This January British-mainstay Lee Walker inaugurates the 2021 release schedule of Kerri Chandler’s esteemed Madhouse Records with the heavy-hitting Tricks, featuring both UK and US Garage mixes, the release also offers respective Dub versions. Lee Walker is a familiar face in the contemporary house sphere. He first shot into the spotlight when Defected signed his edit of DJ Deeon’s Freak Like Me in 2016, a track which is BPI (British Phonographic Institute) Silver certified and one that resulted in the young talent receiving a DJ Mag Best Of British Award for ‘Best Remix’. Releases on acclaimed labels Hot Creations and Hotflush Recordings soon followed cementing his place as one of the true heavy-hitters of the industry. Fast-forward to today and Lee continues to make heads turn, with recent appearances on Simma Black and Freakin909. We’re pleased to be talking with Lee today following the release of ‘Tricks’!
Lee, a pleasure to have you with us! First off, what has the start of the year been like for you and what have you been up to?
The pleasure’s all mine thanks for having me! Honestly, with the last year and half being the way it has been, not too much apart from cooking pasta and making music. I also got a few Warzone wins but who hasn’t over lockdown?
Production wise you’ve been known to touch base on a wide range of sounds within the house and garage spectrum. How would you describe your sound in your own words?
Honestly, I think it’s simply a case of me not writing any genre off and accepting that there’s something to take from everything you listen to. These days I’d say my sound overall (when taking into consideration the music I’m sat on at the moment), I’d say my sound falls somewhere between US house & garage with a very heavy UKG influence with a little classic soul influence sprinkled on for good measure. A pretty confusing medley on paper I know but hopefully it’ll all make sense when it all gets released and hits people’s ears!
How would you say your sound has developed since you started out?
Well, given that I started out 170bpm with my trousers tucked into my socks I’d say it’s been a pretty hefty ride from point A to point B haha. When it comes to house and techno, I started out with incredibly stripped back deep house and tech house when playing at my local mainstay party *riffraff. That influence has always stuck with me and I feel still leaks through in whatever I do regardless of genre.
My sound has certainly become more UK and US garage centric over the last few years but I for sure haven’t forgotten the techniques and flavour of all the genres I’ve explored over the years.
Your schedule for the year got off to a flying start with the release of “Tricks” on Kerri Chandler’s legendary Madhouse Records. Congrats on this release, it’s awesome. What’s it mean to you to have your name on such a prestigious label’s catalogue?
It’s definitely a big deal for me and thanks a lot for the compliment! It’s one of those “tick it off your list” labels for me with it belonging to Kerri Chandler and the influence his releases and performances have had on me over the years so it feels really good to put something that’s really “me” out with Madhouse.
Can you tell us a bit about the release itself and the inspiration behind it?
This release actually started out as the UKG version, it was only after I sent it to Madhouse that the US version was made. With the UKG version the vocal was what caught my attention at first, then I wanted to put a groove inspired by Fuse underneath it. After intending to keep it stripped back I just went a bit mad adding all the musical parts and going full on UKG with it. I’m really happy with how both versions turned out.
What’s your creative process like in the studio? What helps you get in the zone?
Honestly I don’t have a set process. I tend to just play around with sounds, bits of vocal and so on until I get inspired to progress the idea. I do prefer to start with drums and a bassline but it’s not always the case.
In reality there are occasions where nothing can help you get in the zone as it were, some days no matter how hard you try you just won’t hit the ground running and that’s absolutely ok from time to time. People aren’t machines especially when it comes to creative endeavours.
2020 was most likely the toughest year the scene has ever faced. What helped you through the year and were there any lessons or positives you were able to take from it?
It’s definitely been a hell of a year and it’s hard to even know where to start on that, be it with the virus itself or the governments handling of it. Regardless, having my girlfriend around a lot has been helpful as she’s been working from home and we are usually separated by a hefty bit of land. On top of that just trying to look after my mental health by engaging in and improving at things I enjoy both inside and outside music has helped a lot, not to say it hasn’t been a scary year for creatives.
As for lessons and positives, without sounding too much like a wish.com version of Tony Robbins, if you can make it through a year this horrendous and still be in one piece, there’s not much that is going to be able to bring you to a full stop and that’s something to take pride in moving forward. Also, look after your mental health, as difficult as I know it is, try not to wallow and let yourself fall by the wayside, there is no you without you.
Looking forward to the year ahead, is there anything lined up yet for yourself music-wise that you can let us know about?
Aside from this release with Madhouse I have a collab releasing on Soulectas next album fairly soon that we did together and it’s a traditional UKG weapon. We’ve also worked on a couple of other collab bits that we are picking the perfect home for along with a lot of other collab bits on the way from us.
On top of that I’m working on my first album but as with most album projects, it’ll just be done when it’s done so unfortunately, I can’t really give a concrete date on that as of right now but hopefully it won’t be too long!
Thank you very much for your time today Lee. Great chatting with you. All the best and hope to catch up again soon.
Thanks for having me DMCWORLD, it’s been a pleasure. Hope you have a great 2021!