A moment to re:lax: In conversation with re:ni and Laksa


Together, and apart, re:ni and Laksa are both forces to be reckoned with.

Individually the pair have been making moves for some time now. Both powerhouses behind the decks, between them they’ve played at some of the most infamous spaces and events including Printworks, Panorama Bar, Nowadays and Glastonbury, to name but a few.

When it comes to production Laksa’s put out music with the likes of Hessle Audio, Timedance and Ilian Tape, the latter of which was also the home for re:ni’s jaw dropping debut outing Revenge Body.


For the last five years they’ve been combining forces for a monthly transmission on NTS Radio which dives into the darker corners and pacier realms of bass, dubstep, jungle and UK techno.

This mutated three years ago to involve a regular party series, with guests like Gigsta, Metrist and Lil C joining them at Ormside Projects in Bermondsey, and just a couple of months ago they announced another addition to the re:lax project: a brand new label. Launching with an EP called Body Score, courtesy of Laksa himself, the imprint will be another avenue for the pair to explore faster tempos and the balance between fluidity and energy.

Their next party takes place tomorrow. Coinciding with Laksa’s inaugural outing dropping, the pair will celebrate by locking horns for their first all night long stint. Before that they have a big old natter about the inspirations behind his new release, their favourite re:lax parties and radio shows thus far, representation in the industry and their ultimate basin contingent…

re:ni to Laksa

re:ni: We were recently talking about the David Bowie documentary “Moonage Daydream” and you mentioned that it had resonated with you when he said he needed to be inspired by things outside of music in order to create good art. Can you expand upon this? What informs/inspires you outside of music?

Laksa: I mean for me personally, doing art for the sake of art just feels a bit empty. A strong idea, well executed, is great. Produced well and on a good system, it will always sounds great. I just feel like music is at its strongest though when there’s an emotion, an experience behind the idea – you’re expressing something or you have something to say. Maybe I’m romanticising but I feel like that’s what made all the music from the hardcore continuum special – people had something to say, get off their chest, communicate a state of mind. This gives the music an identity, an energy and ultimately something for the listener to connect with.

For Body Score my job as a mental health social worker definitely was an inspo. I was reading ‘The Body Keeps the Score’ in preparation for the job, and I ended up sampling the author on ‘Bodies’. When I think of ‘Mind’, a service user just instantly pops into my head – the intensity of supporting him is hard to put into words. He was so unwell it was like a psychological battle – words that come to mind are chaotic, visceral, intense but also deep and uplifting. I feel like the tune channels that energy.

Ultimately I feel like this dynamic can explain why some music can be quite bland, unexciting and lacking the fwd energy. We’ve got such a rich history with UK dance music, but it’s easy for people to use sounds or samples they have little connection to and/or end up recycling tropes. When people are just engaging with the form and structure of pre existing ideas, without telling their own story, it can be a bit boring.

re:ni: Desert Island Discs but you can only pick three Laksa tunes. Which ones you drawing for?

Laksa: Ooo ‘Mind’, ‘Camo trousers’ and ‘Bane’. ‘Mind’ for headfuckz, ‘Camo’ to create a hypey ruckus, and ‘Bane’ to take you to that dark place.

re:ni: Nostalgia is often mentioned in relation to rave/club culture, which can create a bit of a negative lens of viewing the present. What are some positives of the rave/club scene today and in particular what do you feel our party brings which is pushing things forward?

Laksa: Positively for me it’s the female representation. The make up of line ups, in terms of gender, have made progress. As seen with your music (with more to come 😈), opening up that space to DJ has then naturally segued into production. You, NVST, Mia Koden, Azu Tiwaline, Ma Sha… I could go on (which I would have struggled to years before). You all excite me with your productions. The female voice/experience, and the creativity that can come with it, has largely been missing in dance music production, it’s lineage and it feels like we’re working towards that being a thing of the past. To be part of something you’ve first got to be able to imagine yourself in that space, and I hope what’s happening will impact the imagination in this way.

For our party, I feel we try to join the bassy dots ha. It’s never really been about big names etc, and feel there’s deffo some risk taking with some of the bookings. I feel it pushes things fwd as I hope the artists who play feel they can do what they want, and don’t feel constrained in any way. I know as a DJ that if I feel a bit looser, I’ll feel more relaxed about taking risks, which I feel is ultimately what helps push things fwd.

re:ni: Favourite re:lax radio shows, guestmixes and radio shows that have influenced you?

Laksa: I always love this one and this one. Jurango’s guestmix was killer. I think Azu’s was a great deep n dubby exploration as well.

Radio shows that were influential for me include Logan Sama on Kiss, Hessle Audio on Rinse and Plastician on Rinse too. Always loved the chemistry and laughs between Plastician and Nomad.

Laksa asks re:ni

Laksa: What’s been your favourite re:lax party?

re:ni: They’ve all been special in their own way, but it’s gotta be the Jabes and Sicaria Sound one we did at the start of last year. Most people’s first rave of the year after NYE, unannounced lineup, was absolutely rammo and there was just a feverish energy on the dancefloor that really stuck with me. The girls got everyone hyped up then Jabes played one of the most mind-bending sets I’ve ever heard. Reminded me of some of the first Objekt sets I went to, where you can’t really even decipher what the tunes are, it’s just a wall of morphing sounds and you’ve got no idea what twists and turns are coming next. Batu at freero 2018 type energy.

Laksa: We talk a lot about values in music, trying to uphold these and not lose sight of this in the age of social media. What values are most important to you, or do you think are the most important to uphold? Does being a woman influence these at all?

re:ni: The age of social media and its lack of nuance creates generalisations and I’ve observed how this breeds judgement over women more than men – I’m speaking as a white, cis, middle class woman here so my own experience comes with obvious structural privileges. I was chatting with my friend who noticed every time I spoke to him about my career I was extremely self-deprecating. I deeped it after, and realised how much I’d been internalising problematic attitudes towards women & success I’ve witnessed behind the scenes.

The superficial/clout-chasing side of the industry has always existed, even pre-internet. The difference is that nowadays it’s manifested online. And since we now see more diverse identities being represented online, thus often anyone who falls outside the brackets of male/straight/white/cis gets dismissed as being fame-hungry/‘not about the music’.

I noticed after I released my first EP countless guys would tell me it was ‘actually good’ and asked me how I made certain sounds like they couldn’t believe I’d done it myself.

It’s hard not to feel your success is dampened when you are literally just doing exactly what a man is doing and having your achievements attributed to your identity. Have men throughout history not been in positions of power purely for being male?

Don’t get me wrong, I find the cult of the celebrity DJ nauseating… It exacerbates click culture, attracts people from wealthier backgrounds who can afford to fast track their careers, and there’s more focus on fame/ individualism rather than community & love of music. I do think it’s important to look at things from all angles though and consider how for some marginalised communities, socials can provide an essential access point. Why not be hopeful that someone, who feels alienated by who they usually see doing music, might follow an artist online who they can relate to and feel inspired to get into playing or making tunes. 

It’s also mad how women artists are slated for having any kind of visual aesthetic when artists like Bowie and Prince were style icons as well as being some of the greatest musicians of all time. Having a visual identity and being talented aren’t mutually exclusive. It’s ironic that often the men who accuse women of furthering their career because of their looks or because they must be sleeping with someone are the same ones who police girls’ appearances (it’s giving incel, lads!). Ultimately you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. The advice I’d give to anyone is to distance yourself from people who resent you. It’s easier said than done but haters gonna hate so focus on yourself and the people whose values align with your own. Life is too short to waste it trying to prove you aren’t what people might be telling you you are.

Laksa: If you had to convert a naysayer, what record would you play them to show them the power of dance music.

re:ni: Ploy – Garys sped up to 160

Laksa: What cities, scenes, crews or labels are influencing you right now?

re:ni: So much! Gonna take this opportunity to shout out everyone I fw atm <3

Grove, MJK, Oblig, Mia Koden, Harba, Chamber 45 / Travs Presents – sick to see young crews doing bits and n creating their own movement. Keep Hush also continue to do a great job of spotlighting fresh new artists and sounds. RenzNiro in Manny, Ema/Woozy in Dublin, New gen in Detroit (fullbodydurag, HiTech). Omar S forever xxx. Portal88 Records – Chicago, Woo Da Savage- NYC, The Bermondsey Trio (Mike, Jan, Kit).

Laksa: Create your ultimate bassbin contingent. Mine would be: D Double on the Mic, Skream on Bass, Azu Tiwaline or Shackleton on drums, Ruff Squad/Rapid or DJ Plead on keys

re:ni: Photek, Rashad, Mobbs & 808Melo = dream blunt rotation.