Hearing Ian Eomac and Dara Smith’s latest mini album, Struggle and Emerge, it's clear that since they started producing together they’ve honed their craft in a way that signals simplification of their process and a clear focus on the final product.
With several EPs and long players on iconic imprints like R&S Records and Blueprint, Lakker's educated practice with sound and production, and the honesty they convey through their releases, proves why these labels call on them time and time again.
We linked up to have a chat with the Berlin-based pairing to discuss their mutual love for Justin Timberlake, refining and focussing their productions and how talent and persistence is imperative in this game.
It’s nearing a decade since you released your debut album. How, if at all, has your approach to producing changed since then?
Ian: It's become more refined and focused. We used to cram loads of ideas into a single track but now we try to have less ideas, but stronger ones.
Dara: Yeah, we’re a bit more focused but we still like a bit of chaos now and then as well. It’s an important balance. Too much of the wrong type of focus and things can also become stale.
Of course, less is usually more. Aside from refining your productions, how has the evolution of digital software and technology - in terms of production and self-promotion - effected your approach?
Ian: Technology always effects the approach to an extent. But the trick is to always focus on what it is you want as an artist and not let the technology dictate what you can or can't do. Technology is a tool, not an end in itself.
Dara: For me personally it’s just meant that my entire studio is now completely mobile. I started out with a fully hardware studio and live setup, playing midi files through synths and samplers and desk, and it had to be brought to gigs in my mother’s purple car. Now I love writing on the road and have written loads of Lakker and solo stuff in Airports, cars and on trains.
Do you think the culture of what it takes to be a successful DJ has shifted? That it’s more about who you know than the talent you possess?
Ian: In some regards it has changed. In some ways not. 'Who you know' has always helped people in all areas of the music industry. But talent - along with persistence - has always been the most important thing, and is the thing you must have to have any sort of longevity in this game. You don't get to the level of Jeff Mills just by who you know. But everything is heightened these days with the ubiquitous nature of hype and social media. You can definitely do quite well these days simply by having a strong media profile and hype.
Dara: Great DJs who play great records in the right order will always do well in the long term.
We couldn't agree more. Talking of great records, obviously techno is a big influence on your output, but Tundra showcased more diverse influences – drum n’ bass, jungle and even some choral elements. We’d love to know what music you were bred on…
Ian: Lots of things! Old school UK hardcore, jungle, techno, metal, classical music. We've always been fans of a wide variety of stuff.
Dara: Yeah loooaads of stuff. My magpie mind loves new types and forms of music. Growing up my Dad introduced me to rock and metal, and then I got into "Birmingham" techno and rave and IDM. I have a soft spot for Irish Traditional music and I also like folk, jazz, Hip Hop, and Grime.
Any guilty pleasures you want to let us in on?
Ian: There should be no guilt in genuine pleasure. Guilt is a waste of time. Though I did like Limp Bizkit once.
Dara: Leona Lewis. We are both proud Justin Timberlake fans.
Well you can’t go wrong with a bit of JT. We’d like to talk a bit about your label relationships, R&S have played a big part in your releases. What is it about them as a label that keeps you coming back?
Ian: They trust us and give us the freedom to make the music we want, which is amazing in such an esteemed label like that.
Dara: Yeah they’re open to anything.
As well as R&S, Blueprint have been an important imprint for you guys. How does it feel to be included in their 20th anniversary compilation?
Ian: It's an honour. We were always fans of James Ruskin, so to be part of the label and to have received such support from him over the years has been amazing.
Dara: Yeah to be honest I was a total UK techno fanatic when I was in college. I used to go and spend my lunch money buying UK and Birmingham techno records, so it’s pretty surreal to me. I still remember bringing home one of the first records of James [Ruskin] and being blown away by how heavy and uncompromising the sound and rhythms were. It was one of those moments that changed how you hear music for me, and now twenty years on the new material is still fresh and forward looking.
You don't get that with a lot of labels! And as well as being in the Blueprint compilation you released a mini-album Struggle & Emerge. But what is on the horizon for Lakker? Anything we can look forward to?
Ian: We are going to have a period of experimentation in the studio. Make some crazy sounds and see where we want to go next. Without any pressure to finish or release anything, just some creative freedom for ourselves. Other than that loads of live sets, DJ sets and the new Struggle & Emerge AV show.
You can buy Struggle and Emerge via Lakker's bandcamp.