Russia’s stand-up-bass-playing, DJ’ing, crate-digging, music-producing b-boy LTF (‘Light The Fuse’) has just released his fantastic Jazz Echo album through The Content Label. Jazz Echo simmers with the bebop attitude of its namesake, brimming with heavy bass riffs, crucial breakbeats, truncated vinyl exclamations, and an adept ear for melody. The ‘echo’ could be the time travel partaken with the album’s disparate sound sources. With fastidious regional crate-digging, LTF discovered many obscurities for his samples and constructions. “You search for the records and listen to them all day,” LTF explains. “And then you find yourself not listening to the music, but you’re listening to the musicians separated from one another. The more you listen, the more greedy you become for the sound that was born to be found and reimagined. That’s the trip. And this trip flows through the jazz records of Soviet Russia and Eastern Europe.”
We caught up with LTF to ask a few questions about the hip hop scene in Russia, the roots of Soviet jazz, and mixing live contrabass with his productions.
How did you first hear the sounds of hip-hop and learn about b-boy culture?
LTF: I first heard the sounds of hip-hop in the mid-‘90s on the Beastie Boys cassette Ill Communication. Later that decade we had huge breakdance hype in Russia because of the b-boys from Da Boogie Crew. All of the hip-hop artists and events that I saw at that time were so soaked with a spirit of revolution, freedom, progress, and the future. It fit perfectly with my mind.
What is the hip-hop scene like in Omsk and southwestern Siberia? Do you feel that it is different than other Russian hip-hop scenes and sounds?
LTF: Omsk’s scene is very small scene but has all the elements of hip-hop culture. It’s run by true enthusiasts. Because of the internet, physical borders don’t really matter. All the scenes are combining from different people in Russia and from whole world.
Did you enjoy jazz before discovering hip-hop, or did you discover jazz through samples used in hip-hop? And what is different about jazz from Soviet Russia and Eastern Europe, and how does it make your sound unique?
LTF: I had a reverse music evolution experience. I started with hip-hop and then went deep into its roots. Back in the day, Soviet musicians had little access to information and recordings from abroad. The words like "bebop,” "cool,” and "free jazz" were unknown here, so artists had to create everything by themselves. Lack of information, a socialist regime, and huge classical and folk roots lead to a unique approach to playing jazz music.
Can you recommend any Eastern European jazz artists that people should check out?
LTF: Start you day with the jazz-funk maestro Jaan Kuman from Estonia!
How has your experience as a contrabass player influenced your hip-hop production? Do you ever play the bass live with the beats in a club performance?
LTF: When a contrabass appeared in my studio in 2013, I decided to make instrumental hip-hop music closely related to that instrument. That's the heart of the Light The Fuse project. As far as using the bass live, I might in the future. Now I just use turntables and a sampler in my performances.
What are your other passions besides making beats and DJ’ing?
LTF: Besides lovin' my wife I'm running turntable/record shop in Moscow. So for me it's 24/7 spinning records.
What are your future plans? Will you tour for the Jazz Echo project?
LTF: A tour would be nice! Any interested promoters out there? Hit me up!
Listen to LTF’s Jazz Echo on Bandcamp: