Bok Bok and Other DJs Look Back on 10 Years of Night Slugs Bangers
The crowd at the first-ever Night Slugs party in 2008

Bok Bok and Other DJs Look Back on 10 Years of Night Slugs Bangers

As the label imprint turns ten, we asked a few key players and producers to tell us about the records that have made NS what it is.
19 June 2018, 10:14pm

Club culture is rooted in the power of possibility. It gives us – the listeners, dancers, smoking-area philosophers – the chance to experience the future on a near nightly basis. The nightclub itself is a site of temporal dislocation, a place where a bassline can turn disparate individuals into unified groups. What we want, among other things, when we traipse to clubs week after week, is music that feels like nothing that’s come before it. That’s where Night Slugs come in. For a decade now, the south London label – which grew out of Camberwell parties thrown by Bok Bok and L-Vis 1990 in the post-dubstep days of the mid-00s – has been reshaping the sound of British clubbing, refusing to fixate on any individual sound or idea for too long.

That constantly shaping back catalogue spans everything from the onomatopoeic squirms and squirts of Mosca's "Square One" to decade-defining bangers like Girl Unit's still huger-than-hell "Wut" via Jam City's creepily hi-fi Sakamoto-does-grime shtick and the slinky sophistication of Velour's "She Wore Velour". In short, the Night Slugs sound, if we can talk about such a thing, is an attempt to amalgamate everything exciting about dance music into one ruffnek, frenetic, immaculately conceived package. Minimalism rubs shoulders with juicy HD hi-fi synth workouts; jagged Baltimore house sits next to dank deconstructed percussive bludgeoners. It is the hypercolour hardcore continuum; bold, brash, and oddly British.

This year the label’s put on a load of parties to celebrate its ten years, releasing a celebratory Allstars X compilation this month. To get you in the mood, we’ve asked a few Night Slugs supremos to thread together some of their favourite tunes (and beyond) from the last ten years.

Bok Bok’s 'Origins of Night Slugs' Selections

Not many people have a better grasp on the past, present, or future of Night Slugs than Bok Bok. Obviously. But obvious isn’t always a bad thing: strawberries and cream are obvious. Cold beer on a hot day is obvious. Anyway, the label’s co-founder has given us a brief run through of a few cuts that helped him really configure what Night Slugs was and where it wanted to go.

Lil Silva – “Funky Flex”

This is the track that had us fully gassed to make Night Slugs a thing. It was just a perfect amalgam of the stuff we loved; you’ve an ex-Macabre Unit [seminal early grime production pioneers] member covering Kenny Dope [one half of house legends Masters at Work], which is something I thought I’d dreamt up. This one and “Seasons” have left an unforgettable mark on UK raving.

Bok Bok & L-Vis – “Wake Up Early” Dub

Initially this was a bootleg of “Bongo Jam” by Crazy Cousins, and only L-Vis’ demented brain would think to match up the lyrics from Calista’s vocals on that tune with the Crystal Waters classic [“Gypsy Woman”] that ended up in this version. It was our first white label release and definitely part of the roots of Slugs.

L-Vis 1990 – “United Groove”

This one actually came out on Diplo’s Mad Decent, back in the day before NS was a label. The vocal sample might seem a bit trite now but it was kinda on point – there was intercontinental magic happening at that time in our music thanks to early web2.0 platforms like MySpace and Flickr. This record took us on our first US tour so I am not mad at its message.

Bok Bok and Girl Unit at security in 2011; Bok at the old Night Slgus house (Photos courtesy of Bok Bok)

Helix’s 'Avant-Garde Night Slugs' Selections

Whether he’s producing raw, tech-y, stripped-back and skeletal trunk rattlers as DJ Vague or doing whatever the fuck it is he’s doing with a pair of decks on this mix for FACT, Atlanta’s boy wonder Beau Thigpen is one of the imprint’s most out-there members. Here he’s selected three tracks that explore the more esoteric side of the Night Slugs universe.

Egyptrixx – “Everybody Bleeding (Kingdom Remix)”

This record is crazy and it really fucked me up the first time I heard it.

Lil Silva – “Shutter”

This record is crazy and it really fucked me up the first time I heard it.

Mosca – “Nike”

This record is crazy and it really fucked me up the first time I heard it.

Sweyn J’s 'Post-Rave Non-Night Slugs' Selections

The squad’s resident nimble-fingered pianist, west Londoner Sweyn’s 2015 club-mangler “Papaya Lipgloss” is one of the labels most replayable tunes to date. His 2017 'Sweyn Flu' EP was a tour de force of atmospheric smoked-out post-club workouts, too. With that in mind, we asked him to hand pick a trio of the tunes he always turns to at the end of a big one.

Rimzo Smash – “Dutty Wine”

I went for this because dancehall group T.O.K. with the harmonies always have me doing a singalong when I’m waved – which is an ideal ending to any night out.

Beeda Weeda – “Fuck 4 Free”

This song has been my anthem since the Limewire era and it’ll forever have me attempting to crump and lock; perfect with Patron. That chorus hits and instantly makes me want to turn it out.

Tone Tone – "I Luv the Way She Doin It”

Another Limewire anthem. Used to be the ringtone on my Nokia 6600, too. I was the biggest Jazzy Phe fan and this song will never leave my selection. All the references are [100 EMOJI]

L-Vis 1990’s 'Peak-Time Night Slugs' Selections

Without James Connolly, there is no Night Slugs. The MySpace-assisted friendship he struck up in 2008 with Alex Sushon (AKA Bok Bok) saw the Brighton-born producer and DJ relocate to south London. Frustrated by what they saw as a lack of parties playing exciting stuff by, the pair booked out the Redstar in Camberwell, and the rest was dancefloor history. Here Connolly rides through three tracks from the NS catalogue that are best whipped out around 1AM.

Lil Silva – “Seasons”

I feel with NS sets we don’t really have a ‘peak time’ as such. Our sets are not building to one specific moment, it’s more about different waves of energy throughout the set. But with this song, you know without doubt you’re going turn up that energy to 11. As soon as that main horn melody breaks, the crowd are whipped into a frenzy. The drop is just devastating. Love to Silva for this one.

L-Vis 1990 – “Ballad 4D”

One of my own here. I have no Idea how I created this bassline! I swear there was a ghost in my DX7 that bought it to me. When you drop this at the peak of a set it totally transforms the club. It feels like you are plunged under water then pulled out again in the breaks. It was amazing to hear reports techno DJs were dropping this in Berghain when it came out.

L-Vis 1990 at the first-ever Night Slugs night

KW Griff feat. Porkchop – “Bring in the Katz”

Not one I draw for much these days but I feel this one has to get a mention in here. KW Griff’s banger from our Club Constructions series took on a life of its own crossing over into so many different club worlds, even getting adopted by the likes of Skrillex. Mad considering it was just crazy Baltimore club track we found in pack of Club from Dirty South Joe.

Girl Unit’s 'Influencing the Future of Night Slugs' Selections

If we here at Noisey had the time and money, we’d likely pay a team of scientists to conduct rigorous experiments that’d eventually conclude that “Wut” by Girl Unit is quite possibly the HUGEST-sounding UK club record ever. Until then, we’ll settle for the DJ and producer filling us in on three songs he’s been hammering recently, and that are also part of the blueprint of the label’s future explorations.

Kamaiyah – “Mo Money Mo Problems”

I love all of Kamaiyah's music, and I think her skeletal update on the G-funk sound is something that's had an impact on a few previous productions of mine and has definitely influenced some of the forthcoming tracks. The track is slammed and I love it, it sounds so raw. The “Only Human” sample is perfect, it’s a bop.

Rae Sremmurd – “Swang”

It’s not brand new but I got hooked on that arpeggio bass that the whole track rests on, and those big ominous synth sweeps. The track's got some odd new wavey feel to it but still sounds very contemporary – twinned with Swae Lee's falsetto vocal on the hook, the whole thing sounds wild. I love eardrummerz' producers for always pushing weird sounds at a mass level.

IAMDDB – “Conjuring”

What I've wanted to do lately is to start moulding ideas from previous instrumentals into productions that can accommodate a vocal track, without losing the size and atmosphere that the instrumental had, and I love how this tune doesn't compromise for the vocal. I'm a big, big fan of big synth brass and I love how Deiago turned this cinematic intro into a frantic banger.

You can find Josh on Twitter.

The 'Night Slugs Allstars X' anniversary compilation album came out on Friday 15 June, obvs on Night Slugs

This article originally appeared on Noisey UK.