Kazabon and Hootie Who, the duo who make up Hipsters Don’t Dance, have been favourites of ours for a while now. It only seemed right to have them in for our Truancy Volume series, which now comes in at its 152nd edition. The London-based pair have been playing and hosting parties in the UK Capital for a number of years now as well as holding down a regular show on Radar Radio. They’re also good friends with our pals Swing Ting, and they do occasionally make the trip up the M6 to play at the Manchester clubnight. HDD are proponents of the World Carnival sound which combines passion Afropop, soca, dancehall and more, dipped in the influence of the UK and London. They’ve made us dance and put smiles on our faces countless times, so we’re incredibly pleased to have them on board for the series. We also asked them a few questions to find out more about the mix and what HDD is all about. Enjoy!
How did Hipsters Don’t Dance come about?
Kazabon: HDD started for a number of reasons; we both loved lots of different styles of music and wanted to play them out but we were also bored with the clubbing scene at the time. We wanted to hear more of the music we loved in an environment where we wouldn’t be judged for enjoying ourselves. The crowds at so many of the parties we were going to before we started HDD were so serious, nobody really danced, so when we did people would make a big deal of it. It was after I got annoyed at someone constantly filming us and our friends that we came up with our silly name.
Hootie Who: We were tired of going to the same nights and just having people stand around. It really grew from the sad fact that there were only a few nights that we could go to and fully have fun, as Kazabon mentioned it’s kind of how the name came about.
Back then it was either a dancehall night, a club music night and maybe a family function for Afropop. We wanted to hear all those sounds at once, they all influence each other, and so we put on a rave. We did four years of monthly raves with residents The Large, Murlo, Illanja and Why Delila. It was great, really helped us define who we are. We were very lucky to have such a good core group of people to collaborate with.
Had you been playing out individually much before you teamed up?
Kazabon: I had only had a handful of gigs before we teamed up, I had just finished Point Blank’s DJ course and was still figuring out how to get gigs in London at the time. Part of the reason for us starting a night was so we could both play out regularly.
Hootie Who: I had been playing when I was younger in California at school dances (playing lots of Lil Jon and that Diddy girl group Dream) and then became a bedroom DJ when I came back to the UK. Meeting Kazabon and then her teaching me how to use Serato got me excited to give it a go again.
How do your own individual backgrounds and upbringings inspire your selections?
Kazabon: I come from a musical family but my musical tastes have always differed from my family’s. I am the only one who loves dancehall and soca. I’m Irish with Trinidadian roots but I didn’t really get exposed to Trini music until I moved to London as there wasn’t really a chance to listen to soca in the West of Ireland. My musical education growing up was a mixture of dad playing everything from Thin Lizzy to Althea and Donna, religiously watching The Lick on MTV Base and browsing the reggae and hip hop sections of my uncle’s record shop in Galway. The first cassette I ever bought was from my uncle’s shop, it was a compilation called Ragga Heat, Reggae Beat – I still know all the words to Chaka Demus and Pliers Mr Mention and Sugar Minott’s Good Thing Going because of it. Moving to London is where I really got to explore the genres we play now, having access to my musical roots in such a multicultural city. The Afropop side of what we play is all down to Hootie Who, he constantly inspires me with the music he finds.
Hootie Who: I grew up in a lot of different places and that definitely influenced me. From around the UK, France (Lille and Paris), Nigeria and California all helped mould me. Growing up as an only child meant that music was something I really leaned on. I remember random radio moments more than other events in my life. French libraries allowed you to borrow cassettes so that helped me quite a bit as well. I always wanted to be listening to something, to this day I get antsy travelling anywhere without earphones.
All of those places have strong local sounds and really showed me that no matter where you are in the world, people can recognise where you are from, sometimes just from a few notes. To this day I hear Shade Sheist and drift back to hanging out in Socal parking lots eating In and Out and drinking Popov vodka.
How do you feel about the current environment in London for DJs like yourself and the kind of parties you play at?
Kazabon: There aren’t a lot of parties playing the mix of sounds we play, but there are more and more DJs playing Bashment and Afropop in their sets. Dancehall and Afropop are in a good place right now with lots of play on mainstream radio (Alkaline, Popcaan, Konshens, Mr Eazi and Wizkid have all featured on 1xtra’s playlists). People seem to be more accepting and enjoy hearing these sounds in clubs even if they don’t know the tunes.
Hootie Who: It’s a lot better than it was, I’m still hoping that more people will look at what we do as much more than a seasonal thing. Take Mixpak winning the Culture Clash, Serocee (Host for Mixpak) said it best: people didn’t think they could win because the crowd didn’t know dancehall. We were there, we didn’t think a lot of folks were that dancehall knowledgeable, the thing is most people our age and younger are so immersed in it, even if they don’t know it. You can also apply this to the mix of sounds we play. It’s no longer foreign to hear Wizkid alongside Skepta and Alkaline in the same night.
People have a greater access to the music than ever before and now DJs aren’t afraid to play it. It’s not just bait soundcloud remixes, it’s more and more original stuff or diaspora kids showing what they can do. I’m so happy to see the evolution of it as it cross pollinates with other sounds and styles. I do hope that it’s not just a fad and people realise that you can play this stuff all year round. Whine and Kotch bangs just as hard in the club in August as it does in March. Clubs and promoters need to take more chances. I’d love to see more people incorporated into big club line ups. Right now everything is DIY and that’s great, but at some point we would love to see this stuff in bigger spaces. I do miss Fabric Room 3’s.
We’re obviously massive fans of your Radar show, how important is it to you to have such a regular outlet to present music to people?
Kazabon: We are so thankful to Radar Radio for giving us the opportunity to share what we do with a wider audience. Doing a fortnightly show keeps us on top of new music and lets us experiment with tunes we wouldn’t normally get to play in the club. It has also given us a chance to feature other DJs and performers that we feel our audience would enjoy. We’ve been lucky to have had lots of talented DJs and producers on the show- False Witness, Chief Boima, Akito, Hagan, Swing Ting’s Samrai and Platt to name a few. The show has also given us a chance to showcase some rising stars: dancehall MC Myssa More, Truants own Deep Brandy Album Cuts, Time Cow and Club Strategies.
Hootie Who: Radar Radio for us has been amazing, in so many different ways. No two shows are the same and our show ends up being a place where we fine tune our sets. As much as I loved doing a monthly party, I sometimes fell victim to a crowd that was just in the moment and only wanted to hear hits. Radio allows you to not only play stuff that you can’t in the club but also figure out what works as well.
Is there anyone you’re particularly excited about musically right now?
Kazabon: Spice is giving me life, her energy is amazing and she can do no wrong in my eyes. Her latest offerings Inna Mi Pocket and Indicator are both huge at the moment and showcase how versatile she is as an artist. A little closer to home, Florentino is going from strength to strength, two of his productions feature in our mix and are both so different: Split in 2 is really beautiful and honest, but then on the other hand his Bodypaint remix has a surprising urgency to it that just grabs you and makes you want to dance. Fox’s Musik EP is also a favourite of mine and hasn’t left my phone since I first got the promo. Each and every track represents him and his sound so well, it gives you the feeling of being at a Swing Ting party no matter where you listen to it. He’s a phenomenal host but an even better MC, his voice is one of a kind and can’t be beaten.
Hootie Who: Mr Eazi and Juls are the best artist/producer combo out at the moment. Mr Eazi has the charm to go far, he is where Wizkid was three years ago (probably why Wizkid signed him to his label). Juls is such a versatile producer from Reggae to Afropop to Hip Hop. In the same way that Fifth Harmony covered a Vybz Kartel song I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Rita Ora, Mr Eazi and Juls collab soon. In terms of club stuff both the Mixpak and Swing Ting camps are putting out great stuff. I’m also feeling stuff from Akito, Syymstress, DSK, Yemi Alade, Ishawna, Equinoxx and MHD.
Tell us about the mix, what have we got?
Kazabon: We’ve got a lot of tunes we are feeling at the moment, some that have become regulars in our radio and club sets spanning Dancehall, Afropop, and Soca. There’s also a few percys in there. We wanted to give Truants a taste of what we do and present a mix we feel represents us and the world carnival vibe.
Hootie Who: A really good mix of things we are really feeling at the moment. Some bits from the musical fam Murlo, Swing Ting, Fox, Florentino and Orlando Volcano. Songs that I hope to hear running Carnival this year and some more club focused stuff that we are loving at the moment. Shout out Oil Gang for Spooky’s Fiesta riddim which is MAD.
Expect to hear this and more madness at our World Carnival party with Swing Ting on August 28th.
LeaAnna Controlla Remix (Feat. Mr Vegas)
Liquid On The Endz Remix (Feat.Kent Jones,Da Professor)
B2K Girlfriend (Pied Piper Remix)
Flukes Wifey Riddim (Murlo Refix)
Aidonia Hey Yo
Endgame Savage Riddim
Burna Boy Acting Bad
Ape Drums Magic City
NSG We Deh
Mr Eazi Skin Tight (Feat. Eyfa)
Florentino Split in 2
A Pass Gamululu (ft. Konshens) (Orlando Volcano Remix)
Konshens Bruk Off Yuh Back
Charly Black Hoist & Wine
Popcaan Ova Dweet
Orlando Volcano Ramping Shop 2016
Don Andre Tom Cruise Remix (Ding Dong + Chi Ching Ching)
KA Bodypaint Florentino remix
El Mega feat. El Mayor Clasico La Cueva (Remix)
Teddyson John Cyah Steel My Joy
Fox x Brackles x Samrai The New Swing
Gazza Wonderful (feat. DJ Bucks & Uhuru)
Mr Olu Maintain Excuse My French (Excusez mon Francais)
DJ Cleo Investa (Featuring Teddy Bears)
Jayiva Sowetu Sox 2 Point 6
Kes & Lyrikal Unlimited Vibes
Olatunji Oh Yay
Twelve 9 Records Skelewu Riddim [Instrumental]
Olatunji Big Business
DJ Q Sonic
Flowdan x Don Yute Horrow Show x Jonkonoo (Murlo Blend)
Gundam Too Late