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Dazed Mix: Bok Bok

The DJ, producer and Night Slugs co-founder drops an autumnal mix to celebrate the label’s new compilation

Alex Sushon aka Bok Bok has consistently operated on the bleeding edge of club music. As co-founder of the Night Slugs party and record label, he’s released game-changing music from Jam City, Girl Unit and Kingdom, helped bring Kelela to the world’s attention, and advocated for a genuinely diverse and inclusive club culture. Night Slugs are marking a new chapter in their history with their third label compilation Night Slugs Allstars Volume 3, which features new music from members of the Night Slugs family, affiliates like Ikonika and Nguzunguzu, and newcomers like Sweyn Jupiter and Sheen. The compilation arrives in one of the strangest, scariest, and most politically turbulent years in recent memory, but the music on it offers a positive and utopian vision of the future: it’s often bright, vibrant, and romantic. “We needed to redress the balance of humanity, to make sure our music was compassionate, making sure everything had a human core to it,” Sushon says of the compilation. “We had to reassess our responsibilities.”

To celebrate the release of Allstars Volume 3 we asked Bok Bok to put together our latest Dazed Mix, which is split into two distinct ‘phases’ and features grime, rap, and R&B bangers as well as harder-edged club rhythms – balancing “the sweet with the sour”, as Sushon puts it. We also caught up with the DJ and producer over email to find out more about the mix, the message musicians should be putting out in 2016, and what’s next for his label.

The new Night Slugs compilation has a very romantic edge. What brought that on?

Bok Bok: That’s true, although not everything on Allstars Volume 3 is really romantic – there’s still some ‘industrial’ or ‘tense’ moments. I always wanted our music to bring the sweet with the sour, always be presenting both sides. But why elevate dystopian fantasies when the real world is already worse than our imaginations? 

Considering all the turmoil in the world, it could be easy for the music to become increasingly dark, aggressive, and paranoid. Do you ever find yourself consciously avoiding that?

Bok Bok: We can all agree that times are dark, but that’s the problem – we’re stuck agreeing with each other in these closed loops. Social streams full of like-minded outrage, righteously liking each others’ opinions and links to likeminded news and thinkpieces from within a closed circle. These days we funnel our outrage into a bottomless pit, expel it into the void and nothing changes. So what do we learn from a constant reiteration, or from holding up a mirror? Jam City reminded us on Dream A Garden that ‘Love Is Resistance’. And music is a divine mathematics at work, it’s a beautiful thing. 

“Why elevate dystopian fantasies when the real world is already worse than our imaginations?” – Bok Bok

Sweyn Jupiter’s name pops up all over the compilation. He’s a relative newcomer to the crew – what’s the impact he’s had on everyone’s music?

Bok Bok: Yeah, you’re right, Sweyn makes four appearances on the comp! Him and and I have been working together on a lot of music over the past few years, since we did ‘Papaya Lipgloss’. He’s also been making beats with Ikonika, Sheen, and NA Nguzu. Sweyn has chord progressions and toplines for days, so for us sample-loving producers, it’s kind of a dream! Our collaboration started off with me sampling him playing keys, but really we build beats together these days. He’s coming into his own as a producer, delivering his first solo track on Allstars Volume 3 as well. 

What have you been drawing inspiration from lately?

Bok Bok: I like listening to London FM radio again, I really missed that since my Nokia days riding around listening to pirates. Why is it when someone asks I can never remember what I been actually listening to? Probably because it’s 7am and I’m still awake. 

What are your three favourite tunes of 2016, and why?

Bok Bok: That’s easy: Rihanna ‘Work’, Tory Lanez ‘Luv’, and Rae Sremmurd ‘Black Beatles’. I don’t think I even need to explain why! Some people might think these are overplayed, but for me they’re still doing it and probably will for years. I don’t believe in overplayed. ‘Work’ is a crazy song, I still remember hearing the beat for the first time and being like, ‘Ehhh?’ It feels good every time, remix or original. ‘Luv’, same same, I can never get it out my head. ‘Black Beatles’... okay, time will tell, but that instrumental (which I included in this mix) does something to me similar to me like Blink-182 – a forgotten feeling from a past life.

“Jam City reminded us on Dream A Garden that ‘Love Is Resistance’. And music is a divine mathematics at work, it’s a beautiful thing” – Bok Bok

Are you working on any new solo music?

Bok Bok: Yes – there should be an EP out in March-ish. 

What’s going on in this mix?

Bok Bok: Well, with the Allstars comp release imminent, I’ve been doing a lot of Night Slugs label-orientated mixes, so I took this opportunity to record more of a diverse selection of some stuff I’ve been playing out. There’s no theme to it, but it does come in two phases. It came out a bit melancholy in that late-autumnal way, but then I don’t see a lot of daylight this time of year.

What does 2017 have in store for you and Night Slugs?

Bok Bok: Some key releases for us in the pipeline: Girl Unit LP! Several Helix LPs! DJ J-Heat EP. Sweyn J EP. My next solo. New L-Vis. More DJC. More Jam City. Let’s see what else!

TRACKLIST

Phase 1

01. Cooly G – “Raw Materialz”
02. Banshee – “High Let Me Fly”
03. Kid D – “Rock The World”
04. Helix – “Spinmeroundbreak”
05. Snappy Jit – “Snap On The Chat”
06. NA – “Ecstasy Chop” (L-Vis’ Re-Chop)
07. Dean Lyon – “All Night” (Mr O’s Sex Appeal Mix)
08. D.O.K x Bok Bok x Kelela – “OMG Melba’s Call!”
09. Spect – “Red Hot”
10. Tory Lanez – “Super Freak”
11. 702 – “You Don’t Know” (Syymtstress Edit)
12. Mike Will Made It – “Black Beatles” (Instrumental)

Phase 2

01. Mist – “Ain’t The Same”
02. ?? – ??
03. Leonce – “Snakes” (Club Mix)
04. Roy Wood – “Get You Good”
05. Jam City – “City Hummingbird” (Club Mix)
06. Naira Marley – “Back 2 Work”
07. Hitmakerchinx – “No Matter What Dey Say”
08. Keyshia Cole – “Don’t Waste My Time” (feat. Young Thug) (Leonce Bounce Mix)

Nights Slugs release Night Slugs Allstars Volume 3 on November 25