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Label Focus: Night Slugs

The label that launched a thousand club producers

  • Words: Patrick Hinton | Photo: Theo Pierre
  • 19 June 2017

Night Slugs started life as a south London club night in 2008. The party was defined by a sense of musical freedom: dubstep’s dominance was in decline, and it became a free-wheeling space to explore club-primed styles spanning grime, Baltimore club, house, electro-funk, southern US rap and more. The launch of the Night Slugs label arm in 2010 provided an outlet for artists channelling this melting pot of influences to create ‘club music’, a futuristic and at times abrasive blend of the bare-bones elements of its influencing genres that sounded like nothing else. It sparked a revolution in the London club scene and beyond, and the next-level mongrel dance concoctions of Girl Unit, blistering percussive workouts of Helix (pictured) and jagged sci-fi soundscapes of Jam City spawned a new generation of producers.

In 2017 the scope of Night Slugs has widened, while still rooted in dancefloors. Series such as Club Constructions cover the ice-cold end of the spectrum, whereas pioneer Jam City has moved into a woozier world of vocal-fronted, politically charged pop. Co-founders Bok Bok and L-Vis 1990 aim to facilitate the creativity of the imprint’s talented roster to explore their artistic flair and take the sound in new directions. Night Slugs always leads, never follows.

Label co-founder: Bok Bok

What made you decide to start the label?

We had a large amount of music made by ourselves and friends lying around at that point. It had all started to come from the same set of influences, so it made sense to start a label, as the work wasn’t really getting signed anywhere else.

What’s the aim of the label?

We like to release a lot of different types of club music and try and push that format to a lot of different places.

How has the vision for Night Slugs evolved over the years?

We didn’t really know what we were doing at first, so I can’t really say that there was a strong vision, we sort of just let it manifest itself. We were quite lucky to have a lot of really talented people involved, and everyone pushing in a direction that felt similar. The label now is just about trying to let all the artists go in their own direction and explore what it is that they’re about.

What have been your proudest moments with the label?

Having Bun B wear our T-shirt was cool; I never thought that would happen. Working with Kelela and the continuing project that’s come out of that is something that I’m very proud of. And so is bringing artists like Kingdom, Jam City and Girl Unit to the world.

What are your plans and ambitions for the future?

In terms of the immediate future, I want this label to carry on doing what it’s set out to do. Night Slugs will remain a home for club music; I don’t think it will change dramatically. Having said that, a lot of us are moving in the direction of production for artists now and getting into the vocal and radio side of things, so that’s a space to watch as well.

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