This dark-winged DJ marches to the beat to her own drum machine, and in the process has created some truly original material. Having worked with the likes of Sia,Tricky and Fischerspooner while also recording with the two-piece band CREEP, she’s been just as prolific in the studio as she’s been on the dancefloor and on the road. Lauren Flax has been there and done that, but the music and the inspiration are ongoing.
Thotyssey: Lauren, hello! How are you doing?
Lauren Flax: I’m good! [I was in the] studio all day. Still not done!
What are you recording?
I’m spending the winter writing a bunch of dance records. Hunkering down!
Are you planning on releasing them collectively?
I have a 4 track EP coming out on Unknown to the Unknown in the spring, and another EP dropping on Hannah Holland’s label, Batty Bass. Those records are done, and I’m working on some follow-ups. I’m working on a collaboration with DJ Heather right now. Oh, and I have some music on Little Boots’ new record coming out very soon.
That’s a lot!
[photo: Phillip Leeds]
Do you go through ebb and flow periods of productivity, or are you just constantly producing music all the time?
Well, I think creativity comes in waves, for sure. So when it’s coming in, I’m definitely writing as much as possible. And when it slows down, I try to be sure to give myself space to replenish. I’ve learned that those breaks are just as important as the creative streaks. Life needs to lead you to inspiration.
That’s wise! What generally inspires you when you compose music? Like, older or newer music, or something visual or literary, etc.?
Recently, it’s been just gear that’s been inspiring me – having full control of sound outside of the box has been really freeing for me.
What’s your sickest gear now?
I love my Prophet 6, Roland TR-8 and TB-03. Also, something that doesn’t leave my studio is my Eventide Space pedal.
It must look like Star Wars up in there.
Ha! Well, not compared to some of my friends’ studios. But I am so so happy with what I have.
I see you’re from Detroit, which has always historically been a vital music town. Do you think that had anything to do with your own musicality?
Of course! Everything! Especially in the DJ world. DJing with precision is of the utmost importance. No “shoes in a dryer.” Being surrounded by the best house and techno from a very young age has definitely shaped my taste.
What else were you into musically, growing up?
Everything from alternative to trip-hop, shoegaze, industrial, and of course house and techno. I was really into jungle as well – then that obsession moved towards electro like Dopplereffekt, I-F and the like. I’ve definitely come full circle now in what I’m writing. A lot of Detroit influence is coming out.
When I see your look and hear some of your tracks over time, that darker, gothier, industrial influence really pops. Which I worship.
Yesss! Nnitzer Ebb, Front 242… love! Everything on Wax Trax.
So, where did you actually start mixing and DJing?
Detroit. I started in 1995 or 1996, still in high school.
And what ultimately brought you here?
Music. And a bigger city. I left Detroit for Chicago for a few years, but then decided to make the jump to the East Coast.
Tell me about the formation of your band CREEP.
My friend Lauren Dillard and I basically just started this project for fun. No boundaries, just wanting to create. We realized we worked really well together, and it quickly became our main focus.
I just watched the video for CREEP’s single “Days.” How hands on are you with making videos and the visual aspects of your product?
Our friend Warren Fischer [of Fischerspooner] did that video, and it was such an honor. Dillard pretty much handled all the other visuals, and actually designed our logo.
Is CREEP still active?
Not at the moment. We will make another record at some point, but we are both working on other things.
You’ve collaborated with some amazing people. You were Fischerspooner’s tour DJ for several years, and they’ve had great international success. What was that experience like?
It was so much fun! Casey and Warren are like family to me. We have a LOT of fun together. Maybe too much, haha!
And you’ve worked with Tricky, who’s a legend. And Sia provided vocals on one of your tracks! What do you remember about those collaborations?
Everything! With Sia, we recorded in my apartment in a loft in Bushwick in, I believe, 2007? She was in and out in 20 minutes, and wrote the lyrics on the ride over. As for Tricky, we worked long distance. we basically sent him a track, and he sent us the raw vocals and we worked it.
So, these days do you consider yourself part of Brooklyn queer nightlife, or any other scene, or are you kind of on the outside of all that?
I’m all of it and none of it.
Zen! You did spin the Very Brooklyn PAT Party in December, how did that go?
IT’S THE BEST PARTY ON THE PLANET.
Coming up for you, gig-wise: You’re spinning at Nowadays in BK on Thursday with two other legends, JD Samson and Will Automagic of The Carry Nation. I’m not familiar with that venue… have you been there?
Yeah! They recently opened the indoor venue part. The outdoor beer garden has been around for a couple of years. The club belongs to the Mr. Saturday Night guys, and its just perfect. Excellent sound, not too big, and their main focus is local talent. I really appreciate this spot.
And then the next night, you’re gonna be at Le Bain with JD again, plus Amber Valentine. That’s, like, the best venue in the city for a serious DJ these days, isn’t it?
It’s a great spot. I always enjoy playing there.
Did you catch any of the Grammys, by the way?
Kendrek Lamar smashed, and I am obsessed with Cardi B. I love both of them as people and as artists.
Yaz! Okay, here’s a final question: What advice would you give to a prospective DJ with their own very specific tastes, who wants to break into the scene?
Once you figure out what you love, stick to it. Be fearless, and just try to get any bookings you can. Practicing in front of people is far more effective than playing at home, so be sure to get out there. Don’t worry about being accepted – there will always be haters, but they won’t really bother you as long as you’re enjoying what you’re doing and staying true to your art.
Check Thotyssey’s calendar for Lauren Flax’s upcoming gigs. Follow Lauren on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, iTunes, Soundcloud and Resident Adviser.