Interview: Body High – Raw Club Music from Los Angeles – DJ Sliink, LOL Boys, Floyd Campbell

[Photo for Broken Teeth]

The Body High label seemed to drop out of nowhere last year, appearing suddenly like an unidentified blip on the dance music radar. But its founders Samo Sound Boy and Jerome Potter from LOL Boys (who together release music under the name DJ Dodger Stadium) had established themselves as DJs and producers in their own right for years beforehand. They took their new recognition as an opportunity to further the visibility of likeminded friends and artists pushing a raw club sound. Their vision is of forward-thinking dance music stripped of pretense and ready to move the floor. The duo connected with Dubspot over video chat to discuss the way they prepare their releases, how they work with their artists to ensure a high level of quality, the way they balance tracks that hit with immediacy and those that take more familiarization, and burying music for the apocalypse. MS

[Floyd Campbell - Taped | Body High Records]

How do you balance your ‘raw’ sound with high production quality?

No excess can be of high production quality. It’s stuff that’s stripped and doesn’t have a lot of fat to it. The Floyd Campbell EP we put out is definitely the most maximal. But it still has a very raw, stripped down sound. All of the elements are there for a reason, it’s not just random white noise or this glossy thing. Every track we want to put out will work in the club — or a certain club anyway (laughs).

Do you test Body High tracks on the floor before releasing them?

Pretty much everything has been played in the club a bunch before it’s been released. It’s always a good way to test the new shit out. That’s mostly to hear what it sounds like. We’ve both been DJing for a pretty long time, and I think we’re confident in the stuff we’re putting out to not be basing it on a crowd’s first or second reaction. A lot of this stuff is pretty immediate, but the crowds need to hear it a couple times before there’s going to be a specific reaction. Something like DJ Sliink‘s “Vibrate” is so recognizable, and we knew right away from the crowd’s reaction when we played it the first time that it’d be big. When you hear that cell phone vibrating, everybody goes off. Then take something like Samo’s new track — we played it at a new party and the reaction was insane even though we’d never really played it. We weren’t sure how they’d respond, but the reaction was amazing. So we were like, ‘This one works.’ But the Floyd Campbell stuff, we’ve been playing that for a bit, and it’s only recently been getting a real reaction in the club. Because it’s such a wild sound, people may not be ready for how futuristic it is. A lot of the Body High stuff is pretty immediate, but every show isn’t a perfect, ideal crowd, so that isn’t the best meter for that type of thing. Some shows offer really good reading, but others you have to work it a little. You have to work as a DJ, like play some other stuff they’re familiar with, then slowly tease in some of the Body High stuff.

Are you throwing a regular Body High party?

We had a party in LA at Barcade in conjunction with some friends of ours who throw a party in San Francisco called Tormenta Tropical. And that was really crazy, so we’re going to do it again in July. We’re just kinda taking it one-by-one, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we kept doing it for at least the rest of the summer. It was the perfect set up for us, and in the perfect place for us, for the people who are into Body High to come to. It’s 150 people max, arcade games surround the floor, and the booth is right on the floor. It’s a very raw space, with a very house party vibe. It’s not in Hollywood or anything, so you didn’t have any preconceived club rules or anything. It’s just kinda anything goes.

[Jim-E Stack - Bubble Boy | Body High Records.]

Why are you drawn to LA?

The good thing about LA is you’ve got a little of everything. It’s got what you’d think of as real Hollywood clubs, and then also the warehouse thing downtown. It’s really all about finding what you want. We play in all sorts of spots though. We didn’t want to do a Body High party until we found a place that really matched what we were doing with the label. So this spot felt really good. Knock on wood though, we’ve only done it once so far. But we were psyched about it. It’s really good vibes. LA is way cheaper than a place like New York. There’s a lot of space — that’s a big thing. Our studio, which is pretty big, is only $200. It’s a good place to be an artist. It’s cheap, there’s space, and that just affords you more time. And you can be a hermit and just work on music if you want. When you go to the store for water or something, you don’t really run into people because nobody walks.

How much back and forth do you have with artists on your label before a release?

A lot of the people on the label have been friends for a long time so we know what to expect from them and we’re on the same page as them. We’re already on board with what they want to do. With people like Myrryrs and Floyd, we did a bunch of different rounds with demos we would give feedback on. Both of us have released on a lot of labels, and have found that a lot of those labels are always happy with what we do. Like, “Oh, this is cool. We want to put it out as fast as possible. Just get it out there and get hype.” So we understand that it’s nice sometimes to get feedback from labels and we want to provide that. Like, “This part is great, don’t scrap this demo if if you don’t like it because there’s a lot of great ideas.” Building rapport and going back and forth. Sometimes it can be frustrating for the artist, but at the end of the day when there’s a final product, I think everybody is happier. Another thing is that the crew is getting tighter and some of the people who didn’t know each other as well have gotten to hang out, and you can see those connections growing. And those relationships have been really beneficial for people’s stuff. Like Dubbel Dutch has been giving really good feedback for this remix that Myrryrs did that’s going to be really huge. And that kind of feedback just helped it get to that point. The level of quality control at this point is really high, but that’s good. That’s how it should be.

Do you ever hit an impasse?

Things have never really gotten that far down the line where we were like, “Yo, this isn’t the right vibe at all.” We also try and keep it cool. We’re not suits demanding club bangers with vocals or whatever. The vibe is cool and calm. The fact that both of us produce makes it easier to talk to. I think they respect it when we give them feedback. Everybody has pretty much agreed with what we’ve said. And if not, they just tell us the reason that it’s there. Everyone is really already on the same page. We work with people that we are close with or feel we see eye to eye with about the same things. It’s all kind of family really. They’re not just random people who we’ve signed, so there wouldn’t be any random issues that would just come up out of nowhere.

You’ve talked about helping Floyd Campbell gear his release to DJs?

With that case, it was his first release and first output as a producer. And he’s got like a million insane ideas. So we helped him with the finer points of mixing. That record’s been in the works for six months. He would come over and we’d talk about how a kick is supposed to hit on a club sound system, for example. And tricks to make that punch. Just mixing stuff, so they could mix with other stuff and get out there. We wanted to help with that kind of thing but not really change what he was trying to do.

Do you aspire towards releasing LPs?

We’ve talked about it and that’s the kind of thing where we’ll know if it’s the right time for it — if ever. But right now the EP and single formats are what’s making sense for us. But it’s not out of the question. That’s an interesting discussion: where is the place of the LP in dance music? It does make a lot of sense, but we just haven’t come to that yet.

Will vocal tracks play a role in your sound?

If it happens, it happens. We have friends who are vocalists, and the next Dodger Stadium might have some on it. If it makes sense, where we want a vocal instead of a sample, then we’ll do it (laughs). Some people have approached us about rapping on stuff from the Myrryrs record. And I could see that being something he in particular would get into later. But it’s not something that is a goal for us. It would be cool if that happened, and that is definitely the EP that could be instrumentals for stuff, but we didn’t release it with that in mind. For us it was an amazing, forward club record. So again, we’re open to it, but not aiming for it.

[DJ Sliink - Vibrate | Body High Records]

How many of your artists are using aliases?

I don’t think of DJ Dodger Stadium as an alias, because we’ve always been super public about it. But some of the other artists on the label are more mysterious about who they are. They’re keeping it a secret to just have total freedom. No preconceptions as to what the music is going to sound like. That would be DJ Funeral and DJ Soulja Man. They are pretty well known beyond those aliases.

Do you think US club music is enjoying a revival of interest in the UK and internationally?

Juke has been around forever. Just because it got hype on the internet doesn’t mean it ever left. That’s something that people always write about it, that they’re putting out stuff that is on the level with the UK. But it’s sort of backhanded. We’re not competing with the UK, we respect that stuff. We’re doing our thing, and they’re doing theirs. Underground dance music in the US never really left, it just wasn’t getting the hype that UK artists did. But in a way, there’s been a revival of people paying attention to shit going on here, yea. We just wanted to promote people we had known for a while, and have been coming up with. Like Jersey Club producer DJ Sliink. He’s the perfect example of someone who’s huge and has been doing his thing for a while, but people in Europe were probably not familiar with his sound. And it was great to help him by putting that record out and getting some him attention that maybe would have taken a little longer. But even without Body High, it would’ve happened eventually. And we’re also really proud that the label is at a point where we can break something like Floyd Campbell’s first release as a producer. He had sent us some really early demos before the label and we were really excited about them. So once we started Body High, we decided something like his work would be great and got back in touch with him and became friends. Something like that was also the idea of the label — seeing something from start to finish.

Any plans for a physical release?

We haven’t yet. But we are going to make a CD at the end of the year. We might do vinyl at some point, but we just need more money (laughs). It would be fun to have a real CD with cool packaging in a real music store. You’ll still probably be able to get the digital tracks on like Glorybeats or something, but we haven’t figured out whether to release it digitally. We basically just want to cement something and bury one in the ground for the apocalypse.