20 Questions - Bok Bok Tackles '80s Boogie, Google Glass, and the Pros and Cons of London
- Words: Patric Fallon
Although three years have passed since the release of his last solo EP, Bok Bok has managed to remain a permanent fixture of XLR8R's ever-growing interests, and not just because he's a co-founder of the Night Slugs label. He's also a talented and accomplished graphic designer with his own hyper-stylized aesthetic, a collaborative producer who regularly works with the likes of rising LA vocalist Kelela and Dutch house stalwart Tom Trago, and a consistently in-demand DJ traveling from gig to international gig—that is, when he's not helming Night Slugs' monthly show on Rinse FM. Taking all of that into consideration, it's actually quite impressive that the artist born Alex Sushon could even find the time to finish his follow-up to 2011's excellent Southside EP; nevertheless, on May 26, Bok Bok will release Your Charizmatic Self, his second official solo outing. The record's seven tracks still offer the hallmarks of his restless, bass-centric sound—each heavy riddim jumps and slices with precision, synths are used as much as delicate adornments as they are opulent centerpieces, and song trajectories reserve the right to drastically change direction at any time—but there have undoubtedly been some changes made in the sonic landscape. Curious to ask Sushon about his upcoming record, not to mention what else has been going on with him recently, we sent over 20 quick questions for the busy artist to answer. He shared some thoughts on life in London, what his label wants to do with its new Club Constructions Community project, how he first discovered graphic design, what records he started out DJing with, and much more.
1. Where were you born?
2. What do your family and close friends call you?
3. How did you first become interested in art and design?
As a kid looking at my mum's books and watching her work all night designing buildings.
4. Why name yourself DJ Bok Bok?
I dunno. It's a percussive sound.
5. What was the last thing you Googled?
"Astral People"—that's the name of the promoters who are putting on my upcoming tour of Australia with L-Vis 1990. I needed their site real quick. Before that, it was videos of plants singing.
6. Name the best and worst things about living in London.
Worst: Seems this city is becoming only for the rich and squeezing out everyone else, or trying. The cost of living and working independently is crazy and it's only getting worse.
Best: Despite all of that, it's still a hugely mixed and multicultural place. That might sound like a cliche about a big city, but I honestly can't imagine not being amongst that, and really monocultural places make me miss home.
7. How does producing for a singer like Kelela compare to making your solo tracks?
It's not too dissimilar, because I just do what feels right. In Kelela's case, it's different because she has ideas to contribute towards production herself. Most singers aren't going to want to be in the studio with you working on your arrangements. It's also just generally having a huge expressive factor like the human voice to react to, so even if a singer isn't getting as involved as her, it's still this big element of collaboration.
8. When was the last time you saw a movie that blew your mind?
Definitely not recently enough.
9. Your next EP, Your Charizmatic Self, is something of a departure from previous Bok Bok releases. How did those stylistic developments come about?
Really? I don't think it's a departure at all! It's the same riddim logic, this time being applied to/against songs. Since "Silo Pass," I got really into sampling, and then did "MJT," which led me directly into making this record.
10. Have you always had an interest in '80s funk and boogie?
Yeah. I guess having been born in the mid '80s, it's in the blood or something.
11. What is your most essential tool in the studio?
My mind! Only joking. The Yamaha DX7, I couldn't live without it.
12. Name an artist you think is criminally underrated.
Not that he's lacking in love whatsoever, but like, why isn't Kingdom producing the whole Top 40 yet?
13. Name an artist you think we might be surprised you listen to.
LOL, not playing that game. Blink 182.
14. Which is your favorite: breakfast, lunch, or dinner?
15. What was the first album you ever purchased?
I dunno, but the first single was Mr Oizo's "Flatbeat." I was a late bloomer, so it's kind of a weird first single for my age, but I'm also kinda proud of the selection.
16. What was the first 12" you bought specifically for DJing?
I was buying all these battle records because I was learning to scratch, as well as old-school electro and stuff like that. But then I bought "What" by Wonder and didn't look back.
17. Night Slugs' new Club Constructions Community is a fairly innovative idea, as far as record labels are concerned. What, if anything, do you hope to change about sourcing and releasing music with this fresh approach?
We get a lot of demos sent to us, all up until now unsolicited. So we thought it would be a good idea to try to introduce some structure to that. I doubt the way we go about doing things will drastically change, but this is about creating the opportunity for a new entry point for some people. We're not even sure yet, to be honest. We'll have to see what happens and what gets submitted.
18. What's something you've never done or tried that you're curious to experience?
19. Read any good books lately?
Yep. Although it's often Instapaper instead these days.
20. What's the first thing you'll do after answering these questions?
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