Kevin McInnis (or perhaps better known by his production moniker, Lessov) has been churning out fantastic Progressive House tracks in recent years by way of his impressive atmosphere, wonderful melodies, and mature percussion segments.
After being deeply inspired by the legendary band, Nirvana, and their frontman Kurt Cobain in High School, Kevin picked up the guitar and eventually, found himself producing tracks. He discovered an interest in Electronic music by way of acts like Daft Punk, Mango, Armin van Buuren, and Tiesto and has since allowed his curiosity and passion for music blossom into what it is today.
While the young virtuoso has yet to release an LP, he has consistently produced quality EPs that showcase his incredible abilities and natural ear for atmosphere. The track "Oppalarum" on "Life Force EP" does a superb job of encapsulating Kevin's magnificent talents and definitely should not be missed.
I had the opportunity to speak with him and get a bit of insight into what motivates him to create.
Prox: Could you tell us about yourself? What was the electronic scene like in Canada at the time you decided to take an interest in production?
Lessov: Well first of all thank you very much for interviewing me. I appreciate your interest in my life and what I do. I’m a 23 year old guy who loves music of all kinds. I have a deep respect for all music and forms of expression. It was in high school where I started music. I had no idea what a “scene” even was at that point. I started music purely as a form of expression because I dealt with a lot of negative things early in my life. Music gave me the avenue I needed to escape somewhere and feel comfortable.
Prox: Who were some of your favorite house producers? Were you inspired by the European scene?
Lessov: My favorite producers growing up were: Mango, Mossy, PROFF, and Owsey. I was not influenced by any specific scene. My first introduction to Electronic Music was Daft Punk. From there, I went on to listen to Tiesto and Armin Van Buuren, Above & Beyond, and finally found the genre I’m in now, Progressive House. Mango was the first artist I ever heard electronically who was able to effect me at such a deep level.
Prox: I read that Nirvana was a huge influence and even motivated you to pick up the guitar. How does one move from Nirvana and Grunge Rock into deep and Progressive House?
Lessov: Yes, Nirvana played a huge role in my life. I found them in high school as well (in the earlier years) and became obsessed with their music. I own all Nirvana records and probably all their unreleased material. There was something about the way the music sounded to me, especially on “Nevermind” that I had never experienced before. Often with music, someone will come across a band or artist they’ve never heard of, and their music will open up a new aspect of themselves they didn’t know they could explore.
I first heard Nirvana when I was sitting on the floor at home watching TV and MTV came on. The music video for “In Bloom” was playing and when it was over I frantically asked all the adults I could find if they knew who did the song called “In Bloom”, until I finally found out on my own. I related a lot to Kurt Cobain and his apathetic demeanor at the time. I felt a similar sense of apathy for the world that he did. The progression out of Nirvana into Progressive House was my friend introducing me to Daft Punk which also opened up another avenue to who I am and how I experience the world. I still listen to grungey sort of alternative bands now. I recently discovered the band “Nothing” and I’m loving their music.
Prox: When I initially discovered your music I thought you were of Russian descent because of your production moniker. What exactly is the meaning behind the name Lessov and how did you come up with it?
Kevin: The meaning behind “Lessov” as far as I know, is “forest/wooded area”. When I was younger I’d retreat into a patch of woods behind my house. I think a lot of people do this now, and being around the natural world and finding a sense of connectivity and similarity is essential to becoming more comfortable with yourself and with most things. I’ve also always loved the sound of the Russian language and the way the Cyrilli alphabet looks. I studied Russian language and culture for 1 year after high school, before moving on to Music Production and Music Technology.
Prox: What usually dictates how a track will go for you sonically? Do you prefer spontaneity or do you enter every production with an idea in mind?
Lessov: Almost all of my tracks are spontaneous. I always start with either some sort of atmosphere I want to expand around or some sort of percussion arrangement that I think feels clean, punchy, and “well oiled”.
Prox: What are some of the most important elements of great house music in your opinion?
Lessov: The most important elements to me are rhythm and atmosphere. When I listen to Progressive House music now, which is not very often anymore, I look for a genuine and mature percussion arrangement: great quality sounds and samples, intricate arrangement, and unique blips and bloops that you don’t expect. Atmosphere is another thing I focus on, and is something I look for in all the music I listen to. I feel like if your music can be looped in a way that allows listeners to still feel something even after they’ve heard the same thing for 6 minutes in a row, it’s a great thing. Entrancing a listener in a moment is the key to music for me. Bringing someone somewhere in a long and drawn out atmosphere makes them respect the time they’re spending with the music and it makes them pay attention and focus on what they are hearing. This allows them to freely think about the music and create imagery in their head associated with the music if they choose.
Prox: While there definitely some contemporary flavors in your tracks, much of your music has a classic atmosphere. Is there a reason you think you gravitated towards this sound as opposed to the poppy structure of today’s mainstream House, Trance, and Techno?
Lessov: As I mentioned above, I believe that capturing someone in an atmosphere when listening to music is key. This means you bring them sounds that they can listen to easily, while feeling like they are in a meditation or could fall asleep to. I believe focusing the listener’s attention on a feeling or a mood or an instinct is far more important than a melody you can hum along to, but that’s fun too and it has its place in music. I love melodic music! I’m currently on a Mitch Murder obsession and most, if not all Trance and Progressive House is dominated by melody.
Prox: Who are some of your favorite contemporary artists?
Lessov: Wow there are so many... But some of my favorite artists right now are: Warmth, Mitch Murder, Nothing, Bop, Kid Drama, Clarity, dBridge, Universal Solution, Alveol, Shingo Nakamura, FIRST AID, George Fields, Sunglasses Kid, Sora, Gallery Six, Owsey and anything from the record labels Samurai Music, ARCHIVES, and Noisy Meditation.
Prox: Favorite hobbies?
Lessov: When I’m not doing music or music related things I like to read about ancient philosophy, play video games (Destiny), laugh, watch/play hockey, read, practice martial arts, and watch movies.
Prox: Tips for aspiring artists?
Lessov: Tips for aspiring artists would be to find another artist you love, and try to emulate them the best you can in order to reach your next level. Always try and make something about your tracks or songs unique to you, a signature recording style or riff or specific sounding delay or whatever. Another tip would be to remember to give yourself a rest sometimes, but the moment you feel something you need to express but can’t do it with words it needs to be made into music ASAP. This also applies to dreams you have that were particularly memorable.
Prox: Information on upcoming releases and projects? Is there an LP on the horizon?
Lessov: There are no plans for anything right now. I’m taking a break from making Progressive House and working on music in other genres. However with my Lessov project, I can produce a full LP in a week if I feel the right way. I also have a few remixes I’m working on but don’t know if I’ll finish them.
Prox: Final Thoughts?
Lessov: Thanks again for having me and thank you to anyone who reads this.