INTERVIEW

An electronic loner inspired by literature, art and, most of all, “the poetry”

thecaulfieldbeats

An electronic loner inspired by literature, art and, most of all, “the poetry”

If the noughties saw the rise of the Bedroom Producer, whatever insufferably shite named decade we’re in now could welcome in the Studio Flat Studio, and The Caulfield Beats would be leading the line.

“Yeah I make it in my room but I’m a student so my bedroom is my kitchen, my toilet, my hospital, it’s everything. I bleed, throw up and make music in the same square meter.” At 19 years old, Lawrence Northall may seem pretty young to achieve the intricate, worldly and downright dance-worthy sound he does, but he’s already got a wealth of experience. “I have been fucking around with music on a computer since I was 12 or 13,” he says “using Ableton with loads of plug ins. I also record just random sounds and I’ve got this Hawaiian guitar that I just love hearing and playing”.

Talking to Lawrence is a lot like listening to his music – one idea threads into four more, his brain firing on all cylinders, his mouth flying to keep up. It’s pure entertainment and his musical mind is just as scattershot. “I’m classically trained on Piano, Violin and Clarinet but I became a teenager,” he explains “and, y’know, one thing leads to another and you end up standing on your head in the gutter with sick dripping off your feet instead of playing.”  He can’t play everything but you get the feeling he could do. “I don’t play the French horn and I hate the trumpet, it’s for heralding isn’t it, a French horn is like vinyl and the trumpets like a copied CD.”

Such an erudite fella, it’s no surprise The Caulfield Beats garnered his namesake from within the literary world; with a nod to The Catcher in the Rye’s Holden Caulfield. “It’s a powerful book and it impacted my life a lot when I was 14,” says Tom “probably like a lot of other people. I identified with him wandering around disillusioned. I’ve never really been a part of a big group of friends and always been a social wanderer.”

Just like the books protagonist Lawrence scratches, beeps and walks alone, although JD Salinger’s recent death has brought with it a bandwagon he’d rather not be riding. “Well he was a recluse wasn’t he, so he would’ve hated this shit, maybe we can make it a psychotic post modern name, maybe it’s the point, if not we can make it the point, its an interview right.” He jokes much like Holden may have, kicking against the pricks (me in this instance).

Lawrence genuinely is a wanderer though, currently frequenting Goldsmiths College, he could be found just a year ago off his box in the fields of Sussex where he grew up – “Yeah, back there was the first time I played live,” he starts to explain. “It was just awesome, everyone was off their heads, it’s Sussex you know!” A ring goes off; it couldn’t have been better timed. “Shit it’s my mum, and she never rings! My parents are pretty cool though. They could’ve done a better job than I have of this interview.”  Take a boy out of Sussex, though, and what do you get? “I’m pretty sick of the scene thing in London already. I know people probably think I dress like a scenester but I really don’t mean too, I just steal my girl-friends clothes. A lot of it’s so contrived isn’t it, it’s not real y’know.” He may not like it but promoters and bands are already cottoning on, and finding yourself on the bill with such great new Goldsmiths bands as Beaty Heart can hardly be problematic? “Yeah maybe there is something going on – DIY punk, experimental or some kind of shit.”

The more time spent with The Caulfield Beats the more you get back, his music like a good painting… at least that’s how he sees it. “I don’t always think of it as music, more visual art. I always think about the aesthetics of sound,” he says, and this isn’t hard to imagine as you’re carried through each track on a euphoric wave, stopping to take in every vibrant layer, every gaudy arcadian hum. His almost playful, humorous take on music is all with purpose too. “There’s the grammar of music and I look for the poetry,” he says. “A lot of bands just go for the hook, the basic grammar if you like, they don’t go for the poetry.”

Out on a limb, is it really Lawrence against the world, though? If you make music in a bedsit do you have to exist in that bubble continually? Some producers go on to collaborate with other bands. “Nah, I don’t like the idea of getting in with a group of people, I think of myself as a band even though its just me on my own.” Yes, then, it seem is it The Caulfield Beats against the world.

By Ian Roebuck

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Originally published in issue 15 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. March 2010

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