This year, the extent of grime’s cross-pollination with other genres, styles and cultures has been center of the spotlight for many. We’ve heard it take on things as near as its similarly-youthful London sibling dubstep, reach as far out to Jersey club and stretch to abstract experimentalism. Curiously, it shares a sonic hallmark with ballroom in the form of Dat Oven’s “Icy Lake”, as rediscovered and covered in a Night Slugs/Fade to Mind short film. A key point in flirtations between the two would be MikeQ’s involvement with Fade to Mind back in 2012 – one of the more tangible moments where grime and ballroom scenes were exposed to each other on a release that featured Kevin Jz Prodigy.
Considered a legendary vogue performer and commentator, Kevin JourdanZion Prodigy, also known as Kevin Deshields, isn’t someone we’d really expected to find on Crazylegs. The Bristolian clubnight/label/party institution celebrated its sixth birthday this year with a spate of takeover dates and various releases (a recent highlight would be Bloom’s Hydraulics). It also saw the debut for some – Gage is a music guy who surfaced with “Telo” in February on some stuttering pulsation grime tip, later featuring in our Functions of the Now series. His beat for “Bad Bitch” also channels the tonal aesthetic of a steel factory, this time with sirens whirring back and forth like backmasked blue shift. Squelchy zaps and airy claps are littered between kicks with complete disregard for regularity- Deshields’ vocal extravaganza carries the rhythm through in an explosive, galvanizing fashion that’s sure to stop anyone in their tracks. But for a single breakdown, “Bad Bitch” is a barrage of pure energy, some sort of forty-five hit ultimate combo of concussions and flourishes. Effects stemming from the ways in which cultures can spread through the filter of other genres (and their gatekeepers and fans) remains to be seen, though the interesting thing about “Bad Bitch” is the lack of compromise from both parties; despite being a collaboration, it seems like the vocal does its own thing as does the instrumental, both blazing onwards side-by-side. It’d be jarring if it wasn’t perfectly in-step, resonating to devastating effect.
“Bad Bitch”. One track release, verses only. It can speak for itself, let’s get it.
“Bad Bitch” is out today in digital format on Crazylegs.
Words by Tayyab Amin, 10 December 2014. Leave a comment
Since forming in 2011, NTS radio has quite rapidly carved itself a host of talented presenters and artists to become one of London’s go-to stations for new and old music from across the globe. One particular artist who automatically springs to mind when mentioning NTS is London native Nabihah Iqbal, better known as Throwing Shade. Having been with the station for just over a year, she’s quickly rose to prominence as a DJ and presenter due to her broad musical knowledge and informative exploration of cultures. She’s just as confident doing a mix on the sounds of Muslim Jazz as she is basing entire shows on the theme of the Surbahar (bass sitar). With a growing fan base from her now bi-weekly radio shows alone, it also helps that her own productions have been sought after for releases by the likes of Kassem Mosse and The Kelly Twins for their own respected labels. Along with delivering our 107th Truancy Volume, we caught up with Throwing Shade for a brief chat about NTS, working on composing music for the Tate and how to find some of the more eclectic sounds on her shows.
Hey Nabihah, thanks again doing this mix for us! Just want to start by congratulating you on the new bi-weekly slot on NTS. Can we talk about how you first came to be on the station and any great memories or particular shows that have stood out for you now that you’re a seasoned presenter? “I started presenting my own monthly show on NTS in May 2013. Before that I went in as a guest on Thristian’s Global Roots show and it just so happened that the station manager was tuned in at the time. He really liked what I was doing and called up as soon as we went off air to offer me my own show! And that’s how it happened. Now, the radio show is one of my favourite things that I do. I have to put in a lot of time, researching the shows and putting them together, but I really love it. Recently, the shows that have stood out for me the most are the ‘Muslim Jazz’ Specials Part 1 and 2. Most of the music I play on these shows are by African-American jazz musicians who converted to Islam between the 1940s-70s. Part 1 has been my most popular show to date (nearly 3,000 listens on Mixcloud) and it feels amazing that so many people are tuning in and responding positively.”
You’ve been working with the Tate recently, having been commissioned to compose a piece of music as an audio response to the work of James Richards, and then also asked to do a live performance as part of BP Loud Tate. Did you find working on music in response to someone else’s work a completely different approach to your usual production methods, especially if you might not have heard of the artist before? “Yes, this project was a big challenge! I’d never made music in that way before – it was like making art about art. Very meta, but I enjoyed the process a lot. I went to look at ‘Rosebud’, James Richards’ work in the Turner exhibition, two or three times. I had to really think through the ideas that he was trying to convey through his artwork, and how I was going to do the same through my music. His work was a video piece and it already had a soundtrack to it, which I think made my task even harder as I didn’t want to be too influenced by it. The track which I composed is called “Touch” and it’s probably the most experimental thing I’ve made but I think I still managed to retain my signature ‘Throwing Shade’ sound in it. I wanted to explore ideas of censorship, and what constitutes something being ‘sexually explicit’, as Richards does in his work. So I sampled lots of sounds from internet pornography – the idea was to take the sounds out of their context and to see if they still held an ‘explicit’ or ‘arousing’ value. I also contrasted ‘harsh’ and ‘tender’ sounds within the track, as I felt that James Richards’ work was very much fixated on the juxtaposition between these two themes.”
From an outsider’s perspective it feels like your career as a DJ/Presenter as well as a producer have both had a natural rise together from early 2013, but I was keen to ask when exactly your interest in producing and DJing came about. Do you remember any particular records that inspired you to start producing or was it something that happened gradually? “Well, music has always been my favourite thing in the world and I’ve been playing instruments since I was very young – the guitar, piano, flute, and sitar. I remember getting interested in music production whilst I was still at school, so I enrolled in a course to learn more about it when I was 16 or 17. I’ve been making my own music from about that age I think. It’s gone through lots of different phases (I was even in a noise band at one point), but as Throwing Shade I’ve been producing since around 2012. I started DJing properly in 2010-11 I think.”
People have their usual and go-to outlets for buying new music such as Phonica, Idle Hands etc but for people interested in discovering and gaining a greater knowledge in the more eclectic music you play on your NTS shows, how would you recommend going about it? The music you’ve been playing in your ‘Muslim Jazz’ specials is a prime example. “I think Youtube is a really amazing way of discovering weird and wonderful music. If there’s a track you like, then you just take a stab at the ‘suggested videos’ and keep going and going. You’ll probably stumble across some interesting stuff. People also tell me that they find my NTS shows act as really good starting points for finding out about more music. I try and make the shows informative, and talk about the music I play, so that if someone is listening and hear something which grabs their attention, they can go and look it up, and try and find more like it. And then of course, just sifting through record shops, or crates in a market, and picking out stuff that might look like it could be a winner. My favourite record shops in London for this are El Dica, Sounds of the Universe, Zen Records and Honest Jon’s.”
I wanted to ask about the record on Happy Skull and how the Bristol link-up might have come about. Was the choice of going more dance-floor orientated with the tracks a conscious effort for the label? “The guys from Happy Skull just got in touch with me after hearing my Mystic Places release on Ominira and asked if I’d be up for doing a release with them. We met up when they came to London and got on well, and it all worked out from there. I don’t think having the more ‘dance-floor friendly’ tracks on the release was an especially conscious decision given the label. I was just working on those tracks at the time, setting myself the challenge of producing something more upbeat. I sent a bunch of tracks over to the Happy Skull guys and “Chancer” and “Blanx” were the ones that stood out the most to them. I was quite nervous about how they would be received as they are markedly a step away from the tracks on 19 Jewels, but they got a really positive reaction which felt good!”
Tell us about the mix you’ve done for us – how representative of your DJing style is it? “Very representative! When I DJ in clubs I just like playing stuff that will make people dance. I like mixing tracks that you wouldn’t necessarily think of putting together, but that actually work really well. I like to move through different genres because I always find that it’s much more interesting that way, rather than just sticking to techno, or trap or whatever. There’s too much good stuff out there.”
With 2014 soon coming to a close can you sum up your experience of the year in a short sentence. “It’s been happy, amazing, and exciting, and I can’t wait to see what will happen in 2015 – just gotta keep working hard!”
A.G. Cook – Beautiful
Brackles – Palos Y Piedras
Throwing Shade – Britney Britney
Ana Caprix – I’m That Kind Of Grrl
Rihanna – Rude Boy (Nike 7UP Remix)
Nu Birth – Anytime
Santigold – You’ll Find A Way (Switch & Sinden Mix)
Dubbel Dutch – No Futuro
Dizzee Rascal – I Luv U
3 Of A Kind – Babycakes
Loom – RGB
Throwing Shade – Real Bad
C Powers – Phoenix Down
Danny L Harle – In My Dreams
Lockah – Unrealable
Destiny’s Child – Say My Name (Acapella)
Sophie – Nothing More To Say
Art Crime – Running Nowhere
Throwing Shade – Chancer
Oni Ayhun – OAR003 – B
Tears For Fears – Everbody Wants To Rule The World
Photo Credit – Meike Lindstrom
Words by Riccardo Villella, 10 December 2014. Leave a comment
Lily is a Bristol-based producer whose sporadic work over the past three years has captured our attention by virtue of its off-kilter brilliance. They first came to our attention on the Don’t Be Afraid offshoot Spargel Trax, the oddly affecting “Dollen Haze” standing out on the first volume of that sadly short-lived series, and “Tiwa” popping up a year later on Vol. 3. Lily then appeared on Idle Hands with the euphoric Trumpets At Dawn, before continuing on a Bristolian path with the really rather superb Modern Malaise tape early this year on No Corner (which was subsequently reissued on vinyl as part of that label’s expansive From The Reels collection). Going full circle, Lily has returned to Don’t Be Afraid, or at least its DBA Dubs arm, with a 10″ of infernal noise.
“Memory Jacket” is an odd track. To return to No Corner, one might mistake this track for the work of El Kid or Vessel. Following the trajectory of this artist, however, it’s clear how they’ve ended up here. Further and further into the Bristol minefield, their sound has been full of twisted intrigue, and the nightmare stomp of “Memory Jacket” is the logical end result. A growling, penetrating lead bass line is the centre piece of the track, surrounded by rolling kick fills on different levels and a pained series of eerie vocal oohs. Industrial rattles and hints of themes judder through without making a full impression, never lasting more than a brief moment. A lengthy outro then takes the track home just as it seemed to get going, leaving listeners confounded and dissatisfied. Even more intriguing, if that were possible, is a remix from Madteo, no stranger to bizarre territory. In this case, the remix is bizarre in its palpable difference to the source material. Where the original evoked sinister visions of figures lurking in shadows, this is an uplifting house jam by comparison. Just as the original ended with 40 seconds of haze and fuzz, this one kicks off with almost two minutes of introductory beatlessness, which preface the track’s swagger with syncopated pads before fading in irrepressible kicks and claps. It’s not without its curios, however. Whirrs and clanks keep it grounded in weirdness, a constant throb of bass almost an incessant irritant as muted vocal snaps lend further prurience. Its seven-plus minutes simply fly by in joyous rapture. Going back to this sub-label’s first entry, it’s important to note that the manifesto remains unchanged – these cuts are indeed all crucial. Worlds apart, they work on their own and any other damn terms.
Lily – Memory Jacket is forthcoming on DBA Dubs
Words by Aidan Hanratty, 05 December 2014. Leave a comment
Celebrating its seventh birthday this December, Huntleys + Palmers is a record label and club series that never strays far from the Truants radar. Moving between Glasgow and London, and headed up by Andrew Thomson, it has slowly become a cult institution, bringing the most interesting strains of electronic music to the fore. Their afro-futurist Highlife parties, set-up with regular H&P affiliate Auntie Flo, have been described by Auntie Flo himself as a challenge to ‘the Western-centric perspective on electronic music’. Huntleys + Palmers excel in the changing the focus across their main club series as well with a booking policy that’s both refreshingly challenging and diverse, whether they’re hosting Thursday-night proceedings at Shoreditch’s Plastic People or venturing further afield to other venues and cities. The fact that they discovered SOPHIE (whether you’re a fan or not) speaks to how daring Huntleys + Palmers are, never afraid to put their money where the emerging talent is. This strong sense of identity has earned them the respect of other labels and some of the most widely respected selectors: Kompakt cite how essential Huntleys + Palmers is for such a young label, Jackmaster claimed that they’re his current favourite, and both Jackmaster and Joy O featured forthcoming H+P material in their recent Beats In Space mixes. The label also recently announced a new monthly show on Rinse. With all that said, we’re delighted that label head Andrew Thomson has provided the 106th Truancy Volume. Listen to the mix while you check out our quick interview with him below, and if you’re lucky enough to be either London or Glasgow based, head out to help them blow out the candles…
Hey Andrew, thanks for sending through this mix – it’s lovely to be helping you celebrate your seventh birthday. What’s been the most exciting moment for the Huntleys + Palmers, in the journey so far? “Thanks! I don’t think there’s any specific moment which is exciting as all of it is really – meeting inspiring individuals, travelling and most of all, sharing musical discoveries. I’ve always been sharing music, from way back in school, recording tracks off the radio and playing them to classmates, to making minidiscs and mix CDs for friends. I see everything I’m doing now as just a extension of that same desire to share music with others and with more encounters, there’s more music to discover.”
As a platform for club events as well as recorded music, you’ve championed some diverse acts, and have a keen ear for emerging artists. Can you tell us a bit more about recent signee Wrong Steps? How did you find him? “I met the guy behind the Wrong Steps through Brian (Auntie Flo) as they both played a festival in Portugal (under another project name). A squad of us ended up going to Berlin for Brian’s Panorama Bar debut and we hung out with him and struck up a friendship then. He sent the Wrong Steps demos at a point when I already had a backlog of releases to get out, so I shamefully never checked them at the time. A few months later, he asked for feedback, which was a bit embarrassing. I went home and checked them out and signed a few right away. There’s now a bunch of material we’ll release throughout next year too.”
Are you getting inundated with demos yet, or still digging for gold? “There hasn’t been a sharp rise in demos, but I would say that the quality has increased now. There’s a bunch of stuff I get sent on a weekly basis which clearly would not work on the label and I don’t think the artist themselves even know much about the label’s output. They’re just shopping around their tracks to any email address they can get a hold of, so I typically don’t bother checking them out unless someone has went to the effort of mentioning why they think the music would fit on the label. From these artists, there are more and more tracks which are well produced, but just not really interesting enough.”
“The release schedule is pretty full for next year on both H+P and Highlife anyway, so I’m not really looking for anything new. I’d like to develop most of the artists who released this year and build on their promising debuts, so that takes up space in the schedule and is more interesting to me than just signing the latest banger from an online random.”
You discovered SOPHIE, and I can’t resist asking: what’s your take on the polarised response to the sound SOPHIE and his cohorts produce, both in music journalism and on the dancefloor? “I love it! In part because it’s exhilarating to watch his monumental rise in popularity, with that will also provoke negative criticism. All that suggests he’s doing something right, which is also exciting. Ever since I discovered him, he had very strong ideas of what he wants to achieve and whilst I never had doubt, it’s impressive to watch his career heading in the direction that he set out to accomplish. He’s got an exciting future ahead for sure.”
As a Swiss-born Turk based in Berlin whose music reflects that globetrotting identity, Mehmet Aslan’s Mechanical Turk release seemed like a great fit for H+P’s international approach. The two of you recently played in Istanbul together, right? How was your experience of the music scene out there? “Istanbul was an immense experience, I wasn’t prepared for how big it is. With a population of 16m (nearly double the size of London), it was impossible to see enough of the city in a short weekend. I wouldn’t be qualified to speak about its music scene, short of the amazing Baris K. The party itself was pretty perfect though with an open and responsive audience, who probably found it a bit strange having a pasty Glaswegian playing some Middle Eastern and Turkish stuff. It was interesting to see how Mehmet would be received, but they seemed to be lapping it up and there was a bunch of folk down the front waiting for him to play his Mechanical Turk rework, which got a great reaction.”
Staying with your own international experience, you’ve now moved back to Glasgow from Berlin and will be taking over as the programmer of Nice N Sleazy. As someone so heavily invested in different aspects the contemporary music scene, did you have any criticisms of Berlin’s current musical landscape? “It’s hard to be negative about Berlin as it’s just so different. There’s nowhere else like it, so I’m not really sure there’s any point in outsiders trying to project their own expectations on to how the city should be. There are criticisms about the music not being varied enough, too 4/4, but that’s functional and keeps people going in clubs until the next afternoon! I did find that there’s a smaller, maybe more music-led scene, revolving around the Berlin Community Radio and its affiliated artists and shows, so it’s not all house and techno.”
I expect that your work with the night and label might feed into the new Nice N Sleazy vibe somewhat? “Yeah, that’s the plan. The Sleazy’s job has fallen into place at the right time. I’d only moved back to Glasgow a few weeks before it came up and had been having discussions about starting a regular party there prior to hearing about the job so I’m very pleased about how things have turned out to say the least. I also start just as the weekly Thursdays at Plastic People parties I’ve been curating draws to a close at the end of the year, so I expect to pick things up from where that curation left off really.”
Releasing a fairly diverse range of sounds, how hard (or easy) has it been to establish yourselves within the current musical landscape, amongst an ever-increasing amount of small young labels? “It’s difficult to compare to others. I guess in certain respects there was a fairly solid foundation to build on after doing parties for so long – which helped with all the required contacts and it was maybe easier to get records to the right DJs, etc. I haven’t paid much heed to ‘the competition’ though, similarly to promoting, there will always be people doing good and interesting things and people going down maybe more of an obvious route. With the increased output on the label this year, I think more people are starting to get a sense of what H+P represents musically and hopefully this increased interest will continue.”
Of 2014’s music releases, which do you wish you’d nabbed for Huntleys + Palmers? “Good question! It’s probably an easier one to answer than which is my favourite H+P release, so I’m glad I don’t have to attempt that. I would probably say Caribou‘s ‘Mars‘ or ‘Wu Du Wu’ by Monetzumas Rache.
Finally, please tell us a little bit about the mix, and perhaps you could give us a sneak preview of what you guys have in store for us in 2015 – the second edition of your Chapter compilation series, and what else? “The mix is on the accessible end of the weird spectrum. It features a bunch of things I’ve been playing in warm-up sets over the past year; with a few label exclusives, some favourite tracks from the past year, alongside a couple of H+P classics. Around the first few parties back in 2007, I put together some compilation CDs which I wrapped up in coloured newspaper and secreted around Glasgow. Every so often folk still mention how they found one of them again recently and had it on. I’ve always wanted to do another one since, but never really had the time, so this is probably what I’d feature if I made one this week. Which is quite appropriate as the seventh birthday party is fast approaching.
“There’s plenty happening next year, mainly building on this years focus on the label and developing the artists who’ve contributed before now, with follow up releases from the likes of DrumTalk, Carisma, Wrong Steps, etc. We’ll also release a Highlife compilation in May which will see all the previous releases in a digital format for the first time and then there’s the Auntie Flo album, which is definitely something to get excited about.”
Words by Tabitha Thorlu-Bangura, 04 December 2014. Leave a comment
With all three of the label’s co-founders having hectic touring schedules to fulfill, it’s certainly understandable why releases on Hessle Audio have become slightly more irregular than they once were. It’s something Ben UFO has even commented on himself, when comparing the frequency of his label’s output to that of PAN and The Trilogy Tapes in an interview with Rinse last year. Step into the fold Bruce, the man tasked with delivering Hessle’s first release of 2014. Details about Bruce remain sketchy but on first look he seems like a natural fit for label. Not only does he appear to have taken naming pointers from label-mate Joe, but his sound positions itself at that middle ground between being experimental and being functional – a middle ground that Hessle have always been ardent proponents of.
Opener “Not Stochastic” featured in our 100th Truancy Volume and sounds as good now as it did then. Twitching synths have a noticeably trippy feel to them and are met with an undercurrent of buried kicks. As the track progresses the synths become ever more agitated, an effect only furthered by sudden drops and surges in volume. On the flip “Trip” is remarkably sparse – a prime example that less can definitely mean more. At times it seems as if the tribal-tinged drums are going to lose the energy to keep moving but reverberating bleeps do just enough to bring the sluggish rhythms back to life. “My Legs Wouldn’t Go Quick Enough” is the star turn here however. It’s the most direct and floor-focused of the three cuts; percussion clicks away irritably while piercing drones swirl and screech over the faint murmur of a weighty low end. When considered alongside his equally impressive Just Getting Started release on Dnuos Ytivil last month, it’s fair to say that Bruce has hit the production game ground running. “Not Stochastic” is an example of an artist fully justifying the hype and a reminder that although the pace at which Hessle Audio records are released may have changed slightly, the quality attached to them remains the same.
Bruce’s “Not Stochastic” is out now on Hessle Audio.
Words by Matt Gibney, 03 December 2014. Leave a comment