Lake Turner Soundtracks New Beginnings with a Stirring Mix
Andrew Halford is entering a new chapter of his life. The London-based musician, DJ, and producer who’s better known Lake Turner, just bid farewell to his childhood home — a countryside farm up in Worcestershire — where much of the artist’s musical inspiration first came into full view. It was there, during lockdown, that he wrote his debut album, Videosphere, which drops on October 23rd via Kompakt Records. The lush and nostalgic nine-track LP marks another, less melancholic turn for Halford and his career — one that brings a remarkable and full-bodied work of an artist on the rise into the forefront.
Getting his start playing in UK post-punk bands Great Eskimo Hoax and Trophy Wife, Halford’s desire to explore electronic music and spend more time producing music of his own landed him in studios with the likes of Underworld‘s Karl Hyde, Ewan Pearson, and his close personal friend and collaborator Yannis Philippakis from the band Foals. After landing a gig composing music for BBC natural history documentaries alongside Philippakis, in 2016, the Foals frontman sent Halford’s first Lake Turner single “Beacon Fields” over to Kompakt Records, which subsequently added the track to their Total 16 compilation.
The success of the single — in addition to a wildly popular remix of the Foals track “Albatross” — set Halford on a new and refreshed musical trajectory that has only just begun to show its potential. Returning to the Cologne-based label for his breakthrough debut album, Videosphere is packed with “ambient-disco-techno-dreams” that seem to stop time and reflect on feelings of heartache and euphoria.
We caught up with Halford to learn more about his entry into the electronic sphere, his love of history, and how the ceremonial concept behind his new LP pairs with its illuminating sound. To round things off, he’s provided us with an exclusive mix filled with his favorite Kompakt tunes that plays as a beautiful soundtrack for any new beginnings.
Bring us back to one of your earliest and most fond musical memories on a dance floor. When was it that you knew you wanted to become a musician?
I remember catching the national express with some mates down from Birmingham to London to go to fabric for the first time. It was a midweek event. Riton and Simian Mobile Disco were playing. I’d never heard music sound so good before on a sound system. It had such a profound effect on your whole body, and it changed my perception of music forever. That feeling of sharing the dance floor with friends and strangers — the oneness and togetherness is a primal feeling, it’s something I’ve been drawn to and wanted to be apart of ever since. Admittedly, the 7 AM bus back to Brum was less fun.
You previously played in two post-punk and indie groups, Great Eskimo Hoax and Trophy Wife, before focusing on your solo career as a DJ and producer. What is it that sparked this creative transition?
While I was playing in those bands, I was involved in the production of the recordings along the way, and slowly, my hunger for producing increased. As they evolved, both bands gradually expanded their sound palette with electronic sounds, so the transition came naturally, I guess. When you’ve been in bands for years, I think many people are keen to go off to do their own thing. It’s harder to fall out with yourself, allegedly.
Back at University, you were a student of both archaeology and ancient history. Where did you go to school, and what were your ambitions when deciding to go into that field? Would you say your passion for history has altered or influenced your musical endeavors?
I went to study history at the University of Birmingham partly because it was wasn’t too far away from my mates in my hometown, and we could continue the band. I was also somewhat convinced I could become the next Howard Carter. Back in the real world, it was a fallback plan. If music didn’t work out, I could perhaps become a history teacher, or at least it would help me flee the nest and get some sort of job.
History helped me understand how important lineage is within music — knowing and understanding why and what came before puts a more assertive trajectory on art and music as we advance.
Tell us about your relationship with Yannis Philippakis from Foals. How has that friendship and collaborative spirit between you two shaped your work?
I might be wrong, but I always felt like where I’m from — the midlands — there is a lack of self-belief and general acceptance as underdogs. Befriending and touring with Yannis helped shake off that mentality. He’s a motivator and one of the first people to get behind my music and believe in it. Working with him in the studio, he has this idea or vision that anything’s possible: Some crusty old loop, chords with loads of mistakes, or a clipped beat can often be the seed that’ll blossom into something special. There’s an alchemy at play, and it begins in the mind. You can usually turn trite into gold through your sheer belief in it.
How did you first get linked up with Kompakt?
It was initially Yannis who liked a track enough to send on to Kompakt, which they then put on one of their Kompakt Total compilations. It’s an institution I’ve always been a big fan of, and I’m super proud to be a part of it.
Tell us about your new debut album, Videosphere. What’s the story behind the album’s title, and what was your vision behind creating the LP?
The title Videosphere is taken from the name of an object I stumbled across in the Geffrye Museum in London: a television set in the shape of a spaceman’s helmet, which I believe were popular in the ’70s (after the moon landings). When you read about that time and what humanity was experiencing — oneness, one planet, humanity prevailing — these were some of the themes I was trying to get across some of those feelings on this record. The vision I loosely had was to make an electronic record that had a communal warmth and almost ceremonial or ritual feel.
You split your time between London and your family farm in Worcestershire while creating the album. Did these differing atmospheres influence your production process and the overall sound and emotion of the LP?
I’ve always enjoyed the extreme of both worlds — immersing yourself in the city’s daily grind and then stepping out of it to find nature. In some instances, I think with tracks like “Honeycomb“, the intensity and pace of it comes from being in the city and writing music on hackney road where I’m often competing with the traffic noise. In comparison, tracks like “The Sunbird” float along quite softly, which may be subconsciously like this as it was conjured up in the sticks and made in a more calm environment. The track “Videosphere” was musically forged on the farm, but lyrically it’s all about living in the city, so there’s often an instance of where the two worlds collide. I ended up being locked down on the farm to finish the record using some monitor speakers that had been previously thrown out by someone on the street in London.
Tell us about the mix you made for us.
Now that my parents have just sold our farm, it feels like this liminal phase of life has come to an end, and a new chapter is beginning. I made the mix for the drive back to London, and for that moment of never to return. The mix includes a comb through some of his favorites from Kompakt’s back catalogue, along with a new remix.