After forming their partnership in San Francisco, Lando Kal and Low Limit, known together as Lazer Sword, quickly became leaders of the West Coast crunk-bass sound. But while Lazer Sword is primarily known for beat-oriented and percussion-heavy tracks, Low Limit's solo music is fully of syrupy chops and screws, showing the clear influence of the Bay Area's hyphy movement. With four overseas tours under his belt and over 40,000 YouTube plays each on solo tracks like "Turf Day" and "Trapperkeeper," Low Limit continues to develop his own personal sound while at the same time working on Lazer Sword's sophomore LP. He recently spoke with All Shook Down about that new album, Memory, his current favorite tracks, and what his first stop will be when he returns to the Bay Area from his current base in L.A. Low Limit performs this Friday at 103 Harriet with Slugabed and Daedelus for Low End Theory S.F.
When did you and Lando Kal decide to start concentrating more on solo projects?
Before we joined together, we were making a lot of music on our own, though once the Lazer Sword stuff started to pick up it's something that both of us put on the sidelines for a bit. Now that we're living on different continents, it obviously makes sense to push our individual material more, to get more bookings for our solo projects and whatnot. But beyond that, it's just a great feeling to have an outlet to create something that is 100 percent one's own vision, something that was kept on the back burner for both of us for a couple years. I'm thankful to have the option to toggle between those two separate ventures.
How do your personal tracks differ from those of Lazer Sword?
I think there's a lot of crossover influences going on, but some of the major differences would probably be in the textures that I incorporate into the Low Limit stuff. I generally like to get my hands dirty with a lot of layers and try and create a thick bed of sound (field recordings, YouTube rips, etc.) to bring some unique and weird character to the music. Similar to the Lazer Sword stuff, I'm always experimenting with different tempos, but I guess I am probably more likely to show some of my rap music influences -- a bit more pulled away from the dancefloor and more towards some kind of smoky trap house where all the gangsters just took mushrooms.
Can you tell us a little about the upcoming Lazer Sword album, Memory?
We're incredibly pleased with how the album came together, and to have such a powerhouse label like Monkeytown behind it. The musical direction on Memory has continued to evolve from where we left off, and [it's] very representative of where we are both at musically right now. Essentially, it's an 11-track snapshot of the meeting point where myself and Lando's styles intersect and get weird together in 2012. There are songs at 120 BPM and tracks at 160 BPM. We've been listening to and making a lot of faster tempo stuff as of late, so there's not really so much rap tempo going on, but I think you can definitely hear the influence of Lazer Sword's yesteryear bleeding through. [laughs]
Lando Kal is based in Berlin now. How do you guys work on projects when you're so far away from each other?
We have a pretty dialed-in system of trading session files back and forth over the Internet at this point. One of us will start a tune, and then it gets ping-ponged back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean several times until we've chiseled it to the point that we both love it. 2012 is crazy.
You were based in the Bay Area for a couple years. Although you no longer live in San Francisco anymore, what part of the Bay do you always keep with you music-wise?
Rap music for sure. Having moved to S.F. just before the "hyphy movement" came about, I got to witness firsthand a really exciting time when the rap producers were starting to merge the sounds of old electro music with slower tempos just as we were getting into a lot of older electronic/dance music ourselves. Too many unforgettable times playing Bay Area rap music at Milk Bar to a room packed full of huge Samoan gangsters.