Interview: Locked Groove

Belgian producer and DJ Locked Groove has steadily been releasing music over the past decade, with  a Truancy Volume appearing in 2012, but something kicked into overdrive in 2019. Following a run of singles on his own Locked Groove Records last year, including the glacial trance of Zillion, he dropped his debut album Sunset Service in March this year on Hotflush. Combining his love of early-90s sounds with timeless but timely breaks, the release was part piano house, part emotive trance, all ready to storm big rooms with its robust sound design. Opening with the bright excitement of “Pudding”, it races through ethereal floor-fillers like “Do Not Freak” and “Out Of Orbit”, covering melancholic ground with “From Beyond” and “Oscillate”. “Zillion” also features, and is matched in minor-key anguish by “Whistle”, while closer “Eden”, featuring the vocals of a friend’s young daughter Stella, takes the listener on a trip down an acid rabbit hole. A series of remix EPs followed, pairing new originals with reworks from artists like Anastasia Kristensen (whose “Out of Orbit” remix took that track to new heights), Alan Fitzpatrick, TML and Yves Deruyter. Most recently, Hotflush boss Scuba worked with Skream and Lawrence Hart on a series of b2b remixes. We put a series of questions to Locked Groove inspired by the album’s track titles, asking about sunsets, space, inspiration and knowing when things are finished.

What’s your favourite song about food? “Cat Stevens – Was Dog A Donut. I discovered this song when I was a child in my dad’s record collection and was instantly hooked, it’s a song that gets me in a good mood even if I’m having a particularly crappy day. Also, donuts, mmmh.”

Most songs with that word in the title urge people to freak. ‘Do Not Freak’ does the opposite. Why so? “We could all use a bit of peace and calm in our lives I think. It would make a lot of bad situations better and the world a bit more enjoyable.”

Lots of your track titles invoke space travel (“From Beyond”, “Out of Orbit”, “Sunset Over Coku Tau 4”). What would you bring with you if you had to go into space for any length of time? Music, books, food supplies … “I would definitely take Murakami’s IQ84 with me, I think it’s one of my favourite reads ever. Other than that, maybe The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, because.. you never know right? Music is a must as well, so I’d bring a lot of Orbital and spaced out ambient. I think that should do the trick. And finally maybe some acid. I wonder if anyone actually tried acid while in space, seems like the ultimate trip to me, haha.”

How many tracks would you say you’ve made in your life? “I didn’t count them, but I’d say close to 500 at least.”

At what point do you know you’re finished with one? “It depends from track to track. Sometimes I’ll have an exact idea of what I want to do and then it’s easy to say: it’s done now. Sometimes I’ll listen to it over and over and over again and change stuff through out the week or test it at a gig, until I know exactly what’s missing or what needs to be changed.”

You’ve made no secret of the fact that this album is informed by your influences. Do you find it hard to oscillate between the two or is it a natural approach at this point? “At this point all those sounds are so ingrained in what I listen to and play that it´s become natural I guess. I don’t really set out with the idea of making a copy of a certain style or track. It changes from time to time as well, sometimes I’ll listen to a jazz record and get inspiration from a certain rhythm or chord progression.”

Sounds I’m hearing in there include … Two Right Wrongans / Solar Stone / Jam & Spoon … Are these right or wrong? Anyone else who deserves a mention? “Those are definitely influences of mine. Some other are CJ Bolland, The Black Dog, Leftfield, Source, etc… These are sounds I grew up with and even if it’s subconscious, they’re sounds that will keep influencing me whenever I make music.”

What is your ideal sunset music? “Chris Rea – On the Beach. It’s just a great song. The instrumentation on it is absolutely fantastic in my opinion and Chris Rea’s voice also just has something very relaxing somehow. Is that weird?”

Frankie Knuckles or Scooter? Or Juelz Santana? “Frankie Knuckles. Just because he’s an absolute legend, who made and played some of my favourite music and contributed so much to music in general.”

Your musical heaven… and hell? “Heaven – Good music, nice food and friends. Hell – A Bryan Adams concert.”

Locked Groove – Sunset Service is out now on Hotflush Recordings. Buy here. Remixes available here

Aidan Hanratty

Dublin ...