Posted by Gosia Mrugala
As a DJ, producer and mastermind of the renowned Night Slugs imprint, South London’s Bok Bok (a.k.a. Alex Sushon) has emerged as one of the most influential figures on the UK bass music scene. Tireless bpm:tv blogger Gosia Mrugala tracked him down recently for a quick one-on-one chat about his musical passions.
Gosia Mrugala: Hello, Alex. What have you been up to lately?
Bok Bok: Lately I’ve been moving studios, lining up some new releases for my label and, as always, playing DJ sets. The last batch of shows were in Paris, New York and Brighton UK.
GM: What’s the meaning behind your alias “Bok Bok”?
BB: I’ve had that name for a long time, way before I was fully focused on music. So it’s a bit hard to remember, at this point, what I was thinking when I conceived it. But I think it’s just supposed to be two quick percussive sounds, like onomatopoeia. I’ve since found out it means a weird variety of things across several languages.
GM: How would you describe your musical style?
BB: Grimy, modular, often stripped-down music for the club.
GM: In your own words, how would you describe grime?
BB: One of the most inventive music genres around, which at its best channels both hip-hop and techno via a collective consciousness. It’s the music style that got me doing what I do today and remains my biggest inspiration. In its early heyday, grime producers were working with no rulebook whatsoever — it was sheer freewheeling creativity in an urban setting. The key to grime is a nervous energy which is undeniable in the club.
GM: When you’re not producing, DJing or working on graphics, what do you like to do on your spare time?
BB: Just normal things like like try to see my friends, catch up with everyone’s latest YouTube favourites, read or watch movies or reality TV. I also like to ride my bike. And I like to go to clubs and not DJ when I get the chance.
GM: So tell me about Night Slugs.
BB: Night Slugs is the crew and label that me and L-Vis 1990 started back in ’08. In 2010 it became a record label, home to such artists as Girl Unit, Kingdom and Jam City. Since the start the focus has been on club music in all its forms, presented with a sensibility learned from raving to grime, garage and early dubstep. The whole thing is very DIY and feels like a family. It’s really special to me.
GM: How much time do you spend on your own music versus running Night Slugs?
BB: Almost the whole of the last year has been taken up with mixing the releases we put out, but lately I’ve refocused on my own production and have been spending a lot more time in my bunker. Balancing the two can be a challenge.
GM: Your top three tracks at the moment?
BB: Jam City – How We Relate To The Body; L-Vis 1990 – Ballad 4D; Fiedel – Andreas
GM: What is one aspect about the music scene you would change?
BB: In general I love that it’s even possible for me to do what I do, so I’m not one to complain. But at a push I’d say: it would be great if, instead of trends being driven so much by genres, we could see more people (especially new producers!) approaching club music in a more abstract way as just different arrangements of interesting sounds.
GM: Where do you see yourself in five years?
BB: Hopefully doing what I do now — but better with another five years of experience; that’s a lot of time to learn and improve. All the mixing and creative direction I’ve done with Night Slugs has made me open to the idea of working with other artists in production and mixing, especially for longer projects where we can really craft something together.
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