Electronic Dance Music Triple Threat Series: Bok Bok
Mass Appeal closes out the week strong and our Triple Threat Series with one of underground music's most revered names, Bok Bok.
All week-long, we’ve introduced you to some of the best EDM producers: from Scuba who kicked off the Triple Threat Series to Distal and Mite. To wrap things up for our third installment is Bok Bok, founder of the Night Slugs label. Hailing from London, Alex Sushon made a unique impression on its thriving underground music scene by creating a label off the strength of a party he started in 2008 with his partner James Connolly, aka L-Vis 1990. Night Slugs as a label distributes talent like Kingdom, Jam City and Girl Unit, a lineup coming to Bristol, tomorrow. Becoming a staple to UK nightlife has become one of their claims to fame, similar to how another UK nightclub cum record label/store, Sidewinder Records helped break Dizzee Rascal—a major influence on Bok Bok. Mass Appeal got wind of the latest releases from Night Slugs, plus what drives their production when we caught up with the man who answers e-mails faster then you can say…. Bok Bok.
RECORD LABEL: NIGHT SLUGS
ARTIST: BOK BOK “MJT”
Mass Appeal: What was the first piece of music that changed things for you?
Bok Bok: There have been so many milestone records over the years, it’s hard to name only one. Dizzee Rascal’s first album and DJ Slimzee’s Ministry Of Sound CD were both huge milestones for me though. I heard them both around the same time and realized I was ignoring an incredible homegrown scene that was right under my nose, looking for innovation everywhere but right in front of me. Those were my gateways into grime, big time.
Are you still the one mixing most of the records on the label? And if so, has it become easier?
BB: Yes, I’ve actually just finished a month-long stint of constant work mixing other people’s tracks for Night Slugs. It’s been very intense. It’s got easier in some ways because the more I do it the more I learn (which is natural and it’s probably a perpetual process of learning).
“But in some ways it’s harder because my standards grow higher. It’s a process with equal parts science and black magic.”
What was the process like to design the art work/label for Night Slugs? Why this particular type of design?
BB: The visual aesthetic came about as naturally as our audio aesthetic. It just grew into being this recognizable thing. I was a graphic designer in my past life (pre-full-time music that is) so in many ways it was just continuing on existing ideas that were already in my work or in my head at least. Links between physical space and audio space were key from the start, I knew I wanted to create these synesthetic structures or scenarios.
Speaking of space, where are you? Describe your surroundings?
BB: I’m in my studio right now surrounded by gear. Space is a real issue in here at the moment, I’m running out of it. But it’s a vibe. Something magical about it. Nowhere sounds quite like it.
How did you come up with the name Night Slugs?
BB: The name comes from a meme borrowed from bassline music. They had a lot of tracks with “Slugs” in the title, and any word could precede it to create the track’s theme. So there was “Arabian Slugs,” “Culture Slugs,” “Salt Slugs,” “Screwface Slugs,” etc. It was sort of a simile for these bullet-like globules of bass flying out the speakers. So Slugs suggests upfront bass and the Night part is the other stuff that rides atop, the celestial or otherworldly elements. In many ways the title suits us more now than when we first started in 2008.
BOK BOK “SILO PASS” (NS010 PREVIEW)
What was the inspiration to take the monthly party into a label?
BB: FYI the club night was never as regular as monthly. We always kept it a little sporadic. Things are more interesting that way. But to answer your question, really by the time we grew from a night into a label, everyone was just ready, the time was right. We had material ready for several releases already. It felt early on like an aesthetic was taking shape. We had loads of producers around us making original stuff that fit into our DJ sets, it was all very organic.
What has been the biggest struggle for you as an individual as well as a music producer/label owner?
BB: The hardest thing for me is balancing my time so that I still get to work on my own music. Label stuff is really time consuming, I’m involved in pretty much all the aspects of it.
Do you ever feel that it’s too much pressure for you especially with you wearing so many hats as an artist, graphic designer, and running Night Slugs?
BB: I wouldn’t say I feel pressure, because really it would only be coming from myself. But I try to do everything properly so the only real pressure is time. I could do with some assistants who I could brain-share with via WiFi.
What’s next for Night Slugs and for Bok Bok?
BB: Next for the label: we’re about to drop the first of our new series of Club Constructions releases, which is by L-Vis. It’s a pack of pretty raw and upfront tracks for the club. Then straight after, we have a new release lined up from Girl Unit—it’s a double-pack so we’re pretty excited about that. Then after that, the long awaited Jam City album Classical Curves is out at the end of May. Loads more planned after that too.
As for me, I’m putting together a remix EP of Southside that is almost finished. I’ve also got a release coming as part of our white label series with some grimy tracks on there—the dub of the “Dark Hearts” thing I did for Riz and also a track called “MJT.” In the meantime I’m locked in my bunker just working hard on new stuff.
How do you feel about Hotflush Recordings and Embassy Recordings?
BB: They’re all great big up to everyone working hard putting out music in 2012.
L-VIS 1990 CLUB CONSTRUCTION VOL. 1