Col Lawton Interview & Exclusive Guest Mix
Col Lawton, DJ/Producer is a name many will have heard of, especially of late as his rise to being recognised as a leading force in the deeper house world gathers pace. Signed to labels like Moiss Music, Dutchie Music, Deep Site and of course my own UM Records have led to him recently signing with Naked Music, run of course by one of the men that inspired Col to get into house music in the first place, Miguel Migs.
Col and I both hail from the glorious North of England so his fears of me not being able to understand the accent were one less thing to contend with as we took time out to chat about his story and passions.
Ha Ha...yes two Northern lads when I heard you were a Northern lad I was so happy keeping the Northern spirit alive through music, connecting and having passion for deep house. Great first question you have got me thinking!!
So starting out in music will be very much the same as others but starting out producing has been different for me as I am into my 3rd year of producing so a very late starter to the producing game. Starting out producing however did start around 2009/10 with a friend of mine who was into producing I had never tried before but to be honest watching and trying to produce with my friend blew my mind it looked to complicated I felt like I didn’t know enough and therefore I was just a passenger in this producing process I have always had ideas in my head about music and the sound I like but just thought it’s too complicated to learn.....so I ran away from producing for the next 7/8 years, I even ran away from mixing and playing out live as I just thought the chance to do something in House music has passed me by now...I am 41 years old now...but don’t tell anyone!
2017 came and a good friend Gavin Wrightson asked me if I wanted to play at a unique gig in the North East called Hanger500 which was based in a Gliding Club Hanger which I loved the idea and thought why not let’s get back on the decks Gav was kind enough to give me a main stage slot and this reignited that House Music flame which I think we all have it never goes out really. Loved the gig, loved playing again, loved the feeling but came away thinking right if I am going to do this again I need to do this differently I need to produce as well as play.
Let the producing addiction begin!! Ha-ha so I bought myself a DAW and glued myself to a chair and set off on this journey of learning, self-teaching, watching videos how to produce making mistakes making massive mistakes like my first track was 12 minutes wrong got all the beat timings wrong ha-ha... but this is me I am very determined and I work really hard to succeed in everything I do after a few months I had a track. I still had some old ideas from my previous attempt at producing with my friend which came in handy for my first EP...now I needed someone to hear my track the worst bit will people like it, totally new emotions when it comes to music for me so I played my track but very sneaky in a mix I was doing at my good friends house Robbie Robinson he loved the track and couldn’t believe I had made it which was a lovely feeling.
So got a track ready I asked on social media about how to send a demo did some research and I thought the best chance I have getting this signed would be with a new fresh label I was a million miles away from being so confident I could send a track to a big label and get this signed I am a realist I just wanted to get started, I just wanted that nod from a label to say yeah this is good enough.
I found Luigi De Santis aka Just Gi online could see he was accepting demos for Overexposed Records asking for Deep House, my sound was Deep House so I sent off my track. Remember saying to my wife if this gets signed I will give this producing my everything if it doesn’t get signed it’s a nice little hobbie to have.
Luigi was brilliant he came back to me offered me sound advice on my sound and I got them golden works...’Welcome to the Overexposed Records Family’WOW....I have signed a track....the journey begins.
Mixture of influences to be honest, the sound of the music on the label, the label owner and connecting with the person, other producers on the label who I love and aspire to be like.
The labels sound is always the first influencer I produce my own kind of sound which I wasn’t sure people would get but seems they are I feel all the labels I am on really suit my sound and I have to say all the label owners are spot on very supportive I have been introduced to other labels by label owners so my path has been directed by good people in the music industry and I tend to look for ambition and passion in a label.
I have always had a golden list of labels in my pocket which drives me to get on UM Records being one on the list that is ticked now ha-ha UM Records a label I want to work with now for the rest of my producing days as I can see Richie the passion runs through you for house music which attracts me to your label. Also I love when labels are looking for up and coming talent it’s not about the big name producer it’s about producing something that is good enough I keep my producing simple and make my tracks as good as I can if it’s good enough for a label I embrace this, my producing comes from my feelings and emotions I make music I like and then find a label that will fit my sound.
Music has ran through my veins since I can remember but not always House Music far from it as a kid I grew up listening to Level 42 my dad was a big fan I remember hearing the synths and the base in this music and loving it. I had my sister who is older than me playing her music 80s pop on vinyl and tape....remember them! I was that kid on a Sunday taping the charts off the radio only the music I liked making a mix tape.
I really enjoyed brit pop such Blur I mean I still love Damon Albarn his producing with the Gorillas are awesome. Other influences such as the Jam, Nirvana, The Wonder Stuff, The Smiths, and Beautiful South could go on and on my music influences as a kid.
House Music happened for me in 2000 clubbing properly for the first time in Newcastle and discovering The Shindig nightclub.....what a place my mind was blown open watching DJs pay every Saturday night playing house music the likes of Defected nights and hearing deep sounds I had never heard before some of the best days of my life in my 20s and getting fully influenced by house music. Biggest influence has to be discovering Naked Music...soon as I heard this music I fell in love this is where I discovered Miguel Migs, Lisa Shaw, Blue Six, Atjazz and Aquanote this style of music is a heavy influencer in my music as I just feel house music is all about the feeling for me.
The North East has been on its own journey moving from the clubs like the Shindig when in its original home nice small venue to then switching to the big club I always like the small clubs always feels like a family when you’re out clubbing you know the same faces you dance in the same spot becomes a religious weekend of house music not sure if this still exists today.
Still plenty to see and do, the North East has a good music culture always bands playing pretty much always a club open you can find different genre nights finding Deep House nights can be difficult Rory Cochrane (Deepsite Recordings) runs a brilliant Deep House night in Tokyo club and we got a good number of nightclubs running good house nights.
Keeping house music alive me and Robbie Robinson we run a radio show every Thursday in the centre of Newcastle on Nova Radio North East our show is called Col & Rob House Music Matters now I love this show as we play all new house music as well as live guest DJs in the studio especially young and up and coming DJs who just can’t get there beak in the clubs we really do like to support new talent that includes playing any new produced music which we get sent in I like to use music to connect with people and our show has really taken off we have been running for just over a year and we love it.
Summer is always busy in the North East great festivals always plenty going on especially if the sun comes out to play it’s a great place to live.
Ok my style is very much a mix of Deep Rhodes and synths I just love deep sounds this is what I love about house music you can have a deep sound but you can blend all your other styles such as Jazz & Funk adding in some garage vocals I love playing around and finding what I can make work so as a main style I would class myself as a Deep House producer I have poked my toe into doing a bit more Tech House and Deep Tech which I do enjoy but to be honest when I am making a track I have to get a goose bump feeling from either the baseline or the melody as this then makes me committed to the sound and I will go on and complete this track.
Well I never thought I would say this but I see myself most as a producer now it’s going so well and I love producing but I do have to say producing in my eyes has now made me a better DJ as I understand more about mixing I feel my DJ skills have got so much better and I appreciate music more around mixing in the right key plying my sound and it’s a real buzz mixing your own music such a nice feeling especially when you’re playing out and you drop one of your tracks and people are dancing and enjoying themselves this just fills you with joy behind the decks.
I produce every day even if it’s just for 30 minutes I produce produce and produce as I just want to get better.
My back room....ha-ha...its true love playing care free this is where I try ideas play my own music experiment come up with ideas nothing better than your own space.
I always love playing in Newcastle great vibe great people we have a club called world Headquarters which has an amazing Void system in for sure one of my favourite places to play has the feel of a small enclosed night club where the music can’t escape.
I have been lucky enough to play up and down the UK yet to play abroad as yet any promoters reading give me a shout ha-ha... it’s never about the size of the club for me it’s about the people great memory recently was my invite to the Old School House Court Yard in Hull Davy Walls invited me along to play what a venue and such great people what was special someone asked me am I playing Harry's Beat one of my tracks and I was buzzing someone knew my music this made it a special night for me and a great place to play.
Unfortunately I am not that DJ who can quote all the super clubs as favourite places but who knows with time and more producing I will spread my wings a little more.
Yeah connect with people go to venues go to the music conferences such as Brighton Music Conference go to ADE attending as many things as you can as you need to be round the right people to help with your music.
For me I wish I had of started producing music much much earlier so again I have been asked this question a few times now and I was recently at the London Sound Academy giving a talk with the I Am The Music project explaining when I look back at myself I was that kid who could DJ and I was expecting a promoter to see me play and then boom I am famous.....wrong.....hard work and really learning about music would be my tip this is what I am doing and its working for me so far I am loving learning and I love sharing my journey so definitely get into producing, go connect with your music community and be respectful to all music.
As a producer - how do you find inspiration for new music?
My favourite thing to do is to just put beats and melodies together like a 32 beat idea I can do this for a month and have 10 new ideas to work on.
I listen to so much music the radio show I run helps me keep up with new promos so I am full of inspiration hearing new music all the time any track I really love I will study it listen to the sounds and think ok lets have some of that I can be inspired very quickly. Then I listen to stuff from the likes of Jack Garrett amazing person plays everything live full of emotion in the music I don’t stick to one genre of music I am influenced by so much.
I have noticed depending on my mood will determine my sound I have given up on sitting down and saying ok today I am going to make this as it doesn’t work I just let things flow and see what happens.
I do experiment with lots of different sounds using Loop cloud as well as my set up and I always have about 5 or 6 ideas running at once so I can jump from track to track giving myself a break to think of other ideas.
Honestly my set up is super easy for me and I need to keep it like this as I am learning all the time I tend to introduce something new when I am ready.
I use FL20 back when my friend was producing he was using Ableton and he terrified me as it looked so complicated so when it came to me setting up I needed something to try first before throwing money at my producing project...I found FL got the demo loved it and since then I have been learning how to use this introducing my MPK mini linking into Loop Cloud and using plug-in.
Funny story I love telling someone asked me my set up and I said FL20 and they called me a plastic producer...how rude!! Ha-ha so I sent a picture of my track at the time Harry's Beat number 5 in the Traxsource Deep House Chart saying not bad for a plastic producer funny he never replied!
My set up simple as I don’t have any music degrees I am self taught and very open and honest about how I am learning I am sure as my studio grows I will grow with more gadgets but sometimes less is more.
Never planned a track yet like I said I love making 32 beat beats and melodies and then I let the track grow from there to be honest adding in some nice little hooks chopping and taking bits out until I feel like I have a plan.
I always say this is the fun bit 32 beats of fun; the challenge is stretching it into a 6 minute plus track making sure there is enough flavour to keep you interested in the track.
I do like leaving a track for a little while half done and I will go and work on something else so by the time I get back round to the original track I tend to have new ideas or I wake up early one morning and I think yes I know what I am going to do with that track I do work best in the morning my head is always full of ideas.
Trippin was one of them tracks that just fell into place from the start, starts with the lovely vocal hum that flows through the track I love the build up from the start I was thinking if I was mixing this track lovely loop at the beginning and you can slowly drop this in so started with a simple beat and started to add the pads and the flowing background vocal. Now I love making music with vocals especially vocals that really connect with you, did some searching and finding the Trippin vocal was just a pure winner still remember dropping this on the track and just falling in love with the track straight away. There is just something about a trippy vocal that just connects with me I do hope when people listen or play or dance to Trippin they feel the emotion behind the track beautiful vocal but a stuttering beat. For sure one of my best tracks to date and super special to be my first release on UM Records.
Second track on the EP Looking For Love speaks for itself it’s a track that’s a journey building up with piano and drifting vocals speaking about looking for love something everyone is looking for. Making this track was also very easy solid beat solid baseline beautiful vocals I do like the synth hook which drifts in on the breakdown it’s like the person in the song is sending out a message looking for love through the synth just beautiful.
I find writing music with a meaning so much easier I do know producing music is definitely an extension of my feels and emotions so nice to be able to express them through sound amazing really.
Top tip learn your DAW, experiment, try different sounds, make a crap track and then strip it back and do it again, be different express yourself so many tips really the one I was given was be your own sound and fill them speakers love this advice and I have taken this on board for sure with my music.
I do see and hear of lots of producers speaking about all the gadgets and you should be using this and that I think just use what you are comfortable with know your limits learn the basics and slowly grow.
I find doing collaborations very helpful as well as this helps to learn from other producers talk to other producers share your ideas get feedback learn from negative feedback as well as you can’t be amazing all the time...
Don’t be scared to have a go.
Going to have to be a little greedy hear mind I have 2...sorry!
Track 1: Harry’s Beat (Moiss Music Black) this track has an .ovely back story but I just love my production on this track. Harry is my 6 year old son so last year he was 5 and he was sitting next to me when I was starting a new project he was playing with his mums phone and we put a music app on the phone so he could copy me like as in you press a beat a base a synth and you make a track. Harry is making all this little 4 instrument tracks next to me and I am like hmmmm that beat sounds nice let me have a listen....Beat in my ear I layed down the beat and Harry’s Beat was born I also love the breakdown in this track it builds up and when the track kicks back in its so nice also has a lovely hooky guitar makes me think of summer and sun. Super proud this track also got to number 5 on the Deep House Traxsource chart 44 in the overall chart the support for the track was amazing icing on the cake was getting a message from Miguel Migs who added the track to his top 20 chart...I was like woooooowwwww my hero Mr Migs knows who I am and knows my son now ha-ha.
Track 2: This is house music (True deep Music) this track I wrote is what it says this is what I believe to be my house music it has all my influences in this track has that naked music feel with lush pads and a deep rhythm saxophone stabs bongos everything I love, I do play this track a lot it just cheers me up when I play it, gives me the picture of just pure happiness and joy. I am listening to it right now answering this question ha-ha
I am a team player, so much so from the age 16 to 22 I was a professional footballer until injury changed that path I always work better in a team I have a tattoo on my arm which says ‘Together through Life’ starting this music journey I can only do what I do if I have the full support of my family which I am so lucky to have, the support and guidance from my good friends and then meeting Jamie Ryan and Nathan Maxwell the M24 Management Team.
I was approached last year from the boys they had recognised my drive and passion through socials and asked if I wanted to get involved in a new venture with them we met and I just love the drive and passion in these boys, biggest thing was their belief in me straight away I felt like I had a team around me I could bounce tracks to them with Nathans producing knowledge I will get honest feedback which helps me to grow. We have a plan that we follow working on finding the right labels and connecting with the right people it’s just really nice having people by your side helping with your music I mean I know nothing about contracts and the pit falls when getting booked for gigs and the boys deal with all of this leaving me to produce and do my thing.
We are now stepping into our 2nd year looking forward to seeing what comes next with the team for me knowing how hard the boys work behind the scenes this makes me work harder in the studio for them for my family for my friends as I see my music journey as a journey together.
Signing to UM Records for sure, signing to Nurvous Records getting a top 5 hit with Harry’s Beat, starting a radio show with my best mate and now starting my own label with good friend Wez Hall Deep Fix Recordings honestly so much has happened over the past 3 years been hard to keep up with the rollercoaster.
But picking the highlight I am not going to say played this gig to this many or met this DJ and we did this the highlight so far is the overwhelming support I get every day for what I am doing I mean my socials are crazy people send me videos of them playing my music in the car or on the beach one video a guy mixing my tracks with a droid flying over his head on a beach like a professional MTV video honestly crazy I buzz so much watching people enjoying my music. Support from my wife is amazing I get time to do what I love and I have managed to drag my friends around the UK for the past 3 years creating memories through music which I love beyond everything.
I have 100 % over achieved what I thought I was capable of doing with my music so giving myself a pat on the back feels very nice this interview has actually let me look back over the past 3 years which I haven’t done before and I have achieved a lot.....times does fly when you’re having fun.
Jon Lee – I Loved You Then – Our Favourite Mood – fan of Jon’s work he runs Tilted records releasing some amazing tracks I loved you then track is so good been dropping this in my sets plenty recently other producers who I love are B&S Concept, HUGEhands who I have now collaborated with, Miguel Migs as ever on Salted Music releasing class EP after EP, Scott Diaz who I met in Brighton last year what a great producer and person, The Journey Men who I have become good friends with their deep soulful vibes on No Fuss Records are top quality that would include Saison as well I mean I could go on and on so much good music.
One producer which I love is Lebedev RU he was so kind to ask me to remix ‘Susceptibility’ this year I couldn’t believe it was an honour to do the remix which he loved and has recently came out on Piston Recordings. Leedey has since did a remix for me which sounds brilliant and I have an EP with his new label Rhythm Section coming soon really nice when you become friends with producers you look up to one of the reasons why I love music so much.
Well I really enjoyed putting this mix together I was very greedy and I put a good number of my own tracks on this mix such as Harry’s Beat and This is house music because a love them tracks hopefully people will listen and find a really nice deep house journey full of bounce emotion vocals and hooks. You will find both tracks off Trippin EP really nice to drop these on a mix for the first time also dropped a couple of tracks from labels I am enjoying such as Batavia Records really nice Forteba track as well as Dom Scott’s So Solid track from our favourite mood label so plenty to enjoy and kick back to...my kind of Deep House shall we say.
I have plenty of new music coming out over the next 6 months from the likes of: Delve Deeper Recordings, Nurvous Records, Crooks & Villains, Turtle Wax Recordings, House Cookin Records, Piston Recordings and many more...
Got plenty more ideas coming out the studio at the minute been doing some collab work with Jedx as well as working with Sen-Sei who I know has been on UM in the past.
Excited to say I have been chatting with Miguel Migs and Salted Music my first EP with Salted is pretty much agreed and ready to be signed off so very excited about this the EP has Lebedev on remix duties.
As you know Richie working on a new EP for UM Records remix in the making as we speak so excited for this project to be revealed.
Deep Fix Recordings mine and Wez's label just kicked off in April so starting to settle in to what it is like running a label we have great artist signed so far so excited to see what comes of this new venture and like everyone else when this COVID19 pandemic is lifted looking forward to getting back behind the decks to play at some parties i am sure the world will be ready for a party by them as well.
Where can people follow you?
All the normal places please do come and say hello this is one thing I try to say I am very open I love it when people speak to me about music or producing I love to help people come and connect. Thank you so much Richie for having me for this interview this is my first interview I believe and it’s been fun.