really on the cards right now, but I would like to think we have it in us to make another one. There are things I would do differently second time around which I would like to try.
What other goals do you have for the future? A label you would like to release on, or a festival you would like to appear at perhaps?
I would love to have something on Innerground as DJ Marky was a huge influence on me back when I started DJing Liquid in 2006.
How did the name ‘Loz Contreras’ come about?
My name is Lawrence Contreras, but everyone my entire life calls me Loz….even my parents, old teachers, the in-laws…Loz Contreras is literally my name. (My Dad is from Chile by the way!)
How can we keep up with all Loz Contreras news and information about future releases?
I am guilty of being slack on social media, but I will sharing more on Facebook, and I have just got Instagram so I am trying to use that as well.
Look out for previews of his upcoming EP, needless to say we are very excited for it! In the meantime, give Loz a follow on his social media accounts to stay up to date, and of course drop us a like on our Facebook page as well.