LV: Brit Dance-Music Production Crew Conspire With South African MCs

"People presume that what they think of as South African elements on the album are actually that, but the connection is the guys that we were doing this with, rather than any idea of what the music would sound like."

LV / Photo by Jason Turner
LV / Photo by Jason Turner

Who: This South London trio — Simon Williams, Gervase Gordon, and Will Horrocks — has been subtly absorbing and reinvigorating underground British dance sounds since 2007. But Gordon's bi-continental birthright (he's British and South African) has acted as a fresh conduit for their latest album, Sebenza, and the producers collaborated with some of South Africa's brightest young MCs — including Spoek Mathambo, Okmalumkoolkat, and Ruffest — to integrate contemporary Johannesburg futurism with London's dance-floor avant-garde. While British beat trends shift every time the Queen walks her Corgi, LV have taken the gleaming, syncopated rhythms of UK funky, kwaito, kuduro, electrofunk, and straight-up house to forge their own distinct, holographic path.

Pirate Anthems: "People presume that what they think of as South African elements on the album are actually that," says Horrocks. "But the connection is the guys that we were doing this with, rather than any idea of what the music would sound like." The trio insists that there was no grand plan to explicitly link Jo'burg with London. But both South Africa and England have built formidable dance scenes largely inspired by pirate radio, and if anything most resembles Sebenza's beat clatter, it's the clamor of electronic beats on fuzzy renegade airwaves.

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Snatching Victory from the Jaws: LV spent three years assembling tracks in both London and South Africa, and at various points, they thought the project wouldn't pan out. "The fact that it came together and that it has a coherent vibe?" marvels Williams, "I think it's quite standard to get halfway through and be like, hang on, is this as good as I think it is? Am I just making my life difficult for no good reason? But we're fueled by defeat," he adds, wryly. "That's how we roll." Once the songs sat side by side, though, notoriously selective Hyperdub boss Kode9 requested an album — and an EP, with stray singles and instrumentals from the sessions to come.

Majoring in Beatmaking: Three is an odd number for collaborating on production, but LV doesn't know anything else, having discovered their mutual love for music-making while ditching class at university together. "We started skipping lectures to play with incredibly poor keyboards and my MPC," says Williams. "We used to record bass guitar on MiniDisc and then re-sample it onto an MPC, while Gerv played lamentable, regrettable chords." The crew still owns the music, but it won't be seeing the light of day anytime soon. "I'd like it if people bought [Sebenza first], but I think that's implied," he says, laughing.

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