Podcast 609: Lefto
Expert curation from Belgium.
Podcast 609: Lefto
Expert curation from Belgium.
Lefto began DJing in the mid–’90s while still enrolled in high school. He grew up in an musical home, surrounded by vinyl and cassette tapes, and learned the basics of mixing them via Starflam, a hip-hop group from Liège in the French-speaking part of Belgium.
Outside of studying, he also worked at Music Mania, a small record store in Brussels that opened its doors in 1969 and focused on rock and vinyl, but, in his capacity as shop assistant, a young Lefto witnessed the expansion of the shop’s hip-hop catalog, and, in doing so, familiarised himself with the finest offerings in these musical realms. Impressed by Lefto’s grasp of music, his friend Eric Smout, who divided his time between Music Mania and Studio Brussels, Belgium’s leading alternative national radio station, recommended Lefto to his colleagues. A few months later, Jan Van Biesen, a famous Flemish DJ and head of Studio Brussels, informed Lefto of plans to launch an alternative hip-hop show, and that he’d like to bring him on board. Originally called “The Hop,” and now known as the “Lefto Show,” the weekly broadcast has established Lefto as one of Belgium’s leading tastemakers. What started as a hip-hop show has now evolved into one that focuses on all-round music from far and wide, and it’s now broadcast on Mixcloud, where Lefto has over 100,000 followers with more than 785 shows covering the newest and rarest in house, rap, electronica, and much more.
Curation rather than production remains Lefto’s focus. In 2003, Dour Festival pulled him in to begin curating a stage, which he continues to do each year, and he also began throwing smaller hip-hop concerts in Ghent, drawing people from Brussels and Antwerp. Today, he curates his own nights across Belgium, Holland, and France, booking the likes of Gilles Peterson, who kindly reciprocated by signing Lefto up as a resident of his Worldwide Festival, held in the town of Sete in the south of France every July.
Lefto now also presents a weekly two-hour morning show on Peterson’s Worldwide FM, dedicated to hip-hop, jazz, and all things that prick his ear. His expertise has also seen him called upon for several compilations on notable labels, including Brownswood Recordings and Universal Belgium. In September last year, he compiled some of Belgium’s best jazz musicians’ music on a 2LP entitled Jazz Cats on Sdban Records.
As a DJ, Lefto is known for his gloriously eclectic sets; expect the unexpected as he switches effortlessly between genres. His XLR8R podcast is a blend of classics and more recent records, many unreleased and previously unheard. It’s fun, driving, and wonderfully unpredictable; even if you know some of the tracks, you’ll discover a handful of others. Download it now via the WeTransfer button below.
What have you been up to recently?
These last two months have been an exhausting run of gigs and festivals around Europe, and add to it that I became a father to a beautiful son, so it’s been tough. I’ve been recording my weekly show on Gilles Peterson’s WorldwideFM as well as taking a summer break from my nationwide show on radio in Brussels and my Mixcloud channel. Meanwhile, I posted a couple of mixes on my “Select” page on Mixcloud as well. I’ve been preparing the first release on my new record label Royale, which is set to start at the end of September, and I have been designing some stuff for my merchandise that I sell, via the great record shop in Brussels, at Crevette Records. As with every year, I hosted my own stage at Belgium’s Dour Festival, still one of the best festivals around in Europe with over 250,000 visitors.
How did you find your way into music?
Imagine a world where you’re surrounded by books, photography, and music magazines, vinyl, cassettes, and music playing in the background all the time; that was my home. MTV was coming up on television and I had school friends in music as well; that’s pretty much how I got into it: I was literally sucked into music culture. New beat and acid played on daytime radio and local television here in Belgium; meanwhile, rap and alternative rock played on MTV. What an incredible time it was to be alive.
When and where was this mix put together?
I recorded this mix on CDJs and turntables in my studio and in one take. I’ve never been a fan of recording and retouching my mixes and I would never record a mix with anything else than turntables and/or CDJs, just to keep the feel of a real DJ mix.
How did you select the records that you included?
I thought I’d give you some of the latest and upcoming releases I got from friends who also happen to be producers, mixed with timeless gems as well. I take you on a journey through different vibes.
Is there a wider concept or vision to it?
There is no particular concept to it, but I always try to build up nicely to end with a bang. That’s pretty much how I like to leave the stage as well!
Where do you envisage it being listened to?
I would advise people to listen to this mix on their way to a rave or just a good party you’re excited to attend. And also in the car, obviously.
What’s next, moving forward?
I am working on a few compilations right now for different international labels. Annie Pleasure just turned in his project that I will release very soon on my label Royale; he’s an emerging local artist, and it’s great electronica. I’m sure you’ll love some of it. I am also touring Asia in the coming weeks, and in October I will be touring the US, starting in New York City on October 19 at Public Records. I am also celebrating the 20th anniversary of my radio show on Studio Brussels this year with a great Sunday evening gig, inviting some of my favorite local artists as well as Children of Zeus from Manchester. They do great soulful hip-hop music. I’m looking forward to all of this.
XLR8R has now joined Mixcloud Select, meaning that to download the podcast you will need to subscribe to our Select channel. The move to Mixcloud Select will ensure that all the producers with music featured in our mixes get paid. You can read more about it here.
01. Salami Rose Joe Louis “Octagonal Room” (Brainfeeder)
02. K15 & Patrick Gibin “Devotion” (Eglo Records)—Upcoming
03. Jesuslovesacid “Philosophy” (Appleblim Remix) (Vitalik Recordings)
04. Claudio Simonetti “I love the piano” (Victoria)
05. Don Blackman & the Family Tradition “Just can’t stay away” (Melodies Int.)
06. Electro Force “Inside The Beats” (Power Music records)
07. Black Spuma “Black Spuma” (International Feel Recs)
08. Thatmanmonkz “Whatuthinkido” (Shadeleaf Music)—Upcoming
09. Kolja Gerstenberg “Where they’re from” (Lumberjacks In Hell)—Upcoming
10. LB aka Labat “1993” (Alelah Records)
11. Paranoid London “Drum Machine” (Paranoid London)
12. Model 500 “No UFO’s” (Metroplex)
13. Logic1000 “Derrière” (White)
14. Four Tet “Anna Painting” (Text)
15. Soundbwoy Killah “Wanna hold u” (Sneaker Social Club)
16. Kettama “Ludwig” (G-Town)
17. Textasy “I’m the needle” (Craigie Knowes)
18. Addison Groove “Brand New Drop” (Gutterfunk)—Upcoming