S Ruston and Voicedrone take control of IA MIX 318, serving up a warm up mix for the paced-up techno and breakbeat heads out there. The mix features a back-to-back set recorded at FOLD in London, from when FOLD hosted UVB and December back in September.
Raised in Bristol to the sounds of Drum & Bass and Jungle, Sophie Ruston first dabbled in DJing at the age of 19, when she got her first pair of turntables, soon quenching her thirst for uptempo action and ungendered partying through the organisation of free-from-prejudice events, with the Lecken crew especially. Now Sophie is based in Berlin, whipping up a frenzy as a resident of Salon Zur Wilden Renate.
Behind the mask of Voicedrone hides none other than FOLD’s main artisan and true analogue warrior Lasha Jorjoliani, a hard-working jack of all trades born in Georgia and based out of London, who’s brought his unmatched knowledge and versatility to make FOLD the bastion for underground electronics and open-minded raving the UK capital was craving for. Operating their floor magic jointly, Sophie and Lasha channel energies and fluids towards proper mind-bending, euphoric heights.
Interview by Tom Durston
"We message each other about tunes a lot, we defo know what each other will like. You could almost liken us to kids sharing our favourite toys - I'm the small annoying one!" - S Ruston
Hi Sophie and Lasha, big thanks for providing this recording from your back-to-back session at FOLD on Saturday 14 September – please tell us about how the two of you work together behind the decks and how you went about building this set?
Lasha: Hey, we never prepare anything beforehand, everything comes out very naturally and I think it’s mainly because of our musical backgrounds, we are both jungle/break heads.
Sophie: Also I feel like it’s a bit of a versus between us anyway, I joke that we are ‘Clash of the Titans’ – friends have also commented on this energy between us when we play back-to-back.
When Lasha invited me to play Horoom we didn’t plan it and we started around 110bpm and ended at around 147bpm and the whole five-hour set felt like we were constantly upping the ante – it was such a powerful set. For FOLD we were on a pitched down, warm up vibe but still with this underlying power theme.
Looking back at the night – what moments do you recall from the night? Pre-set nerves, practising your set before the gig, selecting tracks that you were eager to include.
Sophie: I was really excited to drop a new AQXDM track called ‘Leisure Techno‘ that I knew Lasha would love – we message each other about tunes a lot, we defo know what each other will like. You could almost liken us to kids sharing our favourite toys – I’m the small annoying one!
I also remember freaking out every time I cue’d a track in my headphones because the setup at FOLD is so incredibly clear I just thought everyone could hear what I could. Oh yeah and the bass rumbling under my feet and grinning lots, I felt very spoilt.
Lasha: I remember I kept telling her to hold her horses as it was a warm up set, she’s a mustang, impossible to tame!
Sophie: Stamps hooves defiantly.
How do the two of you work the dynamics of a back-to-back set? Do you each play a single track then switch – or do you play 2 or 3 records before stepping aside?
Sophie: We usually play two tracks each. Lasha is also the BPM Police – I’ve resisted arrest several times!
Lasha: I remember once I got very upset when she played 3 tracks.
Sophie: Oh yes, another near arrest.
Lasha & Sophie – Let’s rewind for a moment and talk about your musical upbringing – who or what got you into electronic music?
Sophie: My Dad used to sit me down with these massive Sennheiser headphones, which I still have now, and put on the likes of Mike Oldfield and Jean-Michel Jarre ‘Oxygen‘, which I renamed ‘Water on the Rocks’ – I think this is where my love for electronic music came from.
I had a pretty tumultuous childhood and I guess like so many of us, music was my escape and my therapy. Leftfield ‘Leftism‘ was literally on constantly when I was 15 – that and my jungle tapes. True life support.
Lasha: I grew up in Georgia and it was incredibly difficult to source new music, it was almost like importing American cigarettes into the Soviet Union and internet access was like China back in the day. Anyways I still managed to get through the tough times and sourced The Prodigy’s ‘The Fat of the Land‘ on cassette, that’s where everything started for me.
Sophie: Oh my – I knew I forgot something important – PRODIGY! ‘The Fat of the Land‘ was also hugely instrumental for me – it showed me a possible future. We’ve had a few special Prodigy moments together already.
"I had a pretty tumultuous childhood and I guess like so many of us, music was my escape and my therapy. Leftfield 'Leftism' was literally on constantly when I was 15 - that and my jungle tapes. True life support" - S Ruston
Who are your musical heroes – and have you ever met them?
Sophie: Lasha and I really connected over our DJ music history – so freakily identical even though we were miles apart – I’ll let him go into that but yeah we both bonded over our mutual love of RSD (Rob Smith) – oh my days what a legend and yes we’ve both met him. More recently it had to be geeking out over this beautiful MasterSounds Linear 4V mixer with Fiedel and Mark Ernestus before my set at Wax Treatment, that was surreal.
Lasha: Yes Rob Smith has been huge inspiration over the years and I managed to meet him and to play with him few years ago in Georgia in one of my favourite venues MTKVARZE. I also really realllllllly wanted to meet Keith Flint :(
Lasha, back in May we premiered your track “Goddess” released on the EarToGround Records compilation – what’s been happening with your productions since then? Any future releases (singles, EP or LP) about to drop?
First of all thanks and respect for premiering “Goddess“. I’ve been secretly working on my first solo album, aiming to finish by end of this year, also launching FOLD records soon which will mainly support local artists.
Sophie, in May you became a resident of Wilde Renate in Berlin. How did your relationship with Renate formulate and what does this residency intrinsically mean to you?
Honestly Wilde Renate was one of the first clubs that made me feel like ‘wow this is a real job‘ from the moment you step through the door they treat you so well, no wondering around lost and crying like the first day at school trying to find your room etc etc and/or having to track down the promotor like a rare and shy Paradise bird deep in the Indonesian jungle to get paid.
I had a string of really amazing gigs there and it already started to feel like home quite early on. Now I call it ‘my gaff‘ and I love how they’ve already let me run loose with my room takeover idea, their confidence in me gives me more in turn. Apparently next year I get to program my own party – like Alison Swing recently did with Uforia – which is so exciting!
Sophie – You are also resident of femme-forward party collective Lecken – tell us more about how you got involved with Lecken, where you throw parties and what people can expect when they attend Lecken.
I came in during the second year of Lecken and was asked to be a resident pretty quickly – thanks to fellow dolphin Heather for getting me my first set there. One of the founding concepts of Lecken was to plug “some of Berlin’s most reputed men’s only public sex holes with female* identifying bodies, pleasures and needs”.
Of course the concept has grown and developed a lot since the early days. I love to tell people that it goes beyond the parties – we have a reading group where we share theory, new concepts and ideas and try hard to incorporate this into our parties and beyond. We have all of our reading material on our website, which I would recommend you all to check out – some game changing info in there.
We are currently in a sex club called Untertage but the capacity is around 300 and we usually get about 2000 clicking attending and interested and the queues are shitty for everyone involved – we are outgrowing the space but also not wanting to expand in a way where we lose our essence.
What would one expect to see/experience in Lecken? A whole lot of fruity business spilling out from every nook and cranny, very mixed darkrooms, performances, super friendly people, a hyper aware awareness team, and a lot of naked, comfortable bodies.
Lasha – In terms of your studio setup – what new toys have you acquired since we shot the film “Inside Fold” back in February?
Lasha: From my early production years I always wanted a Korg MONO/POLY and finally managed to get one in a really good condition, also for my birthday my friends got me an Arturia MICROFREAK Paraphonic Hybrid Synthesizer! Aaaaaah I think I have the best friends in the world, big love to them!
Sophie: I’m sorry I have to interject here but IT’S NOT POSSIBLE, how he can have any more toys in there I don’t know?! Little insider secret but Lasha actually sleeps on a bed of synths, perhaps he needs a few more as pillows.
"I never wanted or dreamed of having a club. I always wanted to make music and perform in different cities and clubs, but the universe decided differently and now here I am trying to break through as many boundaries and standards as this society sets" - Voicedrone
Lasha – There’s no denying it, we absolutely adore and admire what you have achieved with FOLD – what’s on the horizon for future developments at FOLD?
Ahhh its been an incredible journey so far and the documentary we made with you (Inverted Audio) and Rebecca Salvadori truly showed how dedicated the whole team is, the future is looking super exciting! Unfortunately I can’t reveal much at the moment but sometimes it scares me (in a good way) when I think about it.
Sophie – Looking back at previous events, you’ve played at some very interesting places this year (Macedonia, Kosovo, Georgia, Whole Festival) – which of these really stand out to you and why?
Oh my, I’ve had such an exciting year gig wise – Macedonia and Kosovo were super important because they’re really pushing to start queer parties there and it’s tough to find the right venues and a constant uphill battle. Respect to Andreas Hz and the gang, they have my full support.
Playing Horoom was absolutely thrilling – I felt more excited then I did rolling up to Berghain 10 years ago. It has to be up there in my top ten gigs – the crowd there were absolutely wild and unhinged and unafraid to let loose, raving is really political there and I felt that.
Whole Festival this year turned out to be really important for me on several levels – it was one of the first sets in years where I started pushing up into 150 BPM plus and it really worked, I also connected with so many beautiful new queer people that it totally expanded my community.
Playing Wax Treatment was another Rites of Passage for me – I was literally squealing with delight hearing my fave dubstep and jungle tunes on the Killasan sound system – I mixed without monitors so I could truly appreciate them in full (a total dream).
Oh and I also can’t not mention my first Lecken closing back in March – it ended up with a lot of tears and hugging on the dance floor, I think because 2017 had been traumatic for me and being in an environment where I was so supported and protected – it just came out through the music, as cliche as that sounds, the crowd were total enablers in that sense. It was a huge release and in general places or crowds where people know the struggle often feel the most buzzing/ special and intimate. (Sorry that’s a long answer!)
Sophie – are you working on new music at the moment? When can we expect to hear something new from you?
Yesssssssssssss I locked myself away during the Summer and have been busy beavering away on a bunch of new tracks. I have a planned EP release with Suspension – a queer artist platform that’s based in Lisbon and Berlin. It’s going to be their first release after the compilation this year and it’s due in January 2020.
Lasha – looking back at the past 3 years and what you have achieved – has establishing FOLD met the dreams that you had built up in your head?
To be honest I never wanted or dreamed of having a club. I always wanted to make music and perform in different cities and clubs, but the universe decided differently and now here I am trying to break through as many boundaries and standards as this society sets. Its been a tough first few months but we are over it and the results have surpassed all the expectations.
"I grew up in Georgia and it was incredibly difficult to source new music, it was almost like importing American cigarettes into the Soviet Union and internet access was like China back in the day. Anyways I still managed to get through the tough times and sourced The Prodigy's 'The Fat of the Land' on cassette, that's where everything started for me" - Voicedrone
Lasha – What do you feel is the difference between crowds in UK as opposed to Berlin?
For me the UK crowd is something very special. I remember a few months ago my good friend Liam O’Reilly invited James Newmarch and I to play in Sheffield at The Night Kitchen. We played in this small and dark room. It was literally pitch black and we couldn’t see anyone or anything, but the energy in the room was something I had never experienced before in any venue or in any city, it was absolutely I n c r e d i b l e!
We didn’t know how many people were in the room or how they were dancing, we could only hear how devoted and receptive they were over each track we played. When the lights came on we had a full room of musical rebels.
I must say a few words about Unfold and HTBX! Sunday crew, which is my favourite. I cannot call them a crowd as we are part of a big family that gets together on Sundays to get away from the daily London routine and to dance like there is no tomorrow!
The chemistry we have on a Sunday is incomparable with any city or any crowd! Being a part of this family is such a great honour for me, it is playing a huge role in developing me firstly as a human and secondly as an artist. I have not felt anything like this in Berlin yet, but let’s see.
Lasha – If you could turn back time – what would you change and do over again?
If I could play with time only thing I’d do will be to stop time! The present is so so beautiful i wouldn’t mind to have it forever!
Sophie – Since relocating to Berlin – do you feel at home here? What do you miss and not miss about England?
Sophie: Berlin is absolutely my home, a chunk of my heart will forever be in Bristol and Wales too.
What do I miss? Jaffa Cakes, Tunnocks Caramel wafers, Ribena and friendly banter!
What do I not miss? Understanding everyone’s conversations, the never-ending information overload and ridiculous amount of advertising. The constant reminder of ones social status – that really bugs me – this endless sea of logos and labels and the chain shops/restaurants everywhere!
Lasha and Sophie – you are both playing slamming sets at HTBX, which is rapidly gaining attention in London. What is it about HTBX that makes it so special and why should we attend?
Lasha: HTBX for me is everything – It’s my home, it is my family, it is my everything, I cannot imagine my life without the HTBX family!
Sophie: Woweeeeeeeeee HTBX! I came back to Berlin and immediately had to tell my Lecken crew about it. What I felt there was less sexy (as in people having sex) but more urgency – I’d been reading some theory on Atari Teenage Riot in a book called ‘Resilience & Melancholy‘ by Robin James and this idea of musical intensity pushing and distorting past ‘bio political death’ and how ‘Riot Sounds’ work as ‘a model for anti racist queer political responses to neoliberalism.’ It was pretty intense what I experienced on the dance floor but it really paralleled this theory somehow and lit a fire in me. I also have to add that it is invite only if you are reading this and wanting to go.
Lasha & Sophie – What makes you happy?
Lasha: Little but precious time in my studio to make music!
Sophie: People making out during my set, queer people expressing themselves and taking up space. Heavy bass lines and euphoric rave sounds.
Lasha & Sophie – What pisses you off?
Lasha: Not having time to make music!
Sophie: Oh just small things like Multi-Racial White Supremacist Patriarchy and Neo Liberalism.
Lasha & Sophie – What’s on the horizon for you during the remaining months of 2019?
Sophie: A bunch of gigs in new places and hopefully I can connect with my newly found reclusive self to get on and make some more tracks.
Lasha: More building work for something very exciting that will be revealed very soon.