Bok Bok and Dubbel Dutch interview

In 2010 some areas of  electronic music are becoming difficult to classify. While artists like James Blake and Mount Kimbie with their respective intricate and skewed sound are shaping the landscape of so-called post-dubstep, there is also a slew of forward-thinking producers developing mutations that are more dance-floor orientated.

Breeds derived from offshoots of grime and the house drum pattern, among other polyrhythms, are evolving, taking influence from worldwide underground beats, resulting in a cutting-edge amalgamated sound. I caught up with two such hybrid-producing DJs: Bok Bok (aka Alex Sushon) and Dubbel Dutch (aka Marc Glassen).

Bok Bok, along with L-Vis 1990, runs the prolific London label, Night Slugs and Dubbel Dutch is a DJ from Austin, Texas, whose syncopated bass-heavy productions are lauded by key figures in the scene. Together they discuss their backgrounds, influences and why a new generation of producers are not hung up on defining genres of music.

Bok Bok co-owner of London label Night Slugs


When did you start DJing and producing and what music did you play back then?

Bok Bok: Around 2005, started taking it seriously about 2006 when I got into grime. This is all I played back then, I was into it 100 per cent.

Dubbel Dutch: I started playing around with Reason when I was about 17 or 18 just making beats, no style in particular. I got some decks and started playing mostly dubstep, minimal techno, classic house, but also just about anything I could get my hands on.

Dubbel Dutch in Austin 


What genres of music and artists are you influenced by?

BB: I’m influenced by early grime production 100 per cent. It’s my foundation to this day, I love it. Eastwood, Oddz, Black Ops, Wizzbit/Geeneus [Rinse FM DJ accredited with pioneering the UK funky sound]. Anything DJ Slimzee played ‘03 to ‘05 was 100 per cent my shit. Then much later on, old Chicago house and acid became a massive influence on me as well. These two things remain the biggest influences on me.


DD: For a while there I was on a tech house tip but lately I’ve really just been opening up to music from everywhere. Cumbia, dancehall, kuduro, South African house, dutch bubbling, Bmore club, Chicago juke and footwork, old skool jungle and hardcore, garage, UK Funky and all that mingles with, or shares influences with, these sounds.

Leatherface-Juke – The Eternal Dance


Do you think that rave styles like UK funky, house, 2-step, dubstep etc are merging to the point that it’s getting harder to pigeonhole the fusion?

BB: There are still a lot of producers and tracks that fit more into one of those styles. But there’s definitely a new generation of producers that don’t think about genres at all while making their tunes. I like to keep it simple, for me and for Night Slugs it’s basically all about house x grime. Yes there are a lot of other styles in the mix and each of us has our own unique influences, but doesn’t every interesting producer have these?

A recent Night Slugs release


DD: It definitely seems like a difficult task to attempt to pull everything together under one single heading. House and bass are kind of catch-alls, 2-step and garage seem more rhythmically distinct as the beats are swung and easier to pigeonhole. You could potentially call some tracks UK funky and 2-step but everything’s really starting to get way more complicated than that. From my perspective the sound is getting more varied rather than settling in. I think this uncertainty about what to label things is kind of exciting. It takes the focus off particular scenes and rigid styles and forces us to listen closely for an individual’s influences.


If you can categorise your sound what would you label it as? Some people are calling the music “tropical” can you relate to that, or do you think the music should be left uncategorised?

BB: Categories or genre definitions can be useful. I’m not against the idea of pattern recognition or against criticism or journalism analysis of what’s going on in music. But, when it comes down to my own stuff, I don’t really think of it in those terms. My music definitely is nothing to do with tropical. I’m from London, that’s nowhere near the tropics. My music lives in Tron.

My sound emerged in a similar way to other people in the UK who come from a grime, dubstep background who are currently interested more in house. I guess when things in London started sounding a bit grey some of us started looking elsewhere for inspiration, and there was brilliant gutta music happening in urban hubs all over the world ready for us to take influence from it.

I guess when things in London started sounding a bit grey some of us started looking elsewhere for inspiration…

DD: I’m not sure if I can, or would want to, categorise my sound. I can relate to the utility of calling something tropical.  I recently played a party called “Tormenta Tropical”, but I’ve never really been into the term; mostly because I’ve had a hard time figuring out exactly what that’s supposed to mean. I certainly don’t live in a tropical region so that term just feels kind of broad. I’d rather have people attempt to identify styles in the music than use a blanket term that’s really not saying a lot about the music played.


Bok Bok what’s the idea behind your Night Slugs label and why do you think it’s gained popularity both here and in the US?

The idea behind it is simple and organic. Me and L-Vis [1990] come across a lot of brand new music, we play it, it fits with our sound and we want to support and release it. Our roster came together very organically too; it’s just people who we get on with, see eye to eye on creatively. We all support each other.
I’d like to think the reason it has gained popularity is because the products we’re putting out are of a high standard, are fresh and original, are well presented and we work hard to promote them. I think people get where we’re coming from and can see that we’re genuine about it and feed off our passion – I hope so anyway!

Dubbel Dutch your sound fits really well with Night Slugs’ output, why do you think this is?

While Night Slugs are definitely pushing sounds that could be considered characteristically UK, they’re not exclusively pushing UK sounds. If you go down the roster of artists and remixers [on the label] you’ve got guys from all over with various influences, tastes, and perspectives. Egyptrixx in Toronto, Kingdom in Brooklyn, French Fries in France, yet the one thing they have in common is that they’re all kind of hard to pigeonhole. Night Slugs seems less concerned about genres and more interested in good music.

If you look at the Night Slugs team each has their own very different style. Girl Unit is on some juke and kuduro tip, L-Vis 1990 lies somewhere between tech house and funky, and Bok Bok is on some avant- garde hybrid grime and house thing. So you’ve got guys doing stuff that fits in well enough with everything else going on around them locally, pulling influence from their local scene, but also just displaying a lot of passion for other kinds of music. Overall it seems like they’re doing their own thing.

Girl Unit – IRL


Since acid house and techno of the late ’80s era there has been influences from the States to the UK and vice versa, do you think this tie is still strong now? Do sites like Ustream and YouTube make this bond stronger?

BB: No doubt about it. This back-and-forward cycle of influence is little documented. I think it’s definitely still happening now, definitely all the stronger due to the internet. Night Slugs is a part of that for sure.


DD: I feel like there are UK producers who have been getting lots of inspiration from older US house, the Strictly Rhythm back catalogue; lots of UK guys are really into Karizma. I think the internet, with the help of YouTube, can only help the exchange of ideas and influences and make the ties stronger. It has enabled people on both sides to be aware of lots of sounds they normally wouldn’t have access to. Not just between UK and US, but also for example DJ Cleo tracks from South Africa, dutch house, minimal techno from Berlin or cumbia from México.

Night Slugs, record label of the moment


Bok Bok’s pick of US DJs and labels

Kingdom ,Egyptrixx, Drop The Limes’ Trouble & Bass crew, Dre Skull, Jubilee, Prince William, Dubbel Dutch, Bersa Discos crew.

Night Slugs’ next release is Kingdom’s EP That Mystic available from today.

Dubbel Dutch’s favourite UK DJs and labels

Sticky, Blunted Robots, Hyperdub, The Heatwave, Night Slugs, Hemlock, Hessle Audio, Deep Tecknologi, Terror Danjah, Ramp, Ikonika, D1, DVA, Doc Daneeka, Julio Bashmore.

Dubbel Dutch’s EP Throwback is out on the Palms Out Sounds label.



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Artisan Brewing Co. doubles in size

Along King’s Road in Pontcanna, Cardiff everything seems suburbanly normal. There’s a curry house, a florist, a hairdressers, but nothing particularly out of the ordinary. However, hidden away behind the normality a lone alcohol alchemist is hard at work. He’s concocting a range of unique beers in a garage which he believes to be Wales’s smallest commercial brewery.

The Artisan Brewing Co. located at 183 King’s Road in Pontcanna, Cardiff

The Artisan Brewing Co. is a micro-brewery which produces 800 pints of beer a week. It is owned by Simon Doherty, a self-confessed beer-nerd. As from yesterday he has secured a deal, with the landlord of the site, to rent an area behind the garage effectively doubling the size of his operation, and maybe even tripling it for next summer.

What makes his alcoholic drinks different from most is the fact they are 100 per cent natural, free from additives and preservatives, in addition to being unfiltered and unpasteurised – that’s why he calls them barenaked beers.

“Most UK bottle conditioned beers use sugar to create the carbonation. I use a number of German techniques, so as to add nothing! As pure as beers gets: grain hop yeast and water, that is all.” Simon on how he bottles his drinks.

Here is a video of the brewing process:

Thanks to the newly acquired space he will be able to provide more barenaked beers to locals who come to his regular micro beer festivals which take place at the brewery throughout the year. The events always feature local bands and serve hot food sourced from south Wales.

This is a short clip from the latest event held 5 and 6 December, 2009:

By January he will know if he is successful in obtaining a ‘premises license’ to sell the beverages straight from the brewery itself. But for now you can wait until his next micro beer festival (details on his Facebook group) or visit the bars and cafes around Cardiff city centre that supply them: Nos Da, Bar Umm and Gwdihw.

Pressure tanker made in 1957

A pressure tanker made in 1957 – purchased from ebay

Simon is originally from Melbourne, Australia but left when he was 22. While in Australia he worked for a winery and as a result managed to land a job at the prestigious Château Lynch-Bages in France. He worked in France for a while but decided he wanted to visit family in Clevedon, Bristol. He said one evening:

“I was in their backyard and saw lights flashing from across the water and asked what it was. It turned out to be Cardiff and they said it was apparently ‘good for a day trip.’”

When Simon initially came to Cardiff he had plans to go into business with a brewer based here, but it unfortunately fell through. Fortunately though he met his girlfriend who worked for NoFit State Circus and ended up joining her by managing the bar they had on site. After saving up money they decided to go travelling together and bought around-the-world tickets. On returning from this year out in 2004 he wanted to fulfil his dream of becoming an independent brewer:

“When I stepped off the plane I didn’t have a penny to my name. I was sleeping on a friend’s couch. I got a job and every spare penny saved went into this joint buying stainless steel and filling my lounge.”

Sign at the counter of the Micro Beer Festival #5

Artisan Brewery

The Artisan Brewery at night

Before Simon moved his equipment from his front room into the garage-sized warehouse in King’s Road he informed me that not so long ago the space was used as a gallery. Previous to that he mentioned that it was a mechanic’s workshop: “Legend has it that there was a particular car that was made here.” But oddly enough he went on to add that:

“It apparently used to be a brewery about 90 years ago.”

Wanting to know more about this I did some research at Cardiff Central Library in the Local Studies section and looked up the address of the micro brewery from yesteryear. I found books containing details of streets in Cardiff dating back to the 1800s and started looking from the late 1890s, until I came across this page:

A page in Western Mail Cardiff Directory 1902

In this book:

Western Mail Cardiff Directory 1902

Western Mail Cardiff Directory 1902

As you can see there was a brewery named Walpole Brewing Co. and further research showed it existed from 1902 to 1909 at 183 King’s Road, Pontcanna. It’s strange that the place was once a brewery over 100 years ago and now history is repeating itself. When Simon told me the benefits of the location it wasn’t surprising:

“When I moved in it was ideal as it had a sloping floor. I use water to clean everything and it helps if this moves in one direction on the floor. Not typical in most garages so this one was meant for me at this point in time.”

A map of the brewery’s location (click blue pointer for a photo of the site):

If you ever walk down King’s Road in Pontcanna and see the curry house, the florist or the hairdressers remember that a little further on there’s a guy working solo crafting the next batch of naturally brewed beers. After January, if all goes to plan for him, you’ll be able to walk in and purchase his products from the Artisan brewery. Thanks to the new space he’ll have a healthy supply.

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When Murdoch raises the paywall what side will you stand?

Paywalls, paywalls, paywalls. It seems every time I switch on the tv, radio or laptop there is someone talking about Rupert Murdoch and his pledge to start charging for online content next year. So I’m going to add to the saturation by talking about it on my blog too.

Last week I attended a lecture given by editor for ContentNext, Robert Andrews. In it he told Cardiff University postgraduates that charging for online content is akin to: “Trying to put the genie back in the bottle.” His reasoning is people have been brought up with content for free on the net so the concept of paying for it is alien. Of course he is right, it is a strange thought, but one that is already in operation.

Robert explained that the Financial Times already has paywalls, which are making money (around £90 per 121,000 subscribers) primarily because it’s a business paper and people are willing to pay for what they see as valuable information they cannot get elsewhere. B2B magazines can also afford to put up paywalls (as this article in paidContent:UK refers to) as they too have niche information that people deem relevant enough to fork out for. So where does this leave Murdoch and his newspapers which, some would argue, doesn’t give people news what they can’t obtain for free elsewhere? The answer is no one knows.

Rupert Murdoch

Murdoch will soon charge for online content

But Murdoch isn’t the only one who believes in paywalls. Editor of the Financial Times, Lionel Barber, has predicted that most news organisations will charge for online content within a year. He believes that digital media doesn’t pose a threat to crafted professional journalism but does to the mediocre (people blogging on hearsay rather than fact).

Only time will tell if Murdoch will be successful when the paywall rises.

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Most news doesn’t require journalists

When Joanna Geary, Web Development Editor for The Times told Cardiff journalism students, “Most news doesn’t require journalists, because of press releases. It’s like someone with three PHDs  flipping burgers.” It made me think about churnalism and how it affects the industry.

If the world of journalism work is based on PR people writing press releases only for journalists to rehash into their own words, you know mix the sentences around a bit, where is the originality? What’s the use in studying a post-graduate diploma, to learn the skills of the trade, if we get into a job just to churn out the same rubbish that PR peddlers want us to?

Also, thanks to the internet, everyone can be a journalist if they want. Ok, their articles probably won’t get printed in The Guardian or any other newspaper, but their stories/articles/ideas will be published online for all who want to read them. The main problem these people will experience is lack of money from their work, but if they’re only doing it as a hobby will it matter to them? The benefits they will have is freedom to write what they please with no press releases to churn out again and again.

But if hacks jump on the technology bandwagon it can lead to more individual writing, alongside the necessary writing of their job. Through blogging Joanna Geary estimates she has doubled her income in just 18 months and it’s something she started outside of her employment. Nothing to be sniffed at then. She says not many journalists are tech savvy nor are they willing to accept the industry has changed, significantly. So that’s where the new breed come in.

Journalists today need to be utilising technology to get ahead. If we do this perhaps we can pioneer in the industry instead of following other people’s leads.

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Ignore the audience, they’re mad

The BBC’s technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones recently came to give a talk entitled: Typewriter to Twitter for Cardiff University journalism students. In the lecture he discussed how journalism has changed since he began his career in 1983, and what it looks like now  in 2009.

Rory explained how audiences back then were taken for granted by TV execs as people could only really choose between two stations – in addition to no internet, Sky or cable TV – so they were almost guaranteed a large audience. He discussed that audience members were also seen as mad with station staff not really taking any notice of them when they contacted the station. One thing that surprised me was his scepticism of any original journalism going on in the 1980s – he said staff read newspapers earlier in the day, then reported that news later in the morning.

A couple of decades later and things are quite different. No audiences are taken for granted anymore as there are too many channels and media platforms all fighting for their share. The way we consume news is different too. A lot of people read news via the internet, which they can currently do for free, and they have 24 hour access. In present times there is so much choice that competition pressure has raised the quality of the main broadcasters – but with the rise of citizen journalists it has led to questioning of their output too.

So the world of journalism has changed a great deal with one glaring difference between now and the 1980s being the audience is no longer taken for granted. In fact audiences now actively take part in stories by providing User Generated Content or blogging, tweeting about events when they occur  TV execs can no longer see as them as mad but perhaps more of a competition.

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Photographs and audio speak louder than words

I recently attended a lecture by Dr Daniel Meadows where he gave a history of unique documentary work he undertook in the early ’70s. In a brief summery he drove a double-decker bus around Britain from 1973 to 1974 taking pictures of people in their home towns. The photos helped him get into the media industry and have since taken on a life of their own. But I don’t want to discuss his work in detail as you can do that by visiting his site linked above.

His lecture got me thinking about how imagery resonates with people more than words ever can. You look at photos and immediately you are thinking about the story behind them – the bigger picture. What Dr Meadows is doing now is going through the photographs he took back in the ’70s and adding them with narrative audio to create something more powerful than images alone. You can visit his Photobus website to see the videos.

The other day i stumbled across a series of photos taken by an award-winning photographer named Maciej Dakowicz. They have been put together on YouTube with not a narrative but a soundtrack to accompany them. Although the pictures are moving, funny, sad and shocking by themselves with the music added they become startlingly poignant. Try viewing the video below without the audio and one with and you’ll see what I mean.

The added music makes the imagery thought-provoking and almost serious. You could play something like The Steptoe and Son theme tune over the top and the photos would take on a new comical meaning. Try if for yourself by playing the video above without the audio, and the one below with sound, at roughly the same time – also scroll the screen up so only the first video is visible.

It makes a huge difference doesn’t it? The photos now seem completely different. They are less poignant and more light-hearted, even the sad imagery. Music and imagery combined is a powerful story telling tool (even without a narrative), especially if one compliments the other.

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Joe blogs

Adam Tinworth, blogging editor for Reed Business Information (RBI), says going to an interview for a journalist position without a blog is akin to a musician meeting a label’s boss without any demos. Although I haven’t been to any such interviews yet, I can see his point.

With increasingly more people searching  for information online blogging has become a huge part of what people read. In 2007  RBI was making more money online than in print, and that trend is on a continuing rise. Not having a blog could be detrimental to your career. Problem is more and more people are setting up them up so how do you stand out from the masses?

Adam advises you find a niche and be the dominant voice in that field. If you write about something that you’re  passionate and enthusiastic about it will come across well in your blog and you’ll start to get a readership. He also says that you shouldn’t be opinionated.

Instead of offering opinions on a subject Adam suggests you offer conversation and debate to engage with your readers. People don’t necessarily want to listen to your opinions unless you’re very knowledgeable in a subject. That’s why blogs that carry opinion – known as ‘expert blogs’ – are, according to Adam, perfect for, “Pissed old hacks” because they have years of expertise in their respective fields.

I agree with what he says about people not wanting to be talked at. We enjoy conversation that’s why there are so many reader comments on articles online because we love debate, especially if  something is disliked – check the amount of comments on this infamous Daily Mail article.

Writing for blogs is more complicated than I first imagined but if your writing offers debate rather than dictation you’ll be a one step ahead of Joe Blogs.

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