Liverpool, home of The Beatles, Steven Gerrard and Cream, one of dance music's most prolific and well-loved institutions. For those who experienced dance music during the 90s, the iconic club brand will have no doubt had its own special kind of impact, for others, it simply provided some of the biggest anthems and DJs the scene has ever seen.
For Lauren Lo Sung, Liverpool's rich heritage in dance music played a big part in her falling in love with the genre and after her older siblings set the bar high with regular excursions to Cream at Nation, she picked up the mantle early on. At 11 years old, she got her first set of decks, so to say she developed a taste for all things dance music would be pretty accurate. That head start meant that she was already engrossed in a scene that would come to shape the her path in life.
House music was her calling and she was already hitting clubs and sculpting her understanding of nightlife way before she turned 18. By the time she went to university in Manchester it was game time and her club night Lolife acted as an outlet to hone her DJ skills in a club environment she could call home. What began as a spot to hand-pick residents and local talent has now evolved into a party that's stayed true to its sound and brought acts like Subb-an and No Artificial Colours down along the way.
It wasn't long before her calling became a career and now she's one of the most in-demand selectors in the country. Her productions are building up more steam than ever before and this is where her long-standing love affair with music really shines through. This year she released the 'Tresor' EP via DJ Steaw's new House Puff imprint and there are obvious similarities between the French selector and the Scouse talent.
Steaw has built a slow-burning, expansive career in making music and working hard to perfect a sound. It's not rushed and now he's making more waves than ever before. Lauren has spent her whole life learning about house music, immersing herself in its intricacies and throwing herself at every opportunity. Her sound is now more finely tuned than ever and the sultry and groove-laden house she's pushing is one that projects a confidence and class that's often missing from the scene at the moment.
'Tresor' has been the spark that set off the countdown to an explosion for Sung and her hectic gig schedule reflects the clear step-up in priorities. Gigs at Hï Ibiza, Fabric and Lovebox have contributed to a heavy summer and she's already looking ahead to a performance at Creamfields and several appearances at Manchester's celebrated Warehouse Project.
Her Impact mix perfectly showcases her devilshly deep style and a calm air of assurance. It's one for the heads and rave-hungry steppers alike.
When did you first get into dance music, what were your musical roots, what were you first exposed to trackwise – was it dance music to start with or was it something else that got you interested in music?
To be honest with you, I think I've always loved house music from a really young age because I've got an older brother and sister, who are 12 and 18 years older than me. So while I was really young my brother was going out to Cream, where he met his wife and both my brother and sister have always gone to Ibiza. My sister used to go to Ibiza every year, Creamfields every year, around the house my mum and dad used to let them play music quite loud. Friends come round to the house and we play music really loud, and they say 'do your parents not mind?', they literally don't care, I think they're just used to it now. I just eventually started liking it, I've always been really into music, but I'd say house music from a very young age. When I was 11 I got some beginner decks from my parents, which I asked for for my birthday and I just used to practice on them. Then when I went to university, when I was 18, I started playing in clubs.
You mentioned your brother going to Cream, was it always house stuff or was you into trance
It was Paul Oakenfeld, Paul Bleasdale, people like that. It was a mixture between trance and 90s house, I think that's why I absolutely love 90s house like N-Joi 'Anthem'. My sister has always loved that as well, and the likes of Hed Kandi that beachy kind of vibe and I reckon that's had a strong influence on me.
Were any of your siblings musical in the same sense you are?
My brother actually used to play back-to-back with his friends years ago at parties, but he doesn't really take it seriously and didn't really push it for a career or a job. Then my sister, she always wanted to be a DJ, but I don't think she really saw it as an option back then. I think she did a piece of coursework and called herself DJ Lady, she always takes the piss. She always says if I was going to be the first DJ, I was going to be DJ Lady. It wasn't like they just used to listen to house music now and again, they were really into it and did follow it a lot.
So an electronic music orientated family from the off.
None of us are musically educated, in the sense we can play the piano, we can't do anything like that. Even I can't but we just really like going out.
Did you ever go out raving at an early age?
Yeah I did, I went out when I was 14, I think everyone did in Liverpool because girls in Liverpool look a lot older than what they actually are. I used to go out when I was 14 and used to go to Garlands, my older sister used to go to Garlands all the time because she could get me in for free, you used to love that when you were younger. Then we used to go to this place called Society, which for me was probably the best night I ever went to when I was younger. I used to go every Saturday.
Touching on going out in Liverpool, it's got such a rich history and culture within club music. Would you say growing up there and immersing yourself was instrumental in what you're doing now?
Definitely, it had a strong effect. There's just something on all the time, every week, underground nights are becoming more and more diverse and popular. Back when I was growing up it was all about funky house music and progressive house, things like that.
Did you ever go out in Manchester?
I went to university in Manchester when I was 18, so Manchester was a massive influence for me as well and that's how I got involved with the Warehouse Project. Because I started Lolife when I was 18 and then a few of the promoters from WHP came and they asked me to play at their night and we just made the connection from there.
So you started Lolife when you were 18, how did that come about? What did you learn about promoting?
When I was 18 I'd been doing bits of DJing, I didn't really play many clubs just big bars and stuff. I used to play a lot on Canal Street at some place called Tribeca. My heart was always with house music. My friends used to come to parties back at my flat and they all knew how into it I was. One of my friends went to this pub that had a basement club below called Red Rum and they were looking for promoters, I think she used to work on the bar there. She called me and she was like "Lauren why don't you start your own night?" and I didn't really feel that confident to go straight in. DJing is one thing, but promoting is a completely different kettle of fish and I just thought, I'm really not sure. I was really hesitant at first. Then my friend Jenny was like "go for it!", so I said, "Do you know what, fuck it I'm going to go for it and see what can come of it". Then I started it and at first it was just all my friends from uni who used to come, but obviously word travels quite quickly at uni. We got quite a good student following and then the nights just started getting busier and we grew it from there.
So you're still putting that night on now?
Yeah I've been running it since I was 18, so about 8 years.
What sort of acts have you had down, any particular highlights or people you look back on and think "wow!"
The best nights we've had have been when we just have locals and free events. More recently we've just booked Subb-an, which is our next event, but the vibe we've gone for is more of an intimate house party. We don't always need to book someone because we have had quite a good buzz about the party anyway and with a small capacity, why risk losing money? Now that we're bigger and my career is doing better, it's working out well to book someone as well as having myself play the night.
How did it feel to step up to play your first set at WHP, especially at that venue?
Unbelievable, the soundsystem obviously blew me away. I was always used to being part of the crowd at WHP, I used to go from the age of 17/18. I always used to say to my friends "one day I'd love to play here" and it happened. My friends still message me to this day saying "I can't believe you're really living your dream". I remember saying "one day that will be me" not because I was being cocky but you've got to believe in yourself. Carl Cox always said from the beginning he knew he'd be that big so I think you've just got to have that passion.
Your latest release, 'Tresor' on House Puff has gone down really really well. When did you start producing? Was this back when you were making music around 18, and how did your sound and style progress over the years?
So I DJed first, I always DJed. I first started producing when I was about 21, about 6 or 7 years ago. At first, I was just dipping my feet in to see what it was like. At first I used to make 'beachy' deep house but a bit more stripped back and then I went into making more minimal/deep house and I've always had that kind of sound. I want to make music that I can either play on the build up to the peak time or during peak time and minimal just doesn't really fit into my sets anymore. I'd say the past two years my sound has really developed into something I'm really proud of. I remember I made a tune called 'Something About You', it was quite a catchy tune and my mum still loves it. She says "that's one of the best tunes you've ever made". People used to request it all the time and ask me to play it. I don't know what it was but I just didn't have the confidence in playing it, I didn't really feel like it was 100 per cent me. I feel like the stuff I'm making now is 100 per cent me, and I feel as time goes on I'm slowly developing and finding little tricks out on Logic and finding my own plugins that work for me.
You can tell it's working the sound is definitely fuller and way more evolved now, how did you get involved with DJ Steaw, where did you meet him?
Facebook is how I meet everyone. I've been a big fan of his music for a while, I love Cinthie as well, she's great. When I played in Space last year on the terrace with Carl Cox, I played a track of his and there's actually a video on Facebook, it's probably got the most hits of all my videos. It's when Carl Cox came out behind me and he had the Lolife T-shirt on, I realised he was behind me and you can see how shocked I am. He was dancing and the track I was playing was Steaw's.
I think someone tagged DJ Steaw in the video and he saw it, then we connected on Facebook. He was just sending me music over time, then I had just sent a track that I was working on, thinking nothing of it and he said "I really love your music, I'd love to work on any piece, I really want to start a new label". So he started the label and we released 'Tresor' as the first EP.
From what I gather from the way you produced this, there's a clear focus on the construction of a groove that runs all the way throughout, a really solid groove. Were there any artists you think helped shape your sound, that had an influence on what you're doing?
When I was younger, the type of music I've always liked has been more stripped back, even the bands playing it. I used to absolutely love the Spice Girls back when I was 8. The tracks off their albums that I love, are the deep ones, the floaty ones and the ones with less in them. I find I love that with a lot of things, I think less is more. They weren't a big influence on my sound, obviously, but the tracks that I make are a lot more stripped back which leaves more to the imagination I think. When you're out clubbing, sometimes there are too many drums in focus and that loses the emotion for me. I like quite simple sounds but when things come in that you don't really expect, that's what I like.
Subb-an has been a huge influence on me. I've loved him forever. Some of my favourite producers at the moment are people like Archie Hamilton, Diego Krause, Janeret and obviously DJ Steaw. I love DJ Steaw and the way he's a bit more punk and a bit more housey. Whereas Janeret to me is more warm. I love the French deep house sound, Mandar, people like that.
How do you hope to build on the success you've had so far? What releases do you have coming up that you're really excited about?
I've got a new EP on Rutilance, DJ Steaw's main label coming and I've got an EP coming out on Hector's Vatos Locos imprint. I've got loads of gigs coming up, I'm playing Unusual Suspects in Ibiza as well as Hï and I've got a few others across the island, boat parties and stuff. Also Lolife is going from strength to strength, which I'm really happy about and I'm also looking forward to doing more throughout the UK and eventually taking it to other countries as well. Next week I'm playing in Barcelona for Hector and Vatos Locos, so that'll be good. So much happening!
Funster is Mixmag's Deputy Digital Editor, follow him on Twitter here