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So UK: My Nu Leng

Bristol’s My Nu Leng unify garage, dubstep, grime and drum’n’bass to push the boundaries of dance music

  • Words: Sel Bulut | Images: Gareth Gregg
  • 18 March 2016

My Nu Leng’s Tommy Jackson and Jammo Irving have been mates for years: they’ve lived together, they produce together, they tour together, and they party together. And like all good mates, they’re currently taking the piss out of each other. A couple of years ago they got matching tattoos on their hands, and they’re comparing how they’ve held up. “Jammo’s looks shit, mine looks sick,” Tommy laughs. Jammo looks down at his hand forlornly. “It’s faded loads,” he sighs, “It’s the same design, but my skin didn’t take it.”

My Nu Leng emerged from Bristol around 2012 with a bass-heavy style of dance music that unifies garage, grime, dubstep and drum ’n’ bass. Since then the duo have racked up releases on crossover labels like Black Butter and the Chase And Status-helmed MTA Records, earned fans from A-listers like Rudimental to underground stars like Oneman to legends like Goldie, and toured Europe, North America, Asia, and India along the way. They’ve done it without ever compromising their sound: very dark, very UK, and very Bristol. “My Nu Leng always push the boundaries of dance music,” says Chase And Status’s Will Kennard. “The Horizons EP we put out on MTA Records was incredible. We’ve been fans for a long time.”

It’s a Saturday night in Brighton and Tommy and Jammo are sinking cans in their hotel room, gearing up for a headline show at The Arch on the seafront. Along for the ride is Gloucestershire’s Dread MC, who’s been hosting their recent parties and who Jammo describes as the “third member” of My Nu Leng. Jammo, 27, is the tallest of the pair and has a habit of gesturing a lot when he gets excited. Tommy, 29, is shorter, with a thin buzz of facial hair and more tattoos; he’s the more sarcastic of the two, but he can get serious when the topic calls for it.

Throughout the conversation they frequently go off on tangents, telling stories, dropping in-jokes, and filling in the gaps in each other’s memories. Tommy and Jammo met at a club night in High Wycombe, quickly bonding over a shared love of liquid drum ’n’ bass. When a spare room was going in Jammo’s house, he invited Tommy to move in, despite barely knowing him (“I think we’d met once,” he jokes). There they’d spend “all night, every night” mixing records, and soon started DJing together. Early My Nu Leng gigs saw them play to a handful of mates in the back of pubs around town; when they did play further afield they usually spent more money travelling to the venue than they were getting paid.

They both moved to Bristol within a couple of years of each other and immersed themselves in the city’s nightlife. They moved into a house with two other producers, Troy Gunner and Rowl, and partied pretty much non-stop, surviving mostly on takeaways. “Sometimes I look back at my Just Eat history and think, Jesus Christ,” Tommy groans, throwing his head back in despair. “I must’ve spent thousands of pounds. I’d have two kebabs a day.”

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