Functions of the Now IV: Miss Modular & Sudanim

While the first few tapes in this series focused their orbit around the Boxed massive, we now turn to those honing in on a skeletal, highly percussive, Jersey-inflected take on grime. Miss Modular and Sudanim of Her Records have presented us with exactly that, for the most part leaving behind grime’s evil sound palette and instead focusing on its relentless structure and searing rhythmic energy. Hailing from South London, the two are joined by Fraxinus and CYPHR to form the core of Her Records, with a variety of releases available here. Seemingly inspired by Jam City’s incredible Club Constructions appearance, Miss Modular and Sudanim (along with Neana and Georgia Girls) have Jersey’s ferocious kick as the pumping pistons in their motor – the engine around which grime’s rapid-fire claps and techno’s mechanic soundscape revolve. While others, such as Neana, display an industrial, factory-in-motion style within a similar framework, Her have taken a more melodic, synth-heavy approach. The result feels, when heard in conjunction with Bok Bok’s RA mix and Neana for the Astral Plane, like a strikingly new sound. It’s crucial that most of the producers featured on this mix had their moments of revelation not at Fantazia or Metalheadz, FWD or Sidewinder, but at Night Slugs and Hyperdub raves, replacing Slimzee pirate tapes with Total Freedom mixes off soundcloud. Hence those, like MM and Sudanim, coming of age during the reign of labels like NS, Hyperdub, Hessle and Livity are schooled in a genreless mess of dance music history rather than a unified sound. Here, kuduro shares the floor with funky, with juke, kwaito, ballroom, bmore, ghetto house, RnB, whatever. As all these musics come together and speak to each other, new ideas, new concoctions, new sounds emerge – this mix is one of them.

Once again, some bits and pieces you may have missed out on: Dark0’s self-released I Ain’t a Sweet Boy EP creates a vivid neon soundworld, with tracks like “Scyther” following down the Nguzunguzu sexy-scary path. Visionist’s single on Ramp sees the man further honing his angelic, otherworldly vibe, with the B-side, a plodding piece of murky house, truly reaching ascension. Look out for LOLGurlz and the Oracle’s forthcoming EP on Visionist’s label, Lost Codes, as well. Our old friend Strict Face let off a barrage of snares on “Dream Ripper,” while Helix’s party pack featured a couple of huge 8 bar remixes. The Levon the Don edit bangs particularly hard.

Stream: Functions Of The Now: Sudanim & Miss Modular

OK, to kick us off could you give us a bit of a history of Her Records? There’s not much to find on the internet.

Miss Modular: “We started September last year because we were all making music. Everyone I knew was making really, really good music, but no one was really taking it that seriously. We just wanted to throw parties and put the music under a banner, so we put on a party, it drew some attention and it kind of rolled from there.”
Sudanim: “The NYE party, our first, went shockingly well… I can’t believe it didn’t fuck up. It was all DIY, we had some carpenter mates in to build a bar and a stage in an arch, got some portaloos in, no security. It was a really good party. From there it was just ‘let’s do this properly’ and now we’re here. We like the fact that our nights are in south London. Most of the good DJs are playing east, so we really try to keep our venues in south.”

What’s going on in greater London? Have you guys checked out Boxed?

MM: “I’ve been a couple of times. It was figuratively just me, the guy who runs Coyote Records, four other guys off the street and… Spooky. It was a great vibe, mad music playing. But it’s a different kind of club experience. I mean, they make music that’s like “wow that’s fucking crazy and weird”, but you can’t necessarily dance to it that well. I feel like, with our music, we have a bit more of a dancefloor agenda. But we are definitely into the Boxed stuff as well, slipping in Rabit at the end of the mix was kind of our nod to them. And Murlo also started his FOTN with “Sun Showers” so, for the sake of continuity, we had to finish with it!”

I think Rabit is the only producer so far who’s appeared in every mix in this series. Big up Rabit! Can we talk a bit about your approach melody? It’s something we’ve been focusing on a lot, especially last time with Murlo, but I think the emphasis is there for you guys when compared to the ultra stripped-down approach of Neana and Georgia Girls and others working in a similar space.

Suda: “The way that melodies are structured in grime, especially those ancient trax like “Functions On The Low”, they’re all simple melodies at first but as they are layered they start to create a much bigger picture, as a opposed to, say, Murlo, where every individual melody in the tune is very complex. Recently I’ve been trying to see how little you can do with a melody, how often you can repeat it and make it feel like there’s still variation. Functions Of The Now, that’s a reference, right?”

Yeah, of course!

Suda: “Well, when we’re talking about melody and its influence, it’s all informed by that song. So for us it’s “Seasons”, “Functions On The Low”, “Music Sounds Better With You”, “The Courts”… that’s it really, that’s the shit.”

Can we talk about the influence of Night Slugs on the whole? They do seem to loom over a lot of what you guys are doing. Her is surely a reference to the Jam City trak as well, right?

MM: “Living in London, it’s hard not to be influenced by them because they rule the scene in that respect. They are a big presence in the underground and it’s hard to avoid them, although Hyperdub has still probably influenced me the most. And it’s been amazing that Scratcha was really the first person to recognise us.”
Suda: “The Night Slugs raves are our favourites still, by a long way. When it’s a big night, it’s always so much more than a club night. But the name isn’t a reference, we just liked it!”

You guys have a night as well right?

MM: “We founded the label last September and we inaugurated it with a NYE party. So it really started as a party – we’re a party as much as we are a label.”
Suda: “We haven’t done a proper party since July, though, we’re focused on the music for now. We haven’t put anything out since CYPHR’s EP, which doesn’t really relate to the sound we’re pushing now. We need to get Miss Modular’s EP out as soon as possible because currently our latest release doesn’t really reflect the sound we’re going for.”
MM: “Our real statement is yet to come.”
Suda: “Yes! That’s a quote… we’ve just recently felt like we’ve actually figured it out.”

Could you tell us a bit about your relationship with East Coast club sounds – Jersey, Ballroom, Bmore – and how that’s mixing in with grime for you guys?

MM: “For me, Jersey Club is probably the most visceral club music that’s existed since grime. If you’re a fan of grime, that raw energy and the uniqueness of both genres really go hand in hand.”
Suda: “You can approach them both in a similar way. Maybe that’s my ignorance of the Jersey scene because I’ve never been, I’ve no idea what it’s actually like, I’ve just interpreted the music at total face value. But you can approach Jersey it in the same way you can grime –  it’s the same structure, the same attitude. Hard Jersey tunes bang like grime. So it only really makes sense, at least to us, to combine the two. And it’s not like its not already been done, it’s just the thing that’s spoken to us the most. It’s also a bit of a statement against the bastardisation of house music we’re all experiencing here in the UK right now. The amount of 122 chill house you’ll hear when you go to any club… it kills me. So what we’re doing is quite fast and high energy.”
MM: “A lot of my trax are 8 bar, so that’s really grime influenced obviously. But its just that really quick thing – you can mix it really fast. I love that style of mixing.”
Suda: “I love grime but when I sit down and go “OK, I’m gonna make a hard grime tune”, its never really worked out. It never sounds as raw as the grime I like. So I gave up trying to make grime and took the structure and the pace of it. I filled the gaps of what I couldn’t really do with like funky and yeah… funky really.”

I did want to talk about funky a bit as well, because, especially the percussive aspect of what you guys do is, I feel, informed by funky as much as grime or jersey.

MM: “It’s such a big part of Her Records… funky doesn’t really exist anymore and I rarely hear people making good funky house tunes, but when you do its like “DAMMMM!””
Suda: “I’m just such a sucker for the funky riddim. What I’ve been doing is taking the grime structure and doing like 16 bars of hard Jersey kicks and 16 bars of straight funky, like my “Ariel” bootleg, which is in the mix.”

Tell us a bit more about the mix.

MM: “Well, there is a bit of a concept behind it. We wanted to show that house and grime are quite equal, in our minds, in terms of creating a club vibe. So there’s a housier section at the start and it flips to the grime-Jersey thing. It shows how house and grime mix really well.”
Suda: “And how most house sounds better at about 134!”

What’s your approach to DJing on the whole?

Suda: “Well, both of us prefer to use timecoded vinyl and, I mean… our style really depends on what the crowd is saying.”
MM: “A lot of guys rock up like, ‘check out all these hard tunes’, but it’s really about seeing what the crowd wants. And sometimes you need to just bring the dancehall and bring the R&B.”
Suda: “It’s more fun, and people respond better to it. Mixing for radio or for you guys is completely different from playing out.”

What’s the plan for her in the future?

MM: “I feel like we’re still making our statement, so part of that is my next EP and after that its going to be Sudanim’s The Link EP and we have a single from Fraxinus and a single from CYPHR.”
Suda:Her Volume 3 is in the works as well! There’ll be lots of remixes and bootlegs on there. And I’ve spent the last sixth months working on an album with CYPHR, under AM Motion, you’ll hear about that very soon.”

Alright sweet, got any final shouts?

MM: “We need to shout out Scratcha DVA some more… he’s such a nice guy and we wouldn’t be even where we are now without him. And Total Freedom. Favourite DJ for sure, when I saw him at Fabric he started off with some crazy metal drum solo. And obviously it was nuts from there.”

Yeah, it’s a Slipknot solo I think. Oh, TF. <3

Functions Of The Now: Sudanim & Miss Modular Tracklist:

CYPHR – Thieft
Fraxinus – All Ends
AM Motion – Hands Down
Sudanim – Midrift
Murlo & Famous Eno – Ariel (Sudanim Bootleg)
AM Motion – HH
French Fries – Everything (Georgia Girls Remix)
Fraxinus – Piston Jack
NKC – For Yourself
Dizzee Rascal – Wheel (Fraxinus Reconstruction)
Neana – Slow
Vissacoor – Spectral Evidence
Strict Face – Creep Zones II (Miss Modular 8 Bar Club Mix) / DJ Bake ft. DJ Uniique -Booty Bounce Anthem
Bambi – Shimmer (Helix 8 Bar Edit)
Jam City – 500 Years (Georgia Girls Bootleg)
??? – ???
Miss Modular – Reflector Pack
SPF666 – Scorpion Cache (Neana Val Venis Remix)
Miss Modular – Cruzer Edge (Whyfam Rainforest Mix)
CYPHR & Whyfam – ???
Ripley – Values
Rabit – Sun Showers

Artwork Credit: Joseph Jackson

Tobias Shine