Podcast 557: re:ni - XLR8R
Bass-heavy rhythms from a rising UK name.

re:ni is the chosen alias of Lauren Bush, a Birmingham-born, Dorset-raised, and South London-based DJ. Her musical roots stem from her father, a DJ himself who exposed his daughter to an array of records and hosted parties where he and his friends played sets incorporating soul, hip-hop, drum & bass, and house, among others genres. She found a connection to drum & bass soon thereafter, from partying and via her older friends in her orbit, and began DJing; encouraged by a friend, she bought a pair of decks and spent many months mixing her Dad’s old house records. 

Over time, her sound has transitioned to a bass-heavy, rhythmic sound, informed by off-kilter rhythms and her teenage years spent listening to drum & bass, dubstep, and garage. A move to London has accelerated an immersion within the scene and provided her with a steady stream of bookings at the likes of Find Me In The Dark and Make Me at London's Corsica Studios, plus an array of international events. 

More recently, re:ni played Portugal's Orbits Festival, playing between Burnt Friedman and Shackleton and delivering one of the finest sets of a tremendous debut edition. The set, just over 90 minutes in total, is absorbing from the first minute—starting with dark and atmospheric rhythms but building slowly, coming to life about halfway through with some breakbeat, dub techno, and jungle records. Grab it now via the WeTransfer button below. 

What have you been up to recently?

I just got back from Bristol having played a really fun b2b set with my good friend Darwin, an amazing DJ who runs the label SPE:C and the awesome REEF parties at Griessmuehle, Berlin. We were playing for the Happy Skull guys who are a lot of fun. There are so many lovely and talented crews in Bristol so it’s always a pleasure to be invited to play there. 

You recently played Orbits festival—can you tell us about the festival and the set?

Despite the focus being on deep techno, Orbits is definitely a festival where you can shape your own experience, whether that be raving under the stars to hypnotic 4/4 or listening to dubbed-out ambient while you sunbathe (I did both).

It was amazing to be able to see bigger names play in such a small and intimate setting with just one stage, and I feel this attracted a welcoming and open-minded crowd. From a DJ’s perspective, it was a confidence boost to have people from both crew and crowd approach me and be so positive about my set afterwards. It was good vibes; Jacopo and crew are a wonderful team. 

How did you find it playing in between two legends like Burnt Friedman and Shackleton? 

Of course, I was a little nervous about being sandwiched between such esteemed artists, particularly Shackleton as I’ve been obsessed with his music since I was at college. Ultimately though, I was really comfortable with the programming as it enabled me to go deep and dubby which is never a problem for me!

How did you prepare for the gig; was there a particular idea you were looking to convey?

I’d actually planned on playing harder and straighter than I usually do as I thought I was playing later on in the night, but it turned out I was on at 4 pm, so it was still around 30ºc and most people were looking pretty languid (including me) at that time. Being on stage with my records almost burning my hands made it clear it was too hot to dance and without much shade on the dancefloor I guess I wanted people to be able to connect with my music without needing to dance, so I started with lots of dreamy <100 bpm vibes before raising the tempo and bringing in straighter rhythms in the second hour.

Can you name some of the tracks in the mix? 

The first track I played is "Dervish," a beautiful record by Elektro Baboushka, who makes really cool dubby/loungey ambient. 

I like to have a folder of transition tracks to easily switch up the tempo during sets and Peter Van Hoesen’s "Objects From The Past" is excellent as it’s basically beatless but is 130bpm which makes it ideal to move into faster sections and loop against beats, as I did here (32 mins). 

I don’t usually play a lot of 4/4 techno but my friend JAY released her debut track "Balsam Drum" on Intergraded this year and I found the perfect place for it during this set (76 mins), it’s a classy roller! Really excited to see her progress after a great first release.

How do you dig for records—do you have a specific process? 

No different from any other DJ with an office job: going down labyrinthine Discogs wormholes when I should be doing work.

What do you look for in the music you play? 

Aside from having a preference for broken beats, polyrhythms, and bass-orientated sounds, I don’t think I consciously know what I’m "looking" for. Jane Fitz said something in a recent interview about her taste: "there's a thread connecting everything I've ever played, which is basically: you are listening to my taste. I'll only ever be me, and I've only ever been me in what I play." That resonated with me: your taste is defined by you naturally gravitating towards certain records and not others. It might not be as organic for everyone but that’s pretty much how I see things.

What else do you have coming up this year?

I’m just about to join a new booking agency and have a busy Autumn with gigs coming up across the UK and Europe, as well as a new residency for 2019 which I’m extremely excited about. More radio shows with Laksa and some b2b gigs together in the new year too.

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