A trip hop journey for the ages.
Louis McCoy is a master craftsman in every sense of the word. A legend of a human behind much loved local underground institutions the likes of Inner Varnika and For Home Use Only, and an expert on the tools be it in the kitchen or on a building site, Louis first and foremost is a passionate music obsessor with a savant like ear for records that cut deep.
Sometimes found under the cheekier guise of hndsm, Louis seriously knows whats up when it comes to 90s music from the UK, and focusses his attention here on the massively influential sound of trip hop that he grew up nodding his head to as a teen. Treating us to near-on three hours of raw and dusty underground classics from the roots of the 90s Bristol trip hop movement, we find ourselves deep beneath the murky waters of the reggae and the shoegaze infused, to moments of heavily emotion packed atmospheric soul and a healthy dose of the all out experimental. One for the OG chillout heads, this really is a trip like no other!
Hello Louis! Great to finally have you on here my friend. I know it’s been a big year for you with a whole plethora of projects on the go, both music and non-music related, how have you managed to stay up and keep things rolling steadily along with so many challenges being constantly thrown our way?
First off, I’d like to say thank you for having me, it’s an absolute honor to contribute to something that’s had such an incredibly positive impact on my life over the past ten years. The short answer to the above is that I haven’t managed at all, I’m incredibly talented at overfilling my plate then burning out due to over-commitment, something I’ve been really working on improving in the last couple of years. I’ve always kept myself super busy and I love the thought of having lots on the go, I can’t help starting new projects because I’m full of ideas that excite me. It’s a full-time job trying to stay relevant across different fields. Luckily passion is my main driver, I really love and believe in everything I do which makes the work a little easier. Also, I recently quit my day job in construction to refocus on what makes me happy and spend my energy more wisely on those rewarding and creative pursuits.
Speaking for myself here, your For Home Use Only mix series played an essential role in keeping things zen throughout what was a pretty average year last year, as I’m sure it did for lots of others in lockdown.. What initially inspired you to start the series, and what’s coming up?
The unofficial lockdown radio as it’s now known… I’m so glad it’s granted some a sense of respite and escape throughout this whole damn ordeal. The concept was simple, I know of so many amazingly talented individuals both in and outside of the music and art worlds. I really just wanted a platform where those individuals could tell a different type of story that’s not revolved around your typical club mix. These individuals have sentimental collections of amazing songs that have played a pivotal role in their journey toward becoming the artist they are currently. I really wanted to get inside their heads and give them an opportunity to really express themselves musically.
I’m so happy with how far FHUO has come, and how much people from all over the world dig it. The future is bright, there are so many amazing mixes on the horizon, that’s something I’ll seemingly never be short of. I’m working on curating some events around the series including doing a full FHUO showcase at strawberry fields i.e. taking over a stage for a whole day and providing a sit-down type soundtrack.
As far as the direction for the series, I’ve started shifting the focus more towards visual artists’ contributions, I’m so curious as to what they listen to when they paint/photograph/design/sculpt, I think it will open up a whole different world and that excites me. In all honesty, I want anyone to be able to feel like they can contribute to the series.
As a long time purveyor of d’n’b and jungle music, you’ve recently been behind the latest incarnation of the notorious Common Ground parties, this time as a new series focussed on faster broken riddims under the ‘Camouflage Cargo Pants’ name. Tell us a bit about your own journey discovering jungle and all of its wonderful offshoots, and what kind of energies have you managed to tap into with the parties so far?
Jungle and d’n’b has always played a part in my life, there’s just something about a broken-up death drum at 160bpm that hits a part of your existence that nothing else can. I fell back down the rabbit hole a few years ago when I dug out some old jungle records to play at Inner Varnika and they went down a treat. Since then I’ve been slowly incorporating jungle and d’n’b into a lot of my sets and mixes. I’ve also been doing a monthly(ish) show on Skylab Radio with guests and this brought on the idea of trying a few parties to capture some of the energy that only jungle and d’n’b can provide. The first one was an amazing success, for the first time in years I saw in the whole dance floor move as one, smiles and sweat were dripping off the wall, it was truly inspiring and refreshing. I think it will turn into a regular thing (covid pending), fingers crossed.
On the Inner Varnika front, as one of the festival directors I can imagine how difficult it has been to navigate the last year or so and still be able to present a special forthcoming edition of the festival for later in 2021 (now postponed again due to the lockdown). I know that IV also offered to transfer tickets from the cancelled 2020 event in order to help the festival stay afloat.. how important was this showing of support from the IV community, and what might people be able to expect from a slightly different looking festival whenever that may be?
I’m not going to lie, it’s been tough. Our whole existence is patron-based, we’ve always been completely independent and we’re proud of that but it doesn’t come without the challenges. We went through a very tough time after we had to cancel the festival only a few weeks out in 2020, if we didn’t have the support from the community and people keeping their tickets in good faith then there wouldn’t be an Inner Varnika anymore, it’s as simple as that. Our entire focus since has been to say thank you to the community for helping us through a really rough time. And that’s what the next incarnation of IV will be all about, it will be a very stripped back version with just the essentials, including an all local lineup. Just enough for our community to come together and have that dance in the dust they have been patiently waiting for and we will hopefully use that momentum to get back into full swing by 2022.
As anyone that follows your instagram stories would probably know, you’re also a bit of a natural behind a set of pots and pans and seem to be forever cooking, preparing and teaching others how to make mouth watering meals. This long time obsession with fine cuisines has also spawned into another side project of yours, a local food and wine collective under the Medlar Dining name. Tell us about how that all came about, and when might we see the Medlar crew popping up next?
As much as music has played an integral role in my life, so has food. Enjoying a fine meal with friends and family is one of my most valued pursuits in life. Cooking for me is a form of mediation, it helps me switch off from whatever else I’ve got going on. I’ve found solace in stupidly elaborate meals that ultimately are the greatest reward in itself.
The irony in spending hours cooking something then scoffing it down in ten minutes is baffling but worth it. The Medlar thing came from a mutual respect for great food and wine, and the desire to share the experience with others. Every time we’ve done a Medlar it’s been a big success on all fronts, the warm atmosphere that great food creates serves as our motivation to push ourselves further for future endeavours. Our next one coming up is on September 4th so keep an eye out.
Onto the mix, you’ve taken us on a serious extended ride through the roots of trip hop here, with a bunch of thoroughly enjoyable twists and turns along the way. Tell us what you had in mind for this mix and what are a couple of your favourite records we might find in there?
So I’ve been working on this submission for the past few years, it’s been through so many iterations i’ve lost count, each one representative of where I’ve been at musically at the time. At the start of this year, I scrapped them all and did a deep dive and just went with my gut, my entire musical history can be traced back to the golden era of trip-hop in the mid-’90s, its the first time I actually remember feeling emotion come through in music or at least responding to it.
In my early teen’s I used to listen to DJ Shadow’s ‘Entroducing’ back to back for hours on end, and I’d be in complete awe. I used to stay up on school nights trying to recreate DJ Krush and DJ Cam beats on fruity loops (ver 3.1.1), try to emulate Beth Gibbons in the shower (still do/badly). I have never gotten sick of trip-hop (aka illbient aka chill-hop lol) and I can comfortably say I never will. It was a bit of a flash in the pan in comparison with a lot of other movements at the time but the music was a different fish back then.
The mix is very selfish and introspective but I wanted to put all of myself into it and I’m very happy with how it turned out. Basically, it’s all my favourite tracks put together in some strangely poetic manner that just made sense. From Jazzanova’s classic ‘coffee talk’ to Krush and Shadow’s masterpiece ‘duality’, DJ Cam’s ‘Dieu Reconnaitra Les Siens’ and ’Sketch’ which is one of Attica blues all-time greatest hits. Sprinkled with some Luke Vibert, DJ Food, Kruder & Dorfmeister, and everything in between. I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed making it.
What else have you got coming up?
Besides Inner Varnika, Common Ground, and a few DJ gigs coming up, I’m working on getting a record label off the ground, a more permanent spot for some food ventures, and diving back into furniture design. Probably too much but I know nothing else.
Big love. X