It's rare for labels or artists to live up to the hype poured upon anybody offering any degree of novelty in these fast moving times, but four years down the line Night Slugs – the brainchild of L-Vis 1990 and Bok Bok – is still putting out next level, shape-shifting dance music and helping to nurture artists such as Jam City. Out on Monday 28th May, his debut album 'Classical Curves' blends the raw sound of Chicago house with the timeless sheen of Detroit techno, the stuttering aggression of grime and the primitive electro-funk of freestyle.
Behind this musical fluency lies the equally compelling character of London-based Jack Latham, who when we speak to him roves everywhere from the illusion of time to sipping champagne with his crew...
Tracklist and link to Jam City's brand new Classical Genesis Mix after the interview.
You've got a rather bizarre CV. How did you go from sportswear espionage to making what looks like body armour accessories? If you ever had to have another job interview, what transferable skills have these occupations given you?
“It was actually the other way round, although they taught me you have to be quick and think on your feet, and always looking over your shoulder. This comes in handy for lots of things.”
How do you know the Night Slugs crew? We hear there's history from before they started releasing your music? How long have you actually been making beats for?
“We have known each other forever, always DJing together, always sharing musical discoveries…nothing's changed much! I used to play piano and bass guitar throughout school but it wasn’t until I got turned onto hip-hop properly that I began to think about listening to music from a production standpoint. Hearing (golden-era) Neptunes beats for the first time, around the same time as Wiley and Dizzee had their first singles out… that’s what started making me think about music in terms of production, and a short time after that I made my first attempts.”
The way you've presented the album has a cohesive audio, visual and semantic theme. Are the non-musical elements equally as important? What was the overall vision for Classical Curves? It's a title that suggest looking to the past despite the futuristic overtones of the music.
“The visuals can’t be more important that the audio because they are the audio, and vice versa. It has nothing to do with the past or the future, I really hate those terms because time doesn’t actually exist, it’s just a structure to keep certain expressions in their respective contexts and that really limits them. 'Classical Curves' is about the present, filtered through looking out onto a beach at twilight. You hear glass smashing, mobile phones chirping and motorcycles rumbling in the distance. All this happens around you and you are trying to make sense of it; you are essentially swimming in it.”
Some of your tracks like 'Scene Girl' could, quite appropriately, be the backing for an artist like Grimes. Given that you've suggested – however wryly - that all music is pop, and even released a remix of '80s band Endgames, have you considered working with more vocalists to realise your own particular vision of it?
“Really? I've heard that she possesses some of my music but I don't know if this is true. All the vocals on the record are me, so now I know if I have a vocal idea I can sing it myself rather than have to wait for someone else to do it for me. I don’t quite have her range though so Grimes, if you are listening, I think we could work something out!”
Grime, rather than Grimes, seems to be in the DNA of all Night Slugs producers. Does it feel like it's having a renaissance at the moment? DJs such as Elijah and Skillam are representing a whole new generation of producers.
“I really respect those guys but I don’t really keep up to date with what’s going on in London right now, so I can’t really comment on that. The records that really truly are in my blood are coming up to being a decade-old now - can you believe that? Plus it’s hard to have a lot of optimism in 'movements' anymore, just constant wonder and joy at the types of conversations all my favourite music can have with one another instead.”
The Night Slugs sound borrows from both sides of the Atlantic. How does your sound go down Stateside? The scene for electronic music there seems to come much more out of hip-hop.
“I have no idea but I’ll find out when I go on tour there in July. American club music, hip-hop included, is literally my lifeblood so I’m really excited to finally play this stuff that was so inspired by that music on American soil.”
What's your current top track when you need to pump up the jam/make it jam hot?
“Jam City 'How We Relate to the Body'.”
How were the Night Slugs fourth birthday celebrations?
“The celebrations were fantastic - we sipped champagne and played techno, which is how life at the NS HQ usually is.”
NY House’n Authority – Apt 3b (edit)
Romanthony – Da Change
Steve Poindexter – LSD
L-Vis 1990 - Video Drone
Kevin Saunderson – Warp
AS1 – Gearshift (edit)
326 – Just Like Heaven (Armando Mix)
Traxmen – Caution
Ariel Rosenberg’s Thrash N Burn – Pleasure Spot
DJ Phaze – Philly Drums
Laurie Anderson – Walking and Falling
Hyatt Park Fundraiser
Laurie Anderson – Blue Lagoon
Classical Demo Tape/ Unpublished fashion week interview
Black Dice - Wastered
Intelligence Dept. – Sleeping City
Jam plays Prince – Do Me Baby – live at the Seacam Hotel
Hyatt Freeway/Get Outta Here
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