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Introducing: Wayward

About halfway through our chat with Leeds-via-London production duo Wayward, the pair – when asked about an apparent increasing sense of soul in their music – tell us how they’re “just trying to make music that creates an atmosphere; that’s the over-arching theme rather than any influence of genre.” From the mellower, zen-like ‘Only Flaw‘ through to their most recent single, the Motown-tinged ‘Love Jones‘, old school friends Louis and Lawrence have forged an output that’s distinctly their own against a backdrop of 2013′s year of always polite, rarely exciting house and electronica.

In just a scattering of tracks currently available for streaming on their Soundcloud page, the twosome offer up an MO that’s as varied as it is enthralling. From the delicate dream-like mantra of ‘Marvin‘ through to more grounded, grittier reworkings of cuts from Joel Compass and John Newman, the only common thread running through the eclectic series of remixes and originals appears to be a sense of escapism brought to life in glorious sonic Technicolor; or atmosphere, if you will.

We caught up with the pair to find out a little more about what makes them tick, their ultimate tropical headphone jams and how Lawrence once attempted to gatecrash Louis’ house party.

But first, get your ears around this exclusive VIP remix of ‘Marvin’. It sees the duo debase the original’s more ethereal qualities, underpinning the track with heavier bass lines and scythe-sharp beats, but never disturbing its romantic heart:

PlanetNotion: First off, if you could just introduce yourselves and tell us a little about how the two of you first met.
Wayward: We are Louis and Lawrence and we make music together as Wayward. We were at school together from the age of 12 but only became good friends when we were 14 or 15. It’s taken us a while to work this out but the first time we met properly Lawrence was trying to gatecrash Louis’ house party.

PN: What was it that made you want to work with one another on a musical basis?
W: Our friendship has always been based around music. Years and years ago, we used to play in similar-sounding bands and would gig together. When we both moved up to Leeds for university we took with us a club night we had run with friends in London called Dilation. DJ’ing together and putting on these parties is primarily what inspired us to make music together although it was never really a calculated decision. We had a few late nights of sitting in front of the computer and we made ‘Only Flaw’ and the response from that encouraged us to keep working on more music.

PN: Aesop has a great reputation for breaking new acts. How did you first get involved with the label?
W: They just got in touch and it seemed like a great idea. They were really passionate about ‘Love Jones’ which was important to us. It’s no surprise that SOHN and Gent Mason have gone on to great things having initially released on Aesop because it’s a label that puts a lot into their artists.

PN: I couldn’t help but notice that you tag all of your original tracks on Soundcloud as “tropical”. What is it about your music that you feel exudes a tropical quality?
W: To be honest we’ve never really been sure what tropical music is [laughs]. We were looking for tags for our first track and that popped up. The reason we chose it is because we want to take people on a journey with our music and a tropical island sounded like a nice place to take a trip to.

PN: Picture the scene: you’re on a beach, laying in the sun somewhere tropical. What tracks have you each got playing out of your respective headphones?
Louis: Hooked – ‘Sir Own’ (Kon’s Nite Time Remix)

Lawrence: FKJ – ‘Instant Need’

PN: It feels as though ‘Love Jones’ is the most classically soul-influenced track you’ve released to date. Is that a direction you’re intending to follow more? As opposed to the more ethereal, elegiac sound of ‘Marvin’ and ‘Only Flaw’?
W: We’re just trying to make music – whether it be for the dancefloor or for listening in your bedroom – that creates an atmosphere. That’s the over-arching theme rather than any influence of genre. We love Motown and soul, but no more so than any other style of music that we listen to.

PN: Your recent remixes include some of the most soulful voices in British music (John Newman, Joel Compass) but if you could remix any soul classic and give it the Wayward flavour, what would it be and why?
W: It would have to be Bill Withers. He’s been a big inspiration for both of us and someone we’ve both grown up listening to. He’s got that rich soulful voice similar to Marvin Gaye’s. It’s annoying we’ve never managed to find any of his a cappellas online!

PN: You’ve been pretty active on the live circuit over 2013. Any particular standout moments for the two of you?
W: Playing at Annie Mac Presents was pretty special. We were playing first so the venue was still filling up but it was such an experience; playing on a big stage with a massive soundsystem. As well as that, we particularly enjoyed our shows in Nottingham, Newcastle and Brighton this autumn. Bestival was another highlight. Playing in the hidden disco, donned out in fur coats, to a busy outdoor arena was definitely one to remember!

PN: Early days I know, but what does 2014 hold for the two of you? Any plans already in place?
W: We love DJ’ing so we hope to do lots more shows. We would love to play a load of festivals and some places outside of the UK – that would be amazing. We’ve also got some new tracks that we’re probably more excited about than anything else we have released. Hopefully we’ll get to put these out in February of next year.

PN: Finally, if you each had to pick a quintessential 2013 record, what would it be?
Louis: SamphaDualIt was a record I found myself looking forward to listening to at the end of a day in the studio – which says a lot because usually I don’t feel like listening to music after a long day of writing. It’s got some epic chord progressions, interesting drums and sick vocal arrangements especially with his use of delay. It just sounds fresh and current unlike a lot of stuff at the moment. Young Turks always smash it.

Lawrence: James Blake – ‘Life Round Here‘. Definitely one my favourite tracks of the year. The synth line, drums and vocals are all sick. It gets the balance between being dark and happy perfectly. Seeing this live at Bestival was something else. Also, I’ve consistently been playing Bonobo‘s North Borders and Laura Mvula‘s Sing to the Moon. The recent Maribou State EP is sick too.

- Alex Cull

‘Love Jones’ is available from Dec 2 on Aesop. You can buy it digitally here, or on 12″ here.

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