Dec 10, 2014
Le Youth

As one of electronic music’s leading advocates of the ‘90s throwback sound, Le Youth continues to take retro sampling into freshly modern territory. We caught up with him before his show in Orange County to talk about his unwavering love of R&B, breaking into the world of DJing, and his plans to sing on his next record.

Le Youth - REAL [Ultra]
LessThan3: What kind of music do you remember your parents playing when you were growing up, and how has it influenced your current style?
Wes: They played a lot of pop radio, top 40 stuff. They weren’t playing The Beatles, or “cool” sh*t. So that is one of those things that I actually carry, that feeling that I can’t actually name all of The Beatles songs and I can’t tell you The Rolling Stones’ top albums, but I can tell you other things about what they listened to. That has definitely influenced my music.
LessThan3: RAC remixed one of your tracks a couple months ago and then you remixed one of theirs. Do you have an ongoing music relationship with them?
Wes: Andre has become a good friend of mine. You start playing these shows and seeing the same people and you start making a connection with them. We swap stories of things that have happened to us at shows.
LessThan3: What came first for you, DJing or production?
Wes: Production.
LessThan3: Was it a natural progression going from producing to DJing, or was there a bit of a learning curve?
Wes: It was a learning process. I started using a laptop and software and making it super easy, but it ended up being more difficult. Now I just travel with headphones and flash drives.
LessThan3: What was the most difficult part about learning how to DJ?
Wes: I kind of felt that I was at a disadvantage because I hadn’t really grown up in DJ culture. I grew up playing in bands. I felt like everyone was like, “Oh, he’s playing this track?” or, “He shouldn’t be playing this track.” I felt I was being judged at the beginning.
LessThan3: How did you get into electronic music after growing up playing in bands?
Wes: I actually made the music electronically, and then the band would basically play with me on stage. But I wasn’t making dance music. I was making songs and singing.
LessThan3: What’s your thought process when using samples to create an original? What stops you from just making a remix from the songs that you pull your samples from?
Wes: What I do definitely treads on the territory of a remix. You could say COOL was a remix. I didn’t want to label it as a remix, though; I wanted it to exist as its own song. I wanted to see what it would do and I feel like if someone would have seen it as a Cassie remix, it would have come off differently. I liked the fact that it gave it more mystery.
LessThan3: You use a lot of R&B samples in your music. What is it about R&B that really resonates with you?
Wes: I finally discovered what that answer means only recently. My friend, who is here right now, sort of enlightened me. It’s the idea of taking a slowed down vocal that has a bit of soulfulness and speeding that up to be a dance track. I’m giving away all my secrets, I shouldn’t even be saying all of this! [Laughs] But speeding up an R&B vocal just sounds cool for some reason in dance music because it’s not the first thing you would think of. I have had tons of people try to record vocals for tracks I have written and it just doesn’t work the same way like taking a vocal that is unbiased and has nothing to do with my track and applying that to my music. Like that Cassie track–I didn’t really know where the chorus was; I was just cutting sh*t up to make fun stuff. That is more important in my music than I actually even knew.
LessThan3: Your Lana Del Rey remix says it’s remixed by Wes James, not Le Youth. Is this because you decided on the Le Youth name after you made the remix?
Wes: Le Youth actually already existed a little bit before that remix. I was sort of embarrassed to be doing a Lana Del Rey remix, so at the time I wasn’t sure if I wanted it to be labeled as Le Youth. Le Youth was so young and I wanted to define it with my vision and the Lana Del Rey remix was a bit different from that vision. But it was a cool offer and I couldn’t turn it down, so I still wanted to do it. So I thought maybe I’ll start doing weird stuff that doesn’t fit as Le Youth as Wes James.
LessThan3: You mentioned earlier that you also sing. Will there be any of your original vocals in your next tracks?
Wes: Definitely will be. For the album, I can’t imagine not singing on it. I have an itch to start singing again, even though it was really nice to use vocal samples on my own stuff. I never exactly liked my voice.
LessThan3: If you could work with any artist, past, present or, maybe even, future, who would it be and why?
Wes: I would like to make original music with Brandy. I want to make an R&B track with her and then secretly rip away all the music and use her a cappella on a dance track. I would get her to record as much as possible and just use it for the next ten years because everything she’s done is gold.
LessThan3: How do you like your eggs?
Wes: Scrambled.
LessThan3: If the world was ending in LessThan3 minutes and you had an iPod with every song ever made on it, what would you listen to?
Wes: The Book of Love by Magnetic Fields.
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