PLEASE NOTE: We will maintain our requirements for customers to show proof of a registered lateral flow test within 24hrs of entry (as explained below).
From the 1st of October we will start asking customers for vaccine certification as well.
However, as the vaccine certification is new requirement, we do not expect 100% of our customers to be checked during the first month of implementation (and it will not be enforced upon us for the first 2 weeks). Also, our staff may need to ask to see your ID, to cross-reference this with your pass, so be sure to carry something appropriate as well.
NB You can get the NHS Covid Pass HERE. This should be eligible in over 52 countries, including for any students in Scotland from England, Wales, the EU etc! More info here. 🙂
Rob Ellis, professionally known as Pinch, has been at the forefront of the dubstep scene for well over a decade now, but his music is far from easy to describe. Known for being the mastermind behind Tectonic and Cold Recordings, plus for his innovative instrumentals and DJ sets, he’s long established himself as one of the titans of Bristol bass music.
We caught up with him at Love Saves the Day festival before his back-to-back set with Joker for an in-depth interview, delving into all kinds of secrets surrounding his influences, production techniques, collaborations, and future plans. Read on for our full conversation.
You’ve got a pretty unique sound. What did you listen to growing up, and do you think it had much of an impact on your productions?
Well, I think anything that you listen to growing up is a major influence on your direction. My older brother was into dub music and psychedelic rock and all sorts of stuff. He used to make me tapes and compilations. And then in my early teenage years, I was very into what was called the Bristol sound. The trip hop thing: Massive Attack, Portishead, Tricky.
Drum and bass. Jungle. Techno. All these things fed into my tastes. I’ve always liked sitting in between boundaries wherever possible.
There are some really unique foley sounds on tracks like “Brain Scan”; do you record many of these yourself?
I tend to just get sounds and fuck ’em up. That’s more of a general approach. But I have made some field recordings in the past. There’s a holiday I went to in Marrakech years ago and I’ve lived off a few minutes of recordings from there. [laughs] That’s made it into a lot of stuff. But I do use a lot of foley-style sound effects recorded as well. So it could be taken from films, TV… it’s definitely all sample-legitimate stuff, of course, but if it’s pretty obscure, no one knows it.
Do you use a lot of analog gear in your tracks? I know Joker does, and was wondering if that’s some common ground between the two of you?
Not really. I’ve generally been much more inside the box: VSTs. I do have an analog desk and a couple of analog outboard bits; I use a Distressor compressor and some weird shitty guitar pedals. But, mainly, I like the convenience of being able to open up the program and have everything how it was. With analog, you’ve gotta capture it right that first time round.
Have you thought about incorporating it into your shows instead?
I do a live set when I’m performing with Adrian Sherwood as Sherwood and Pinch. Adrian runs an analog desk with analog delays, reverbs, effects. I run the digital aspect of it through Ableton and it plugs out of a sound card spread across the desk, so each separate sound’s got its own channels and can be effected differently. We use an SPD drum pad, lots of sound effects, and some processing pedals.
When I’m performing as Pinch… I did do a live show. I literally did it twice: in Montréal for MUTEK and at Fabric for one of their birthday celebrations. I tend to prefer to just DJ when I’m playing as Pinch. So, a different approach.
Recently, you’ve released with Aquatic Lab, SWAMP81, and obviously your own labels Tectonic and Cold Recordings. How do you decide what goes where?
I make it up as I go along. That’s the truth of the matter. I’m not the most precious about things. Sometimes songs will catch a mood which resonates with a certain label imprint a bit more, or it might just be that I pass some tunes out to people I know—like Loefah—and they’re like ‘can we have this one?’. There are lots of different reasons. I mainly tend to focus on releasing with labels that I have a lot of respect for and that I feel contribute something worthwhile to the scene in general.
I’ve worked with Riko for a few years now. It started off with a soundclash, and then some gigs that we ended up getting together, and over time I’ve got to know him a bit better. I think he’s a very underrated MC. I think he’s a hugely talented individual with an amazing rhythm and flow. So it took a couple of years, but it was my idea that I put to him, which was: ‘let’s do an EP on Tectonic. I’ll push for Tectonic artists to get a really sound rhythm together’. The ones he wanted to work with, he worked with, and he recorded on. There was only one or two which he came up to Bristol to record for. Everything else was done in studio time that he’d organised in London.
The timing, as we were approaching the hundredth and this whole EP was coming together, it was like ‘this has to be the hundredth release, it makes a lot of sense’. Riko represents an individual who’s been through a lot of the transformative periods in dance music and UK sound system culture. He was there for jungle; he was there for garage; he was there for grime. You know? He’s still around and he’s still bussing lyrics and bussing dancefloors and absolutely fucking breaking down sounds.
Absolutely. And maybe even carrying sound system culture into new pastures.
Well, exactly. This is it. I mean, like, the track me and Mumdance did with him, “Big Slug”, it’s a fucking different one, you know? It doesn’t really fit in any obvious categories. But he rode it, and he just absolutely owned it.
Definitely. Any other MCs you’re keen to work with at the moment?
Yeah, I’ve been doing some work with Killa P and Irah. I really like them. I’d like to do something with Jamakabi at some point. I really love that dancehall-grime crossover sound. It appeals to me on a lot of levels, and I think only a few people can really pull it off. Those are three of the main ones.
What’s next for Tectonic?
There’s a four-track EP from Hugo Massien, on a kind of breaky, techno-y crossover space. Really solid tunes I’m very excited about. Following that, we’ve got the Walton album which is absolutely off the chain. That’s one producer I find myself coming back to more and more. When I’m digging through the record bag, his plates are the ones that come out most often. It’s a really cool album. Following up from that, we’ve got a very exciting remix plate, which I will not give you any more information on for the moment, but around about September time that’ll be a definite big hitter. I’m absolutely confident on that.
Truth of the matter is, I’m tryna work on a solo album at the moment. I’ve been taking absolutely fucking ages about it, and I just need to concentrate on that for the next little period of time. I’ve got a body of work which I’m mostly happy with, but I need to go through the process of refining it and getting a few more options on the table.
We’ll be eagerly awaiting the results. Thanks for your time. • • • Find Pinch on Twitter (@TectonicPinch) and Facebook (@PinchTectonic). Find Tectonic Recordings on Twitter (@TectonicRecs) and Facebook (@TectonicRecordings). Hugo Massien’s Advanced Aerial Threat EP dropped Friday 15 June via Tectonic. Order your copy here.
We’re buzzing to be welcoming Steve Stamp aka DJ Steves (Kurupt FM) from genius BBC comedy People Just Do Nothing to the building on Thursday 5th March, not least as he’s co-headlining with jungle legend Randall!
Promoters 23 Degrees caught up with him for a quick chat before the gig.
How old were you when you first started learning to mix? Which DJ’s inspired you to start?
Around 15 I think. I had some basic belt drives and me and Beats would go back to back after school. We were inspired by the West London pirate radio DJs. A lot of the time I didn’t really know who they were but I remember people like Oxide were playing the darker stuff that I was most into. I also had one tape with Deekline where he was scratching over garage, that was the maddest thing I’d ever heard. Blew my tiny mind.
Your sets are on ode to the Garage sound, what are your top 3 Garage slammers?
It’s hard to pick but there’s a few that have stood the test of time. Stuff like Roy Davis Jr ft Peven Everett – Gabriel, Active Minds – Hobsons Choice, Groove Chronicles – ‘Hold On’. They always existed on the classier end of the garage spectrum, very sexy production. They’re not tracks you’ll normally hear in a rave though, what I hope I can do with my sets is introduce some of the less obvious party tunes and show people some classics that they might not have heard before.
With Garage fully back on the map right now, which of the new school producers are you feeling?
Ah there’s loads of people making good beats. Conductah, Murlo… In terms of new stuff I’m more into grime: Sir Spyro, Swifta, Rudekid, Spooky. What I love about the scene is that a lot of these guys are selectors and their music emerges out of the radio and rave culture. It’s all connected and that’s what keeps it so authentic.
You’ve played in Edinburgh before with the rest of Kurupt FM, how was it? Are you excited to return?
Scotland is always messy. Weird shit seems to happen every time I’m there. DJs ending up in ambulances, McDonalds lock-ins. I blame the Buckfast. Need to add that to my rider actually…
We had Danny Rankin aka Decoy perform back in 2019, he had some serious Jungle music up his sleeve, do you ever sneak in some Jungle/DnB into your sets?
I’ll leave that to the pros. We’ve got Randall on the lineup with me and he’s told me that I’m not allowed to go beyond 140bpm. I mean he hasn’t actually said that, but he’s a legend and I know my place.
Any dubplates/suprises up your sleeve?
At some point during the set I sometimes like to surprise the audience by going briefly into character as Steves and doing a bad mix. So if you hear that then that’s why. And you’re welcome.
Finally, taps on or taps aff?
Taps aff. Trousers down. Red Stripe in each hand. Eyes closed.
Flexout Audio boss Tom Bassi (DJ/producer/A&R/label mgr) and Charli Brix (DJ/producer/vox) make a formidable duo, with a smooth, polished sound that combines deep, dark moods and techy production. It’s a style of drum ‘n’ bass with a broad appeal just now and has unsurprisingly been peppering the sets of countless DJs in the scene.
So, we’re well pleased to be welcoming them to Scotland, as they make their combined Scottish debut for Midnight Bass, and excited to hear what they’ve gone in store for the Bongo on Tuesday 11th Feb. The Midnight Bass crew had a wee chat with them, to see what’s what in their world…
How does it feel to be debuting in Scotland? Have you been before?
Bassi: Amazing. We’ve both never been to Scotland and are so happy to be asked to perform at The Bongo Club. I’ve always loved all the Scottish people I’ve ever met so I’m sure it’s going to be wicked vibes.
Charli: I’m so excited, I’ve never been to Scotland! I have a friend studying in Edinburgh who I haven’t seen in ages so she’s gonna roll through so that’ll be lush. I’ve had a few punters hit me up on insta telling me they’re excited to see us perform which is always lovely. I can’t wait!
What/who would you say is a key influence in getting you started with your musical journey?
Bassi: For me, it was going to Fabric nightclub for the first time when I turned 18, I knew from then on all I wanted to do was be a DJ
Charli: Watching Sister Act when I was 11 and developing a passion for singing and then again on stage at Fabric in 2015 during the ‘Rituals’ Album launch – I realised then I was never going back to a 9-5!
Best party you experienced / performed at in 2019?
Bassi: That’s a tough one for me but I’d have to say our Boat party at Outlook festival as it was so intimate and the energy was just unreal.
Charli: I agree with Tom, either the Flexout Outlook Boat Party or my Kintsugi EP Launch – both were utterly outrageous.
At the turn of a decade, what can we expect from you in the (20)20s?
Bassi: A lot of my focus is on Charli’s album at the moment but as well as that we have exciting projects from the Flexout gang including an LP from Arkaik which is going to be very special.
Charli: So I’m pretty much on lock for the album this year. I have a few releases coming with some regular collaborators, and my Kintsugi EP has been flipped so that’s coming out over the next six months or so. It’s all incredibly positive and moving fluidly which i’m happy with, I feel like 2020 is going to be supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
We’re excited to see you DJ and of course showcase your vocals with a live PA set. We’ve read that you’ve been DJing just a few years. Do you enjoy DJing as much as performing vocals?
Thank you! I’m hyped to perform. So I’ve only been DJing 18 months, which is mad when you think about it! DJing & performing give me a very different high. When I write or sing it’s for me, and it’s a bonus if the crowd is vibing and can relate, but when I DJ it’s for the crowd, and my happiness or love of a mix is secondary – does that make sense?
Charli, we’ve read that you work for Glastonbury, write for In-reach magazine, play with the female super-group KCDC, all the while laying down vocals for so many tracks AND maintaining a busy gig schedule. How do you fit it all in and manage the creative flow? Any tips for anyone working on multiple projects at once?
In all honesty, I took on too much last year. I had to step back from a few projects and commitments, but all for positive reasons. I essentially didn’t give myself enough credit or realise how much would change in 2018/19 and just assumed I’d have to do the ‘broke musician holding down 5 part time jobs’ life forever to facilitate my music.
I spent a lot of years laying good foundations, professionally and personally, and that has allowed me to work as a freelancer, and be more particular with how I spend my time and who I work for – not only in music but my other creative endeavours.
If you’re flat out all the time, just have common sense. Eat, sleep, drink water, make sure you’re looking after your mental health. Get rid of toxic people who hide under the guise of ‘supportive’ during the highs and add to the lows, and most importantly – learn to say no.
What has been your favourite project to date, with who and why?
Charli: It’s gotta be my ‘Kintgsugi’ EP 🙂 It’s such a trip being able to google it (haha) because it still doesn’t seem real. I’ve been doing collabs for so long and despite adoring all the producers i’ve worked with, it’s just different when you’re the one in control and it’s your ideas and your vision. I couldn’t have done it without Tom and Flexout, and I honestly still don’t think he knows how happy it makes me.
Bassi, along with a solid back catalogue of releases under Flexout, we’ve seen you’ve started producing too (we’re a big fan of Reflections). Is there anything in the pipeline that we might catch a sample of at the upcoming show?
In terms of my own production, it has taken a back seat for the time being but I am actively involved in the writing process with Charli and her new album so you’ll hear some new material from that on Tuesday for sure.
Flexout Audio was founded in 2011 and has since become a highly consistent and widely respected record label. Is there a highlight moment or milestone for you in the rise of Flexout Audio?
Yes and most have happened within the last 12 months to be honest. Having Flexout at Star Warz in Belgium was huge, incredible venue and an amazing drum and bass event that has been going for 20 years. Our boat party at Outlook festival was amazing, I’d always wanted to do that and so glad that it happened before they moved away from Pula. Other than that hosting Room 3 and then more recently Room 2 at Fabric was incredibly special for me as that is the club I went to the most when I first started going clubbing.
A 20+ year-old sound that encompasses many styles of music due to the history of sampling and borrowing from other genres of music and working it into a different, faster tempo. It is the origin of what is now known as Drum & Bass. It is a vibe. It was always about the samples and vibes already captured in the music. Now all these years on, artists are writing original works with Jungle and the goal is always to capture a vibe that has soul to it, just like all the samples have.
Has your approach to DJing changed since you first started out?
Yes, when I first was DJing many moons ago now, I used to prepare all my sets and want everything to go perfectly. With more experience of different clubs and set-ups, I realized it was far better to freestyle and go with the flow of the club system and crowd. Some systems don’t produce enough bass, so certain tunes just don’t sound the same and my sets are adjusted to the sound system. I also like to be able to play the odd request, especially if it’s one of our own productions being requested, as I feel that gives a great connection to the fans. Ten or so years ago, I was playing out under my solo name, Vital Elements, a lot. When the Serial Killaz bookings came in, I would change the style I usually played, and I really saw a change in the vibe of the dance floor when incorporating more Jungle style and vocal lead tracks. This was a big influence in the sound I wanted to push more, as that certain vibe captured by Jungle really does make the dance floor a nicer place.
Where in the world do you think the best Jungle crowd is?
I’ve played to so many great crowds over the world, it would be unfair and too difficult to choose.
What’s your top Jungle tune to play out at the moment?
Our remix of ‘Professional Ganja Smoker’ has been getting a great reaction for some time, as is our yet-to-be finished collab with Jaguar Skillz (that) we’ve been testing, but I still think the most powerful track has to be Congo Natty’s “Code Red.” in any of its various forms. We’ve been lucky enough to remix it and have recently updated it too, they always go off, as does the original 20 years on.
What up-and-coming DJs and producers are impressing you?
Upgrade and his brother Limited have been very impressive. And of course our young mentees RunTingz, who have come on leaps and bounds since we took them on and got them in the studio for some vital training.
Describe your creative process in the studio?
It depends on what we are working on but it can usually be boiled down to catching that elusive vibe I keep mentioning: you gotta find the hook, be it a vocal, melody, rhythm, or groove.
How would you describe your sound at the moment?
Modern day Jungle
What’s your musical guilty pleasure?
Classical and differently tuned world music.
If DJing wasn’t your job, what would it be?
A chef, like I used to be.
Any new projects coming up?
Stacks, collaborations, remixes, original works…too many to mention. Just keep an eye out for any release with the name Serial Killaz in it – there will be plenty.
We’re excited to be welcoming one of the founders of the legendary Metalheadz drum n bass label, DJ Storm, as she headlines SSL XL’s NYE event. This recent feature by Becca Inglis for Dazed Digital back in January gives you the full back-story….
The story of Kemistry and Storm, the unsung pioneers of drum & bass. 20 years ago, the Metalheadz duo released their seminal DJ-Kicks mix – here, Goldie, B.Traits, Mumdance and more reflect on their legacy.
In our Under the Influence series, we trace the ideas of underground artists, designers, labels, and collectives, and the impact that they’ve had on pop culture as we know it, examining how the revolutionary aesthetics and attitudes of outsiders make their way into the mainstream – and importantly, how much that should be valued and not forgotten.
Kemistry and Storm hold an almost mythical status in the drum & bass scene. Their mid-90s sets captured their flair behind the decks, defined by an unparalleled track selection, long, carefully crafted mixes, and a potent chemistry between the two DJs that spurred the crowd on. “I knew they were bound for stardom,” says Goldie, who established the Metalheadz label with help from the two DJs and gifted them with their first set of turntables. “They would mix it, man. They were holding shit, arranging the drops, they would drop again into another double drop. They were underrated, and they were just so much darker.”
Kemistry (Valerie Olukemi A. Olusanya, or “Kemi”) and Storm (Jayne Conneely) both grew up in Kettering, a small town in the UK’s East Midlands, and would together help shape Metalheadz into one of drum & bass’s most notorious record labels. They inspired a new generation of DJs with their 1999 contribution to the DJ-Kicksseries, a 17-track, one-hour mix that’s at times dark and dystopian, at others smooth and melodic. But their trajectory was tragically cut short when, just three months after DJ-Kicks came out, a freak car accident took Kemi’s life. “Kemi had always tried to find something where she could be who she was, and look like she was, and achieve something – and that was in DJing drum & bass,” says Conneely. “She’d found it and she was so content. She always said, ‘I just want to make a difference.’ And you know, that’s what we have on her plaque. ‘DJ Kemistry, she wanted to make a difference.’ And she did.”
Olusanya first introduced Conneely to rave culture in 1988, after Conneely, fresh from studying in Oxford, had qualified as a radiographer and moved to London to look for work. In need of a place to stay, Conneely took up Olusanya’s offer to split the rent on her bedroom in a Finsbury Park townhouse, where her friend proceeded to bombard her with the sounds of pirate radio stations. Conneely had so far missed the underground dance scene, but through Olusanya’s recommendations she discovered a love for the art of mixing. Together, they began practising on Olusanya’s Amstrad system, holding their thumbs over the belt drive to get their records in time. “We started getting really obsessed with raving and buying vinyl,” Conneely says. “We were kind of asking ourselves the question, how can we be with this music 24/7?”
Then Olusanya started dating Goldie, after he spotted her working in Red Or Dead on his cycle route to Camden. At the time, he was known as a graffiti artist, and had just returned home from painting and exhibiting in the US. While ravers were holding their second Summer of Love in the UK, he had been busy immersing himself in America’s burgeoning hip hop scene. Olusanya and Conneely took him to Fabio & Grooverider’s party Rage, credited as the incubator for early jungle music, at London nightclub Heaven, where he got his first taste for hardcore. “The tunes that these two were playing were the catalyst for Kemi and Storm,” Goldie says. “Kemi was the Fabio, Storm was more the Grooverider. I realised how passionate they were about these guys. I kind of related to that because of my passion for hip hop DJs.”
Goldie was quickly assimilated into this harder and faster genre of music, joining his friends every Thursday at Rage then piling back to their flat for afters. Olusanya and Conneely dragged their Binatone and Amstrad Midi-systems into one room, where they practiced mixing their huge bank of records. “That was my introduction,” says Goldie. “They introduced me to absolutely everybody that was making music in the way that I wanted to.” It was here, in the small hours, that he shared his dream for the trio: he would make the music, Kemistry and Storm would DJ, and they would all be united under one iconic drum & bass label. He paid for their first proper set of decks in 1991 off the back of his first EP, The Ajax Project, and set up Metalheadz in 1994. A year later, the Blue Note in Hoxton offered Metalheadz what would become the label’s legendary Sunday night residency, where they pushed a tougher sound to an increasingly international crowd. Goldie became busier when London Records signed him to produce his seminal album Timeless, and in 1995, he asked Kemistry and Storm to help manage the label.
“I think they were a big part of me getting on Metalheadz,” says Steve Carr, better known as Digital, who made his debut for the label in 1996 and has maintained a tight relationship with them since. “I wasn’t the obvious thing, and neither were they. I’d make one or two of the regular amen tracks, but then I’d make some quirky stuff. And they were into it, they championed me.” Kemistry and Storm helped foster a community of drum & bass devotees who were pushing the genre in new directions. They handled the promotion and A&R for classic tracks like Dillinja’s “The Angels Fell” and J Majik’s “Your Sound”, and hosted meetings where they offered advice to the label’s young producers, helping to steer the musical direction of a song or deciphering which DJs should be given the next release. “They always looked out for artists,” says Digital. “Not just in a music sense, but the people. That’s what made Metalheadz. They got that family vibe. They literally pulled people together.”
DJ Flight is best known in the drum & bass scene for her show The Next Chapter on BBC Radio 1xtra, but she hadn’t even considered DJing when she first encountered Kemistry and Storm. She was transfixed when she caught them at the SW1 Club in Victoria when she was just 17. “I was just staring at them, watching what they were doing,” Flight says. “One of the guys that I was out with came over and said, ‘That will be you in five years time.’” After that, Flight turned up to every gig she could, and with her heroes’ encouragement, created her first two mixtapes. Her big break came one night at Swerve, Fabio’s drum & bass night at The Velvet Rooms, when Kemistry and Storm asked her to make a tape they could give to Goldie. “They said, ‘We want to bring in a new girl into the camp and we think you’re ready,’” she says. But Kemi died shortly afterwards, and Flight only heard Goldie’s feedback months later when she bumped into him at a Metalheadz night in Camden. “He said, ‘Kemi and Jayne think you’re good. That means you’re good. Let’s give you a go,’” she says. By coincidence, Flight’s first set with Metalheadz was also one of Storm’s first gigs since the accident. At the end of the night, she gifted Flight with Kemistry’s decks.
“For women especially, to see somebody like you up there, it’s definitely inspirational,” says Alicia Bauer, aka Alley Cat, who started DJing in San Francisco and now manages her own label named Kokeshi. She met Olusanya and Conneely when she came to support one of their gigs in Germany, and later moved to London where she and Flight both became residents at Feline, a night promoting women in drum & bass that Conneely ran at Herbal in 2007. Alongside artists like Miss Pink, Mantra, and MC Chickaboo, they targeted the gender balance in lineups by filling both the upstairs and downstairs with women DJs and helped to create a space that prioritised women ravers in a male-dominated scene. “The great thing about it is that a lot of girls came out to our night, so it got skewed more toward the female audience,” says Alley Cat.
“Kemi had always tried to find something where she could be who she was, and look like she was, and achieve something – and that was in DJing drum & bass. She’d found it and she was so content” – DJ Storm
Kemistry and Storm’s contribution to drum & bass is crystallised in their DJ-Kicks compilation, which sits in a club culture hall of fame alongside entries into the series by Carl Craig, Four Tet, and Nina Kraviz. The series curators, the record label !K7, hunted for the duo for two years before they finally tracked them down in 1998, when a mutual acquaintance introduced them while walking the streets of Miami. “I thought they were very brave to back Kemi and myself,” says Conneely. “We were women in a male-dominated scene, even though we were doing well in our careers. It was nice to see that they had no bias and they just thought we were the best at what we do.”
Kemistry and Storm made a bold but fitting move for DJ-Kicks. Not only were they the first female duo to feature, theirs was also the first pure drum & bass and jungle entry on a predominantly house, techno, and downtempo-oriented series. “It was a Metalheadz vibe,” says Conneely. The pair seized the opportunity to showcase their favourite producers of that time. Their friendship with Goldie bestowed them a one-off version of “Hyaena”; a dubplate of DJ Die’s “Clear Skyz” illustrated the Bristol sound; and John B., J Majik, and Dillinja were some of the producers championed at Metalheadz. “It’s a good representation of that time,” says Digital, whose track “Mission Accomplished”, a collaboration with Spirit, appeared on the mix. “They covered a lot of the scene. It’s a good album to look to for a bit of proper history for the drum & bass scene and the different artists involved.”
“I’ve never rinsed a CD so hard in my entire life,” says B. Traits, the Canadian DJ who joined Shy FX’s Digital Soundboy label in 2007 and went on to host her own weekly slot on BBC Radio 1. She had just bought her first set of turntables when she listened to Kemistry and Storm’s compilation. “It wasn’t all the big tracks of that year. Every single track was excellent, and it was blended perfectly. Their skills as DJs cut through on that mix, as selectors and as master mixers. To actually see two female DJs that were successful was a game changer for me, especially when I could literally count on one hand the amount that I knew. And they were united. It was like, you can be a part of this crew and you don’t have to be a dude. You can be a part a movement.”
Kemistry and Storm styled themselves as one singular DJ, each retaining their own distinct style while sharing a box of vinyl between them – Storm was known for her deep, growling tunes, while Kemistry favoured more off-kilter sounds. Ordinarily they split their sets down the middle and they took turns to start or finish, but the DJ-Kicks album led them to create a more integrated mix. “We wanted as many artists that we cared about as possible to be on this album, so we had to break it down differently,” says Conneely. “I think that was a real true idea of how Kemistry and Storm work together.
But that union was abruptly severed just a few days after they returned from touring DJ-Kicks around America. On the drive back from a Southampton gig, a rogue cat’s eye, a reflective device used to mark out the centre of UK roads, came loose and flew through the windscreen. Olusanya was killed instantly. “We were very yin and yang, me and Kemi,” says Conneely. “We balanced each other out. So for me to lose half of myself… it was just so shocking.” When Storm returned to play a night run by V Recordings, she continued to split the set between Olusanya’s records and her own. “It was overwhelming at first,” she says, “but actually, it was the best thing I ever did, because it was the place I still felt Kemi. I’ve changed my style over the years to be more ‘Kemistry and Storm’ rather than just ‘Storm’. We were both brave, but I think Kemi was braver first to play that slightly more obscure tune.”
Conneely’s influence has now spread beyond drum & bass with the help of Mumdance, who saw Storm play with Kemistry when he snuck into Brighton’s Essential Music Festival at 13 years old. He’d never heard a DJ mix tracks live before, or experienced a sound system so loud. “That was probably the first dancefloor epiphany that I ever had. It was the first time I’d been physically hit in the face by sound,” Mumdance says. “The Metalheadz aesthetic, and that dark, dystopian dread that Storm specialises in, is probably the prime influence not only on what I do, but on what Pinch does, on what Logos does, and countless other producers.” Mumdance finally met Conneely at a Boiler Room showcase he hosted in 2014, where he invited some of the artists who’d most impacted his style over the years to perform. “She said it was quite pivotal to the next wave of her career,” he says. “A lot of kids who had never heard of her saw her come on deck and smash it. Now she’s been discovered by a whole new crowd.”
In today’s club culture, Storm gets to spread her dark and wild sound to multigenre events like Dimensions and Unsound festivals, and Mumdance’s label Different Circles’ nights. It’s an apt throwback to the genre’s origins, when Fabio and Grooverider were first mixing rave techno with breakbeat, watched by two fledgling DJs who were trying to emulate them at home. “We were like little sponges at the time,” Conneely says. “Fabio taught me how to tell a story, Grooverider taught me how to select. When Randall came along, he put the mixing into perspective. That is what we wanted to achieve, and I think we did. People started saying, ‘We love your style, it’s kind of the rough with the smooth.’ I think Kemistry and Storm took a little bit of everybody and made it into our own.”
We’re mighty excited to be welcoming (amost) the entire Livity Sound crew, from Bristol, for Headset’s 5th Birthday Party this Friday night. Should be more than a wee bit special, not least as our festive 5am licence kicks in as well!
The Skinny’s clubs scribe, Nadia Younes, did this interview (copied below) with label boss Peverelist in which he talks about the label, the Bristol scene and his involvement in it.
Peverelist on Livity Sound and Bristol techno
This month we take our label series outside of Scotland and look to Bristol’s Livity Sound ahead of the label’s showcase at The Bongo Club for Headset’s fifth birthday party
Edinburgh club night Headset has long been a champion of the Bristol electronic music scene, with previous guests including Peach Discs’ co-founder Gramrcy, Idle Hands’ boss Chris Farrell and DJ/producer Hodge (pic. above). It feels fitting, then, that for the party’s fifth birthday they would celebrate Bristol’s burgeoning scene with a showcase of one of its pivotal labels.
Livity Sound was launched by Tom Ford, aka Peverelist, in 2011 and over the last eight years has been responsible for releasing music by some of Bristol’s most exciting artists. In its early days, many of the label’s releases came from Ford himself, as well as Joe Cowton, aka Kowton, and Craig Stennett, aka Asusu – both of whom played crucial roles in the label’s formation. “I’d been working at a record shop called Rooted Records for ten years, where I founded a label called Punch Drunk which focused on documenting the music around the Bristol dubstep scene,” says Ford.
“Unfortunately the record shop was forced to close and I decided it was time to do something more focused on my personal interests,” he continues. “I’d been working on music with Joe [Cowton] a bit at the time and he encouraged me to start the label. In those early years I worked closely with Joe and also Craig [Stennett] to create the aesthetic of the label.”
Since then, the label has maintained a focus on releasing music by Bristol-based artists, but its growing success has also seen it attract interest from further afield, with releases from Simo Cell, Toma Kami and Laurel Halo. “I’ve always worked closely with Bristol artists and given support to other Bristol labels when they’ve asked,” says Ford. “It’s a cool city for music, although I’m not quite as involved now as when I was working at the record shop; that really acted as a hub for the scene – I miss it.”
Having previously performed at Headset himself, Ford will be making a return to the night as part of the label’s showcase alongside other returning guests Hodge and Roska, in his Bakongo guise. “Hodge is a label regular and my promotion partner for when we run our parties in Bristol – awesome DJ and producer to boot,” says Ford. “Bakongo has just had a release on the label and is a bit of a legend in my eyes for a decade of killer underground releases under his Roska alias.”
Fast-rising DJ and illustrator Danielle Doobay will also be making a return to Headset, having played three times before. Doobay is one of the co-runners of Mix Nights – a DJ workshop series for women launched with the help of Shanti Celeste and local organisation Bristol Women in Music – with Daisy Moon and Em Williams. Meanwhile, Anina (pic below) will make her Headset debut and is proving to be one to watch through her slot on independent Bristol radio station Noods Radio and releases on labels like Tape Echo.
“Danielle is a good friend of the label and a regular at our parties – amazing DJ who’s been really busy this year playing some of the best parties in the world,” says Ford. “Anina is one of Bristol’s most in-demand DJs – always plays a belter. A lot of people will know her from her blinding set at this year’s Freerotation festival.”
If Bristol isn’t a city currently on your musical radar, then Livity Sound’s showcase is sure to prove exactly why it should be.
Headset’s 5th Birthday: Livity Sound Takeover, The Bongo Club, Edinburgh, 20 Dec
We’re more than a little bit chuffed to be hosting this one at the Bongo. Hard to believe Axel Boman hasn’t played Edinburgh before. Even more exciting that he will be making his debut here at the Bongo.
If you’ve ever been out partying with me, you’ll notice that similar patterns emerge in the way I like to enjoy my after party. Firstly, I’ll buy more tinnys than is humanly manageable to drink, because beer is your friend, forever and ever, amen. Secondly, I’ll change into a pair of tracksuit bottoms, because I need to be comfy when I’m dying from beer overdose. Thirdly; and this is the only relevant bit, I always play ‘Hello’, by Axel Boman. It’s one of the most beautifully soothing tracks I’ve ever heard, with its haunting, catchy vocal sample and bassline deeper than talking to Carl Sagan on acid. It’s basically the musical equivalent of a nice, warm bath, which is good because it’s the closest thing I get to washing (if you notice from after party points one to three, hygiene isn’t on the list).
So from that track I became a fan and have been listening to his unique brand of ephemerally melodic house ever since. Then when I heard of his new project ‘Talaboman’; with top producer John Talabot, I was intrigued to see how the tracks would sound. On hearing their first single ‘Sideral’, I wasn’t disappointed. So, ahead of their headline sets at Corsica Studios on the 27th and 28th of this month I sat down with the Swedish born producer to talk about the creative process, his label Studio Barnhus and his favourite purple drank:
Hey man, how’s it going?
Axel Boman: Hey! I’m good man! Really good.
What you up to at the moment?
AB: Just working on a remix at the moment, for a band Hunter & Game a bit like Darkside so like really synth heavy, kinda darkish pop stuff.
Fair play. I saw the last remix you did was Maribou State one, do you push to do them yourself or do people commission you? How do you choose what remixes to do most of the time?
AB: Most of the time, its people just asking me, and offering money! But I do also feel like the tune has to be something I relate to as an artist, I can’t just take any ‘trap’ song off the radio and do it, it has to be something I can work with.
Do you feel more responsible over a remix than your own stuff?
AB: Yeah I feel like sometimes I can’t just strip back a track to just the basskick and hand it back to them and say “Here is what I thought was good of your tune”. Like there was that amazing story of Aphex Twin doing a remix for Bjork in 20 minutes, where he had obviously just done nothing with the original track but just sent over something he had already done, but I don’t think I could do something like that. I think DJ Koze is a remix genius and makes everything better, like “What the fuck was the original? This is shit compared to the Koze remix”, but I do feel more responsible over someone else’s tunes than I would do my own because you have a responsibility toward the original song. I feel that I owe it to the original track to use parts of it in the remix that you can hear, to pay my respect that way.
What your fave remix that you’ve ever done you think?
AB: It was the one I did a while ago for Agaric, called ‘No way I Know I Feel’. I felt I got the melodies really well placed with the original song and it just worked. I added a sample from a completely different track that worked surprisingly well with the original I think. That’s my favourite remix for sure.
I’ll definitely look that one up. So apparently during the second half of June it barely ever gets dark in Stockholm during some weeks due to the midnight sun. What kind of parties do you guys have when it’s always light?
AB: Yeah we have parties in the woods like, every weekend. You just get a text from a friend saying “there’s a party in the woods”, then you get there and just follow the sound of the kick drum, but people can’t last too long cos they drink so much. Like obviously everyone is on drugs but we just drink so much we usually don’t last past the next day.
Is it not like Berlin?
AB: No, not at all. Berlin doesn’t have the same drinking culture, they are sipping on water and stuff, whereas we just get really hammered. We have a natural drinking affinity with the English, for example last night I was drinking 6 or 7 pints of beer, which is quite a lot of beer when you think about it.
And if it was Italians they would be like *puts on Italian accent* “What is this giant beer?”
That’s true! But even though you guys drink the same as us you know that Swedes have the longest life expectancy in Europe whereas in the UK we have one of the lowest?
AB: Oh really I didn’t know that. Well it’s got to be the diet. I’ve seen the full English breakfasts and stuff like that you eat whereas we have rye bread and a lot of fish…
I think we’re just becoming really Americanised with all the fast food that’s coming in…
AB: Yeah but then everywhere is these days, like in Stockholm it’s just getting Starbucks after Starbucks.
Yeah it’s shit. So your album Family Vacation was well received for how diverse it is, how did that kind of sound come about?
AB: Well I actually think it all sounds quite similar, which is like this playful house that has pop melodies throughout. I tried to keep a theme running all the way through the album which I think I managed to achieve. Now there is some distance from when I first released it so it’s easier to look back and think about it more objectively.
But when you are making music do you sample a lot, or is it more live music you use? Some of your music has a live feel to it, like you’ve been jamming as a band when you made it. So do you play as a band or solo and build it organically or does it always have a certain structure?
AB: Well I always have a synth melody in my head for days, and I’ll try and build it around that. I’ll also have about five or six samples that I want to fit in, so it’s a mixture of both.
Yeah like I feel that some of your tracks, like ‘Hello’ can drift in and out of melodies, is that something you are conscious of or do on purpose?
AB: Well I’m not a classically trained artist so I don’t always look for a melody and a harmony. I think it works to my advantage because whereas some people are always looking for the hook that fits a track I can just experiment with different samples and ideas until something clicks.
So are you a perfectionist do you think?
AB: Well I think that some people can be comfortable to put a bassline together and a sample and just think “that’s fine” but for me it’s almost never fine. Whenever I first put something together I never accept the first edit, because I know that if I add different things to it, it can make it into something much more than it originally was. So I keep going at it with different samples or different angles until it becomes something more that I like. Like I love Moodymann and the way he’ll have samples that just don’t quite fit together, y’know? You can hear that they don’t fit but it still works. I love that whole Detroit sound.
Is he a big influence on you?
AB: Oh absolutely, although I’m not just a house-head, I’m just as much of a fan of ABBA as any of the Detroit house guys too.
Are you a fan of Three Chairs?
AB: Three chairs not so much but individually much more. I feel like the expectation of those three together can never live up to anything they produce by themselves.
Yeah I know what you mean, like it’s expected that all three of them together will combine to make a better sound somehow.
So carrying on with your creative process, what about creative blocks, how do you deal with them?
AB: Inspiration is for amateurs!
No well I do a lot of smoking weed and drinking wine. I also go for runs. Also we like to laugh and joke around in the Studio so it can come naturally, but it’s just as likely to pop into my head on a run than when I’ve been smoking or drinking. I just think it’s a matter of persistence. Like, I will just keep going at a track until something comes to me most of the time. But then some of the time I can be really lazy and if something doesn’t instantly come at me I’ll just forget about it but then other times you just have to keep going at it over and over until it works. I know there are some people who are just perfect like Roman Flugel, who just make one perfect track every day, but that’s not me; I have to work at it. It SEEMS that Roman does this.
I’m sure he puts in just as much effort as you behind the scenes though?
AB: No Roman Flugel is just one of those perfect people that does Ashtanga yoga, eats well, looks healthy and im sure he’s a fantastic lover. Every tune he makes is perfect, no matter what. He is just one of those sexy, perfect people.
Sounds like maybe you should try and get with Roman Flugel?
AB: No I am not perfect enough for him. He’s probably think I was too fat or something like that, plus I think he is into girls.
So why was the album called Family Vacation? Is about a family vacation you went on?
AB: No it’s not really about anything that happened in real life or any family vacation I’ve been on, I just like the way it sounds, like some kind of tragic sounding event,
Like a family vacation that went wrong?
AB: Yeah, like some eerie tragic story.
So you aren’t actually the son of a plumber either?
AB: No it’s the name of a Per Gessle album, the master mind behind swedish pop sensation Roxette
AB: Well they are really famous in Sweden, I just stole it off one of their album titles so I wasn’t actually a son of a plumber or anything like that.
Ah OK fair enough. So obviously ahead of your shows I wanted to talk a bit about Talaboman. How did the partnership with John Talabot come about?
AB: Well he is a friend with (Barnhus label mate) Petters, and I always really liked his stuff and when we met we got on really well. I think the Spanish and Swedish have like, this natural affinity so we instantly connected.
Will you be releasing more stuff than the Sideral tune you did?
AB: Yeah we are actually working on an album right now. We have about eight tracks, not really sure if I should be talking about it as an album because it isn’t really that yet, it’s just a collection of tracks, but most of them are finished but like in a raw state.
When will it be coming out?
AB: Early next year, I think John has an album he is working on to release later on in 2016 so we want to get something early next year because I don’t want to get in the way of his album launch and stuff like that.
Will it be more stuff like Sideral?
AB: It will be a lot bigger, it will still have the emotional element that Sidereal has but we have been working a lot with synths so we have been trying to make bigger…
More, epic tracks?
AB: Yeah! Like stuff that is more expansive than some of the stuff I have done before.
So is it going to be like, big lights flashing, eyes closed, hands in the air kind of music at the raves?
AB: I hope so!
Are you going to be playing a lot of the tracks at the shows at Corsica Studios?
AB: Yeah of course! It is the perfect place to do it, I love Corsica and I love the system there and it’s very intimate too which I like so I can’t wait for the shows.
Do you prefer to play in the more intimate venues or bigger mega venues?
AB: Well I am not really used to play in these bigger gigs like John is so he has been giving me advice on it. But I have also been getting advice from DJ Koze, he gives me these classic one liners about handling it; like the best one he gave me was “play songs with less information”. Which I think is so perfect because it’s totally true in those situations where you have thousands of people to play to.
Like maybe the subtleties of some of your music can get lost when playing to bigger crowds?
AB: Yeah, exactly.
So I know you graduated from the Valand School of Fine Arts in 2010, what did you study?
AB: Well I was one of the last people to do the five year degree at the Uni, where they just gave us a studio for five years and let us get on with it, and check in every six months to see if we were OK. Now they only allow three year courses so I was one of the last people to do it.
What kind of stuff did you do?
AB: Well it was everything from painting, to sound, to film. By the end it was purely conceptual, like if I had an idea I would just build around this idea whether it was sound or film.
Do you have any of the stuff to show us?
AB: Hold on a sec…*checks computer for a while* No I don’t think I have any stuff. I think it may be somewhere on my dad’s computer. If I have any bit of advice it’s keep a hold of everything you used to do, keep every scrap book, every file on your computer.
I read an interview with you where you said lost a laptop with all your stuff but you felt it was quite cathartic?
AB: Yeah I had to start completely again. It was kind of like losing your phone though, with all the numbers of everyone you love.
So how did Studio Barnhus come about? And is it better releasing under your own label or just easier letting someone else handle it?
AB: Well we have been living together and working in a studio space, so we just naturally became friends and started making music together. So we moved into this studio which is on Orphanage Street (Barnhusgaten) in Stockholm, and the Swedish for orphanage is actually Barnhus.
In English the closest translation to it means like a shed or outhouse where farmers keep their tools and livestock…
AB: Really? I never knew that. In Swedish it’s less negative than orphanage though, like it’s a fun thing to do with youth, because I know orphanage is more a negative thing in English but in Swedish when a place is fun it can be described as a Barnhus. I’m actually releasing a lot of stuff under my own sub label Barn-Barn which means grandson in Swedish which is funny because that’s kind of how it is to me and the label.
I’ll definitely be looking out for that. So your breakout tune Purple Drank was a banger, so I had to ask, what is your favourite kind of purple drink?
AB: At the moment I really like ‘Sanalepsi’, which is like Swiss anti-histamin drops. But there’s also another American drink I like, it’s kind of like this powder shit…
*asks his mates in Swedish*
Kool Aid! Yeah we got a lot of Kool Aid going on at the moment.
So finally; as your name is Axel, who is your favourite Axel: the Streets of Rage character, Axel Rose from Guns & Roses or Axel Foley from Beverly Hills Cop?
AB: What is Streets of Rage?
Like the old Mega-Drive game!
AB: Let me Google it…Oh yeah this game kicks ass!!! I used to love this game. That guy is called Axel?
AB: Well I’d have to say even though he is a woman beating psycho crazy motherfucker Axel Rose is still my favourite. But if I have to choose they are all number one!
So Axel Rose is first, then Axel from Streets of Rage?
AB: Axel Rose first, then Axel Foley from Beverly hills cop then Axel from Streets of Rage because I don’t know him as well.