Except that Lazy Fat People keeps on going, without Ripperton on board. Despite the name, these days the project is only one person, Ripperton's partner Mirko Loko, who is using the name for DJ gigs from Tokyo to London. With LFP singles out on high profile labels such as Border Community, Planet E and Wagon Repair, it must make economic sense to do so, but why did Ripperton jump ship just as his star was rising? With hardly any information available online to shed light on the matter, I went to the source for the answer.
It turns out that this is not the first time this has happened. Ripperton has ten years of band membership under his belt, first with deep house project Soul Merge, then with dance act Reasons, which found some success with its debut long-player and even won awards in Switzerland. The band was essentially a lesson in playing nicely with others; with a fluctuating lineup of ten to fourteen members, the key word was compromise. "Reasons was a really unique experience for me," explains Ripperton. "But it also required a lot of organization and time. When you work with musicians, you have to talk to them before everybody sees the way you want to go. When you play alone it's really easy, because you're the only musician.” Even with awards on their mantelpiece, a frustrated Reasons were never able to break out of Switzerland's insular scene. An exhausting full band tour was the last straw: "In the end I decided to follow my own path by taking a new direction and working solo," says Ripperton.
Ripperton returned to spinning records, but the solitary life as a DJ didn't last long. He first hooked up with his future partner in Lazy Fat People at the 2005 Caprices Festival, where both he and Mirko Loko were on the bill. Mirko was a young Swiss producer and an acquaintance from Ripperton's DJing days back in the nineties, and the pair soon bonded over musical taste. "By then we had both moved towards something different," he recalls, "But we still dug the same artists, like James Holden, Wighnomy Brothers, Schneider TM, Chicken Lips, Nathan Fake and Mathew Jonson.” Soon Mirko was calling Ripperton's home studio, where the idea of collaborating was first floated. Ripperton says he was wary at first of getting involved in another group project, but decided to take a chance anyway: “We thought we'd produce a few tracks to see how far it would go."
LFP morphed into a DJ duo as well, but in between intercontinental LFP dates and the studio sessions, Ripperton was stealing away to hash out solo tracks. Deeper and more squarely house than his output with Mirko, Ripperton's wide-angle melodies, dribbling house rhythms and penchant for neo-trance repetition were finding favour with less bigroom, more European labels such as Connaisseur ('Tainted Words'), Liebe*Detail ('10a') and Num ('Long Distance'). Meanwhile, there was no reprieve from Lazy Fat People's popularity, which now began to wear on Ripperton: "There's pressure -- people want new things," he sighs, "It was really…whew, crazy, crazy crazy." What had started as a project of convenience was starting to eclipse the solo ambitions he'd waited so long to realize.
Then there was the matter of his label. As Lazy Fat People were blowing up, Ripperton was also channeling his energies into a new role as record executive. Ripperton started Perspectiv Records with his friend Sam K in 2006 as a platform for upcoming, mostly Swiss artists such as Agnès, Masaya, Ndru and Minz. Ripperton explains: "When I was a young producer I didn’t have this. It was really difficult to find a label. Now it's different, because I have a name and I want to use my name to help others." Perspectiv anticipates a busy second half of 2007, with releases from Mark August and Hungarian newcomer Laurine Frost on the slate.
Perspectiv even issued a Lazy Fat People track (perhaps tellingly, it was named 'Low Profile'). But tensions were rising between Ripperton and Mirko, who envisioned taking the project full-time. There were also conflicts over production duties. With Mirko coming from more of a DJ background, Ripperton found himself doing much of the heavy lifting behind the boards. While recording 'Low Profile' the gulf between them became clear -- there was nothing left to do but honor the remaining LFP dates and then pull the plug on the project. The split doesn't seem too amicable: "When you reach the point when there's no pleasure working with the other person, and the effort isn't the same on both sides, I think it's time to stop," says Ripperton. "I don’t really have time for this project and I want to work alone. I don't have any regrets. It was a great experience, but not so much at the end. I'm glad to be doing something else and focusing on what's really important to me: my family, my record label, a few collaborations with some friends and, of course, my solo project."
It looks like Ripperton's mind is firmly made up. Now that he has extricated his vision from the approval of a partner, he's finally making the big push as a solo act, using his time between live dates to record his debut artist album. What should listeners expect? "I don’t want to make a compilation of my tracks from over the last year. I really want this album to be dignified and complex at the same time -- an LP you can play at home as much as in a club," says Ripperton. "I don’t want to be the guy who always makes the same music," so audiences should be ready for an album that goes beyond dance music territory. And while Ripperton is most definitely a solo act, he is also recruiting friends, colleagues and even vocalists to help fill out the arrangements. It seems no man is an island after all.
Main photo credit: Guadalupe Ruiz
"On the flipside, '10a' manages to sound lushly detailed with only a handful of elements, thanks to Ripperton's masterful construction and keen ear for choice timbres."
"Ripperton's 'Narrow Minded EP' on Connaisseur is a fantastic three-tracker for anyone who loves that lush, techy stuff that is coming out of Europe right now."