The difference, you might think, between nostalgia and progression can be a polar one, the balance between the two at best tenuous. This is an especially prevalent issue in the world of music. You'd be hard pressed to find a review of a record that doesn't reference at least one musical contemporary or a predecessor that has done something in that particular way before. The modern artist faces a dilemma - stay too close their musical roots and the press brand them unoriginal, experiment too much and they have betrayed their roots. To find harmony between the two is one of the most important challenges facing a new artist, and the means in which it is found is the real test of originality.

Stuart Howard, aka Lapalux, is one of these innovators. Sampling everything from himself on the toilet to domestic arguments, he then sends it through all manner of analogue abuse, each resulting track delicately crafted from warped little nuggets of nostalgia. His self-professed love for all things rose-tinted is so explicit that even the title of 2013 debut, Nostalchic, was a statement of intent in itself. What makes Lapalux so undeniably intriguing, however, is that his music is truly original. While nostalgia may be the order of the day, the way in which it's served is what makes it so palatable. With no regard for genre stereotypes and no time for people who say what music should and should not be, Lapalux's work is instead a demonstration of musical possibility; eclectic, skittish, seedy and otherwise gloriously undefinable.

This year brings the follow-up to Nostalchic. We spoke to the man behind the madness one sunny March afternoon in Kennington to find out if the making of Lustmore spawned an album as beguiling as its predecessor. While it's only been two years, the period following a critically acclaimed debut can shift an artist's perception when it comes to album number two, especially with the pressure of matching earlier success. An issue Lapalux recognises: "Some people tend to drop off after they have made their debut - the second is often kinda sluggish and kinda slow, but I wanted to make every song an actual song rather than it just be a mix of ideas." Avoiding this trap meant going back to the drawing board with the desire to out-do what he had done before: "I approached it as a perfectionist, constantly changing the tracks. Some of the tracks on there actually took about five months to complete; it was an arduous task but I loved it."




Throughout his career, Lapalux has made a habit of pushing electronic music in psychedelic directions. Lustmore takes this a step further. "The whole concept of the album is this idea of hypnagogia; the state between waking and sleeping, conscious and unconscious - that sort of limbo between the two." And while psychedelic inspiration can often be found in illicit substances, for Howard it was something a little softer. This, as with nearly everything Lapalux uses, was found in nostalgia. Silver-screen classics like Bladerunner and 2001: A Space Odyssey formed the visual foundations for each track. "I approached it looking into ideas within films, the actual film music scores and original soundtracks and messed around with the motif themes and arrangements. I used that technique in every single song really, constantly modifying with that sort of thematic idea."

Indeed, this visual element to Lapalux's music is an important one. It is so eclectic and has so much going on that it feels almost physically tangible. "There's a massive crossover for me between the visual world and the music world," Stuart explains, "with all the textures I use, it's like a blend of colours on the palette, like a painting, and that's how I approach music. I kind of visualize how something sounds; have a real image in my head." This is often thanks to field recordings, a tactic that characterised Nostalchic, and now Lustmore. "It's like a meditation to go out with a portable recorder. You're out of the studio element and all you have is the organic, live sounds. It's like a photographer going out and taking snaps of whatever for no real purpose." However, Lustmore saw him delve into his archives more than heading out into the wilderness: "Lustmore is more mixing and matching pieces I already had than going out of my way to record new stuff." But what's the weirdest thing he has ever recorded? "I've recorded myself going to the toilet and stuff like that, there's some great sounds you can get from it! I saw this thing online the other day where this guy had made a whole EDM track out of the sound of his dick slapping against the toilet seat! Made the drum sound and everything! So maybe I'll try and do something like that for the next record." Maybe that's one idea we hope doesn't get too visual.

As previously mentioned, it is the nostalgic presentation of these different elements that makes Lapalux's music his own. Nostalgia is rife in music in general, but why does Howard put so much weight into it? "I just get sick of hearing stuff that's so overly well produced. There is this whole culture, especially now because you can do it all in your bedroom, of making similar sort of sounding stuff," he explains. "I like things being off. I like things sounding like it's not supposed to work. It's like I like polishing a turd rather than getting something perfect and staying with it you know?!" The line between his music and faeces is a hard one to draw, but how he achieves these supposedly- 'shiny shit' sounds is quite an art. "I've always been interested in different recording techniques," he explains with clear enthusiasm, "Using microphones in weird ways, using tape saturation, tape machines, using stuff that's not supposed to be done that way. Like with a guitar I might use a bow on it, or like hang metal sheets and smash them."




These techniques also help to give a spacial dimension to the resulting sound. Howard gets noticeably excited on the subject - he is a tech geek at heart: "There's a lot of room simulation that I'm into, mainly impulse responses of different rooms. I'd record the impulse responses myself to make it sound like it's in my bedroom, a hotel room or whatever. If you splash them on the drums as a sort of reverb impulse response frequency, it gives this kind of roomy, boxy feel to the sound. Especially on the track 'Closure' with Szjerdene and 'Puzzle' with Andreya Triana, it kind of made it sound like a live recording but it's got all the inaccuracies and the tape hiss in their as well".

You get the sense that it is this constant experimentation that keeps Lapalux motivated. By not sticking to the rules of any particular genre, Howard is essentially enjoying complete sonic freedom. "I just try and do my own thing, whatever feels right for me. I'm not going to be contrived and sit here and make Grime or something like that because that's just not me. I think I found my sound a long while ago and I have just been perfecting that really." This freedom is helped by a relative disinterest in current trends in electronic music. By not caring about what other people are doing, he can focus on his own sound. "I have always approached music doing my own thing. I don't really listen to a lot of new music; I'm not really up to date as to what is going on."

With a style of music that can't really be categorised and often doesn't obey any traditional beat structures, many wouldn't describe Lapalux as 'dance music'. This means that, there is no set way of dancing either. "Some people just lose their shit completely, and it's really cool when that happens. But some places you go and people are just like, 'What the fuck is this?!' Because I like to switch up the tempo, I like to play chill shit and then insane shit and walls of sound and effects, some people just get lost and can't get back. But most of the time it goes really well." In terms of upcoming shows, there is an album launch party in London on 3rd April and a support slot for label-boss Flying Lotus at his Brixton show in May. Festivals are planned, although which ones still remain a secret.

While the live setting is undeniably important to any artist, Lapalux's music is more of an introspective, personal affair for the listener. There is so much going on that, like any good book, repeated readings reveal new secrets that transform the whole. The complex, eclectic nature of his work means it never gets tiring. There is always more to be discovered, a fact recognised by both the creator and listener, making Lapalux one of the most innovative producers around today.

Lustmore is out on April 6th via Brainfeeder.