Deadboy, aka Allen Wootton, and Murlo, aka Chris Pell, have been tearing up clubs for a minute with a blend of dancehall, funky, grime, rap, and whatever else is deemed banging enough to make its way into their crates. Earlier this year, the two UK producers joined forces under the moniker DBM to self-release a blistering, hyperactive two-track EP, consisting of "Squeeze" and "Ride With U." Last month they released the melodic floor-filler "Halo," before heading out on their first joint North American tour.
We recently caught up with the duo in Toronto to discuss how the collaboration came about, what their dream club would look like, and more.
THUMP: Generally speaking, do you find touring and travel more invigorating or exhausting?
Murlo: I think it's both. It's good for creativity. It's good meeting people, being able to see how other people DJ, and how crowds react to different stuff in different countries. I never had a gap year or anything like that, I only used to go on holiday around Europe when I was a kid. It's kind of crazy really, being able to go to Asia.
Let's talk about your last Asian tour a bit.
Murlo: Tokyo was wicked because I knew some people over there anyway. We were chatting to these guys, they're a grime crew called Double Clapperz. It was really good just seeing and meeting people on the other side.
Does it ever surprise you when you see cultures from around the world taking up these UK sounds?
Deadboy: Not so much anymore, but it's always really, really interesting to see. People emceeing in Japanese over grime is amazing. I just really like rapping in languages I can't understand.
How did you guys begin collaborating as DBM?
Deadboy: We played together at this night in Brixton for someone we kind of mutually know. I played before Chris and we played really similar sets.
Murlo: It was really funny. We both played a bit of dancehall, we both played funky, bassline, and grime, and I was like, "Let's chat." Then we started talking and decided to make a tune.
Deadboy: I don't think we ever really spoke that night because you were on after me. We just kind of changed over and then we got booked in Amsterdam, and hung in Amsterdam watching the Eurovision Song Contest in a bar. We're into a lot of the same kind of weird, niche things I guess, so it just made sense. Oh, I just remembered—we started making tunes together because I was asked to do a track for this Oneman compilation for Red Bull Studios, and they said it was all collaborations. So I asked Chris and we went into the studio and made "Squeeze."
Murlo: Was that like two years ago?
Deadboy: Yeah. We sent it to them and never heard back.
Murlo: So we sat on it and still liked it. Our now-manager was like, "You should put this out with someone else." We made that "Ride With U" tune a couple weeks after. You make different stuff when you make tunes with me, don't you?
Deadboy: Yeah. At the moment, I'm making a lot of house music, and with Chris is when I do more, I don't know, jump-up...
Murlo: Wonky? I don't know what to call it.
Am I right in saying you guys share a studio?
Deadboy: We did for awhile in London but now we've both left London.
Chris, where are you based now?
Murlo: I live down south but I'm on my way up to Manchester. I'm in a kind of limbo for the moment with moving out of London. I really, really loved living in London, but I couldn't afford it any more, Manchester is an amazing city and I've been meaning to move up there for awhile.
At this point, when you're playing together back-to-back, how much do you have to communicate during your sets?
Deadboy: I feel we communicate very little in our sets. Usually just like pitching up +4, then you know we're switching up.
Murlo: Sometimes I'll get a comment from Allen being like, "Oh, we're at 135, are we?" Usually we'll go two for two. I'll play two tunes, and I know what I'm going to play next, right? Then he'll play something and it'll diverge, which is something that you don't really get when you play alone. As a DJ who plays a lot on his own, you can fall into set patterns. Certain tunes go well with other tunes, and even if you haven't planned your set, you kind of go down a path. When you have someone else throwing curveballs at you, I like that.
You still surprise each other?
Deadboy: Yeah, and the thing is when we play together I think we're a lot less trying to impress, and more just trying to play big party bangers. I play a lot of stuff with Chris that I wouldn't play in my own sets because they're big bangers that everybody knows.
Murlo: I'm not against that. I hate the term "playing a bait tune," like playing something that's really obvious, because at the same time if it's a good tune, it's a good tune. It's a balance between not wanting to be predictable but also not shying away from big tunes.
When I saw you two in Seoul at Cakeshop last year, Allen, I think you played this bassline edit of "Roll Out" by Ludacris.
Deadboy: Oh yeah, that's a Wiley remix! That's an official remix, it's on the 12-inch.
Murlo: It was back when Wiley was called Wiley Kat, wasn't it?
If money was no object and you had carte blanche and were able to design a club from scratch, what would it look like?
Deadboy: It would just be like [London's] Plastic People circa 2005 or whatever.
Murlo: Crossed with [Manchester's] Soup Kitchen.
Deadboy: You know, they're very similar clubs. Just a dark room with an amazing sound system. Small, low ceiling.
Murlo: Good security, comfortable, inclusive, that's what I want in a club. There's been a lot of clubs like that I've been fortunate to play at.
What are some of your favorite clubs in the UK?
Deadboy: It's hard, especially in London. When people ask me, "Oh, what clubs should I go to in London?" I'm like, "I don't know, I don't know." They're all being shut down. There are ones that are good but not loud enough, there are ones that have a good sound system but the room's no good... It's not too difficult a thing to get a club right.
There used to be a really good club, an illegal one in Hackney, where you went up in a lift. You'd go around the back of this building, this grate would open and there'd be a bouncer there, then you'd go up in the lift and the music gets louder as you're going up. You could smoke in there and they had Street Fighter arcade machines and stuff. It was great, but that got closed down pretty quickly.
Chris, you've been interviewed a lot about your art and your background in illustration, but Allen, I don't know as much about what you do outside of music.
Deadboy: At the moment, I don't do anything outside of music. I know it doesn't seem like it from the amount of records I put out but that's pretty much all I do.
What's next for the project? Are you planning other DBM releases?
Deadboy: We've got a few bits that are pretty much finished.
Murlo: We don't have a time frame for what we're doing. When we're happy, it'll get released.
What's your favourite big pop record of this year?
Murlo: If we're limited to pop tunes, definitely "One Dance," because we're both massive fans of Kyla.
What are some of your current favourites that you think more people should know about?
Murlo: I've been getting really excited about new Flava D stuff. The stuff she's been making recently has been amazing.
Deadboy: I've just been listening to a lot of house stuff like Mall Grab and Ross From Friends. Weird, lo-fi house stuff. That's just kind of the theme at the minute.
Adam Wray is on Twitter.