Eric Lau is a London based producer, known for his work with an array of international artists including Lupe Fiasco, Georgia Anne Muldrow, Chris “Daddy” Dave, Dudley Perkins, Guilty Simpson, Oddisee, Muhsinah, Tanya Morgan, and several others.
In addition to production work he is also a well respected DJ having toured the world and supported acts such as Erykah Badu, Questlove and Robert Glasper to name a few. His debut album “New Territories” to great critical acclaim was nominated as one of Giles Petersonʼs Worldwide Top Albums of the Year 2008, establishing him as a key name at the forefront of progressive production talent.
Fast forward to 2012 and he has recently completed “The Mission” EP featuring Detroit’s native Guilty Simpson amongst others. Grindin’ caught up with Eric before he embarked on his Australasian tour in May.
Who were your musical influences growing up?
In my teenage years I was into a lot of guitar based music Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, The Beatles, The Kinks, Brit Pop stuff. I listened to a bit of Hip Hop but wasn’t deep into it until my friend lent me some Roy Ayers and Curtis Mayfield. It made me understand how hip hop was made and it opened me up to even more types of music.
What got you into music production?
When I was at University my friend lent me some simple music software, it was like a game to me and I was hooked! I played the music that I had made to other people and they seemed to feel it. Once I started recording with vocalists and musicians I never really looked back! I never thought I would be making music, music found me.
What equipment were you using when you first started out and what are you now using?
I started on a normal PC and Hip Hop Ejay. The went on to Fruity Loops. Now I use the MPC, Moog, Outboard eq’s and Logic.
When did you realise you could make this as a career?
When I got my first production job with a British group called Hil St Soul
You originally grew up in Cambridge and then made the move to London how did you find relocating to such a big city and did it help with your production?
Moving to London helped me develop as person and opened me up to a lot of different cultures, especially in music. I didn’t really make music until I was in London but I feel moving there definitely helped in terms of the infrastructure. There always some show to go to or at the time a record store to hang out at. It helped me develop a lot of face to face relationships that helped me in my progression to where I am now.
Being of British Chinese descent and that you aren’t from London was it hard breaking into Hip Hop circles given the lack of other British Chinese within it?
Yes and no. Many people did not take me seriously at first however people never expect anything from us so they are often pleasantly surprised. I use it to my advantage.
In 2006 you got one of your first big breaks with Giles Peterson including a track of yours on the “Brownswood” Bubblers compilation. Is this when people really started to take notice of you?
It definitely helped, Gilles and Benji B have always supported my music from the beginning and they have a great audience that appreciate a wide range of music. I feel that that track along with collaborations with Guilty Simpson, Dudley Perkins, Georgia Anne Muldrow helped me reach more people.
You have received some notable co-signs from major players in Hip Hop such as Jay Electronica, Phonte, Questlove, Bobbito Garcia amongst others how does it feel when you receive such praise?
It’s incredible, I’m just thankful they have come across my music. To me they speak the same language so it’s a blessing that they have embraced the music.
Recently you released “The Mission” EP featuring Guilty Simpson was this something you always wanted to do since you recorded “For The D” with him and what is about Guilty that made you want to do this project?
After doing ‘For The D’ we had talked about doing a whole project together for a while. Kilawatt Music approached me to do a project with one rapper so it was a no brainer. Guilty has one of the best rap voices and I feel that he has a lot emotion in his delivery. I’m proud to have worked with him.
How hard was it making given that you both live in other parts of the world?
It was pretty simple, I gave Guilty some loose direction with the tracks and trusted that he would do what’s best for the music. He definitely adapted to the mood of the tracks and I think it shows in the music.
You mostly release your work on the Killawatt record label how did the connection come about and is there anyone else on their roster we should look out for?
Simon from Kilawatt actually interned for a youth music organisation I used to work for. He was a fan of the music and wanted to set up a label. He raised the finances himself and approached me to do a release and I agreed. Since then we have had a really good working relationship and he keeps on going from strength to strength. I have a lot of admiration for his passion, drive, and willingness to learn. He is going to go far! As far as the roster is concerned, look out for Ben Jones, he is an amazing guitarist, drummer and producer.
You have worked with an array of artists including Lupe Fiasco, Oddisee, Guilty Simpson, Georgia Anne Muldrow and many more. Who have you most enjoyed working with and why?
I gotta say Rahel, she’s my sister and I just love her approach to song writing. There’s a lot more to come from her…
As a UK producer have you found it hard getting recognition over in the US?
My first LP was on Ubiquity which is based in LA so that really helped me gain exposure in the US however my aim has always been to make music that could be felt internationally.
What are your thoughts on the current UK Hip Hop and beat scene?
I feel there is a lot of talent over here and I feel the music is unique because a lot of the scenes cross over.
What’s one piece of music you wished you made?
Slum Village – Fantastic Vol 2
Who is one artist you would like to work with and why?
D’Angelo, because he is D’Angelo.
What’s the best piece of advice ever given to you?
The song is King
What inspires you to make music?
What does the future hold for Eric Lau?
A lot more music!
What’s your definition of Grindin’?
Playing your position to the fullest.
Fri 18th May – The Bird, Perth
Sat 19th May – The Croft Institute, Melbourne
Fri 25th May – Rakinos, Auckland
Sat 26th May – The Burdekin, Sydney