Life At 140: Sector 7 Sounds Special

Clash’s grime column focuses on Bristol’s scene…
Lemzly Dale and Boofy

Boofy and Lemzly Dale, figureheads of Bristol’s new-school generation of grime producer-DJs, have made quite an impact since first releasing the ferocious ‘Catch A Body’ / ‘Banshee’ last summer.

Hand-stamped and released on their own Sector 7 Sounds label, it was a debut that not only exhibited two cuts of devastating instrumental grime, but also echoed the sensibilities of the past – these are two producers channelling new ideas via the oldest and most cherished of methods.

Continually inspired by a city-centric producer network that also boasts Kahn & Neek, OH91, Breen, Hi5Ghost, Gemmy, Joker et al, as well as contemporary, like-minded labels in Bandulu, Hotline and the freshly-inaugurated Parison, new ideas are often, and quite literally, around the corner. Fuelled solely by a desire to produce and oversee the release of good music, it’s this grounding that has seen Impey, Sector 7’s latest recruit, sign ‘Bangclap’ to the label ahead of notable, chart-worthy independent PMR and land as one of 2014’s best grime debuts in the process.

With this in mind, it felt like the time was right to catch up with both Boofy and Lemzly Dale to get the inside track on Bristol, Sector 7 and some of their favourite dub plates…

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Boofy and Lemzly Dale, ‘Catch A Body’

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Talk to us a bit about Sector 7…

Boofy: I think the whole process of the label was really innocent. We set out to create a platform we could start from ground zero, something we would both be proud of. After the attention ‘Catch A Body’ had, I just wanted to do a white label. Then after that came out, with no intention of doing anything else, we were getting questions asking what was next. We went back to the drawing board and here we are. Lemz can tell you more about how the name came about.

Lemzly Dale: The name came from the game Final Fantasy 7. My brother and Gully Shanks – the other half of 2hAtCoMbO – started calling our area Sector 7 Slums after an area in the game and it just stuck. As the whole label came around naturally it felt right, so we just ran with Sector 7 Sounds.

Did you think you could make such an impact with just two records?

B: Honestly, no. Although, I still don’t think it is anywhere near its full potential. I’m pretty amazed at how people perceive the label. Of course, we were aiming to have a solid ground in the scene, otherwise what’s the point? I’m really glad we’re doing things right, though – and that people love what we’ve done.

L: We were really unsure about how well the first record would go down. It was only because ‘Catch A Body’ got such a good response initially that we went ahead with it, and it couldn’t have gone better. We wanted to make sure the second release was as strong as the first, and Impey’s ‘Bangclap’ was the perfect answer.

What’s been the secret? The physical element, do you think?

B: I think just as much as [the] physical [aspect], we tend to want to put a personal touch on everything. I think that's what does it more than anything, to be honest. It’s things like hand-stamping every record and putting all the early presses in a rucksack the morning after making it available, then heading straight to the post office that morning.

L: What Boof said. All we’re doing at the end of the day is putting out music we think deserves to be heard – but it’s important to put your own spin on it and do something other labels don’t. Like, what other label gives out wallpapers for your £10 phone?

There’s also Bandulu, Hotline and now Parison Records all based in Bristol and sharing a similar ethos? Is that what makes the city special?

B: I suppose we have a tendency to want to do things ourselves I think, and for those that put the effort in, it works for them. There’s probably something in the water.

L: I don’t know what it is. Bristol’s full of creatives and I guess because it’s a fairly small city (it’s actually the 10th biggest district by population in England, ahead of several London boroughs – geography ed), we inspire each other and work together. I can sort of see how we stand out, but I’ve never really got the whole ‘Bristol sound’ thing. We’re all different in our own way – the same as in any city.

Does your music help define Bristol, or do you think Bristol defines your music?

B: I think, as a whole, the music defines Bristol’s bass culture. Everyone’s doing their own thing, so I think that’s the whole DIY Bristol touch. You’re not far from anyone who’s making music or being creative. Like, the people you look up to, who do everything you love, they basically live down the road. It’s mad.

L: It’s a little of both for me. The music that was coming out of Bristol when I was a teenager was a big influence, and still is. Now that our music’s being heard all around and people relate it to our city, I guess we’re partly responsible for how Bristol music is defined, at least grime-wise.

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Impey – ‘Bangclap’

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Could you pick out your top three Sector 7 moments since you started?

B: Top of the list would be seeing Lemz’s face when he heard ‘Banshee’ on vinyl. It was exactly the same reaction I had when I heard the test press for 001.

Another moment was when Impey agreed to let us go ahead with the presses, mainly because I was about to get it sent off to prepare in the first place, before PMR got in touch with Impey to say they were interested in ‘Bangclap’. It took about a month, but Impey ended up choosing us over the ‘German Whip’ guys, so that was a big deal.

Finally, one of the most important memories was paying for everything to get underway with 001. I did it with my best friend who is sadly no longer with us, but we dedicated the first release to him. Everyone with that early copy should know.

L: For me, seeing the response on SoundCloud when we put up ‘Catch A Body’ was massive. Likewise when Boof rang me and said we’d got ‘Bangclap’! And definitely the Bandulu 003 release night, which was around the time of our first Sector 7 release. I’m sure anyone that was there would agree – it was dumb.

To finish, do you reckon you also pick out your top three vinyl-only dubs?

B: Since you said dubs, I'll choose cuts I have in my suitcase. First, Breen with ‘Hooded Up VIP’ backed by Boofy’s ‘Since When VIP’ Trends’ ‘Hypnotized’ with Bok Bok’s ‘Silo Pass’ (Breen Edit). And Hi5Ghost’s ‘Kung Fu Kick’ (Lemzly Dale Remix) with Wen ft. Riko’s ‘Play Your Corner’ (Kahn & Neek Remix).

L: I’ve never cut any dubs, and nothing will top Breen’s ‘Silo Pass’ edit for me, but… Wiley’s ‘5:27am’, the ‘Bills Bills Bills’/‘A Milli’ Destiny’s Child/Lil Wayne release on Harmonimix, and DJ Shaggy’s ‘Under The Influence’ EP on Swag.

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Words: Tomas Fraser

Find Sector 7 online here

Related: more Life At 140 grime columns on Clash

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