You wouldn't think when speaking to Stuart Howard that you were currently in talks with one of the most exciting talents around in UK electronic music. Or, for that matter, that you were talking to the producer responsible for one of the earliest contenders for album of the year in Nostalchic. Take all this into consideration - and the fact that Howard is already an established name on the esteemed Brainfeeder label - and it would be easy to imagine Howard as a hubristic interviewee.

Perhaps the reason for his modesty and affable conversation manner is that here is an artist still in shock. Success has come quickly for Howard; 2011 saw his first tape release, Many Faces Out Of Focus released to lukewarm acclaim. Several remixes later though for the likes of Bonobo and Totally Extinct Enormous Dinosaurs - as well as a recognition of his obvious potential - saw Brainfeeder head honcho Flying Lotus come calling; and Howard's stock has been on the rise ever since.

The majority of listeners will have joined in circa 2012's When You're Gone and Some Other Time EPs - two releases where Howard not only expanded on his signature sound of warped, off-kilter beats - but took a crucial forward step in introducing guest vocalists. As Nostalchic's first single 'Guuurl' suggests, vocals have a big part to play on the new album, as does the familiar clicking percussion and claustrophobic waves of synth. As Howard will go on to reveal, this effect of a melting pot of sounds that he achieves throughout Nostalchic owes more to his wide ranging tastes rather than any desire to set a trend.

With Howard set to hit the road in support of Nostalchic, The 405 spoke to him to get the lowdown on his Lapalux live show, Mount Kimbie collaborations, and why he just can't listen to new music.

Your new album Nostalchic comes out this month. How do you think it differs from your previous EPs? Or is it just a natural continuation of your sound?

I think it does actually differ quite a bit - I've tried to experiment with a lot of different types of music; from R&B, hip-hop, and even to some dancier four-on-the-floor type stuff as well. I've tried to experiment with a wide range of different ideas and genre types and mash it all together in a kind of coherent way, so I would say it does differ quite a lot.

A lot of the tracks on the new album feature guest vocalists. Was that something that was important to you when you were starting to put together the album?

Yeah definitely. I sometimes hit a problem spot when I'm writing music by myself all the time and just sitting here by myself, so it's nice to have input from other people, and especially when you've got somebody to work with on vocals as well. It can give you a little burst of inspiration sometimes when you're sort of lacking it, sitting working on the same stuff over and over again- so it's nice to work with other people.

Do you think working with Brainfeeder has had much of an influence on the sound of Nostalchic?

Yes and no! I think probably the fact that I'm signed to Brainfeeder has an effect on the quality of my work; I'm always pushing to impress the likes of Flying Lotus and the other people that I work with at the label, but having said that I'm still learning and still experimenting with lots of different things so I guess it's just a continuation of learning and playing around with different ideas and developing my sound really.

Are you pleased overall with how the new album's turned out, or is there anything you would change?

Yeah definitely, I'm really pleased. After hearing it over and over again, you can sort of lose track of what's actually going on in the album, but if you actually step away from it (and I've had a little time to step away from it now) you can listen to it with fresh ears again. I'm still just as pleased as when I finished it, and that's a good sign I think.

'Without You' is a standout track from the album; it has a real melancholy to it. Is there a story behind that track, or was there any particular inspiration for the track?

I don't know. I was going through a weird mild depressive state when that track came about. I had some vocals from Kerry (Leatham) that I was gonna use for another track but I managed to cut it and work it into that song to make it a really sombre, deep vibes track. But yeah, there's a lot of feeling and depth in that track. It's one of my favourites.

Ideally, what would you want people to think of the new album?

I just hope that people actually sit down and listen to it a few times and pick up the little details instead of it being something that you stick on, forget about, and have it going on in the background. It's a stick on your headphones, actually think about what's going on sort of album, and I've always tried to have that when working on tracks. A lot of the songs seem to have sixty-odd tracks going on inside them, so every time you listen to it you're listening to a different piece, or a different little part of the song comes alive.

Were there any particular artists that had an influence on you when you were younger, and have your tastes changed a lot?

I used to listen to a lot of Aphex Twin, Prefuse 73, Autechre - a lot of left-field experimental stuff, as well as 90s hip-hop and generally all sorts of strange bits and pieces that I would come across when I was growing up. There isn't really one artist in particular I would point to, I'd probably say it was more like a range of different things that I've been exposed to as a kid. I think I tend to take in a bit of everything, and I think you can hear that in my music as well; voices flicker around from idea to idea, each song is different in its own respect - I think I've always liked mashing things together and making a collage of sounds, rather than sticking to any one genre or set of rules.

You've said before in interviews that if, for example, you start to listen to a lot of Aphex Twin, you would then start to subconsciously make music that sounds like Aphex Twin. With that in mind, was there anything in particular you were listening to when you were making this album?

No - and I made a conscious choice of not listening to anything and not having any outside influences from any other music at the time. Usually, when I'm writing music I'll stipulate that I'm not gonna listen to anything new that's coming out because it can actually sway what I'm making. I've always stuck to that as well, because I do tend to subconsciously take on board a lot of ideas from listening to new music, and I can sort of slip into making music that sounds like something else. I sort of have to avoid listening to new stuff, really.

The new album seems to include your full range of sounds - abrasive and noisy in parts, pretty and melodic in others. Which direction does the live show take?

It's kind of an amalgamation of all of it, really. It's pushed up tempo wise to make it a bit more dancefloor- driven, but it's a lot of remixing on the fly and adding bits and pieces of tracks from old EPs - just messing around with it really to make it all fit. It's wax and wane with the live show - I'll start with a heavy beat and then go into something a bit more textural, and then switch out of that and go into something else that's a bit more upbeat. It's a bit all over the place really, kind of like a weird ADHD child, I guess.

Some artists in your genre and indeed FlyLo himself, have started to play with a live band in their shows. Is that something you would consider?

Yeah, definitely. I'd definitely be up for doing something like that in the future when there's a bit more of a budget for things like that, and when a bit more time could be put into focusing on live shows. I think we're going to try and get some guest vocal spots on some of the tour dates as well, hopefully. I'd love to progress into making it into a live band type thing in the future.

You've said before that as far as your tastes in Dubstep go you lean towards artists along the lines of Mount Kimbie, James Blake etc. Would you ever consider collaborating with either of those artists?

Yes I'd love to. I know the Mount Kimbie guys, I've met them a few times now and they're really sound. But I'd really love to get involved with that sort of thing and collaborate with a few different people. I'm been working with a few other people recently as well for some new stuff that I'm putting together. At the moment I'm putting a few feelers out and getting involved with certain other producers, but those collaborations are definitely something I'd be up for.

Is the new stuff you're working on Lapalux stuff?

Yes, some of it is - some of its side project stuff. I've constantly got my head down working on new things. There has obviously been a lot of talk recently about the decline of physical media, (CDs, vinyl) especially with the recent news that HMV has gone into administration.

As an artist, do you feel any particular connection to CDs, tapes or vinyl, and can you understand the recent trend?

I know, it's a really sad state of affairs - I was actually really looking forward to seeing my CD in HMV, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen. It's a very sad thing. I still buy vinyl, just to have something physical to hold on to, I think that's still a good thing. But with the decline, there's always people that are going to be excited about buying vinyl just because they think it's some sort of limited edition - you'll still get people really wanting a copy of a new album on fresh vinyl. I'm sort of half way between buying stuff and downloading it though, so I can understand why people want digital copies of album as well - and I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing. I personally still like having some nice vinyl, tapes or CDs. I tend to collect quite a few vinyl.

Aside from the launch of the new album, what else would you like 2013 to hold for Lapalux?

Hopefully releasing a small EP as part of the side projects I'm working on after the album drops, probably around the summer. I think I'll mainly be touring and being busy with that really, throughout most of the year. Busy on the road!


Nostalchic is released on March 25th via Brainfeeder. For more information on Lapalux, head here.