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Q: Please introduce yourselves.

I’m Leo Neelands aka DEFSET. A producer, artist, wood whittler, husband to Kate Prince and dad to Ella, living in Brighton, UK.

Q: One person you'd dream to have a coffee with and why?

I used to pop in for coffee every morning with my mum. She died just over a year ago. I literally do dream about having coffee with her. Other than her, it would be Prince, because he was fucking incredible.

Q: If you were to have a superpower, what would it be and why?

To fly through time and space in a purple velvet low neck jump suit, with clear plastic platform shoes that propel me along with rainbows. Cos flying would be cool, and being able to time travel would be ace, if not potentially problematic. But it would be ok cos I would look funky as shit, and Prince would admire my outfit while we chatted over coffee. 

Q: If you would have been given the chance to do a film score, what movie would you choose and why?

I REALLY want to do a film score. Vangelis is brilliant, so I’d choose the sequel of Bladerunner. His score was such a massive part of the first film. So it must have been a daunting challenge for Hans Zimmer. I think he did amazingly well


Q: Who influenced you the most in your music career? And who influenced you the most in your personal life?

My dad probably influenced me the most in music. He showed me the ropes, he collected dub and reggae vinyl and it would always be on in the house. He and my mum allowed me to get a drum kit with money I’d saved when I was 13, and that was the start. He worked in a university and there were always gadgets to do with music around the house too, mics and weird instruments…so that’s the start of it for me. Personally, probably my wife, Kate. She encourages and motivates me to keep creating. She’s an artist herself so she understands the peaks and troughs far better than me. She continues to inspire me through the work she does even though she never listens to my music!


Q: Tell us about your journey, the good and the bad that got you to where you are today.

I’m 47 so this could be long! In summary, went to shit school in a shit town, got into music. Stone Roses, Happy Mondays then Hardcore skate stuff. Played the drums, joined bands. Went to an acid house party, took an E, life changed. Dropped out of everything, messed up my exams, didn’t go to university. Bought an Atari St and started making acid house and breaks. Occasionally djing. Consumed by the rave scene. Had shit jobs. Then met a lovely woman, got a job in the homeless hostels in Leicester. Got arrested, nearly went to prison, nearly lost my job, narrowly escaped my life turning to shit. Went back to uni, learnt vfx for film. Moved to London, got a good job. Split up with lovely woman after 10 years. Stopped smoking weed everyday. Still making music, occasionally for tv and games. Job got better, earned more money, moved to nicer place, met amazing people. Moved to NZ and Australia for work. Came back and met my wife. Had a baby, bought a house with space for a little studio. Focussed on music. Moved to Brighton to a place with space for a proper studio. Mum died. Knocked me for six, but learning to live with it and beyond grateful for what I have. Still obsessed with making music and loving life on the south coast.


Q: Everyone goes through ups and downs, what’s one habit you adopt to push through the downs?

Stop social media…or at least the doom scrolling. It only serves to make you feel worse about yourself because all you are shown is the best side of everyone else’s life. It can make you feel like a failure, or that you’re not good enough. Which is rubbish, we all have something special about us. We are all creative if we allow it to flow. Comparing yourself to others stops the flow. So I don’t, or try not to. Also to keep listening to music. I buy an album on vinyl every week to keep new or old sounds coming in, and djing means I’m always searching and listening to new stuff. Sometimes if I’m not feeling creative, I don’t force it. I put on some records and just try and enjoy them without searching for something from them. Go for a ride in the hills or a walk and all of a sudden the ideas are flowing again. 

Q: What is one pro work ethic that you would recommend to the readers/listeners?

Use the 75% rule. Don’t search for perfection. It doesn’t exist. Work on something until you’re 75% satisfied, then commit and move on. Keep momentum. I’ve been making music since I was 16 and have released the vast majority of my work in the last two years since adopting this rule.  

Q: How has your music style evolved over the years?

I started with acid house, techno and trancey breaks! I still release acid house, techno and trancey breaks! But I also release more introverted, less dance floor tracks. I’ve introduced more live instrumentation, more vocals’ more found sounds and field recordings. Getting into modular synthesis changed my perspective on music making. It made me more creative. I just think I’m less bound by genre now. Also I’ve spent a lot of time and effort learning production techniques so my sound has improved from a technical point of view.


Q: If you had to follow another music genre, which one would you pick and why?

I follow most music genres anyway. I’m not keen on country but even some of that I don’t mind. I guess one that I have no knowledge of is metal and specifically Black Metal. But I’m open to it!

Q: What are 3 tracks that got you into electronic music and why?

Bump - I’m Rushing. Heard Sasha playing it in the very early 90’s and it blew my mind.

My Jealous God - Everything About You. This was late eighties I think. I’ve lost the vinyl now and can’t find it anywhere on line but there was a Guy Called Gerald remix and I loved it.

Happy Mondays - Wrote For Luck Paul Oakenfold mix. This just pushed me towards the acid house sound. When I finally went to an acid house party I’d already been listening to this on repeat for months.


Q: Recommend a hidden gem in your home country that would fit a perfect rave?

Anywhere in the South Downs! Perfect for illegal parties.


Q: Tell us about your upcoming releases and plans for this year.

I’ve just released Skips from my upcoming EP called Content#01. Skips is an acid house banger. The whole EP is very much geared dance floor. I loved making it and playing the tracks out is a real buzz. The EP is released in August will Bathtime23 being released as a single next month. This is an up tempo, techno mix of my dubby track Bathtime from my first album Proximity.

I’m deep in the writing of my second album. I’m working with some amazing musicians and vocalists. It’s going to be very different from my first. I’m really excited about it. 

Q: Tell us a fun fact about yourself that most of your listeners don’t know.

I was a vfx supervisor and worked on Iron Man 3, Harry Potter and the deathly hallows, Gravity and The Hobbit.