It’s true, there is a healthy dose of Lefto on the Red Bull Elektropedia pages. However, it’s not often we can shine a light on the bearded selector his production skills. After releasing his solo album DUNKIN'MUNCHKIN$ in 2015 and teaming up with Free The Robots as Karavan early this year, he’s back with a fresh production collaboration. This time Lefto is teaming up with Nag, the Antwerp based rapper, producer and DJ, who you will know from the Eigen Makelij stable and Team Panini. The result of these two their shenanigans is ‘Cirkels’, an EP which is being released on the Brussels Frontal platform on November 6. The first taste of the album was only released some days ago, and now we’re already getting an extra exclusive premiere on top: ZAKKENVULLEN. Enjoy!
So, how did you guys meet?
Lefto: “It’s been such a long time ago. Maybe fifteen years ago? I still don’t have a clue where it was though. I was in Antwerp a lot, there were MC-battles, graffiti sessions…. It’s hard to recall. Nag, do you have an idea?"
Nag: “The very first track I recorded, which came out on a 40Winks tape, was played by you in De Hop back in 2002. During that same period, I was participating in a lot of MC-battles, after which we got to know each other better. We already started working together on some tracks, but we never finished them."
How did this EP come about?
Lefto: “Like we said, we’ve been busy for so long without ever really finishing anything. So it was time to work out something cool. Some time ago, I experienced a very productive period, during which I kept sending Nag some beats of mine. In the end it resulted in ten tracks, including seven with raps."
Nag: “I think Lefto sent me the ‘Cirkels’ beat about a year ago, asking me if I wanted to do something with it. He kept sending me stuff and we kept on working until we were satisfied. We soon realized that we had to bundle the tracks into an EP."
Where does the ‘Cirkels’ term come from?
Lefto: ”Now that we’ve finished the project, things have become 'full circle'. After so many years, finally finding time in our schedules and being able to finish something together, it’s quite satisfying. ‘Cirkels’ really covers the project and, in addition, the circle is the most common form in nature, cosmos, etc. “
Nag: ”The track also was the launch for this collaboration, so it made sense. Everything fell into place.”
Were there certain musical references you had in mind for this project?
Lefto: “We know each other and our genres very well, so we didn’t really feel there was a need for extra references. For me personally making timeless music is more important than anything else. If people still play this record in ten years, I want it to feel as fresh as today.“
Nag: “We’ve always connected well, so this record has grown very organically. There were no obvious references, but thanks to our similar taste, we immediately knew where it needed to go. It’s a modern record that is not bound by a contemporary sound, which makes it fresh and timeless.”
You are releasing this EP through 'Frontal', a new Brussels based platform. What has been is the motivation for that call?
Nag: “I think Zwangere Guy played an important role in that decision. By co-operating with him, it all went fast. I was very impressed with his drive, and it certainly motivated me to be more productive. I needed a clean slate and that’s the main reason why this EP will not be released by Eigen Makelij, my previous home base. Zwangere Guy proposed to release through Frontal and, once again, everything fell into place. “
Lefto: “I’m very happy for Nag you know. I feel he got a second wind by hanging out with Zwangere Guy and the Brussels crew. They’re all guys who think off nothing but making music in a creative way, without having to fit in a particular sound. Nag is also on stage with Zwangere Guy for a couple of tracks, and I feel that combo is really tight. When I told him me and Nag were working on an EP, the idea to release through Frontal grew organically. Its Brussels based, it’s good and we love the gang. “
Lefto, as a producer you’ve mainly profiled yourself through collaborations. (cf. Karavan with Free The Robots, Blue Note remixes with Krewcial). Do you feel more creatively triggered by collaborating?
Lefto: "In 2015, I did release a solo record on Record Store Day though. I do think collaborations are attractive, but it should match completely. However, working with an MC is pretty different from working with a producer. What makes this project so dope, is that Nag really feels where I want to go with my creations. Take the first single ‘Cirkels’, for example: If you listen well, you realize it’s not the standard cycle of 16 or 24-bars, then a chorus and then 16 or 24-bars again. It has a special structure; sometimes Nag will rap for eight bars, then he will do 24, then twelve, back to sixteen. It brings originality to the process and you'll experience it in the other tracks too. Next to the punchlines and Nag’s hard lyrics there’s also a lot of attention for structure which fit Nag’s creativity and lyrics."
Nag: “I’ve never been a fan of tracks in a clear radio format. I like albums with a punk attitude with five one minute tracks for example. Or jazz tracks which span 9 minutes. It doesn’t matter as long as it fits. I like working with other people. If you’re comfortable with each other, you encourage each other to get the best out of yourself."
‘Cirkels’ EP will drop November 6 on Frontal.