The Layabouts

Who are you and what do you do? How long have you been working musicians?

Alex: We are Alex Paschali and Leigh Darlow and we are two halves of the Layabouts. We've been producing Deep and Soulful House Music together for about 10 years and have become great friends during our journey. We both bring different skills to the table - I'm more the musician out of the two of us (I play guitar) and Leigh's the engineer/programmer. We bounce off each other really well and meet in the middle. We've both been interested/involved in music since we were teenagers really.

What is your educational background? Are there any schools, courses, or books you recommend?

Alex: Leigh and I both studied Sound Engineering - I went to City of Westminster Uni and also took up workshops in Islington. As far as the guitar, I studied with some private tutors throughout the years and enjoy experimenting with new styles, techniques and musical concepts. What I've learnt over the years is the classic cliché of learning as much from experience as you do from books and people. Being given or making the opportunity to work with various people over the years is the key element to honing your craft. Whatever it is.

What hardware are you using?

Leigh: At the moment we use a TL Audio VTC Console, it's an all-valve desk that we use to record live instruments and vocals. We don't use it for mixing though, we mix everything ITB. But we are due to upgrade the studio soon. We will be selling off the VTC and replacing it with some choice preamps and outboard compressors. At the moment we are looking at the Neve 1073 and a Universal Audio 4X preamp with built in 1176 compression.

Alex: An interesting and new angle we've started to work with is my MIDI guitar equipment (the new Roland GR-55) I bought for our South African Tour. It enables us to record keys and other instruments using the guitar as a controller.

What software are you using?

Leigh: We use Logic Pro 9. I've used Logic for nearly 12 years now, and I started out on v2. I couldn't live without it! Logic has always been a great way to manipulate parts, and I use it almost as a note pad for audio. All our drums are programmed in audio, I've always found it better to program and mix that way. Since they started to include the soft synths, this has taken it to another level. We use a fair bit of their factory sounds and spend time layering and re-defining them and creating our own bank. We also use Native Instruments and Spectrasonics.

What would be your dream setup?

Leigh: I get gear envy a lot. I can spend hours looking at what's on the market and dreaming of what could be! I think a dream set would include a Crane Song Spider for tracking, a Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor would be nice, the neve 1073 (which we are looking at anyway), a Neumann U87 vocal mic, an original Pultec EQ, a fully loaded system with more plug-ins than you can shake a stick at…..etc etc

Can you describe your creative process? Is there a particular routine or schedule you stick to?

Alex: We meet up a few times in the week, get COFFEE - very, very important time of the day and then crack on. I come up with chords and musical elements and Leigh engineers the session and creates the beats, sounds etc. The process is all about listening to each other and vibing. Leigh's got a great ear for House music, I focus on the musical aspects and we steer each other in different ways depending on the production. Does it ever get tense? Never! ;)

Where do you shop for and discover music?

Leigh: We shop on Traxsource A LOT!, also Beatport, iTunes, 7Digital. Facebook and Twitter are good for keeping up on new releases within our scene because of our friends' network.

Any highlights from your latest musical discoveries?

Alex: Our tour to South Africa earlier this year was a great trip, we got to play lots of our tracks out in the clubs and meet a lot of our new fans out there. We also got to see some of the beautiful country and take a safari at the end of the trip.

What's brewing in your studio?

Alex: We recently received a vocal from a friend of ours and we used my MIDI gear to play in the rhodes and synth parts. This just gives us a fresh way to approach our tracks. Leigh's always looking for new sounds, soft synths and plug ins to keep our tracks on point. Whilst writing our album we're really enjoying a bit of freedom to experiment a bit more on different styles and ideas.

Any production tips & tricks or advice you'd like to share?

Leigh: I'd like to send anybody that hasn't seen or heard of this to Pensado's Place. It's a weekly show hosted by top mix engineer Dave Pensado. I'm totally hooked and a lot of my friends in the recording business are as well. Every week, they have a guest on and talk mixing and tracking techniques along with some really insightful tips on mixing.

Where can we find you on the web?

The Layabouts / Facebook /