Insomniac’s Metronome series features mixes from some of today’s fastest-rising electronic stars, as well as championed legends. It takes listeners deep across a wide range of genres, movements, cultures, producers, artists and sounds that make up the diverse world of electronic music.
Those that can, do; those that can’t, teach. Dallas breakbeat and bass music producer Chris Lund, better known as Left/Right, does both. When he’s not doing A&R for Stanton Warriors’ label Punks, or running BRØKEN (his own label and events company), or playing gigs at Fabric, Burning Man, SXSW, WMC or the upcoming Middlelands festival, he’s a professor at Collin College, where he deconstructs music—sometimes using his own recordings as examples.
Left/Right’s sound has breakbeat roots but branches out to house, jungle, and garage, splintering into subsets of bass music. On his Metronome mix—which rips straight into the Shadow Selection compilation he handled for Punks—he includes My Nu Leng, Evil Nine, Taiki Nulight, Distro, and collaborations with Isenberg, Zander, and recurring partner jACQ—as well as a few of his own toughest tracks, which connect the wide-ranging spectrum of sound he’s thrown down. Insomniac caught up with the fast-rising and multifaceted artist just before he jetted off to Middlelands.
This mix touches on a lot of styles. Was that to deliberately showcase the flexibility of breakbeat?
Absolutely. There’s so much innovative bass music that comes out across the many broken-beat flavors, that can get lost in the cracks. I like to be able to move fluidly between them and still maintain a cohesive (and shadowy) environment.
Generally speaking, do you think breakbeat “plays better” and mixes more readily with other genres like garage, 2-step, bass, house and jungle?
I honestly believe they are all a part of a single broad spectrum, so it surprises me when people stick to more singular genres. Many genres flow well together if you know how to make the journey between them and consider the setting. I really enjoy the idea of luring people into new realms and musically pushing people’s boundaries in a seductive way… often before they’re even aware of the change. I definitely tried to do that in Shadow Selection.
If so, might it be because breakbeat’s based on rhythmic variation and is therefore more malleable?
I do like that aspect of genres under the breakbeat umbrella… They definitely tend to have a lot of variation in the grooves and tempos. There’s so much you can experiment with and explore, and I think the same goes for production and DJing. I spin a lot of house/tech as well. I just like to always be switching things up, depending on the vibe and what’s working. That, to me, is a big part of what Left/Right means: You never really know what I’m going to throw at ya.
The opener sets the tone. How’d you settle on Gabe’s “Time to Relax” for the opener?
My remix of Gabe, I thought, was a great opening tune because it represents my sound and the sound of the whole mix well. I’m grateful to my friends at Audiophile Deep for licensing that to us for the compilation. Plus, that “It’s time to relax” vocal from Gabe is the perfect intro… the vocal “We work hard and play harder,” I recorded with my friend B.Swift, as kind of a play on the title… It’s a motto of mine.
Nice to hear Foamo’s “Sherlock” (My Nu Leng Remix) on here. What appeals to you about this track?
First, I’m a huge supporter of both those artists and have been for some time… Both have been a large influence in developing this broken-bass sound that’s been developing the last few years. This particular tune, I thought, was a great fit because it meets all the check marks in what defines music I love: beautiful, dark and powerful.
You feature a few collaborations with jACQ, Isenberg, and Zander. What does each of them bring out in you creatively and vice versa?
All three of them are some of my closest friends, coworkers, and easily some of the most talented people I know working out of Dallas.
jACQ always brings stellar work to the table; working with her is super easy, as she is so skilled at her craft. He voice is so clear and pure, but her lyrics are often dark; that often brings out a darker, more cinematic side from me. Directing the video for “Lies” with her was so much fun, too.
Isenberg is definitely someone to watch. I consider him my protégé, and he works with me as an engineer at my studio downtown. “Heat” was really cool to work on creatively, since we already do a lot of production work together, and he has been pumping out some killer tunes lately.
Zander is a close friend and partner with me on our label BRØKEN. He has a much heavier sound, which I think comes out a lot in our label and our collabs. “Can’t Stop” is a great example of that.
In addition to recording, DJing, producing, and running your BRØKEN label and events, you’re also a professor. What’s it like using your songs in your lectures when you teach?
Haha, it’s pretty fun and can be a trip, depending on the class. I actually have written a lot of music outside of dance/electronic, so depending on what the majority of kids like each class, we’ll often listen to different material, and I have them tell me what they hear. It’s a good exercise, since I actually know what was done to produce it. They usually have to record me playing guitar, piano, or singing, too.
How does teaching influence your music production?
I come from a pretty academic background in music and engineering, so when I write and engineer, a lot of my moves can be technical and decisive. That being said, music always has to start and end with a feeling for me, so I am always trying to balance left brain and right brain. Teaching also makes me painfully aware of my weaknesses and overly conscious of my mixes/masters. I usually end up taking as long on the engineering as I do on the writing (haha).
Probably the coolest thing you find out as a teacher, though, is how much music is a lifelong learning process. I really appreciate discovering new techniques from other producers (Hotfire came through and did a guest lecture at my studio recently with AudiophileXXL), and many students come in with new plugins and techniques I’ve never heard of, which I love.
How does your experience as an artist inform your work as A&R for Stanton Warriors’ label Punks? How does it change how you listen to demos, seek out artists, etc.?
Mainly that in the same way I hunt for tunes as a DJ, I seek out artists and tunes for the label. Punks has really built a lot of prestige over the last couple years, so I am very picky with whom I reach out to. I’m only interested in highly original, forward-thinking music. I really despise “trendy”-sounding stuff—trends can really be tiresome in dance music to me.
You’ve played several festivals now and are booked for Middlelands. What do you have prepared for Middlelands?
Yep, Middlelands, Glastonbury, and Moonshine festivals are all on the horizon, with some more stuff to announce soon. I’m really excited for Middlelands, as a lot of the artists on the Trinity Vale stage are some of my favorites. I’ll be playing low-slung beats… probably going to mix some house in with my broken stuff and groove it out. I’m sure I’ll have a few surprises, too.
- Track List:
Gabe “Time to Relax” (Left/Right Remix)
Sly-One “The Six Four”
Echo Knight “Blade Runner”
Daze Prism “Dream”
Foamo “Sherlock” (My Nu Leng Remix)
A.Motion “On My Mind”
De Nada “Forever”
Nixon “Simple Minds”
Left/Right & Isenberg “Heat”
Worthy “Damm Fine”
Ink Project “Everything Change” (Evil Nine Remix)
Stanton Warriors “Hoping” (Left/Right Remix)
Bromley ft. Dread Mc, Dash Villz & Rider Shafique “Straight Up” (Mafia Kiss Remix)
Obscene Frequenzy “Rolling”
Cellardore “Can’t Get Em”
Left/Right & jACQ “Lies” (Billy Kenny Remix)
Bromley ft. Grove & Dread Mc “Burn Down” (Distro Remix)
Herve & Taiki Nulight “IAEATD”
Zander & Left/Right “Can’t Stop”