INTERVIEW & ART:CAST #116 Len Lewis

Appreciated for music that Len Lewis himself qualfies as Sinister Techhouse, shortly SiTh, the Londoner started to dedicate his life entirely to music a couple of months ago, after he had taken a break for nearly 15 years from the scene. Coming back even stronger Len, meanwhile matured due to personal changes and made experiences as a (music) teacher, has released music on Drifted Records, Banoffee Pie’s Black Label series, Real Deal Records, Discobar or Druzhba after his return. However, the artist to the core loves to create and produce rather experimental music during his studio sessions too, with some even containing his own vocals. For the latest art:cast Len Lewis compiled a mix that consists of own music only with the beforementioned characterists putting the tracks smoothly together to create something unique and never heard before – maybe with a short hint to SiTh, or at least the darkness that is covered by the term. Anyway, Len’s approach to the art:cast series is not merely personal but in fact the most artistical way as he provides us with insights from what happens behind the closed studio doors when he is not working on music that is or has been released on the labels mentioned. Speaking of insights, we do not only get those from the mix but the artist also opens up in an rare interview with us speaking about the reasons why he left the House music scene at the end of the 90s, the result of him speaking in tongues, Sith-powers and much more.

Torture the Artist: Hello Len, tell us something about your day.

Len Lewis: Every day above ground is a good day, so today I am all yours and welcome you into my world.

The reason I left the House music scene was when felt I felt I wasn’t making tracks for the love of creativity and expression.

Torture the Artist: Apparently you took a little break from the electronic music scene in 2005 before coming back in full circle in 2020. What made you disappear for 15 years and what was the crucial point for your return?

Len Lewis: The reason I left theHouse music scene was when felt I felt I wasn’t making tracks for the love of creativity and expression. I remember being told, “Len add bongos, everyone is putting bongos in their tracks and without it, you won’t sell many records!” Also, I was told that my music was too complicated for people to understand. The turning point of my return was in 2019 when I uploaded messenger as had a barrage of messages asking if I was Len Lewis that used to make music. I was so humbled that I decided to get back into it.

Image 4

Torture the Artist: Your first releases date back to the 90s, basically to the second House/ Electronic music wave in Europe. What was the moment that made you fall in love with the music and when did you decide to fully dedicate yourself to it?

Len Lewis: My first release was in 1993 on the label ‘Jumpin & Pumpin’ under the name Life-force. It was a collaboration with DJ Danny G and Darius Keeler from the band (Archive). I started having private violin lessons from the age of 7, so I always knew my destiny was linked to music in some shape or form, consequently I didn’t really have a choice and was fated.

Torture the Artist: What would be the headline for the time of your career from 1998 to 2005?

Len Lewis: The headline of my career was when I was booked to play a party at midnight on New Year’s Eve 1999 in London. My mates had the ‘wiggle’ and ‘Heart and Soul’ sound system rigged up at the venue, long story but I got very lost walking around the streets then I heard the whole of London erupt in fireworks. At that point above me, someone was about to jump off a roof and commit suicide, my friends and I ended up spending an hour talking them out of it. This was the most important day of my whole career.

The pandemic made absolutely no difference to my creative output due to the fact that my music is already written.

Torture the Artist: Your first full EP that marked your return was Do Or Don’t on Real Deal Recordings, which was out around May 2020, and ever since you’ve provided your followers with lots of new music. Would you say that the pandemic and consequently the closure of nightlife venues have had little to no impact on your creative output and where do you draw your inspiration from these days?

Len Lewis: The EP that marked my return I would say was in fact the 2019 repress of ‘Liquid Acid” on Baldo from Subwax label Physical Education even though the Real Deal Recordings was the first EP with tracks that had not been released. The pandemic made absolutely no difference to my creative output due to the fact that my music is already written. I just have to get my body into the right vibration field to become an antenna/download box to pluck the parts out of the aether.

Image

Torture the Artist: Is Len Lewis only making a return as long as the 90s have a revival or are you here for the long run?

Len Lewis: I’m here till I leave this skin bag, maybe I will return in another skin bag and do it all again, or maybe once I’m gone that’s it. That’s why I like making tangible music (i.e vinyl).

Torture the Artist: The hashtag that always comes with your music is #sinistertechhouse, how did you come up with this description of your music, and what makes your music sinister in your opinion?

Len Lewis: The term Sinister Techhouse came about from a review in Mixmag of my track Paradice People, which was out on the label Poodle Chaos. This resonated hard with me as I am drawn to the minor scales and chords. The word sinister conjures up images of evil or dark, not nice images. To me, it is simply a word that best describes the feeling. If it makes the hairs on your body rise or gives you butterflies in your stomach, then to me there is a higher force at work that I can’t begin to understand.

Torture the Artist: Where does your fascination for the darker side come from and what’s a (horror) movie or series you’d love to produce the soundtrack for?

Len Lewis: Fascination is the wrong word; I prefer to use the word “calling”. I have tried many times to write happy love music, but it all sounds weak and unbelievable. I decided many years ago that there is no point in flogging a dead horse, rather use all my skills in whatever capacity to keep the horse alive …energy transference. I use the tools I’ve been dealt, movie soundtracks I would love to write for is any vampire series/movie, Matrix 5,6,7,8,9, Gangster … the list is endless.

I generally mess people’s heads up and they end up either with a headache or feel sick from my constant talking in tongues.

Torture the Artist: Following the question before, from your retrospection did you enjoy a time with less social media more because you could focus on music or do you think that it complements each other and can further your career, while in the nineties other factors determined whether you could become a successful artist or not?

Len Lewis: The reason I generally work on my own is that I generally mess people’s heads up and they end up either with a headache or feel sick from my constant talking in tongues.… Ok, let me explain my writing process –

  1. Go to see the old gods in the forest and give an offering of gratitude for what I am about to do.
  2. Meditate for an hour minimum.
  3. Reconnect to the desired vibration grid pattern.
  4. Long shower then straight to studio clothed or naked.
  5. Sit at the computer and wait to see what happens…

… the thought of someone at this point telling me to add bongos or asking me “What did you watch on TV last night?” makes my Sith blood boil.

Torture the Artist: Also, there are no or very few Len Lewis remixes out there do you find it more challenging or satisfying working on your own material rather than giving an existing track your note or why aren’t there any more remixes from you?

Len Lewis: Personally, I love doing a remix as I have less pressure, more freedom, new ideas. It’s fun and it’s so humbling to be asked in the first place. I think the reason there are not many Len Lewis remixes is that I don’t seem to get asked.

Only the individual can truly know what makes them feel good.

Torture the Artist: What’s a synthesizer/instrument/ technique that always does the trick once you are creatively stuck?

Len Lewis: When I’m creatively stuck there is no instrument /synth /or technique that can help. When a block happens you just have to ride it out. I truly believe the key is to remove a blockage from your life. Once you realign your happiness, energy flow can resume, and writer’s block disappears. I had a block for 10 years! For 10 years I wrote absolutely nothing. Only the individual can truly know what makes them feel good, healthy, radiant, and connected, unless the individual does what he needs to do to stay in this state then you will be unable to create or manifest and you will end up a slave to yourself, feeding yourself self-doubt, loathing, hate, conformity, and paranoia.

Image 3

Torture the Artist: You are responsible for the current art:cast (mix for Torture the Artist), what’s your approach to it, and where and when is it best played out?

Len Lewis: When I heard the mix doesn’t have to be genre-specific, it was music to my ears. I decided to showcase on this platform music other than House that I love to write. The tracks on the mix are all work in progress but I bit the bullet and thought what the hell put it out there and see what happens or keep them hidden away deep in the depths of the computer for no one to ever hear.

Torture the Artist: What’s a power of the Sith you’d love to have and what would you do if you had it?

Len Lewis: My Sith power would be the art of Sith sorcery if I had it I would control every being’s mind, turn them into my slaves doing my bidding without question, and declare myself Emperor of all time. <smiles and winks> Thanks so much for letting me show you my true mind.

Words by Holger Breuer

Pictures by Len Lewis