“[Bushwacka!] is one of the most immediate people I’ve ever met in my life,” states Layo Paskin of his partner in Layo and Bushwacka!. “That quality means he’s very of the moment, which is fantastic. When you’re talking about making music, it means there’s a real dynamic there.”
Matthew “Bushwacka!” Benjamin comes back with, “[Layo] is a very special person. Very cool, very sensible, very diplomatic. He helps me in a lot of areas. And he’s a really great balance.”
Coming from different, yet overlapping backgrounds, Layo was born to an architect and a writer. At the age of 16 he was throwing parties and by 1988 he had met Mr. C of the Shamen at the infamous Clink Street raves. The two began doing events together, later building The End club (designed by Layo’s father, opened in 1995), which to this day is one of the most musically progressive venues in the UK. Meanwhile, Bushwacka! (nickname given to him in his early years) is the son of a surgeon who by the age of 13 was playing drums and the piano as part of the London School Symphony Orchestra. Leaving that to work in a record shop, he joined the Rat Pack, a rave collective, and later started studying engineering. Working in Mr. C’s studio as a tea boy was where he met Layo.
The two’s debut album, Low Life, was released on End Recordings in 1999. A multi-faceted work, the album features a different mood on each track, from tech-house to straight house, to an ambient-y trip hop vibe, to drum ‘n’ bass, tribal rhythms and beyond. Its flagship tune, “Deep South,” developed a life of its own and, more than anything, defined the sound of the duo. Their latest release, Night Works sees them honing and perfecting their music. Using all the elements from Low Life, instead of having each track represent a different style, all those styles are present on every track. With the benchmark tune this time being “Love Story,” all of them have an elusive and changeable quality. Relying heavily on a powerfully rumbling bassline, the subtle movements of soft chords and the occasional vocal whisper are highly effective in the hypnotic mood of Layo and Bushwacka!.
“That’s evolved naturally,” Bushwacka! says of their clear sound. “The way it worked when we go in the studio, it wasn’t deliberate. Production-wise we’ve moved forward a lot. We’ve been doing better deejaying gigs for five hours at a time. It’s important we do that so we can fit our vibe throughout the whole night.”
“The first half of the album is quite dark then it lightens and opens up. It’s how you deejay. The first bit is really technical and you’re getting the crowd into your groove. Once you got them, you lighten up a bit and do what you want,” Layo explains the correlation between their deeyaing and their productions as well as his involvement in The End having its influence on their music. “I have the very lucky opportunity to hear people I wouldn’t normally get to hear, which straightaway turns you onto different kinds of music––the best thing for producing. You’re like a sponge, the more music you hear, you soak things up and it’s there, you don’t know it, but it’s there. Somewhere along the line it’s part of what you do next.”
Layo And Bushwacka!'s "Nightworks" is out September 10, 2002 on XL/Beggars Group.