100Hz, aka Lee Renacre, has had quite a singular story. His first releases date back to 1989, where he started what would be a singular production style, up until now, where he has been releasing on some of the most respected imprints of the moment like Bosconi, Slow Life and Howl.
We caught up with this unique character and artist, following his latest release on Dreamers Recordings.
Electronic Groove: Hi Lee, thanks for your time. you have just released a little bomb on Dreamers Recordings with this Coherence project. Can you tell us more about it?
Lee: Thanks to you for the invite. This EP is part of my collaboration series, for which I either invited my friends over to my studio or visited them in theirs. I want to say a big thank you to Dreamers Recordings and Alessia for the trust and support.
Electronic Groove: What about Coherence?
100Hz: We would do live improvised jams where we record everything we do before I get down to editing and finalize the music into finished tracks. The whole creative process was really enjoyable and rewarding, In my opinion, its one of the best ways to make music – very spontaneous, when its done it’s done! No going back, I love it.
Electronic Groove: Now for our readers who know your music, but not so much about you. Can you tell us more about your life? Where you grew up, your childhood etc?
100Hz: I’m a London boy, I grew up in Catford and Lewisham in South East London, listening to soul music as a kid, and not getting into too much trouble in general, just the usual stuff. I left school at the age of 16, not taking higher education, I started working at a printing press doing graphic design. Then I found house, techno music and the whole UK rave scene… so that printing job didn’t last too long! That’s when I got into making music, with my friend James Chapman.
Electronic Groove: What were your first experiences with music?
100Hz: My first experiences with music was with James. Between us, he was the record collector guy. We used to play records in this attic room in his parent’s house. That was on a twin deck system, not Technics but some early DJ style turntable set in a box. We would spend nearly all our time up there getting drunk and listening to very early soul, hip hop, house and techno music from the 1980’s. We must have been 12-14 years old at the time, buying cheap liquor, learning how to mix records, and not that successfully either! He had all the great records of the time, nearly every classic track you can think of.
“We would spend nearly all our time up there getting drunk and listening to very early soul, hip hop, house and techno music from the 1980’s”
Electronic Groove: You have been putting your hands on analogue instruments, making electronic music in the late 80s when the movement was in its infancy. How did you come to that?
100Hz: It was James, myself and another guy called Dorant. We used to jam together in the 80’s with our basic kit. It included an 808 and a Yamaha sequencer with some other synth box. We would record it all onto a 4 track tape. It was James who took me along to a recording studio in London to make a track. We had some basic but strong ideas and just went for it. The studio had all types of machines and I remember really getting into it! Our first quality piece of music was Low-Frequency Overload. The first of our releases with Optimism Records back in 1989.
Electronic Groove: How would you compare to the music scene today?
100Hz: Back then the music scene was all new, with classic early artists doing their thing like Fingers Ink, Blake Baxter, Juan Atkins and more. It was the finest era of the scene because it was so fresh and exciting. That’s where it all originated from. Right now it’s all a bit of a copy of those early days. Doesn’t feel like anything really moved on at all, like we are all stuck in that loop.
Electronic Groove: What are your thoughts on the current UK scene?
Lee: I must admit that I’m not a music collector. I make music before anything else and try not to be influenced by other music too much. Of course, you can’t help it sometimes, and it happens to find yourself being drawn back to the past or to some classic piece. Today I find the scene to be a bit flat and ‘samey’, with tracks merging into each other. I find it difficult to find tracks that stand out, they all sound quite similar. For me, it’s the drum patterns that are not doing it. Everyone uses the same hats and claps pattern, and to be honest it’s not very interesting anymore. Musicians should be pushing themselves further with drumlines. Not just going for the normal tech drum patterns. I personally forbid myself this standard clap and standard, and try to use 5 or 6 beat patterns instead!
Electronic Groove: Analog instruments and modular synths are back into a trend now. What do you think about these young producers on it?
100Hz: Yes, analog and outboard synths are the best for me, the only thing I use alongside a few decent plugins. You can make music with anything you have of course. I started my own studio with just one synth, a Yamaha MU50 tone generator, which I still use! This synth alone was the only instrument that allowed me to make my earliest releases. It had drums, strings and bass, all in one box. However, outboard kits are the way to go for me. It sounds better and you can fiddle with the dials and faders easier than you would with a mouse.
Electronic Groove: What are your favorite instruments in the studio? Have they been involving since you first started?
100Hz: At the moment, my favorite piece of hardware is the new Roland range: the TR-8 is fantastic and allows to create many random patterns very quickly. Their boutique synths are awesome too: the Jx-03, JP-08 and of course the older mighty SH-101, which has been suffering lately and frankly needs a good service. They have all newer versions now, smaller and more portable units with the same great sound and a little more affordable.
“Analog and outboard synths are the best for me”
Electronic Groove: Music Production software have appeared since then. Has it changed the way your produce?
100Hz: I have always used Cubase for my sequencing. It’s only lately that I’ve changed to Ableton. I don’t use much audio at all, I mostly work with MIDI and don’t really have lots of separate audio files for each track. That makes my music hard to remix, as I don’t have the stems producers need to do the work. Otherwise, I’m still making music the way I did years ago, it’s just faster now.
Electronic Groove: Your first release came out in 1989, and you consistently released the following 20 years then stopped in 2009. Can you tell us more?
100Hz: In 2009 my daughter Mila was born, and as you can imagine that does change a lot of things in your life. She’s 8 years old now so she has grown quite a bit, so I have more time to concentrate on music again. I never really stopped, just didn’t find enough time to really focus on music.
Electronic Groove: After a 6 years break, you made a comeback with about 9 EP’s in the past two years. How did that happen?
100Hz: I want to really thank Fabio at Bosconi Records who first approached me about music in 2009. My daughter wasn’t born then, but it was him who kick-started the whole music thing again and kept it alive when I became a father. I wasn’t making much music at all, but that didn’t stop Fabio from wanting to release some of my older tracks from the Pacific Records days. And about all these releases in recent years, I think that’s due to me being recognized as part of the original UK scene and Fabio reviving the 100Hz name with some choice early classics. Cheers, Fabio!
Electronic Groove: How do you see DJing as opposed to making music?
100Hz: Well, I still don’t really consider myself a DJ. I do play records sometimes but I’m firstly a producer. When I play it’s my own productions, mixed in an original way with my 4 channel mixer. It’s like making new music on the fly. I’m not interested in beat matching records together. I get my thrill from mixing my own music and sounds together to create something new every time I play.
Electronic Groove: Any future plans you want to share with us?
100Hz: I just want to keep on pushing my musical style to the extreme, and try to change what people expect from dance music in general. I want to keep developing new beat patterns. Hopefully one day 5 or 6 beat patterns will be the norm.
100 Hz’s ‘Slinky’ is available on Dreamers Recordings. Grab your copy here.