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Loraine James B2Beats TSVI: Modern Sounds of Homebound London

Toned down and thrown back, the two London producers and flatmates recontextualize old songs for unprecedented times.

  • Xzavier Stone - 4WD

  • Aoki Takamasa - Abbey

  • Avernian - Tornado

  • Mira Calix - Umchungha Locks

  • Andy Stott - Selfish

  • S Olbricht - Floa1

  • Autechre - Stop Look Listen

  • Two Lone Swordsmen - Circulation

  • Kelela - Enemy

  • Pixelord - Exo Club

  • LFO - Mum-man

  • E-Unity - Late Tale Tale

  • Aoki Takamasa - I’m A Part Of It

  • Hmurd - Shepard's Delight

  • Object Blue & TSVI - Thought Experiment

  • Zuli - X3 01011 (edit)

  • Azealia Banks - No Problems

  • Tatiana Heuman - Rikiricon

  • Emma DJ - Hiss

  • Kidkanevil & Daisuke Tanabe - Harmonics Pt2

“Well...I don’t know how to DJ”

Loraine James says, unable to hold back laughter as she and TSVI both double over. While they’ve only known each other for around a year (coincidentally enough, they met at fellow London-based producer object blue’s wedding, and they just moved in together two weeks ago), their words bounce back and forth with the chemistry of old friends. Chatting over Zoom from their shared flat in their monochrome sweats, they both embody the London quarantine vibe. And while their records seem to come from completely different sonic universes, the pair’s B2Beats mix sounds, as they put it, like it came “from the mind of one person.”

TSVI, real name Guglielmo Barzacchini, is known for his very dancefloor-focused productions released on labels like AD 93 (FKA Whities) and Nervous Horizon (which he co-founded with fellow London producer Wallwork) that pull rhythms and percussion from the world’s regional club scenes. James, who just released her latest EP Nothing on Hyperdub, following up last year’s landmark album For You & I, wades in the slippery, less-structured waters of glitch and IDM, her tracks moving in and out of different genre structures like grime or garage on a moment-by-moment basis. They’ve only actually been on the same record once, when James remixed TSVI and object blue’s track “Thought Experiment” on the newest Nervous Horizon release.

Still, the pair share a few things in common (aside from a residence), the most important being London, and the rapid-fire cross pollination that its melting pot of a scene has become known for. “You hear so many sounds and different cultures. You’re always going to pick something up or be inspired by something,” says James, who has spent her entire life in the city, and whose music sounds native to it, with fragments of its homegrown sounds strewn effortlessly throughout her tracks and performances. Barzacchini, who moved there in 2010, has been steeped in the city’s fascination with reinterpreting and recontextualizing international club sounds ever since. “If we were based somewhere else, I think the output of my music and of Nervous Horizon would be totally different,” he says. 

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In their B2Beats mix, these commonalities fold in on each other, as the pair move decidedly away from propulsive club rhythms, opting for a more free-form approach that speaks to their home listening habits.I haven’t been able to make any club bangers, like functional stuff, for a while now. Playing like the classic drum tool for me is a bit pointless,” says TSVI, continuing, “I’m listening to lots of Warp’s back catalog at the moment, just releases that I completely missed out on, like older LFO, old AFX, Boards of Canada, which I think fit perfectly with the glitchy stuff that (James was) playing.” 

James echoes his feelings, as she talks about how the mix allowed her to “find a lot of songs that (she’d been) inspired by four or five years ago, which kind of get lost on your hard drive.” Their approach to the mix allowed for these nearly-forgotten gems to be recontextualized in a fresh, era-hopping way, with one of its best moments arriving when James follows up TSVI’s two-track IDM punch of Autechre and Two Lone Swordsmen by weaving in Kelela’s breakout hit, “Enemy L.” While she questioned the decision after the fact, wincing and saying, “Yeah…I completely just winged it. Halfway through I was like, “Why the fuck have I chosen this song right now?” To my ears, it works perfectly.

Through this and other moments—like when object blue and TSVI’s tense new track “Thought Experiment” and a dose of abrasive, metallic noise from Zuli give way into a 2012 pop-dubstep moment from Azealia Banks—the mix hits a playful balance: You could undoubtedly dance to it in the club, but it also offers complexity, texture, and dexterity in a way that makes it equally as suited to an attentive home listen. 

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Across our conversation, we talk about the daily frustrations surrounding the pandemic that has thrown both artists’ lives into a tailspin, but there’s no denying that this kind of curation, free from the pressures to play fresh tracks and of-the-moment promos, wouldn’t have happened without it. TSVI sighs, “Personally I don’t listen to much club music at the moment….It makes me depressed. I feel really down because I’ll receive promos, and I’m like, ‘Wow, this amazing music, and you cannot play it out.’” Yet momentarily closing their ears to the dance music hype machine doesn’t mean the pair haven’t been consuming music as voraciously as before. I ask what they’ve been listening to recently, and, cocking a side-eye at Barazacchi, James admits, “We’re listening to lots of drill at the moment.” Barazacchi chimes in, “Yeah…I usually turn on FIFA, and Loraine puts on the drill…Digga D, Dutchavelli, Unknown T…”

While they’ve clearly settled in quite naturally to their new, relaxed domestic environment, music remains a constant focus, which is immediately evident in how effortlessly their relationship shifts between their roles as roommates, friends, and collaborators. “She’s been…well do you want to tell him or..?” says TSVI. “He’s been helping me mix my new album…he’s heard it like 99 times,” notes James. “It’s amazing. You’re doing really cool things, and it’s a step up from For You & I, definitely,” TSVI gushes, before continuing, “and I have a new EP with my other project, Anunaku, coming out in February. And I’ve got an album I made during lockdown with my friend Matteo, who just released an EP as Seven Orbits on SVBKVLT, coming out next spring.” Until then, they’re keen to keep their releases on the back burner in the hope that they’ll be able to properly tour them next year, unless, James notes, “the business techno people keep fucking it up.” Fingers crossed.

Support Loraine James and TSVI on the their Bandcamp pages here and here.

Zach Tippitt is an editor for Electronic Beats. Find him on Instagram.

Header image by Sofia Apunnikova.

Published October 26, 2020. Words by Zach Tippitt.