Truancy Volume 127: Samrai & Platt

If you’ve been reading Truants closely over the past couple of years, you’ll know we’ve sung Manchester-based collective Swing Ting’s praises on a number of occasions. Originally formed as a radio show, Swing Ting now manifests itself as a clubnight and a record label, championing their own productions within UK club and soundsystem culture. The nights tend to swamp Soup Kitchen with bashment, dancehall, azonto, soca, hip-hop, RnB and grime. Amongst the residents are integral characters Balraj Samrai and Ruben Platt, who’ve also been major proponents of Swing Ting as a label. Brackles, Fox, Trigganom, Famous Eno and Madd Again! – a collaboration between Zed Bias, Killa Benz, Specialist Moss and Trigga – have all featured on the label, as have productions from Samrai and Platt themselves. We premiered “Bad Riddim” back in March, a weighty instrumental backed with the Trigganom-featuring earworm “One Step”. Knowing how capable the pair are on the decks as well as in the studio, we figured it was high time we asked them for a Truancy Volume – what we didn’t know was how outrageous the end result would be. There’s no other way to put it, Samrai and Platt fully throw down in the mix and they’ll leave you feeling wavy for days.

How did you go about putting together the TV and what were you aiming to show? Samrai: “We pulled together a load of tunes we were both feeling, whittled the list down and worked out which seemed to fit together most cohesively. It was time-consuming but worthwhile. We were aiming to capture a snapshot of where we’re at in terms of current projects as well as putting in some seasonal favourites that have been running dances.”

Platt: “I feel like this has probably the most label tunes or things we’ve produced in a mix that we’ve done, which I guess is a result of feeling a lot more confident and settled as an outfit. Whenever we’re putting together a mix it takes a long time to figure how to connect the dots between what we’d play over the course of a club night in five hours and condense it into less than one, but I think we got there.”

There seems to be everything in here, from anthems to released remixes, dubs galore and some exclusives too – particularly from your crew. Have you always aimed to bring something fresh to throw down for the dance? Samrai: “We definitely aim to bring some fresh heat with us at all times! Sometimes it’s hard to play unreleased stuff in with anthems / released music that people have had time to get used to but where possible it’s great to showcase some unheard material. The extended family have been on fire of late so I think that made putting this volume together a little easier than normal.”

Platt: I think it’s always nice to give people something that they can’t hear anywhere else. Especially with our little pocket of a scene being so productive at the moment. But I don’t think it always needs to come from dubs or unreleased stuff, we get as much pleasure playing things that are years old that we’ve found on a record in a bargain bin somewhere.”

The final stretch of the mix is stellar, and it’s all directly related to the work you do. How do you find that balance between showing off what’s in-house and playing things from elsewhere? Samrai: “Yeah now you mention it that last stretch is all pretty much in-house crew (Famous Eno, Fox, Trigganom & Madd Again!) with family like Murlo & Okzharp featured alongside artists Serocee, A-Game & Kemikal. However, in terms of playing things from elsewhere we felt we wanted to definitely work in the Major Notes tune as that’s been a recent club favourite that brings a unique flavour to the mix – his productions have been big staples in sets we’ve played over the last 3/4 years. As the in-house stuff is varied from big vocal tunes, tough instrumentals, deep / trackier bits to minimal cuts the balance feels like it’s there. If the tunes on the last stretch had a similar sonic quality I think we’d strip it back.”

Platt: “I’m happy we got the Major Notes track in, he’s massively underrated and it’s such a strong vocal of a tune that’s been a Swing Ting anthem for ages now. Plus it helps make a link between the UK club stuff and the African influence that’s all over the mix. We’re just lucky that we’re being productive ourselves and those around us are sending us loads of great stuff – it’d be hard not to feature music from the camp really.”

You’re shelling down in Manchester on the regular, yet there’s clearly a transatlantic connect too. Geographically, where are the pieces to this mix coming from? Platt: “We’ve made a really strong connection with the Equiknoxx crew from Jamaica over the last year or so, and the results of that can be felt all over the mix. Florentino mixes his Colombian roots with UK influences in a totally unique way.”

Samrai: “Gappy Ranks, Madd Again!, Fox, Trigganom are very much UK Dancehall, but it feels good juxtaposing these guys with Nigerian artists like Timaya & Wizkid, Ghanaian MC Bryte and Caribbean legends Destra and Beenie Man as well as up and coming artists like Marcy Chin. There are the transatlantic links to New York via Dre Skull & Federation Sound and the West Coast with the rap bits and Kush Arora, who also draws on his Indian heritage in his Bhang Ragga works. The Equiknoxx connection in Vineyard Town, Kingston has to get a special shout out which has been special this last year, shout out Puppy Disco, Brent Bird, Bobby Blackbird, Time Cow, Shanique Marie & the extended family!”

You’re both working closely on things these days, whether it’s throwing or playing parties, producing or putting out releases on your label. Which parts are Samrai and which are Platt, if it’s even possible to tell? Samrai: “Ha that’s a good question. The parties have always been a joint venture in terms of programming. At times one of us with deal with a booking more than the other. Same goes with playing at other parties. There may be a contact or promoter I’ve known for a while or that Platt’s played for a few times. It’s sometimes complicated having a crew of people involved but in the end it’s fun when you all roll out together to play at event. Label-wise we tend to lead on different elements, we work to our different strengths.”

Platt: “With the music side of things, we don’t have a shared computer, so one of us will start on something, bring it to the studio and we’ll go from there. Sometimes the idea’s pretty much there, but more often than not, it’ll end up going in a pretty different direction. When we’re working on stuff together, one of us tends to be driving the session at a time, with the other hanging around in the background, making comments as we go. It’s probably not a conventional collaboration technique but it works for us.”

How does that dynamic translate to other collaborations that come about? It seems like you both seek to engage with others and their work quite regularly, which is really cool. Platt: “Moving into our studio has really helped with how productive we’ve been, and helps create a space where other people can come in and work on things with us. I think we realise that we’re in the middle of a bit of a purple patch with producers and vocalists around us and just want to channel that as much as we can. Obviously the internet helps a lot too, like with the Kemikal collaboration for example.

Samrai: I get a lot from working with other people as it’s how I first learned the ropes and as Platt mentioned the studio has been a blessing for this too. I often like doing the less fun roles like arranging and putting small touches on ideas to try and finish them off which can be welcome for some producers. It’s a buzz when you start with a blank canvas and by the end of a session you have something that didn’t exist a few hours earlier. I’ve stayed in touch with Okzharp since we first played with him at Wifey in 2012 and we got in the studio last year a few times (there should be something hopefully coming from us in the near future).

2015’s been big for you both so far, with both the Swing Ting label and night really popping off. What can we expect from Samrai and Platt to close out such a massive year? Platt: “The Madd Again! album is out on September 11th and is by far the biggest project we’ve dealt with to date. We’ve got the debut EP from very exciting artist coming out before the year ends and a number of shows popping up around the country and beyond. Of course Swing Ting is still happening every 3rd Saturday of the month at Soup Kitchen and that remains the best way to see what we’re all about.”

Tracklist:

Equiknoxx Music ft. Alozade, Kemikal & Chico – The Link (Swing Ting Dub)
Marcy Chin ft. Kunley – Badder Dan Dem
Federation Sound – Highlands Riddim
Wizkid, Davido, Ice Prince, and Fuse ODG – Freak of the Week
Ty Dolla $ign, Nef The Pharaoh & YG – Big Tymin’ (Remix)
Busy Signal – Tamara (Swing Ting Smooth mix)
Gappy Ranks & Kush Arora – Anything A Anything (Swing Ting Remix)
Madd Again! – Flaunt It
Good Good Production – Liquor Riddim
Mr Vegas – Can’t stop your blessing
Beenie Man – Jamaica
Edanos ft. Timaya – Whine For Me
Destra – Dip & Ride
Sekon Sta – Night Shift
Florentino – Domina
Dre Skull – Blacklight Riddim
I Octane – Fire Dancer (Kush Arora’s Bhang Ragga Mix)
Murlo – Lanced
Fox ft. Puppy Disco – I Swear
Famous Eno ft. A-Game, Serocee & Fox – Gangsters
Platt – Desert Storm
Major Notes ft. Bryte – Money Problems
Okzharp & Samrai – Gated
Samrai & Platt ft. Trigganom – One Step
Murlo – Furnace
Madd Again! ft. Dj Q – Tings are so hard
Samrai, Platt & Kemikal – Tease Me

Tayyab Amin

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