Two years. Thirteen releases.
Night Slugs might have a slim discography, but each release from the South London label feels measured, precise. Aimed precisely at the dancefloor, their brand of fluorescent Futurism brings together some of the best - weirdest - elements of house, Grime, techno, dubstep and more.
Eclectic to a tee, Night Slugs have peppered soundsystems with out and out anthems for more than two years now. Bringing together the best of their recent cuts on new compilation 'Night Slugs Allstars Vol. 2' the cumulative effect is shattering: the directness, the vivid colour, the sheer lust for life seem to scream through each track.
Out now, Clash spoke to Bok Bok about the label's past, present and future - as well as catching up on his own solo career.
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What led to owning your own label?
It was the right time. So much music was being made but not being released. Night Slugs as a crew and club night seemed to have the right energy behind it. The next step was obvious.
Was the visual emphasis in Night Slugs there from the start?
To some extent. The first visuals were all the early flyers and you and see how those have progressed over the years here: http://nightslugs.net/event-archive/ The label's visual identity came to me suddenly just before we launched. Suddenly I just knew exactly what the whole thing was going to look like. Since then its been morphing and developing...
Should we take the visuals as a valid counterpoint to the music?
Not counterpoint, it's a supplementary layer / a guide to reading the music. A little bit of context to help with synesthesia. The music and visuals should build up into an experience.
How important is vinyl to Night Slugs?
I can't see a time when we will be releasing music just digitally. While I use mp3s every single day, as a label I still feel its important to produce a tangible product. Plus I still love vinyl as a DJ, still play a ton of it out and am still buying it an alarming rate.
Given the disparate genres you’ve covered, what is the thread running through Night Slugs?
It would be a shame to answer that so plainly so I will let the audience work that one out. I think there is an unmistakable feel there - it all makes the most sense when we DJ. Come see us DJ and you'll be like "ooooh".
Why is South London so much better than the rest of the city?
It's where I've lived for the last 20 years so i've got a personal love and pride for the place like nowhere else. You don't choose yr ends.
Why have ‘Allstars Volume 2’ now?
Because it was time to consolidate what we've been doing into a long-playing volume. It's like I said above about us DJing, when our music runs in long playing mode, things start to make more sense, the threads emerge. It seemed like a good time to remind the world what we're been about for the past 2 years and also give a glimpse of some upcoming projects.
Would you ever consider a compilation of alternate mixes? Eg dubs or club only cuts?
I'm sure one day this will happen, there's enough dubs and VIPs kicking about. For now it's nice to keep those special.
Given your influence and effect on the scene, how do you stay ahead of the game?
That's not something I spend time thinking about. I just stay true to me and so do the other artists on Night Slugs. It's a combination of all of us making exactly the kind of music we want to, and me and L-Vis 1990 having the highest standards as a label in terms of quality. That's why things sometimes take a bit of time to come out...
How do you sign new acts? Do you still listen to demos in your Inbox?
I try to listen to stuff I'm sent but often fail. Releases from new artists have happened as naturally as the rest of the label came about. They're from people I feel a connection with, we start to develop a rapport. One thing's for sure - none of the tracks from new artists we've put out recently had been written "for Night Slugs". Anyone that tried to second guess us like that usually fails.
What was the thinking behind the timing of the 'Southside' EP? Why grime? Why then? Why Night Slugs?
Why not hahaha? It's like I said above, this was an example of me making the music that made sense to me. No scheming or plotting involved, just honesty. I love a big variety of music but grime will always be what I'm the most about. It's where I started and I can tell its influence will stay with me for my whole journey. So it was really about taking those strong grime influences and mixing in some of that laser/chrome sound palette that I'd been developing
Did you ever anticipate the success of 'Silo Pass'? It's arguably already a Grime classic and the remixes have kept it sounding just as fresh..
I have to say I didn't see it coming. I actually wasn't even gonna release Silo but people's reactions to it really made me reconsider the tune and it grew on me hugely. Hearing people like Slimzee play it in sets and Spyro play and then bootleg it, twice! That's the shit that keeps me doing what I do!
Looking ahead with Night Slugs, can we expect grime to feature in such a big way again?
I think if you listen closely, you can hear a grime influence everywhere to a greater or lesser extent. It's definitely true that all the artists on Night Slugs take a big influence from grime production. The influence will be really prominent again on my next Slugs EP.
What have you got planned for the rest of the year?
Loads of Club Constructions series releases lined up. More NSWLs as always. More in the official EP series, the next one's a batch of huge new L-Vis 1990 tracks. More long-playing projects (can't say much more for now). My next EP. Plus myself and Tom Trago are bringing our Night Voyage collaboration out of dormancy with a series of 12"s this year.
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'Night Slugs Allstars Vol. 2' is out now.