Friday 23 August 2013


So, as I'm sure you lot with your fingers firmly on the pulse will know, we've just confirmed the next Sureskank night at Exchange. We'll be hosting the 'Sureskank 7th Birthday Secret Skank' on the 28th September.

Ahead of the next event we thought we'd think back to the Bandulu/Sureskank Takeover on the 13th July this year. Huge thanks to Olly Newman for contributing the following insightful article about the Bristol Grime scene and some of it's upcoming artists.

All live photographs by Jordan Young

In the wake of the Exchange Bandulu - Sureskank takeover event I am still trying to remove the beer stains from my t-shirt, exorcise the chromatic melodies from my unthinking hums and stretch out the remaining muscle strains in my shoulders ...I decide a morning's Buddhist meditation and a meeting with some of the artists who performed at the event may serve some theraputic use -or might, quite possibly, perpetuate all of my ongoing symptoms of such an exceptional night in Bristol's music calendar...

The delights of the Paris music scene cater for all imaginable tastes, but my last year spent there lacked all too much in that distinctly UK flavour: Grime music. Happily however, upon my return to Bristol, a night which served up a gourmet for my Grime gustatory preference rose quickly on my radar. Over the last year instrumental Grime music has grown into the 140bpm-shaped silhouette that Dubstep once wore and, crucially, the venues across the city are now adapting their events to house this new mutation. In addition, a host of Bristol-based artists have since stolen the spotlight from the genre’s capital city E3 London forefathers, and are arguably responsible for widening the peripheries of the genre’s potential simultaneously rejuvenating the interest of listeners across the world. Centrally situated about the omphalic point of Bristol’s Old Market area, since its birth The Exchange has sprung up to establish itself as the latest music venue and intermediary vessel to carry the thriving music scene in Bristol and beyond; so when I saw the establishment making the merciless move of hosting the city’s first night in years solely for Grime music exposure (see event description: “Grime. Grime. Grime. Grime. Grime.”), I, along with the rest of Bristol, was all aboard for the next Bandulu voyage.

Bandulu is a record label founded by Bristol-based music producers Kahn and Neek. They teamed up with Sureskank back in June 2012 for the launch of their label’s debut EP, Bandulu 001- Percy. However, one year later, this event at The Exchange celebrates the release of Bandulu 003 – an EP that features the likes of Bristol Dubstep veteran Gemmy, alongside newcomers Breen, Boofy, and Oatz. And the latest Bandulu 003 vinyl is available, for the moment, exclusively at the Idle Hands record shop in Stokes Croft, Bristol. Not only are Kahn and Neek rewarding and supporting local artists old and new, but lending a hefty and tactile weight to a wider cause in the community: the longevity, prosperity, and sustenance of Bristol’s musical heritage. A cause of which any persons involved must surely be proud. The lineup for this event therefore comprises the contemporary Bristol Bandulu extended family: patrons Kahn & Neek and Gemmy, alongside the fresh blood supplied by Bristol brethren: OH91, Boofy, Lemzly Dale, Oatz, and Hi5Ghost.

After witnessing the night’s unfolding first-hand I might all too easily wax 96-bar lyrical about my memories and personal highlights at this exceptional event … instead, I’m finishing my morning meditation and swapping State of War for my state of Zen to go to the makeshift vinyl-printing production line of Lemzly Dale and Boofy (for their debut release Catch A Body / Banshee), and their colleague OH91 to hear their thoughts, as artists, on such a rare and forward-thinking event in Bristol’s musical timeline…

May you be well. May you find happiness. May you be free from suffering.

This mantra oscillates through my mind and actions as I achieve my state of Zen and leave behind the morning’s meditation class with friends and Bristol-based musicians: Asa, and Jim. The day glows with all the warmth and brilliance of Bristolian bustle and babble as we weave our way down a sun-washed Gloucester Road. The mantra surfaces in the mind once more … I wonder how often Buddhist mindfulness is linked with Grime music? Was Dizzee Rascal the Boy In Da Corner in da lotus position? … In any case, I abandon half of my crew from the Bristol Buddhist Centre (that’s B.B.C, not B.B.K) and head to meet with Lemzy Dale, Boofy, and OH91.

Amidst the fracas of gunshots, claps, and general Eskibeat sounds I find the gang in Sam Lambert (Lemzly Dale / Pea Whitey)’s attic-room studio. EP collaborator Boofy is dutifully seated at the heart of the makeshift production line, at what looks to be a 1950s school desk (complete with ink-well); his stationery: a “Sector 7” Lemzly Dale trademark beanie hat stamp and several black ink reserves for the three-hundred vinyl stacked, encircling his position, yet to be branded and shipped out. The day is warm, as is the welcome. I ask Sam (Lemzly Dale), who was better known, before his Grime productions stormed the scene, for his hip-hop productions under his Pea Whitey alias, about his route into being recruited for such a reputable Grime event.

Lemz – “Joe McGann and Sam Barrett – Kahn & Neek, it’s their thing, really. They got in touch with me last minute, actually … I’d already seen that the night was happening, but they asked if I was available. Most people had already been booked to perform. I said, yeah of course I’m up for it.”

Boofy takes a break from his position as primary vinyl-stamper and I ask him about the latest Bandulu release on which he features. Though, rather embarrassingly I’ve misplaced the name of his track among the others on the release …

Boofy – “Yeah, it’s called Since When.”

ASA – “DO YOUR RESEARCH, FAM!” cries Asa, whose morning of meditation seems to have lasted only a matter of minutes.

Boofy – “I was really happy with the response to it because it’s the first Grime tune I’ve made since I was fourteen. I made Since When, the day after Bandulu 001. [Pointing at Lemzly Dale] You were the first person to hear it, remember? It had an F-tizzy a’cappella on it which is where the structure of that track comes from. I made a lot of Dubstep before I made Grime. I like the weightier side of the genre, especially the crossover with Dub. As soon as I made Since When Kahn asked me for it. And that meant a huge amount to me because I’d grown up listening to Kahn’s music and being influenced by his sound and now suddenly he wanted to play my record. Before then, I never had any contact with him.”

“It was also the first Sureskank night I’ve played; I never really used to go many Grime nights because I was too young, but I’m 20 now. It was sick to be there though, playing with Kahn, Gemmy, and people because I’ve been listening to his [Kahn’s] music for the last four or five years … being on the label, talking with Kahn and the other artists has been sick because they’re all making music that’s relevant to you. There’s a big sense of community here in Bristol. This vinyl that we’re preparing now – everyone’s just ready to help you. Chris down at Idle Hands said he’d give us boxes to ship all these out for free so that’s saved us some time and money. Fully rate Bristol for the community side it offers.”

Behind the cacophony of Grime sounds in the room Boofy’s words pack all the weight his music offers up; he is sincere and frank and, above all, thankful for all of the deserved progress and attention his music has achieved since joining the Bandulu family. Furthermore, he conveys a mindfulness and respect for the need to sustain a healthy work ethic in order to continue this development … something the genre’s mainstream artists (Wiley…) might do well to remember. Along with his colleague Lemzly Dale, this release on their Sector 7 imprint has been entirely self-funded; the investment is a deeply personal one for both of them. Recipients of these 300 vinyl are not just receiving a hand-stamped tactile result of profound personal weight, but Boofy is brushing each one that crosses his school desk production line with a wide smile. Boofy’s inspirations from youth are presently his peers; his peers are pushing this new and reworked sound towards the ears of those who once pioneered the genre. And as the gang unanimously concurs, Bristol as an environment and the community it contains has directly nurtured these young artists into underground success…

Boofy – “London’s great, but the size and the pace can be overwhelming.”

“Take loads of mushrooms and go for a walk!” offers a Sector 7 background voice.

Boofy – “Ha-ha, yeah that’s the way to do it.”

Lemz – “It’s stressful there. The pace is so fast.”

LEMZ: “We’re just lucky because Bristol’s big enough to have a good scene but the size… [pausing to stamp a vinyl]… ”

Boofy – “…is such that everything is convenient. We all push each other. You only have to walk out around Stokes Croft at night and you’ll see like six or seven well-known musicians around.”

OH91- “All of our friends and colleagues are all walking distance. Which is great because you can easily holler at your mates if you need help or a second opinion on your music. If I think something is sounding unclear I can just message Sam ask him to take a listen and then I’ll have feedback instantly.”

The focus turns to the night, proper. I am eager to learn how the perspective from the DJ booth differed from that of the crowd of good-natured flying limbs…

Boofy – “I thought I was pretty nervous actually, that was the first time I’ve played out in three years.”

LEMZ – “You know, that was the first night that I’ve fully wanted to play at. I’ve been booked to play at plenty of places over the last few years, and at good nights but never at a proper Grime night or a night where people that I listen to are performing too. At the same time, I wasn’t really nervous.”

Boofy – “I think it was the anticipation.”

Asa – “I hope more people take the initiative. To have one consistent and reliable Grime night. It will get people through the door. This trendy House phase will only last so long.”

Lemz – “I don’t know if I’ve ever been to a night like that, you know. A night that was totally devoted to Grime music.”

Boofy - “That’s why you respect Sureskank because it always brings a party vibe, and it’s always the first one to get there. So people really want to be there; they aren’t buying tickets just for the hell of it or because there’s nothing else to go to.”

“It was jokes because we were the first people to step up and use CDJs … all the acts before us were mixing vinyl. But the sound was so loud and so good. You kicked it off with proper plates and stuff though … You’re a prick for that.”

OH91 – "It was just blessed. Such a good vibe. There were a lot of people there that you mightn’t expect to see. That surprised me. The night as a whole was just really, really good. Vibes!"

I am keen to know what the highlights of the night were for the artists. There were particular tracks which shone out for me; some tracks which I’d been fortunate to hear in the production stages, and many more which were previously unheard tracks being debuted and showcased at this event. Those in attendance of a Bandulu – Sureskank event such as this can surely expect to be the first to hear the most exclusive material, perhaps just hours after it has been completed … were the responses of the event’s privileged ears what they had anticipated? What tracks provoked the most memorable reactions?

LEMZ – “For me, it has to be [Boofy’s Bandulu track] Since When VIP, definitely.”

Boofy – “[Lemzly Dale’s] State of War, for me. Three reloads!”

LEMZ – “And only one of those I did myself, ha!”

LEMZ – “Of the stuff I played, probably the stuff off Deadly’s new album – My Side of the Fence and the Splasher remix those were the ones for me. Also Asa & Sorrow - Legendary (Lemzly Dale Special). Gemmy’s set was sick.”

Boofy – “One tune Omari [OH91] played: Spooky’s Tron Remix. It was packed. It was so hot. I was using my shirt as a towel. It was so live in the DJ booth. Actually, the place was rammed by the time I got there which was around 11.45pm.”

OH91 – “Since When VIP and State of War. Jury’s out. I’m not just saying that because I’m in the room with you all right now. I mean it, seriously.”

So it seems the sounds from the Sureskank saplings stole the show. And Kahn & Neek must surely be credited for the lifting this music into the forum it rightly deserves. OH91, Boofy, and Lemzly Dale vehemently insist “You’re only as good as your last white-label release.” Each one of these artists explicitly expresses the need to sustain a good work ethic and further, demonstrates an appreciation, mindfulness, and respect for all they continue to achieve. And whilst a Bandulu – Sureskank event promises anything but Buddhist tranquility, perhaps these mindful qualities the gang share lend more meditativeness to my afternoon than I expected. The group ethos dispersed about the school desk in here resonates strongly with my remembered state of Zen. Lemzly Dale and Boofy’s release may summon up a different kind of imagery than the one I imagine, but Catch A Body for me is redolent of the mutual support network shared among these immensely gifted Bristol brethren… at any one time they are here to encourage, motivate, and support one another. Their State of War is my state of Zen.

May they be well. May they be happy. May they be free from suffering.

For up to date info regarding events and releases head over to the Sureskank Facebook.

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