Inside the minds of XRA: Bruce and Lurka chew the fat
XRA is the collaborative project of two of Bristol’s finest, Bruce and Lurka.
Launched back in November 2021 with an eponymous EP, housed on their label of the same name, the pair married their meticulous production skills to explore the different corners of the hardcore continuum.
In June they returned for round two: a single titled ‘Invisible‘, which comes as four different versions and sees Bruce flexing his “sad boi” vocal muscles. This time they leant into another side of their tastes, fusing IDM, vocal house and wafty tech, but with that leftfield XRA twist.
It’s no surprise that XRA’s output is so deftly produced, separately Bruce and Lurka have got plenty of acclaimed releases under their belt. Bruce’s debut album came via Hessle Audio and he’s notched up outings for Idle Hands, Hemlock Recordings, Timedance and plenty of others, while Lurka’s talents have been housed on EPs for Black Acre, Fringe White and Hotline Recordings, to name but a few. When they join forces, inevitably they’re an unstoppable force.
After Googling what questions they should ask one another, the pair managed to settle in to a free-flowing conversation, which sees them geek out on favourite plugins, share their top book recommendations and discuss how life is much better when you pretend it’s a video game.
Bruce: [Airhorn sound] You alright mate?
Lurka: Haha, that gets me every time. Yeah good thanks mate. How you doin?
B: Yeah not bad ta
L: So what are we gonna talk about? I feel like a lot of the shite we normally talk is inappropriate for an interview
B: What you mean? We aren’t that bad?
L: No I just mean no one’s gonna wanna read our normal chat cos its so inane hahaha
B: haha yeah true
L: We need to talk about safe subjects like ‘what was the last good book you read?’
B: Ah man that’s so laaame. Do you read books then?
L: Err…. yeah! Yeah.
B: Sound On Sound doesn’t count mate
L: Haha *wHy N0t!?*
B: Gotta be without pictures mate.
L: Wait, what the fuck is going on?
B: Oh, sorry. I was just scratching my laptop
L: Ah right. Urm, let me Google it quickly… Yeah it was called Feline Philosophy by John Gray. It was pretty interesting.
B: Oh yeah?
L: He can be pretty divisive. That one wasn’t though.
B: You learn about dogs?
L: Yeh haha. Mate… what the fuck are we talking about hahaha
B: Haha well you tell me you’re reading a book all about cats so I wondered if it had anything about dogs in it
L: Ah mate. Let me just Google * tapping keyboard sounds * good, interview, questions…
B: NO mate! What the hell! I can’t believe this…
L: “Can you tell me about yourself and describe your background”
B: No we’re not doing that! Who wants to know about that shit!? We’re interested in good ol’ funny content. Ah fuck it I can tell you about the book im reading
L: Haha okay, what have you been reading Mr. Larrryyy
B: It’s actually sick to be fair. Blood Witness by Cormac McCarthy
L: Isn’t that a Regis tune?
B: Yeah it is! Oh, wait… maybe I’ve got it wrong… Blood Meridian! That’s what it’s called.
L: Ah nice yeah Cormac McCarthy – The Road.
B: Yeah yeah, I’ve never been too excited about reading The Road. Sounds too heavily depressing.
L: Blood Meridian – sounds Warhammer or something: right up your street
B: Haha nooooo. So far it’s like a Coen Brother’s western but way darker and really fucking gory
L: Bloody hell
B: Yeah just got to this scene with this war tribe attacking the main character and his party and it’s just so savage and violent. It’s funny as I normally can’t stand gore and war films. But I feel like there’s a difference between enjoying violence and then being exposed to it.
L: Ah right
B: Maybe that’s just me. Is there much violence in that book about cats mate?
L: Hahahahaha. Not really.
L: What else have I been reading… well if I can’t say Sound On Sound then I guess…
B: Well you can say Sound On Sound really. Reading is reading. I’m just saying it’s probably pretty boring for people to read
L: Haha shut up you love it
B: Yeah I do to be fair
L: So….. you got any good plugins recently?
B: I’ve just been rinsing the Plugin Alliance mixmaster bundle
L: Oooh yeah
B: I was actually mastering a couple bits today and using the Amek 200 and it’s pretty mad
L: That’s the GML emulation, right?
B: I dunno. It’s the big black crazy one with lots of knobs. It’s fucking crazy
L: Yeah. I really like that inverse function it’s got on it
B: Wait what? What does it do?
L: It’s called gain scale. So you can dial in what you like and then you can just edge it back slightly ofr increase it or completely invert it. So say you boost something 10db, then inverse it, it’ll cut it 10db so you can flick between and see what you’re doing to the signal
B: Ah oooook I’ll give that a try
L: Yeah it’s really useful
B: I just really love the on and off switches on things. I just feel if these people are clever enough to design the thing to do the thing, they should be able to put an on and off switch on it
L: Ah nice, per band?
B: Yeah per band or function or whatever. Just so you can easily tell the difference of what the thing is actually doing. And that plugin has got it. Everything you can just ping back and forth, A B, A B and that
L: It’s been 10 minutes and we’ve already gone into talking about plugins hahahaha
B: Haha for fuck sake
L: I don’t have anything else to talk about! Hahhahaha! all right all right what artists have inspired you recently
B: What has inspired me recently? Umm…. Nosedrip
L: Nosedrip? Who’s that?
B: A bloke from Brussells
B: Yeah he runs a dope label called Stroom and is a wizard DJ. Saw him play at Love International and it was fucking amazing
L: Oh cool
B: How about you mate?
L: I’ve been so stuck in the studio I haven’t really been listening to anything haha
B: Yeah I feel that. Ok great another question exhausted…
L: Haha well let’s talk about XRA man!
B: Oh yeah! Xavier Renegade Angel. Is that politically correct enough?
L: Well I guess so cos it’s one of those things that just shits on everyone
B: Ok yeah it does. Well, for anyone that doesn’t know, XRA, our namesake, is short for Xavier Renegade Angel which is an animated series by… is it Adult Swim?
L: * looks it up* yeah… Jesus christ it’s from 2007
B: 2007!? Woow…
L: Yeah mate, so fucking good! It’s exhausting watching it…
B: It is exhausting isn’t it but you know, just what we wanted after exhausting our taste levels of hi hats and kick drums
L: Then watching a bit of that and coming back to the real world. It’s almost like when you do certain exercise it makes time seem to extend
B: Yeah haha
L: When you watch that it makes 15 minutes seem like a fucking hour and a half
L: Haha its so funny
B: Yeah it has to be done though. I fucking love animated shit. What else… Adventure Time. You seen much Adventure Time?
L: Yeah. I like the first couple series then I dunno, I dunno why I stopped watching it. Was the rest of it any good?
B: I mean I thought the first couple of series were a bit juvenile
L: Ha probably why I liked it ahhaha
L: Haha fuck sake
B: It just got deeper and deeper as it went on. As I’ve always struggled with long format telly, cos of the way that it slowly ebbs and flows over stuff and Adventure time goes just as deep in a much more efficient way without this “omg they took so long to do that and dragged it out so much wasn’t it amazing”
B: I find it so boring. My attitude is like when “oh, yeah, but you have to watch it. You have to fucking watch it. You have to expose yourself to 60 hours of Breaking Bad for it to be good!” Well, then how can it be good? How can it be good if you need 60 hours of it? I don’t understand.
L: Yeah, when you say it like that…
B: You know? “Oh you don’t get it mate! You don’t get it.”
L: Yeah, but are you gonna seriously say that about something like Sopranos? I mean, yeah that probably could have been shorter. Actually no it couldn’t…
B: This is what I’m sayin! Like Sopranos, The Wire like I’m sure they are amazing. It just takes so much quality to justify that length in things. You can say the same thing about Ricardo Villalobos tracks…
B: No but for real! If they’re 20 minutes long…
L: Yeah exactly, why aren’t they 20 minutes longer!?
L: That’s exactly what I’m talking about
B: Haha you fucking love minimal
L: It’s so good
B: Actually I was listening to your new bits you sent over and noticed, unlike the previous batch, you’ve stopped even calling them “Tech House wafters,” you’re not being self conscious of that they’re just tunes you’re making and they’re really tech house. You’re making the transition mate.
L: Hahaha hell yeah!
L: Hell yeh. Well mate the stuff you are sending is like super nightmare Dub! Loving it mate.
B: Cheers man
L: All these RWDFWD purchases are paying off!
B: Haha innit yeah Alex has basically got shares in this upcoming record
L: haha yeah big up RWDFWD
B: Yeah big up every single time. You’re moving house at the moment aren’t ya?
L: Yeah moving out of the same place I’ve been in for a decade…
B: A decade!? Fucking hell
L: It’s all about the tunes innit?
L: It’s fine for me, I’m always living in my head anyway.
B: Yeah man. And you don’t need to shower when you’re in your tunes…
L: Ha well speak for yourself
B: Hahahahaha sorry true yeh fair
L: Either way got a studio now so been on it more than ever making tunes
B: Nice man, yeah you are sitting on so many bangers
L: Anyway, you been playing on any good video games recently?
B: Video games? No, I’ve actually got my life back in that respect
L: Haha! Yeah fair enough. You’ve actually been in the studio?
B: Yeah man
L: I think we talked about this before that video games scratch such a similar itch to making tunes.
B: Yeah! I’ve actually quoted you on this
L: It’s great and you can be creative in a satisfying way, but at the same time, you put hours into something and have absolutely nothing to show for it.
B: Dude it’s spot on like “yes yes YES,” and then “awww… I’ve got to the same ending of the game as potentially millions of other people and none of us have anything to show for it”
L: Hahaha definitely not hating on video games
B: Nah nah not at all! The festival I was at at the weekend, we decided shit festivals were more fun if you treated everything like an RPG
L: You’ve only got one life though
B: Yeah hahahahaha, well not entirely true. You could pass out then come to and that could be your second life
L: Yeah I’m sure you’re drinking all sorts of strange potions
B: Hahahahaha yeah like fucking Mario “Buddleebuddlee boop!”
B: Nah it’s more like doing little side quests, practising your dexterity, charisma tests when you trying to smarm your way backstage.
L: Talk shit
B: Haha yeah talk shit. Life is better when you pretend it’s a video game. As long as you aren’t pressing triangle when walking past cars.
L: How was this festival then? You said it was shit?
B: Yeah it was a fucking mess. The DJ on before me was a joke too
L: Oh really?
B: Yeah but I’m not gonna get done for slander
L: Yeah good idea
B: Love International was dope though. The b2b with Jake went really well
L: Oh really? Nice man!
B: Yeh he gave me stick for giving him a bit of a briefing before
L: What, that you were gonna do a speech half way through it?
B: Hahaha yeh “bring in the strings, Jake. Bring in the strings now!”
B: “The ancient tree has been felled!”
L: Haha for fuck sake. What did you brief him on then?
B: I just thought it’d be good to discuss how we were gonna differentiate our sound from the other people playing because it was stiff competition so we just went for smoother, softer versions of ourselves. So yeah it went well
B: I never asked how was your night at Crofters Rights?
L: Yeah I got Covid
B: OH NO! So you weren’t able to do it?
L: Haha nah I did it then got Covid
B: Ah damn. Well at least you got to do the gig
L: Yeah man those guys are great man so I was chuffed to play with them (DJ POLO + Ramzee, NKC + Lurka, DJ SP)
B: Yeh it’s a bit of a joke how people are still getting Covid
L: Yeah man. When you’re holed up in the studio then you go out once and get Covid. It’s a pisstake
B: What sort of stuff did you play?
L: Well I was b2b with NKC and he’s got fucking tekkers!
B: So have you though! But I guess if you were going b2b with someone you couldn’t use the sync button?
L: Err… well I tried hahaha
B: Haha “Look over there Jake! There’s a big Hard Drum thing that you just gotta see”
L: Haha yeah I couldn’t do as much scratching as I normally do, yaknowhatimean?
B: Yeah it’s just not fair when you got a CDJ up behind your head when doing the thing with someone else. You don’t wanna show the other person up
L: Haha yeah it was cool though man. He plays tonkers and it was MINT.
B: Yeah I don’t really know what else to talk about.
L: What do you mean? I’m so boring. You’ve got a social life
B: Well yeah but most of it is still not interview-worthy
L: What do you mean?
B: Well interviews are like going for dinner at your parent’s house, when all you have to talk about is making tunes, partying too hard or literally doing fuck all
B: So, yeah haha. “Yeah you know, just been busy with bits”
L: Yeah then you get the extended family member sayin “oo how’s your little music going? Are you still doing that?”
L: Family belittling your efforts. Have you ever had that?
B: Haha well fortunately I have a small family. But I do remember old school friends approaching me at the pub I worked at like “hows that little Dubstep thing you’re doing? Still doing that?”
L: Ahhhh “ you wouldn’t know Dubstep if it slapped you in the face, you prick”
B: Hahaha if only “yeh good thanks. So two pints of lager, that’s £8.70 thanks.”
B: They’re buying big ol’ beers for all their mates cos they’re making loads of money doing some boring ass recruitment job
L: Haha you just get salty people don’t you
B: Well I feel like we’ve spoken about enough stuff there innit
L: When you transcribe it can you make sure we don’t sound completely moronic?
B: Haha nah it’s good content. I think…