Name: Felix Laband

Nationality: South African
Occupation: Producer
Current Release: Felix Laband's The Soft White Hand is out November 18th 2022 via Compost.

If you enjoyed this interview with Felix Laband and would like to stay up to date with his music, visit his official website. He is also on Instagram, Facebook, and Soundcloud.

When did you start writing/producing/playing music and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?

I started playing the guitar at around 12 years of age. I was really into punk music and wanted to start a band. My parents got me an electric guitar (on the condition that i
started with a classical guitar and went for classical lessons).

Having felt like an outsider most of my early years, playing music and especially
playing in a band was like family / love and passion .

When I listen to music, I see shapes, objects and colours. What happens in your body when you're listening and how does it influence your approach to creativity?

I think for me it's all about air … I'm flying, floating … or I'm raining.

It's about twilight or the moon or looking through the
 silhouettes of branches. Solitude and light eternal


How would you describe your development as an artist in terms of interests and challenges, searching for a personal voice, as well as breakthroughs?

I have been extremely lucky to have grown up in a household with academic parents who really appreciate art, culture and music.

Of course I rebelled against my father's tastes which, in terms of music, is purely classical music . NO other Music!! But subconsciously his music really effected
 and inspired me and certainly the older I have gotten the more I have truly started exploring the vast world of classical music.

My father is an author of colonial military history, specializing in South African conflicts. But he also lectured various other topics, most importantly
 the Second World War. At the age of about 26, whilst staying with them in Canada (they lived there for 12 years), I started reading about the second world war
 and my life took a turn for the better. I realized I loved history more than I could ever imagine and that I actually love to read. It's just important that you read what truly interests you.

This is where I feel I started to find my own voice
. The more I occupy my mind with important history that shaped the world we live in and the more I stepped away from the trivial world of DJing at some stupid party and thought
 rather of the deadly struggle on the Eastern front 1941 … or started learning all about the continent Africa where I live and all the conflicts post colonization … when I read Stalingrad by Antony Beevor or Gulag by Anne Applebaum or Albert Speer: His Battle with Truth
 by Gita Sereny, I found more depth in my creativity as an artist


Tell me a bit about your sense of identity and how it influences both your preferences as a listener and your creativity as an artist, please.

My identity has always been based in a punk aesthetic. Yet at the same time I consider myself interested and well versed in the classics, whether it be film, literature, art or music. I have a strong sense of being African and at the same time feel like an outsider in Africa.

Everything in my life is a juxtaposition of many interests and
 emotions. I consider myself very interested in social, political and geo political truths. I definitely follow the news but am very critical of the constant propaganda we currently live in. 
I feel social media has destroyed the human race yet I understand how it can help my career as an artist.

I don't hang out much with other music producers and I mostly despise the modern DJ
. I try to keep my life close to the street and try to always understand its undercurrent beat. I like to get high and try to fly above it all but I know its
 only an illusion. I try to focus on all that's beautiful and raw.

I hope that somehow I always manage to understand the zeitgeist.

What, would you say, are the key ideas behind your approach to music and art?

My music and my art are both based on collage. I like to source things that interest me and then cut them out or sample them and work on
 creating a bank of images or samples that somehow start telling new stories beyond their original intent.

I like to juxtapose themes that are both very serious and
at the same time frivolous and try and create this transcendent image or music that draws the listener or viewer into an almost innocent illusion. 
I like to make something inherently shocking seem beautiful. I like to try and tap into emotions that perhaps take one back to a childish innocense 
that feels very comforting yet leaves you also feeling uncertain.

How would you describe your views on topics like originality and innovation versus perfection and timelessness in music? Are you interested in a “music of the future” or “continuing a tradition”?

I'm not very into a music of the future as the one thing I love about music is that it shouldn't really need any explanation. You either feel it or you don't .

I do believe in originality but not in the sense of creating something new but rather in your sincerity and your willingness to expose yourself
 emotionally and intellectually. When you take a chance and have courage then you generally create something beautiful and timeless.

Over the course of your development, what have been your most important instruments and tools - and what are the most promising strategies for working with them?

unfortunately if I had to be completely honest I would have to say the computer.

There was a time when I had loads of external instruments
, such as really cool vintage synthesizers and some great effects units. But I ended up loosing most of this due to past addiction issues and I have been mostly 
just working in the box for some years now. Which has kept things pretty simple.

I have to always have a controller or two and the one constant instrument in my life
 has always been the guitar. It's the one instrument that I can actually play pretty well.

But essentially my greatest tools are the source material where I get my samples and ideas from … films, documentaries, field recordings, classical music, jazz and spoken word. I wouldn't exist without the things I sample to create my art. 

I look forward to getting some new equipment again and having some proper fun outside of the dreaded box.

Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please.

I roll out of bed (if I have slept?), then I smoke some shit and get back to work.

I used to work 5 days non stop without sleep for many years. T
these days I try have some semblance of a life as well. I'm finally on my own for now which has really been a great experience. I'm able to totally engross myself in all the things I love
, such as history documentaries, reading books, listening to Russian orthodox choirs.

I barely go out these days but life is good and I have a beautiful cat who is my lover and my best friend.

Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece, live performance or album that's particularly dear to you, please?

My process generally revolves around finding a loop that I feel I could listen to for 6 days on repeat and a loop that possibly challenges me
 in terms of a weird timing and a melodic space that is unusual to the general melody pool that most electronic music swims in.
I then start creating melodies and rhythms to take this loop on an interesting journey.

I think the album I most clearly did this successfully was 
Dark Days Exit in 2005.

Listening can be both a solitary and a communal activity. Likewise, creating music can be private or collaborative. Can you talk about your preferences in this regard and how these constellations influence creative results?

I definitely prefer making music in the solitary space. In fact I struggle to even work if I feel that somebody else can hear what I'm doing. 
I really struggle with collaboration.

There have been a handful of people that I have been able to successfully work with and
 these tend to be musicians who are masters of their instruments and whose playing I just love and trust. I definitely struggle to work with other producers


How do your work and your creativity relate to the world and what is the role of music in society?

I try to relate to the dispossessed and the venerable in this world.

I try to make music that talks about all our love and our failures
, music that speaks quietly to your heart but also makes you jive with abandon and with a conscious disregard for all the fashions and judgements that rule our contemporary existence


Art can be a way of dealing with the big topics in life: Life, loss, death, love, pain, and many more. In which way and on which occasions has music –
 both your own or that of others - contributed to your understanding of these questions?

There have been moments in my life when I have had to deal with the death of a really close friend. This can sometimes be the most difficult thing for me as I cant access my true emotions and just let go and cry and this has left me feeling like I have no soul. It is always listening to some special music that has finally opened my heart and allowed me to cry and grieve.

Music can touch your soul like nothing else


How do you see the connection between music and science and what can these two fields reveal about each other?

I see their relationship as a shortcut to their graves. What is it about music that is so magical?? I think it's the essence that you can't really explain? The way that it can sometimes be a voice from god.

Science is based on pure fact and reason. There is no questioning the result. It's a fact. Already the way electronic music has turned the process of creating music a follow by numbers affair - if you use this bass sound at this bpm with this effect plugin, you will sound just like DJ rocket robot. Eeverybody just sounds the same and all true emotion has disappeared with the rise of science in music production.

I hated studying science at school. It was compulsory. Imagine if we could have studied music??

Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you feel as though writing or performing a piece of music is inherently different from something
 like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?

Yes absolutely, creating something is a completely different process to making coffee. Different creative processes also require tapping into different energies. 
I find making music a place that I really struggle to activate easily, it requires both a mental Zen state and a physical energy.

This is the reason why I have struggled with
 drugs over the years as I have used drugs to try enter this special state. When you create music or art you are also creating something that you can leave behind and it has the power of changing peoples' lives if it is special enough.

Making music and art is not a trivial process for me. Essentially I'm trying to have a conversation with god that leaves behind a gift for humanity. 
When this process does result in something that you know is special, it's the most beautiful process that I know.

Music is vibration in the air, captured by our ear drums. From your perspective as a creator and listener, do you have an explanation how it able to transmit
such diverse and potentially deep messages?

Music is god's language. That's my only explanation really.