The Night Slugs DJ drops some house music heat
Helix is an Atlanta-based DJ/producer who, for the past few years, has been closely associated with UK club label Night Slugs. His first release with the crew was the immortal “Drum Track”, a white label from back in 2012 that came to be one of the most enduring tracks on the underground club scene – it’s devilishly simple but incredibly inventive, and you can still hear DJs play it (or one of its many bootleg edits) today.
In 2013 he released an EP for Night Slugs’ Club Constructions series, but didn’t make an entry into the label’s main series until earlier this year, when – as if to make up for lost time – he dropped no less than three albums under the unifying Greatest Hits title. The three releases capture his style perfectly: raw but with a shrewd sense of funk, maximised for dancefloor potential, and carrying echoes of vintage Chicago house, booming Atlanta trap, or swinging UK funky, depending on how you listen to it. They’re excellent, and they’ve already earned the “greatest” part of the name – DJs have been rinsing a lot of these tracks in their sets for ages now, but they’re only now seeing a wider release.
Following the release of the Greatest Hits albums, and with Helix making an appearance on Night Slugs’ upcoming Allstars X compilation, we asked him to put together our latest Dazed Mix. Tune in below and read on for a hard-hitting Q&A with the DJ.
Hi, Helix! What’s going on in this mix?
Helix: Hi, Dazed Digital! What’s going on in this mix is 45 minutes of summertime ready, 25+ adult house music. I tried to keep the focus on grown and sexy house music, stuff like DVA and Fatima or Lil’ Louis, plus lots of female vocals and underground R&B refixes of artists like Beyoncé or Kelela. Obviously, being the DJ that I am, there are a few tricks up my sleeve to make the mix interesting – I promise you, there’s no reason to put out a boring mix in 2018!!
Tell us about your Greatest Hits releases. Are these truly your greatest hits, or do you have more hits incoming?
Helix: I wish I was like Khaled and everything I touched was a hit, but this is just a collection of dope music I’ve been making since ‘Drum Track’. Every song had been very successfully played in clubs before the record came out, so I had to call the records my ‘greatest hits’. As far as more hits in the future, I’m working on some music with Leonce, and I have some vocal singles I’m sitting on right now. We’ll just see what happens in 2018.
After working with Night Slugs for so long but not releasing anything officially officially with the main label, what led to your first major release with the label being a massive triple album?
Helix: Obviously the whole time I was wanting to release music with the Slugs, the pieces just didn’t fit together until I had a triple album. We started going through demos in LA to make a single album and realised I had about three albums’ worth of material – so it was only natural that I made three albums out of that material. Thankfully Bok Bok talked me down from doing three mixtapes with drops all over them and the DJ Clue echo on my voice.
How was playing the Night Slugs birthday party in London?
Helix: It was nuts as fuck, ‘cause I opened in the main room after a little b2b with Bok and just got to play all the hot new Atlanta rap that had dropped and get the energy in the room thru the roof. Then after that I went to the next room and grabbed the mic and hosted for Sweyn (Jupiter) while he played all the hot new London rap. Highlight had to be seeing Manara effortlessly slide through her set on three CDJs.
What do you do when you get writer’s block?
Helix: I practice DJing. I’ve had a lot of writers block lately, which is why I’m getting better at my scratches, honestly.
”There’s no reason to put out a boring mix in 2018” – Helix
Seen any good films recently?
Helix: Besides Shakedown by Leilah Weinraub, nothing really. Do scratch videos on YouTube count? The DJ Roli Rho vs. DJ Babu beat juggling battle is real fun. Also, I’ve been planning on rewatching School of Rock with Jack Black and Miranda Cosgrove, if that counts.
I know you’ve always supported homegrown talent – what US artists, producers, vocalists, rappers, blahblahblah are you most excited by right now?
Helix: In no particular order: Ralo, Ariel Zetina, Lil Baby. Young Dro’s Day 3 is a hot mixtape. Shyboi, Color Plus, Nargiz, Kiya Lacey. DJ Helix – he’s really good, you should check him out. Calvo, out of Baltimore. Mega Lo, C Powers. Last but not least, RIZZLA ALBUM!!!!!!!!! Obviously I’m big time excited by whatever my brother Leonce does, ‘cause it always comes out amazing, but that’s a given at this point.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
Helix: I mean, my parents told me to always be kind and understanding to others. I think that one is gonna stand the test of time, even more than ‘don’t piss in the wind’.
What was the last YouTube rabbit hole you found yourself in?
Helix: Wendy Williams crying compilation, believe it or not.
The eternal question: what are you working on at the moment?
Helix: The flare scratch, playing keys, beat juggling, and that record with Leonce.
01. Lil’ Louis – “Club Lonely”
02. Beyoncé – “Best Thing I Never Had” (Lars B remix)
03. DVA – “Just Vybe” (feat. Fatima) (Soule: Power Mix)
04. Aaliyah – “Rock The Boat” remix
05. Apple – “Gabryelle” (Refix)
06. DVA – “I’m Leaving” (feat. Alahna) (MA1 refix)
07. Vincent Lawrence – “Virgo Tracks Again”
08. William S – “I’ll Never Let Go” (instrumental mix)
09. William S – “I’ll Never Let Go” (vocal mix)
10. Cybotron – “R9”
11. Two Fingers – “Twelvses” (Two Fingers remix)
12. Beyoncé – “If We’re A Boy” (Maurice Joshua Mojo UK remix)
13. Technasia – “Force (B2) Force” (Voxless)
14. Footsteps – “Green Light”
15. Mya, Mike Dunn – “Circle Of Life” (MD Afro-Tech BlackBall MixX)
16. Dennis Ferrer – “Hey Hey” (Kaytronik dub)
17. Jax Jones – “You Don’t Know Me”
18. Helix – “Tainted Remix”
19. Girl Unit – “WYWD Remix” (feat. Kelela)
Night Slugs’s new Allstars X compilation is out this Friday (June 15)