Following her Violet EP release on Blank Editions earlier this year, La Leif (aka Francine Perry, Co-founder of Omnii!) teams up with Anxious Club to shoot a live performance of Throw at NXNE. Since the EP’s release Perry has added live strings and guitar from Chloe Owen and Nick Powell, adding a new dimension and tension to her live shows. We had a quick chat about the video, her process and winning an Oram Award…
You are one of the winners of the recent Oram Awards. Can you tell me a bit about the awards?
Do you know who nominated you or why?
I have my suspicions but can’t be sure! 50 people in the UK get nominated and this year there were five winners. I was super chuffed to be awarded alongside AJA, Loraine James, Hannah Catherine Jones and Georgia Rogers, who are all incredible.
So I understand that when you win the award, you are awarded some money to fund a project. What is the project you’re proposing?
I want to put it towards writing an album, because it’s so hard to find the time and money to write an album between work and other projects. So that’s the main idea, and to collaborate with other female and non-binary producers within that. It’s not the most original idea ever, but there’s not really been many (if any) albums that have only been worked on by women and non-binary people from the start to the end of the process — recording, mixing, mastering and so on.
Amazing! So I imagine, based on the criteria of the award and your past work, that the album will be electronics based?
And are you recording that in London?
I’m in mixed minds about that at the moment. I tend to get a lot of my inspiration from going away and taking field recordings from different places. I’m considering going to Lisbon, because I’m really interested in the music from there at the moment, and it would be great to go there and get some recordings and then come back and see what I can do with them. I’ve still got loads of recordings from when I went to Tokyo recently, and they are also really inspiring me.
Do you have any artists in Lisbon you’d recommend people to listen to?
I really love a lot of the releases on the PRÍNCIPE label!
So travel and field recording are central to your work. Can you tell us a bit more about your production process for the EP and beyond?
The sounds themselves rather than the meaning have always been more important to me. But in saying that, I think a lot of my songs do tend to be very emotive — it just seems to be what comes out. I love using field recordings — you always come up with something unique and unlike what you expected to get. The sound can be very nostalgic of a time or place which gives the music meaning in it’s own way. The musical parts often come later and a lot of the parts in this EP have gone through a lot of mangling and processing so that they’re unrecognisable from where they started. I like doing that.
How would you say ‘Violet’ differs from your first EP, ‘The Nest’?
It doesn’t have any vocals in it, really. Well I do sing on a couple of bits, but it’s not the same. No verses and choruses. It’s also quite a bit darker, more inspired by techno and dance music… I think it’s just better (laughs).
What equipment do you use?
I normally start with a field recorder — the Zoom H4N. For this EP, I was using the Elektron Octatrack from the very start to compose with. It’s an amazing tool for building up textures and sequences. I normally then put it into Ableton or sometimes Logic for further production, and then into Pro Tools to mix, adding synths and various plugins along the way.
Do you have any particular plugins you’d recommend?
ALL of the Soundtoys bundle. They’re very popular so you do start hearing them a lot on other people’s tracks, but they’re definitely worth it.
So, tell us about this new video!
This video is a live version of Throw. It’s the most techno-inspired track on Violet and it’s great fun to play live. I’m performing it here with Chloe Owen on violin and Nick Powell on guitar. It’s been amazing transposing parts I created electronically onto guitar and violin. I think it works really well and they both bring their own flavours to it, which I love. The filming and editing of the video is down to Anxious Club who were a dream to work with, and it was engineered by the amazing Harri Chambers at NXNE studios in Manor House (to whom I thank for letting me use the beautiful Korg Poly 6 Synth you can see in the video!)
Do you have any other work in the pipeline now?
I’ve got an upcoming split 12” coming out on NX Records, which will include two of my new tracks. These both involve the mangling of field recordings taken in Japan. This time it’s a bit lighter than Violet and more fun. I’m excited to get that out as well!
La Leif is the moniker of 25-year-old South London producer Francine Perry. La Leif’s music is gritty, it sits somewhere between leftfield techno and a dystopian film soundtrack. As well as making music, Francine co-founded the London based collective for female and non-binary music producers called Omnii and has recently been awarded an Oram award by PRS Foundation in collaboration with The New BBC Radiophonic Workshop.
La Leif plays fully analogue live sets on a mixture of samplers, synths and drum machines and has played across the UK and in Scandinavia, Hong Kong, and the Faroe Islands.