If you’re perusing the Further Future schedule and tidying up your bucket list, circle Leftfield and use permanent ink. The trailblazing electronic U.K. duo was a mixtape must-have for ravers and the movie industry alike after the release of its 1995 landmark, Leftism. A hiatus ensued in 2002 when Paul Daley left to focus on a solo career, but Neil Barnes resurrected the act in 2010 and dropped an album of all new material, Alternative Light Source, five years later. Further Future will mark only the second time Leftfield performed stateside in the past 15 years (the other being Coachella in 2010). Barnes talks to us ahead of Saturday night’s set.
With so many festival options in the States, what wooed you to Further Future?
The slant of it with all the talks going on and the artistic side of it, I thought it seemed like really quite an exciting thing to be a part of.
Who will be joining you onstage?
The normal Leftfield gang, which is consists of vocalists and three of us on stage all the time—a drummer, another keyboard player and myself. [The set will be an] experimental journey into the world of Leftfield.
DJs can just show up with a laptop or USB. What’s it like preparing for a full live show?
There’s an enormous amount of preparation. We’ve done a lot of work already because we’ve just come back from Australia and we’ve been touring. Technically, it’s quite demanding because everything, all of our kit, has been slightly miniaturized so we can travel with it much easier, rather than freighting it.
We meet up two or three days beforehand, getting all the kit and equipment out in a rehearsal studio and making sure it all works. The three of us on stage all the time have different parts, all of which involve computers and hardware, controllers, mixing desks, all of these types of things manipulating the sound in all these different types of ways.
When we arrive, we might have a soundcheck—you never know with festivals. Other times you just get a line check for the signals. We run midi time code for the lights and Adam [Wren], who’s next to me, manipulates a lot of the sound live and puts it through effects units. Every single track has a whole different palate of sounds. We’re not a live band in the same way that other bands are live, like with rock guitars, and it’s not an acoustic setup at all. It’s completely electronic—well, there’s a couple of toms on it, but that’s it, and a melodica and I use a vocoder as well.
There’s tons of things that can go wrong, and there’s always something that goes wrong, but that’s just part of the experience.
Will this gig span the full Leftfield catalogue?
Yeah. Obviously I can’t do all three records, but for this gig I haven’t decided what tracks we’ll be doing yet. But generally speaking, you get a smattering of the new album and mainly [1999’s] Rhythm and Stealth with a couple tracks from [1995’s] Leftism. I did a tour in 2010 that featured Leftism largely, so this one is slightly different. You get a bit of old Leftfield and a bit of new Leftfield.
It won’t be another 16 years until the next album, will it?
No, no. I’m starting on that pretty soon, actually. I’m not stressing about making an album immediately, but there will be new Leftfield material coming, hopefully by the end of the summer. There will be new tracks out there, definitely.
Maybe you’ll be inspired by your trip to the Vegas desert?
You know, we’re not there long enough, but being in the desert and being surrounded by that environment? Yeah! Absolutely! I can’t think of a better place to get inspiration from. I love the desert, I love it. I find it a fascinating place to be, all that space and heat in the day and cold at night.
Originally published in Las Vegas Weekly.