Revered DJ and radio host Lefto Early Bird is back with his new album Motherless Father on Giles Peterson’s iconic Brownswood Recordings record label.
Across its ten tracks, Motherless Father sees Lefto delving deeper than ever, crafting a melancholic collection while throwing sonic shifts and shapes onto the dancefloor. 

It’s a mix of the quiet and reflective; and the big, bold and beautiful, from the soulful opening of Diane Charlemagne, featuring the in-demand vocalist Iman Houssein, to the Detroit vibes of latest single Electric. Elsewhere, the epic slow burner Love Supreme (Part 1 and 2) unfurls with dreamy synths, mellow grooves and Aint About Me’s spoken word vocals across a seven minute odyssey. Lead single I Sing To Find Peace of Mind is a journey through uptempo jazz featuring Lefto himself on vocals and DJ/multi-instrumentalist Simbad on saxophone, while The Birth of a New You and One Day You Smile, One Day You Cry make the most of Pierro Spataro’s poignant saxophone tones. 

This record feels like the starting point of a new era; the tracks I recorded, the ones I’m singing over and the guests I invited have been my way to deal with the pandemic, the motherless child that I am and the father that I am. I call this record a deep pre-club record, one that will give you the energy to go out there and party but with a feeling of letting go of everything.

Lefto Early Bird

To celebrate the release, Lefto is hosting a variety of album launch parties in Belgium, Paris and London, including a Love Vinyl show on release day, performing the highly anticipated project live for the first time.

A legend in Belgium and a very well known DJ in the clubbing scene, Lefto has proven to be an important personality in Europe for pushing new talent worldwide. Like many of his generation, he has gained a global following because of his radio shows, broadcasting on the likes of Kiosk Radio, The Lot Radio and the late Worldwide FM from his base in Brussels as well as several shows on NTS, all the while becoming an international beacon of good taste whether dropping jazz, electronica, techno and house or hip hop. Lefto has been praised for being consistently ahead, devoted to the future of music, not waiting for the next thing – he seeks it out. 

No wonder he is affiliated to many international labels like Brownswood Recordings, Ninja Tune, R&S Records, Boiler Room and Red Bull Music. Lefto’s biggest personal achievement is a remix album for Blue Note, but he also released productions on International Anthem, Heavenly Sweetness, Bastard Jazz Records, has a Serato record, and curated compilations for Gilles Peterson, Universal, BBE and SDBAN.

Famed for taking his crowd on a journey from Jazz and Electronica to anything he likes, and blessing sound systems around the globe with regular nights in Japan, South-Korea, USA and Europe, he also curates his own nights in Belgium, is a resident at Horst Festival and hosts a stage at one of Belgium’s biggest festivals – Dour Festival.

We sat down with Lefto Early Bird for a Q&A and delved into the inspiration behind Motherless Father, his musical approach, Belgium’s music scene and much more.

Congratulations on your new album Motherless Father! Can you share with us the inspiration behind the title and the overall theme of the album?

Thank you, so happy this record sees the light; I recorded this album during and after the pandemic, at a time most people were probably self-reflecting on their lives, or thinking about transitioning into a different career as music was nowhere near important anymore.  Around that time I tried to reconnect with my mother, who left when I was 4. So the overall theme of this album is a period of time in my life where I was dealing with many different emotions and those emotions are all present on this record and I’m sure people will be able to feel that as well. My son was around 4 when the pandemic hit and so I had so many questions in my head concerning my mother; unfortunately I did connect through my uncle but in the end, to this day, she doesn’t really want to deal with the situation.

As a seasoned DJ and producer, how does Motherless Father differ from your previous works?

The approach is different, I brought in most of my sketches to the studio, and together with Boris, who owns the studio but is also a very talented multi-instrumentalist, I found the right person to give my music more depth, give it another dimension, make the sound bigger, wider and the melodies longer. It is amazing to be able to sing certain things to a beat while the guy by you is able to play it on a piano. So that’s one thing, the other one is definitely that there are no samples used on this record. Oh, my voice has been sampled for some melodies in the background.

Your background spans jazz, new beat, and rap. How do these influences come together in Motherless Father?

I think that you will totally get it when you hear it, it is really a melting pot of genres and the people who have heard the album a while ago all say that it is me on that record. I found a way to blend all my influences into one piece that makes sense sonically, musically.

You’ve DJed globally, from Morocco to Detroit. How did these experiences influence the creation of Motherless Father?

Travelling results into experiences and meeting people and discovering scenes and different sounds, so for me it is the job that gives me most satisfaction and inspiration; I see most of the music in colours, meaning that I kind of see colours when I listen to music, in an abstract way and for me everywhere I go, the walls, the clothes, nature, all that is different if you go east, west, north or south but most of the time it all makes sense. Like in Morocco, brown hills and blue houses and for some reasons it makes sense in the colour palette, that’s what I do in my DJ mixes and on my album. 

You’ve been a central figure in Belgium’s music scene for three decades. How have you seen the scene evolve, and what role do you think you’ve played in its development?

I see a before pandemic and after pandemic. It has been difficult for the scene to find its marks after the pandemic, there have been many changes and it will take time to find the perfect balance within the scene again but slowly surely we will get there! 
From where I come I helped push a certain sound, a certain underground scene, give it a platform through radio and organising nights where we push young emerging talent.   Today, there are more tools and more opportunities for underground music and also more and faster ways to learn how to play music or deejay. I feel like I was a part of something that helped the scene to be where it is now, from selling records at the most important record shop to having a radio show on the most important radio station definitely gave me the power to push talent and music into peoples throats!

Looking beyond the release of your new album, what can we expect from you to come in the future?

I am already working on the sequel to this album and have a remix album on the way featuring some of my favourite producers; and there is also the volume 3 of my Jazz Cats compilation as well that focuses on Belgian jazz talent and an EP with producer Elisa Bee on the legendary Dance Trax label from DJ Haus very soon.