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Spotlight: Leah Floyeurs
Hey all! We hope you’re enjoying your summer wherever you are. Here are the latest updates from us.
Sova Lab pres Tony Andrews is now archived and available to watch on demand on our website:
We will be premiering “Sonic reception and perception: what is immersive sound?” With Dave Haydon
In this edition of Sova Labs, we will be exploring spatial perception, psychoacoustics and their effect in our perception of immersive sound, with spatial audio pioneer Dave Haydon, the director and co-owner of OutBoard TiMax – spatial audio specialists.
Developed for Ravensbourne University, hosted by Sova Audio and presented by ecomusicologist and conceptual artist Ben Kelly (Aboutface). Recorded on 7/06/2021
Supported by Arts Council England
The event is free, please sign up to get the streaming link:
By Oscar Allan
When Leah Floyeurs landed in London she was a budding newspaper journalist and rad heavy metal fan who’d never even heard of Kraftwerk. More than 25 years later she’s still in the English capital, except now she’s a renowned presence on the European techno circuit with a lethal stack of records (see her Studio Sova set below for evidence) and a passionate interest in ancient Greek Hellenistic astrology. So what happened? We sat down with her to find out.
Leah (then known as Susan) came to the UK from Australia at the age of 23 for a year-long holiday, but that trajectory changed with her first exposure to a London dancefloor. “When I came over here I had the intention of continuing my journalism,” she tells me, “but in that first year I also got a job at HMV records and I met a woman there, Theresa, who introduced me to electronic music. She took me to my first club at the end of 1993 which was Lost.” That thumping little corner of Brixton - the kind of space of which sadly so few remain - had an irreversible effect on Leah, and not long after her first trip she threw her return plane ticket in the bin.
More than enough words have been written about the halcyon days of early 90s club culture, but sometimes it takes a first-hand account to hammer home the novel and truly transcendental power of that era. “I know that there’s a lot of reminiscing generally,” Leah tells me, “but what we were tapping into at that time felt almost like a portal. It was a new consciousness, a new way of being in society. It was like something was happening there that has happened all through history and we were at a point of this new entry of electronic music.”
Was it the sense of community that made it so special, I asked. “It was the speed with which it happened as well,” Leah replies. “It was an explosion. And yes it was that communal aspect, of course, but there were so many things that were being born out of that space at that time. It was held in everybody’s dreams and hopes and wishes. Everyone’s positivity and hopes for a better future were just crammed into these spaces with this music.” As dancefloors gingerly re-open her words feel all the more poignant.
For Leah just listening wasn’t enough though, and the next step was obvious: get herself in the booth. “There was a friend of mine who had some decks and some records and I decided I had to teach myself how to mix. So I quit my job and spent literally a month playing records for hours and hours every day until I got it.” The intense training paid off and soon enough she was playing out, with her high-octane, Detroit-influenced style soon earning her a residency at Freerotation Festival and London’s 50arc. Since then she’s continued her ascent and she’s now a regular fixture at clubs and festivals around Europe, with Dimensions Festival in her sights this September.
Leah is now looking to incorporate more than just DJing into the Leah Floyeurs moniker (an anagram of ‘heal yourself’ which she adopted in the early 00s). Over the last decade or so she has become increasingly interested in ancient Greek Hellenistic astrology and in 2019 she began studying it formally. She sees it as intrinsically linked to all aspects of her life, including her musical exploits: “It’s a holistic thing. Astrology is basically the source of all philosophy, all maths, all geometry, all cosmology - everything comes from it. And I’m not talking about the interpretations necessarily, I’m talking about the fact that everything comes from the sky as far as the development of the consciousness of the human species goes. So music is totally linked to astrology. Of course you have The Music of The Spheres and stuff like that, going right back to ancient Greece, if not before, so it is all very much connected.”
The Music of The Spheres is a concept explored by Plato and other ancient Greek philosophers that attributed musical tones to the planets in our solar system based on their orbits and the proportional relationship between the length of a vibrating string and the note produced. This idea of a less material, more etheric approach to music fits nicely with Leah, who was a skilled pianist from a young age but found the route of classical training and grades restrictive and unsuited to her talents. “I’ve been playing piano since I was about five,” she tells me. “I’d just play as I hear, always learning by ear. So I think it was a natural progression for me to end up going down a route that took me to astrology. Because I’ve always been in this otherworldly realm, there’s always been more than just the physical existence for me, that’s a no-brainer.”
Reconciling the disparate energies of astrology and techno might seem like a tough ask on paper. After a chat with Leah Floyeurs though it doesn’t just make sense, it feels like a necessity.
Five albums worth sharing by Leah Floyeurs:
SHED - SHEDDING THE PAST
I discovered Shed when I was turning a huge corner in my life. I had spent several years becoming increasingly disillusioned with the relentless 2-bar loops and sample-heavy techno of the early 2000s, and had given up playing records. Then I heard a mix by Marcel Dettman on RA, and immediately bought a copy of Ben Klock’s Napoleon Hill. In October 2009, I visited Berlin, experienced Berghain and ended up rummaging through Hardwax. It was the title “Shedding The Past” that caught my eye. This album encapsulates everything I love about electronic music – delicateness, precision, melancholy and perseverance.
BNJMN – BLACK SQUARE
I found this masterpiece in March 2016, thanks to fellow DJ Sabine Hoffman, who worked at OYE Records in Berlin. Every track is sublime. BNJMN is one of my favourite producers and his musicianship is exceptional. His music brings light and joy from the darkest places. I can’t describe it any other way. I think I have almost everything he’s made, so this album has a lot to answer for!
ROD MODELL - CAPTAGON
Yes, I believe Basic Channel was the best thing that ever happened to electronic music, and if a track sounds like Deepchord, it probably is. I’ve played this album the most through lockdown. It has really helped to maintain an active state that is not an anxious one. The wizardy that is required to produce such frenetically fast, yet meditative music is otherworldly to me. Rod Modell is a genius.
STEVE RACHMAD – NEO CLASSICA
Listening to Steve Rachmad’s/Sterac’s productions is like sitting in a kaleidoscope. The purity and delicacy of his compositions is non-comparable, and, just like Basic Channel, he owns a sonic signature that underpins the essence of classic(al) electronic music. The consistency and dedication to his art is extraordinary - from 1995’s gamechanger “Secret Life Of Machines” to “Aeras” released a quarter-century later. This triple-pack is one of my treasures.
FEVER RAY – FEVER RAY
I bought this album as soon as it was released 11 years ago and it has become my favourite album in my collection. For me it epitomises the ongoing transformation and revealing of the feminine archetype. The affronting power of Karen’s Dreijer’s voice seems to carry an ancestral lineage of inherent feminine wisdom. Her voice is archaic, commanding and utterly mesmerising, the production is superb and I could not tell you my favourite songs.