Although only a few DJs ever manage to continue the success of their mixing activities as producers, most of them can’t do without their own releases. The type of DJ who does nothing but spin records still seems to be most widespread in the UK: Figures like Gilles Peterson are also the result of a very different radio culture. So at first it might seem surprising to find a representative of this rare species, Stephane Lallemand, better known as Lefto Early Bird, in Belgium.
But the development of the New Beat shows just how alert the country was in the eighties, especially when it came to club music. For Lallemand, who was influenced by his jazz-loving father, this EBM style and proto-techno became an awakening experience. But soon Lefto turns to hip-hop. Turntablism acts of the Dirt Style Records scene or DJ Krush now become decisive.
At the same time as working at the legendary record store Music Mania, Lallemand does his first sets in Brussels. In 1999, Lefto Early Bird gets his own radio show on Studio Brussel: Lallemand is the DJ, Krewcial is the host – their show becomes the first hip hop program on public radio in the country. Over the years, the team has welcomed guests like Slum Village, DJ Vadim, J Rocc, Gaslamp Killer and Flying Lotus. A stylistically confident tastemaker with his finger on the pulse, Lefto Early Bird also proved himself on his mixes and compilations for labels such as Blue Note, BBE, Universal Music, Sdban and Brownswood.
In the meantime, he has a close relationship to Gilles Peterson: Lefto Early Bird can be seen regularly at the latter’s Worldwide Festival. He also curates his own stages for Belgian festivals such as Listen! or Dour. Over 500 shows are documented on his Mixcloud page alone – the most recent recorded at Kiosk Radio, a small wooden hut in the middle of the city park of the Belgian capital. The Lockdown mixes on YouTube from the music room at home are also great – under normal circumstances, Lallemand is more likely to be on the road between New York, London, Paris, Rio and Tokyo.
Hardly any DJ has a similarly large spectrum ( maybe Theo Parrish), but how masterful and laid-back Lefto Early Bird goes from Soul Jazz, World Music and MPB to Gospel, Disco and Funk to Acid House and back again, is simply outstanding. And to be heard in this exclusive mix.