As his label turns 20, the UK house music doyen catches up with Ryan Keeling.
Over his 20-plus year career, Ralph Lawson has become a highly respected DJ, producer, label boss and promoter. And as a resident DJ at Basics, one of the world's longest running house nights, he's also become an important ambassador for the scene in Leeds, the city he moved to in the late '80s. In the years following his relocation from London, Lawson established the relationships and projects that still define him to this day. Chief among these was his label, 2020 Vision. From its base in Lawson's farmhouse on the outskirts of Leeds, 2020 became a key exponent of deep, US-influenced house music. The label also served as the launchpad for 2020 Soundsystem, a live electronic music band Lawson started out of his dissatisfaction with the scene at the time. Although he'd found success with various studio collaborations down the years, the band thrust Lawson into the spotlight like never before. Fast-forward to 2014, and although 2020 Soundsystem has now been wound down, Lawson seems as busy as ever. When Ryan Keeling caught up with him London recently, he was in the midst of the label's 20th anniversary celebrations—it felt like the milestone had given him to chance to reflect, but also to consider his on-going role in the scene as one of its elder statesmen.