Exposure: LAPS (Ladies As Pimps)

Exposure: LAPS (Ladies As Pimps)

One half of the industrial soul duo talk Glasgow, the working process and moving on to bigger and better things

Having a resurgent 2017 after an enforced three-year break following their 2014 debut EP, Glasgow duo LAPS (aka Ladies As Pimps; they're named after the 'ladies is pimps too' line from Jay-Z's 'Dirt Off Your Shoulder') have gone from side-project to main concern. Comprising producer and former Organs of Love member Alicia Matthews – who produces, DJs and presents a show on NTS Radio as Sue Zuki – and Golden Teacher singer Cassie Ezeji (often misspelled as 'Ojay'), their dark, minimally industrial no-wave soul is the perfect fit for Optimo's iconic Hogmanay Party. Matthews tells us more.

On starting out together...
Alicia Matthews: I'd just finished art school and Cassie'd just left high school when we met, so I was 23 and she was 17. It was the first time the Green Door Studio in Glasgow had done their year-long NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) course, there were six of us and it was three times a week learning analogue production. We met during that and paired off to make our own music as part of one of our modules. So the first half of our first record was done then, in 2012. It turned out she lived around the corner from me, so we became best pals. She grew up in Glasgow and I grew up in Greenock, but at the time we were living in Finnieston before it became cool.

On the inevitable move to London, and back...
AM: I'd been in a few bands, and my first record with Organs of Love had come out; that band's on a massive hiatus, we're good friends but we've not made anything in a long time. Then we both moved to London, and while we were there the boys in Golden Teacher let a friend of theirs' hear the tracks we'd done. This person asked if we wanted to put a record out, so we hooked up in London to record some more, and then brought it out (their self-titled 2014 EP on Clan Destine). It was pretty well-received, but Cassie moved back to Glasgow when Golden Teacher were taking off and I was studying sculpture and performance at the RCA in London, so I stayed down there until the end of last year. In fact, I moved back up because we got another recording opportunity at Green Door, and that's when the most recent record was made.

On why 2017 has been their best year yet...
AM: Even though the first record came out a couple of years ago, there seemed to be this delayed reaction – people were asking us more about the record and what we were up to in the last year than they did at the time. So we spoke to a few peopled and ended up meeting this woman, Nicole Mckenzie, who's the head of the MIC label and who used to be at Soul Jazz. We actually met on the Facebook group Ladies Music Pub, which is based in London, because I was looking for a job at the record store she used to work at… Anyway, we sent what we'd done to her and we had a good connection with her, so she put that out, and that was it.

On inspirations (or the lack of).
AM: We genuinely don't go into it thinking about how it sounds. Cassie will come over with some lyrics, we'll have a sleepover, and we'll bash something into the drum machine and see if it sounds like fun. It's generally this really organic way of working, but obviously we like different recording techniques and so on; we learned a lot about that at Green Door. The music is very dubby, but I don't know about specific influences. We love RuPaul, the sass of her. We like a lot of stuff, but it doesn't come into our heads when we're thinking of what to produce. It's more pictures, ideas, stories and little in-jokes, a lot of our lyrics have come from making up gossip and tales. And Glasgow as well, it's where we both come from, it definitely shapes who we are as people, our sense of humour, our experiences. We hope it one hundred percent comes across in what we do.

On finding their conviction.
AM: A lot of people we admire have been super kind and complimentary, which has given us even more conviction. The first EP felt like a bit of a fluke, there was acclaim for it at the time, but it was a bit of an underground thing. But this one has helped us feel a bit more sure of ourselves. NTS Radio have always been really supportive of us since the first record, they took us to the Plissken festival in Greece in December, and Vinyl Factory have been a big fan of the work, we were number three in their top twelve-inches of the year, and in their top twenty albums alongside people like Kendrick Lamar and Arca – even though it wasn't really an album. Yeah, and people like Ben UFO have been really complimentary and pushed the music.

On playing live, appearing at the Optimo 20 Hogmanay Party, and the future.
AM: Cassie sings, I do a bit of backing vocals and most of the production. Generally our set-up onstage is just a little MIDI keyboard, an effects unit and I use my laptop for most of it. Most of the stuff we've recorded is on analogue equipment that we've borrowed, so it's easier and more cost-effective to travel light, to be honest. Optimo will be a really fun party, we're playing with General Ludd and I went to art school with Rich and Tom, they were both my year and Rich also did the same NEET course as Cassie and I. It'll be good to play with Keith and Jonnie (Optimo's Twitch and Wilkes). We're taking a break from playing after this, it's our final big blow-out of the year then we'll get back to writing in January and hopefully get some new music out. Then the plan is hopefully to do an international tour in summer. On to bigger and better things, even though 2017's been great.

LAPS play the Optimo 20 Hogmanay Party, Glasgow, Sun 31 Dec. The 'Who Me?' EP is out now on MIC.

LAPS - WHO ME? EP (MIC RECORDS 2017)

Optimo Hogmanay

JD Twitch and JG Wilkes host their annual extravaganza with 12th Isle DJs, General Ludd and Laps.

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