Lee Coombs is a quiet, unassuming, almost shy person to talk to. He doesn’t mince words and dribble on, which in some ways makes interviewing him rather difficult. I spoke to him the day after his birthday, and he told me he didn’t do anything big because he’s been too busy. Instead he just had a “quiet one”.
His debut artist album Breakfast of Champions is all but quiet, and given the popularity of tunes such as Push Up by the Freestylers here in Australia, I will not be surprised in the slightest if it does exceedingly well here. Being extremely dancefloor friendly, it’s full of fantastic tunes that transcend genres. It also features collaborations with some of the breaks scene’s biggest stars, including Andy Gardner of the Plump DJs, Jem Panufnik from Soul Of Man, Christian J and Dylan Rhymes. “It’s named after a party in San Francisco run by the Space Cowboys,” Coombs says of the title, after I suggested it could be based on Roald Dahl’s book. “It’s a New Years Day afterhours party that happens once a year,” he goes on to explain. “It’s just brilliant, one of the best gigs I’ve done, and they’ve made me part of the crew, and I thought I’d name my album after it. It gives props to them.”
“Collaboration is always 50/50 with me, but if I’m in my studio I’m the one working the kit,” Coombs states. “Everyone was great to work with. They’re all friends of mine, we all DJ together and love each other’s production work. The reason I choose to work with them is because I knew it was going to be great, and it panned out nicely.” The remixes Coombs has included on the album “are bonus tracks really, just to add a bit of spice” Coombs states. “No one’s heard the Oakenfold remix before, and I thought I’d be nice to put that on there”. Plus Oakenfold gave Coombs a big break by letting him do the critically acclaimed Perfecto Breaks album in 2002, and is no doubt once again Coombs giving ‘props’. “The New Order is a bit of a favourite of mine, a bit of an anthem, and it was nice to go over it again. I think my production has gotten a lot better since I made the original, which I made four or five years ago now. It’s just a bit of a treat for people.” The blend of genres is subtle and understated, but each track sounds perfect both in itself and in the sequence of tracks. “It’s music I absolutely love, that’s why it’s all in there. I can’t make music unless I’m really into it. Really feeling the electro vibe at the moment.”
When not working on the album, Coombs has been really busy touring the world DJing. “I’ve been touring all over the world basically, just got back form Hong Kong and China. It’s quite an experience over there!” he enthuses. “The music is new over there. The scene of “breakbeat” doesn’t exist as such, but it’s what they all seem to want to dance to, as though it’s a natural thing. It’s the first time they’ve had the opportunity to have clubs and international DJs and breaks seems to be what they want to go off too. It’s great!” He compares it to Australia a few years ago. “Yeah, it’s a little bit like Australia, but they’re into the more electro sounding stuff, not so much into party breaks.”
Not content with just touring or DJing, Coombs wants to concentrate more on his record label Thrust Recordings. “It took a back seat when I finished the album off, but now I’m getting back into it. I’ve got strong releases lined up. It’s something I really want to be pushing in the future,” he says. “I’m pretty much doing everything, apart from you know, the real office type work, but all of the A&R, all of the coordinating of the artwork and press releases, all of that. The next release is a re-release of one of my old tracks called “Oscar Goldman – Thrust 2”. It should be out in December,” just in time for Christmas!
I recently heard that Coombs was interested in opening his own club back in England, or possibly San Francisco. “That would be nice, but I don’t remember saying that!” he laughs as I explain I read it on a Polish music scene website. “I’d love to have my own club and control the music for a night, make what I do really work as an event. It would be nice to get people to come because they like it on a weekly or monthly basis.”