I’ve been waiting for this Bok Bok & Manara mixtape to arrive in my inbox since it was discussed back in October 08 with Alex ‘Bok Bok’ Sushon and partner Sara ‘Manara’, the fantastic duo who commandeer the much hyped “Night Slugs’, at Egg in Londontown, along with L-Vis 1990. Alas, a fresh mix created just for Trash Menagerie and it’s pretty fucking fantastic! After one listen, came a second, then a third. For me, this mixtape exemplifies the brilliant sounds – U.K. bass of styles – of the moment. I suspect I’ll be listening to this gem a good few more times and then some. Undoubtedly, so will you.
Typically, when I receive an artist BIO, they all tend to read like a resume, but not Bok Bok & Manara’s. Their’s were something special, more of a good story that I feel is best read straight from the horses mouth. After listening to their mix, if you’re so inclined, stay for a few and read the story on how they came to be Bok Bok & Manara. When you’re finished with that, check their blog Lower End Spasm, and get your fill.
01. JAMESON – This One
02. D MALICE – Gabryelle Refix
03. DJ MIKE Q – Diva Work
04. BENGA – Walking Bass
05. LIL SILVA – Seasons
06. RUSTIE – Diwali Boom Club Edit
07. LIGHTER – Skanker
08. KINGDOM – That Mystic
09. GREMINO – Be & See
10. HARD HOUSE BANTON – Sirens
11. DJ DOUBLE G – Get Loose
12. TUBBY – Slush
13. SKRATCHY – Shangooli (GEENEUS remix)
14. DJ HYPERACTIVE – Reptilian Tank (BB & M edit ft BUBBZ)
15. D1 – Bg
16. Night Slugs 6 Ikonika Township interlude ft ASBO
17. LIL SILVA – Funky Pulse
18. TERROR DANJAH – Scotch Bonnet
19. DJ WIRE – Believe Me (BB & M’s Latoya edit)
20. GEENEUS – Yellowtail
21. EGYPTTRIXX – Use Magic To Kill Death
22. PETRA & CO – Just Let Go!
23. ZOMBY – Pussy (Rumours VIP)
24. L-VIS 1990 – Zahonda
25. 2000F & JKAMATA – You Don’t Know What Love Is
26. BOK BOK – rooftop (outro)
I started djing years and years ago. I had to borrow some money from my friend’s inheritance to buy my first bruckdown decks – they were made by Gemini and barely kept a mix locked.
I’d grown up in South London and gone to school around UK Garage (pretty literally some of the times, Oxide & Neutrino went to my school !). It was always background noise to me, and I was on some swag shit until I heard Dizzee Rascal, Wiley and DJ Slimzee back in 2003-4 when they were young, poor and hungry. My world was instantly changed. I started taking DJing a lot more seriously, and also my sound changed completely – I started buying all the grime white labels u could, and became a GRIME DJ.
I got a show on a ghetto as fuck streaming station called UTZ (stands for Urban Tingz) which was based out of a weird council flat in Walthamstow, North-East London. The studio was literally an empty ex-living room which was scattered with juice drink cartons and McDonnals wrappers and smelled like high grade even when it was empty. I did a 2 hour mix show on there every Sunday night. Manara came to my first ever UTZ show. That was the start of our relationship. She stood out of the way of the studio webcam and tried to look busy in an environment where masculinity hung in the air. The station staff assumed she was my girlfriend, pre-empting the inevitable.
It was 2005. That autumn/winter we spent days and weeks on end together, playing playstation, gettn high and listening to tons and tons and tons of crunk and rnb. Manara brought r’n'b into my life, it was a total education. We both liked noise too, and we bonded over that. I could not stop playing this one batch of hyper-romantic grime tunes either, like Ruff Squad’s “I just died in your arms tonight”. That winter we hooked up.
We didn’t start DJing together for another year or so. I’d moved my radio show from UTZ to the less gully Sub FM (which I still do fortnightly to this day). I was playing grime, dubstep and UK G, but more and more those scenes were becoming less satisfying in the club weight department, so I’d started introducing more new elements – US ghetto genres too. Hyphy, crunk, ghetto house and the nascent UK bassline sound.
One day me and Manara were chilling in my room listening to old trance and happy hardcore tunes, and suddenly we were DJing. Wiley got mixed into Yomanda’s “Synth N Strings” – it was a magical moment. Totally notttt one for the purists but the energy was undeniable. We almost immediately took it to the clubs – there was no formula other than ‘lets make rave sound gutter… lets make gutter sound rave… lets ignore all stigmas… lets NEVER DROP A RECORD IRONICALLY”.
That sort of coincided with new rave in London, much to our displeasure there was ironic urban music everywhere. But we used it to sneak underground UK music into all sort of clubs where it wouldn’t traditionally belong. We had a stupid name we were using at the time – Faggatronix – so we weren’t exactly blameless ourselves, but it wasn’t all bad because people all over the UK were rediscovering garage!
Later we started really being who we were under our own names, and pushed for an original sound, started seeking out dubs, hand-picking our selection and trying to play challenging but dancefloor-friendly sets.
Since then we’ve been to DJ in Berlin up and down the UK and this summer we went to NY to play at Trouble & Bass which was kool.
Also this year I started collaborating with L-Vis 1990 doing Night Slugs, a residency for us and our friends (Oneman, Tomb Crew, Prancehall, Mumdance, DJ Venom and Girl U No Its True) as well as guests like Dexplicit, Kingdom, Rekless, DJ Guy and Silverlink. We’ve just done a Trouble & Bass vs Night Slugs party too that went really well.
Being from outside of London meant that my experience of garage and any british urban music was either accidental or really forced. when i was 13 ‘flowers’ by Sweet Female Attitude came out, and this, as well as many other garage songs were never really specifically ‘garage’ to me, but they formed my listening habits for life. i loved that garage was sickly sweet but dark too. dainty but deadly.
i was discovering things by accident and everything was a bit contextless for me. kiss compilations, my nerdy brother’s napster mp3s.. i had to hold my aerial up and sit by the window if i wanted to listen to kiss fm, my only other resource for garage when i was 16 channel u came about as did 128kbp rips of radio shows uploaded and put on peer2peer networks in 2003. couldn’t hope to get a signal of any of the pirate stations in london at the time so i downloaded as much as i fucking could. i had known nothing like this, and i felt so wrong listening to it on my own in a shithole where the closest thing to grime people got to was drum and bass.
i felt like i had some kind of injoke without them. grime was much colder and fuzzier than garage, and way more immature and energetic. i loved it. but the one set i downloaded that i learned by heart was slimzee’s sidewinder set. the mp3 quality is incredibly shit but i had never known anything that energetic and it was probably my first experience of what proper djing was like, not to mention the 16 bar switches. but again, i didn’t have a context. i didn’t even know what bars WERE. i tried spreading the word, making tapes here and there, i think i managed to convert one friend. i think grime really, really made me want a car. but i never got one.
grime was just in headphones for me for a couple of years until i moved to london when i was 18 in 2005. i met bok bok who took me to FWD. i was freaking out all like ‘what do i wear what do i do’ and when i got there it was so dark no one could see me. it was empty for most of the night and i was being swathed by bass from my right side. that became our spot, every thursday, i always missed any classes i had on friday for it. i think it formed high expectations in me as an inexperienced rave-goer because the sound system was so incredible. like a big wave machine except you don’t fall over when the water hits you you just feel it up to your belly and feel a bit woozy.
one time after fwd i joked that me and alex should dj together. It wasn’t until about 6 months later that we actually chased that up. We still don’t know what possessed us to go ahead and confirm “Faggatronix” as a name by picking the myspace url and promoting ourselves as that. Worst name ever. I felt bad cos it undermines the fact that Bok Bok was a serious grime dj already. but still, I like to think that when people listen to what we do it doesn’t come across as ironic tokenistic bullshit and some kind of parody (unlike the name suggested). nowadays we just like to be able to say that we dj house and garage, it saves a lot of time because there is so much going on right now.