In a scene where repetition rules not just the loops in a beat, but the similarity in the acts as well, it’s easy for everyone to lay claim to breaking the mould. Dance producer/DJ James Connolly, aka L-Vis 1990, is just the kind of act to do that, but here’s the key difference between him and other braggadocious acts – L-Vis 1990 does subvert genre conventions. A listen to the releases from the Night Slugs label (of which he is a co-founder) and his eponymous 2008 EP would make you struggle to come up with genre names and adjectives to describe the music.
While he had been making music since his teen years, James’ career truly began with the track portentously titled ‘Change the Game’, which got the attention of super house producer Alex Sushon (aka Bok Bok). This spurred a relationship between the two of them that led to the birth of the Night Slugs parties, a reaction to their displeasure of the music scene in London. As Alex said it, the music was “sh*t and we weren’t feeling it.” The night’s growth (which eventually led to it becoming a label) and James’ production skills grew side by side as by the time it reached critical mass, L-Vis 1990 became an established name within the dance scene.
Releasing remixes after remixes of acts like Diplo, Riton & Primary 1, Gucci Vump, and Laidback Luke, the two eventually dropped The Night Slugs EP, familiarising the world with James’ proclivity towards working against set formulas. As L-Vis 1990, he has continued the tradition he started with Alex as Night Slugs. This is most true in debut Neon Dreams.
Citing Basement Jaxx, Daft Punks, and Chemical Brothers as his musical precursors, James says “their albums transcended time and any musical fads, but most of all they took you on a journey.” Likewise James’ Neon Dreams is the culmination of 15 years’ worth of musical influences and his personal life as channelled through the vocals of Javeon McCarthy and Samantha Lim. “Creating Neon Dreams for me was about recapturing these elements that made me fall in love with dance music all those years ago.”
His collaboration with the former on single ‘Forever You’ is definitive in establishing the atmosphere of the rest of the LP, sophisticated and dirty dancefloor music with real emotional complexity. This is reflective of house music’s formative years where there was an expressive openness to the beats as opposed to just the repetition it later became.
The idea for Neon Dreams was conceived after James had an epiphany in which he was inspired to produce a ‘futuristic Chicago house record’. Outdoing what was already an ambitious concept, the album goes beyond that – morbid and muck ‘The Beach’ exists along with summery jam ‘One More Day’ while Franco-flourished ‘Lost in Love’ effortlessly sounds reverberative with the narrative of ‘Play It Cool’. Even with a concept to guide him, James’ ethos of eschewing the traditional takes over, Neon Dreams is creative club music that is unbridled in its artistic expression yet just as rich to the ears of listeners.
Get L-Vis 1990’s Neon Dreams on iTunes and Juno, find info from www.l-vis1990.com.