Interview With Le Youth
On December 15, we hosted our annual Holiday Party at The Wayfarer in Costa Mesa, Calif. featuring a lineup of MDA residents including Rozco, Mogli, and Torosbros, as well as Los Angeles-based DJ, Le Youth to cap it off with a two hour set. This marked the third time having Le Youth, aka Wes James on the decks at an MDA event. You could say that he is a master when it comes to the disco and RnB infused sounds that ambassadors are known to love, so it was great to have him back.
I walked into The Wayfarer on Friday night to catch Rozco (Bryan Orozco), who was the perfect pick to start the night with his groovy house vibes. He handed it over masterfully at 10 pm to Mogli (Eli Rivera) to carry on the good vibes. He played one of my personal favorite tunes at the moment, Love Stream by Mat.Joe, and some funky tracks like Hello Clouds by Justin Martin to build the energy that he received from Rozco. Once the clock struck 11, it was Torosbros', turn to take over. To be honest I wasn’t sure where Torosbros was going to take us when he dropped Love is Strange by Mickey & Sylvia. The change of pace flipped the place on its head, but in the background of the track he was slowly mixing in the Zac Samuel remix of Say Something by Karen Harding. Once the beat dropped, he had the entire place in the palm of his hand. It stayed this way throughout his set as Torosbros delighted us with tracks such as Show Me by Zinc and the Kaytranada remix of Lady by Modjo.
As many of us expected, Le Youth’s unique style kept the party going strong for the rest of the night and the vibe was awesome. Before he went on stage, however, I sat down with Wes to talk about Le Youth and what we might see from him in 2018.
Kagan: What is the inspiration behind your name?
Wes: It’s not really a good story. It started as Youth and then I realized other people were already named that so I just kinda added a little bit of mystery with Le Youth. Its worked and served its purpose.
Kagan: Was there any reasoning behind Youth?
Wes: Yeah just kinda my fascination with youthfulness, existentialism, and youthful things.
Kagan: How old were you when you first started?
Wes: I’ve been making music my whole life but I started Le Youth about four years.
Kagan: When you produced COOL and first posted it on Soundcloud, how did you feel about the response it received?
Wes: It was cool, it was a very exciting time in my life. It kinda blew up really fast and it was just a perfect timing kind of thing it felt like. It was pretty magical.
Kagan: Did you expect that?
Wes: It was completely unexpected. I was living in a one bedroom apartment in Hollywood kind of like figuring out what I was gonna do with my life. Then I made this track and everything changed overnight.
Kagan: If someone took a peek into your DJ bag, what would they find? Anything out of the ordinary?
Wes: Probably some hair product. That’s the only time I’ll ever say that. An iPhone charger which is not out of the ordinary, and my headphones.
Kagan: Is there anywhere in the world you would like to play in 2018?
Wes: Yeah I want to play Berlin. I’ve never been and its meant to be pretty wild. I think my style of music doesn’t really fit in very well, but I think the way I party fits in well there.
Kagan: Is there any specific producer or singer/songwriter that you hope to work with in 2018?
Wes: There’s just so many amazing writers right now. To be alive in this time of music is pretty cool. There’s more songwriters now than there ever were and better songs being written every day. I could literally list a dozen writers I would want to work with. As far as contemporary artists that are in my sort of world I would love to work with the Disclosure and the Duke Dumont kind of guys. I’ve done remixes for them and played shows with them, just never gotten into the studio with them.
Kagan: You’ve been touring a lot in 2017, but what can we expect from Le Youth in 2018?
Wes: Probably more releases than I’ve done in the past in one year. I’ve said that before so we’ll see if that actually works out. I would like to have new music coming out at a more consistent rate. I travel a lot and I play a lot of shows, but it’s just the weekends. I’m usually back in the studio during the week with plenty of time. I can also do a bit when I’m on the road in hotels and such.
Kagan: What is your favorite piece of software or hardware you use for production?
Wes: I love the Juno-106, that’s my favorite piece of hardware. It’s pretty standard as far as analog synths go. I invested a lot of money into my laptop. I have this laptop that cost more money than it should have but it’s worth it. I mean I could make music with a drumstick and a phone recorder, you can do anything so to have these tools at my disposal is pretty awesome. I would say though the majority of my studio gear is in the box, its in my laptop. I’ve also been messing with the Korg Mono/poly lately. It’s one of my new favorites. Roland started making this boutique series, they’ve made kind of these miniature versions of all these synths from years past. I have one called the SE-02 which is pretty cool. They’re fun man, people kind of talk shit but they’re fun.
Kagan: Last question, you’ve been known to sample other songs in your own productions, such as Cassie’s Me & You in COOL and TLC’s No Scrub in Dance With Me. Can you give us some insight into your process when it comes to finding these samples for your own productions?
Wes: Yeah so for me its downloading as many acapellas as I possibly can whether that’s from a torrent or from people who had acapellas from back in the day when they did the remix. It’s about finding the acapellas and just trying to see what works with what. I would be lying if I said I set out to make COOL or if I set out to make Dance With Me. I didn’t, I literally just tried things and tried things and tried things until I found something I liked. In fact, COOL was actually thrown in the trash bin for like three months and a friend of mine was like hey you should put that song out I kinda liked that one. I was calling it something different at the time but that song would have never come out had someone not even told me to do it. I make so much music and I’m always working on so many different things that sometimes certain songs get past you without realizing the value in it. What’s even funnier is that Dance With Me, I’ve actually never talked about this, was written before COOL. I kinda had some reservations about putting out Dance With Me after COOL because I felt I had grown a little bit after Dance With Me and putting out COOL. That’s how it all played out.
Kagan: Since you had Dance With Me in your project files for a while, did it evolve over time or was it pretty much all put together?
Wes: So when I signed with Sony after COOL, I sent them some of the other songs I had been working on. I sent them Dance With Me and they were like “yo we should put this out next” and I was like “no no it’s not done not done” and they were like “no it’s great”. Then they put it out and it did really well, it hit number 8 in the UK. Pretty wild.
Kagan: Well Dance With Me is definitely one of my favorites. You’ve got just a few minutes before you go on so thanks for your time and I look forward to your set!
All in all, the evening was a night to remember. Can't wait for big things to come in 2018! Stay tuned Ambassadors and keep those antlers up.