Born out of a mutual admiration and respect for the luminaries that paved their way, Legwork Records is the brainchild of the San Francisco-based duo, Lance DeSardi and Leopold. Their mission statement is simple – “Raw and unfettered dance music for the head, heart and most of all, for the Legs…”, while a low-key approach to promotion leaves plenty of room for the music to do the talking.
With a fifth release on the horizon we got in touch with Lance to talk origins, inspirations and most importantly, what it means to put in the Legwork;
It’s probably best to start from the very beginning, so how did you guys come to meet?
I met Leopold in 2004 or five in a Chicken Cottage, where we fell in deep platonic love. He lived at Barcelona at that time doing the legendary Estate parties and since I was travelling to Europe a bunch, I made his couch my unofficial home away from home.
What motivated you to set up a record label?
We had talked about it before over the years, and when I came up with the idea for Legwork he jumped (bad pun) on board. We decided after the fact that we should probably just call our artist project by the same name, as to not confuse things.
Many have looked towards the likes of Masters At Work, Mood II Swing and Gemini for inspiration. Would you say your label curation is indebted to those seminal artists, or are you just seeking to capture an essence of what they did?
Probably more of the latter, although what we both feel is great about artists like that is that they where up for pretty much anything stylistically. For instance, Gemini was a good friend, and watching that dude DJ was a master class on how to bring it all to the table in a cohesive way. It seems that now everyone likes everything in dance music, but it wasn’t always like that, and still isn’t in some circles. We’re just trying to capture that idea and put it together in the label in our own way.
Both you and [Legwork artist] Gerard Hanson hail from Texas but cite Detroit as a major influence. Is there a real appetite for midwestern house and techno in The Lone Star State?
Man, I cite Gerard as a major influence! When we were in Dallas, I always used to get excited when he came to the party and was dancing and hanging out… Digression aside, yeah, Detroit techno and Chicago house were very prominent in Dallas. Tim Shumaker & Luke Sardello had a label called Doghouse Records that put out a bunch of Derrick Carter’s early stuff with Chris Nazuka, so I think it kind of snowballed from knowing all those guys. There was also a place called the Starck club in the early 90’s that was a really amazing petri dish of music and fashion and other fun stuff. All that coupled with the Hazy Daze Collectif doing great free parties – it really made house and techno the main sound to hear at underground parties.
Derrick’s been playing some of your music fairly recently, hasn’t he? How does it feel to be recognised by the artists you looked up to for so long?
A lot of us in Dallas used Derrick as a measuring stick as to what we were doing as DJs and producers. I think he was the first person any of us had seen put records together the way that he does, and it was pretty fucking mind altering, to be honest. The first time I actually heard him play something of mine was a real treat. I probably ran around the club shouting “THIS IS MINE!! THIS IS MINE!!!”
The Legwork artists are spread quite far and wide. With that in mind, how much of an impact do you believe location and identity have on a producer’s ethos and approach?
Even though the interwebs has distilled the entire global dance scene into a couple of all powerful sites that make and break people as they see fit, I still think it’s massive to be around people doing great shit and doing their own shit. I look at the Dutch scene; they’ve cultivated something that’s their own, while paying homage to innovators from America and elsewhere. The main thing is having good dance floors to hear good dance music.
Is there anything you look for in particular when it comes to signing new music to the label?
All bangers, no mash.
We’re big fans of Matrixxman here. Is there a chance we’ll be seeing a proper Legwork release from the producer any time soon?
I think we got him in just under the wire before hitting the big-time. Charlie is a really great dude though, so who knows if we can sneak one in at some point. I’m still super stoked he did the remix for us and killed it so hard.
As a vinyl-only label, what’s your opinion on vinyl vs digital?
I don’t really have a dog in that fight, although I almost exclusively play records. It’s the thing I’m most comfortable with, and I think that going to the record store, meeting people and finding out about music you might not have heard on soundcloud or wherever is a huge thing. Digital music buying can be so insular and I still quite obviously like the community aspect of all this, so that’s my main thing. But I hear loads of people rock it with CDJs or Traktor or whatever, so just find what you like and do it well.
If you could sign one classic record, what would it be?
Ah hell, that’s impossible to answer! I’d go on for days…
Could you recommend three tracks ideal for putting in the Legwork to?
Three new(ish) ones I’m feeling at the moment:
Outside of the label, are there any artists you’d recommend looking out for?
A lot of the stuff DJ Sotofett and Fett Burger are doing, almost anything Mood Hut out of Vancouver is up to, Anything Dekmantel, and lots of the Lobster Theremin releases. Vin Sol and Matrixxman are both obviously killing as well.
And finally, what does 2016 have in store for Legwork?
Just putting in more…