Q&A: Le1f Talks The Influence Of Ballroom And Working With Das Racist, Spank Rock, And Nguzunguzu

Over the past few months, Le1f—a rapper and producer who wrote his undergraduate thesis on "Subversion in Post-WWII Performance"—has been an increasingly unavoidable presence in and around the city, playing alongside everyone from Greedhead labelmate Big Baby Gandhi to London trap-rave producer Girl Unit. Meanwhile, his Dark York mixtape proved worth the wait, offering 21 tracks that capture much of what is exciting about the sound of post-Ghe20 Goth1k New York.

In advance of tonight's show (with GG's Venus X) at Littlefield, we talked about working with artists like Spank Rock and Nguzunguzu, the problem with being over-associated with ballroom, and the subjects of that thesis.

Starting off with the basics, are you from New York?

Yes, I'm a native—I'm from Manhattan... I was raised in Hell's Kitchen and now live in the Upper West Side.

When you got to Wesleyan, how did you link up with Heems and Victor of Das Racist?

I actually knew them from the summer before I went to college. There was a guy J-La, another friend of theirs who went to Wesleyan who was DJing for me in New York at the time, and Himanshu was his roommate so I ended up hanging out with them the summer before college.

And how did you come to produce "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell"?

I was hanging out, crashing on their couch, and Himanshu said he wanted to start this new project, so I just gave him a ton of beats and they recorded a bunch of scrapped things over some of them. And that was one of them.

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Live: Nguzunguzu And Salva Get Heads Bobbing At 285 Kent

Nguzunguzu w/Salva, Rizzla, DJ Weird Magic
285 Kent
Friday, March 23

Better than: Any workout that doesn't happen on the dance floor.

At 2 a.m. early Saturday Salva took control of 285 Kent, commanding the audience with a mix that incorporated freestyle, house, Miami bass, southern rap, and west coast funk—among other things. "I've gotten into a lot of stuff over the years like IDM and old proper electro, and Miami bass", Paul Salva—who operates under his last name—told me before the show. A Midwest native, Salva has set up on shop in San Fransisco and launched his own Frite Nite label; he recently moved to Los Angeles.

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