is a DJ, producer and record label owner. His label, Night Slugs
, has been at the forefront of forward thinking conceptual dance music since it's initial inception over four years ago. We headed over to his studio space in South London to talk about how he incorporates art direction to the label and more...
What led you to start DJ'ing and producing?
Pretty much just listening to music and collecting...listening to music as a listener made me want to do it. Back in the day the reason was because I heard people scratching, so I was just like I really gotta try this. But that's when you're a kid and you try that first set of decks and then you figure out that itâs not really what it's about.
Over time it accumulates to a point where you just want to start buying records. When I heard grime, that's when I was like âok I'm properly doing itâ.
When and why did you decide to set up the label Night Slugs?
2008 with L-Vis 1990. We were just starting out in our careers, DJing in London and around the place, bits around the country. Both of us kind of felt that the nights were kinda cool but it would have been better to cultivate something of our own.
Y'know there was a bunch of DJ's coming through at the time as well who we felt like had similar ideas. We just wanted to give the whole thing a bit more of a home really. At the time we were both in full time jobs at creative agencies, different ones, just on AIM all day talking about how we've gotta start doing our own thing and getting out of there.
There is a strong visual identity to Night Slugs which you are behind, how important is this for a record label?
It depends on what label it is really, for a lot of people the aesthetic is the last thought and it almost doesn't matter. If it doesn't matter to you as curator and the visual side isn't that important then that's cool, people should represent what they feel.
For me, I always visualise music and I feel like the two have always gone hand in hand and I cant help myself but do that, it's just the way my brain is set up, I have to have it correlate- now I've done one I have to follow on with another.
It's important for my label, really important for my label, it's a big part of it but then there's certain other labels that I really love that have the most low-fi art aesthetic ever and that works for them too so I wouldn't say across the board it should be a rule or anything. I'd like to see more labels paying more attention to it because I do hate seeing it as an after thought, it's like either do the art or don't and just put out straight white labels.
How would you describe the Night Slugs art direction and why is this a direction you've taken?
It's all based around visualising how the tracks feel so it's all about Synesthesia, when you see music or smell taste.. the displacement of senses- it's kind of like that really. It's almost like the tracks always describe some sort of environment or there's some kind of story or context there. Its set up the way it is to give the viewer more of a three dimensional sense experience, where you can place the music in that frame when you're listening to it.
Since the start we've definitely been making some really specific decisions, at one point we knew we wanted this art to be a lot more higher definition, enter the 3D realm and come in to a new era, since then things have been really thorough.
What are some of your influences in your design and art direction work?
It's not usually from other people working in music or anything like that, not from other peoples record art. It's from a lot of movies, definitely, a certain school of like 80's and early 90's sci-fi that's really like a big influence. When I first started it was all wire frame with drawings, that was heavily influenced by things like really early computer art. When they first did 3D and it was on a wire frame, generated frame by frame on to slides and stuff, there was a certain warmth and simplicity to it that was kind of the same as when you listen to early house music. How its put together, you can hear that its hand made despite the fact that it's electronic.
Simple elements that come together and look really bold, again it was just a way to describe the way the music felt to me. There's definitely a lot of influence from film and animation.
Did you study design before music?
I went to Camberwell for four years. I actually wanted to be a graphic designer when I was younger so it's kind of funny how things have gone this way. I actually left my design job to try and start a freelance agency and I did bits and pieces but the music thing was just too strong, it was pulling me.
I love that I found a way to basically keep that active in some way, but that's pretty much the only design or direction work I do now, it's only for Night Slugs, occasionally friends.
Outside of London what city do you enjoy being in the most?
Probably LA I would say, just because there is something special about it. The sunshine man! It's a good break from everything.
Also Amsterdam, I've got a lot of friends there and Ive done what I feel like is a lot of music that has been satisfying for me there. Me and my good friend Tom Trago are about to release some stuff that we started on in Amsterdam. It's just so relaxing, the water really helps- the canals, honestly its a beautiful atmosphere, we shouldn't underestimate having water around you. I should get a water feature in here, some kind of installation...
What's your most treasured possession?
My Korg Polysix. It's from the 80's, it's not that rare or that expensive but I just love it. I had it restored and put a new midi in to it so you can send signal in to it and everything like that, I just love how it sounds. Since I got it it's changed my music.
What can we expect to see in the future from Night Slugs?
From the label, we got quite a lot of cool stuff happening. We've got this sub series called club constructions, it's more for the beatsy kind of stripped down drum tracks that we do as opposed to the more conceptual or melodic stuff. With that, we're gonna develop it quite a lot in the new year, I don't want to give too much away now but we're really going to open that up.
The next thing from me will be an EP, well we'll say an EP for now, I don't want to get too ambitious but I'm working on it at the moment. That will be released around March next year and the lead track is going to be a single with Kelela on vocals so I'm quite excited about that, we're about to film a video for it too which is going to be quite cool.
If you want to find out more about Bok Bok and his label Night Slugs, head over to the official website here.