New Sound 019 \\ Illinois beatmaker Radius teams up again with vocalist Lailah Reich

17th June 2019

There are few beatmakers out there who are as productive as Chicago based Radius. 

Whilst Radius has a large collection of solo releases behind him, he’s collaborated with vocalist Lailah Reich for the second time as Dia.L. Following their self-titled release in 2016, they’ve hit record once more for their second album as a pair. It’s called ‘Injera’; a title that nods to their shared appreciation for Ethiopian food and the activity of ‘breaking bread’ with a loved one. 

Fragmented beats snap, click and thwap beneath Lailah’s R&B inspired vocals on ‘Everything is Everything’. Meanwhile on ‘Minor/Major’, which has received plays on Bandcamp Weekly and Worldwide FM, thumps with crackling production and trickling keys. You’ll have its hook stuck in your head for the day. 

To mark the release of ‘Injera’ from Dia.L’, we ‘break bread’ with Radius. 

\\ Tell us about ow Dia.L came to be?

Dia.L (pronounced dial) is Lailah Reich and I; she’s a powerful vocalist, botanist, painter and just overall golden lady who I’m very grateful to share this group with and even more to call my friend. She’s held me down in tough times and we are lifting one another up in our better times. Before Dia.L there was Beyond Luck, which was formed by Moppy and I, and also includes the legendary producer/pianist Kenny Keys. Beyond Luck is still active, yet we are all scattered in different cities and what not.

‘Injera’ is our sophomore release. We started working on new tracks I think back in 2016, that was the year we dropped our self title debut. Whenever I’m working on things and I hear or see Lailah in my vision, I send her a track or a few – sometimes I may have a basic idea or structure, but majority of the time, we just mesh immediately like Sunflower Seed butter and fig jelly, haha. We named ourselves Dia.L, basically to tie into the math of my name and her own name (Dia = Diameter) , together we expand the power of the circle.

 

\\ How did you get into making beats? Where do you begin creatively, when you’re inspired to create?

The whole beatmaking origins, was and still is a long journey. I started creating beats in 2001, yet had interest in getting into it some years prior within highschool. I was super immersed within hiphop in my mid to late years of high school, especially buying records for scratching and sampling. It was a natural progression being so immersed in the culture, seeing my peers/cats I looked up to within my scene making beats and rocking shows. I started with software first; Cool Edit Pro, Acid Pro and Fruity Loops – all early versions – yet my eyes and heart were always interested in hardware, especially MPC series.

As far as my inspiration to create, there is no box, no ceiling, so no one set answer to this question. I am inspired by so much and at various times, within various spaces and places. I create so much without even touching any physical tool, so much goes on in my head, or just tapping on my legs or a table, or just from humming or singing, when I’m walking around the world; especially solo travel excursions. As far as the studio, I can start with melodies on an instrument, or sample from a record, or start drums on a machine, or just bounce ideas off another artist at the time. I’m heavy into imagination and improvisation, and of course the sounds I hear within nature.

 

\\ Chicago has a great beatmaker community, please tell us about it

Yes indeed! So awesome that you recognize and acknowledge it, for it is soooo potent. One thing I really really love about my beloved city, which I call ” the barracks”, is so many of us are hardworking and consistent, and no matter if we are working together in a studio setting, live showcases, or trading samples  – or whatever -we don’t sound alike at all!  We are out here sharpening one another’s swords, and I so honour that highly.

Chicago is a very segregated city, yet we have a strong respected community base within our beat oriented nights; Open Beats via Fess Grandiose (one of the strongest scene bridging nights period) at Cafe Mustache, Push Beats at The Whistler, Fresh Roasted at The Whistler and Sleeping Village via Alejandro Ayala (King Hippo) and Beat Lo Fi Social, which was via Slot A.

I host semi residencies with my Etc Record label, my most unique one, which I’ve been also branching into in other cities; The Electronic Buffet, which originates from my fellow Live PA/gear producer OG peers. I’m in negotiation with a DIY spot or two at the moment as well to do more. The majority of the producers on my label perform as well. We host new release instores with 606 records, Gramophone and Wild Prarie Records. We are happy that these shops are more grass roots and open minded; I felt like that was missing for some time. I also want to add that I’m seeking grants and sponsorships, to take this to the next level, especially to the youth, incase anyone reading wants to point me/us in the right direction. Much Gratitude.

 

\\ What’s coming up for you in the rest of the year?

There will be lots more focus on the label (etcrecords.com), as far as consistent quality releases from within the circle. I’ll be trying to figure out more ways to get projects to reach more people and places, plus working harder and smarter at getting physical releases out there from within the circle as well as myself. I’m seeking residencies, especially community DIY spaces that will bridge with us and really take things to new heights. I am working with a dope vocalist that I befriended in Ethiopia this past March; Isabel Tesfazghi – she’s of German and Eritrean roots. We’ve started on an EP. I just received the fourth vinyl release on Etc Records (#ETC004), which is the Chicago to Paris 7″ with Jostereo and myself. It’s 250 copies and out in June. That release will satisfy the ethereal headnod bboy/girl beat heads forsure!  

I have a track on Instrument Of Change, the new imprint from my awesome friend based in Rotterdam; Stephen Pieters. It’s a split EP, ‘Abstract, ‘Contemplations Volume 1’ vinyl, which will satisfy the house/techno heads out there. Lailah and I are working toward pressing up our Dia.L – ‘Injera album’. I am finished with my next solo release; ‘Embrace The Circle’, which features the majority of the artists and groups that I regularly work with. I will drop it soon, especially if anyone is interested in pressing it up. If not, Etc will get it out in due time. Last but definitely not least, I’m doing my best to balance some endeavors – things both near and far – so I can sit still in one place for a little longer and not be a so called nomad. Although, I feel Africa calls to me the most as of late…

Pre-order Dia.L’s ‘Injera’ from Radius’ own label, ETC Records

Check out the exclusive guest mix from London band Cykada

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