Back in 2004, Glenn Naylor (Mooqee) and Tim Utah (Beatvandals) noticed a severe lack of the music they wanted to play out as no one seemed to be making or releasing it and so they took the step of helping to fill the gap by forming Bombstrikes records. With both having a big passion for Vinyl the label started life via the now legendary 12 inch releases of the ‘Volume’ series. Their early collaborations and solo work defined Bombstrikes’ unique dancefloor rocking sound and at the same time gave birth to a new scene focusing less on genre but more about the Bass, the Funk and the beats. With Djs immediately picking up on the label's output they quickly established themselves a big following with fellow innovators such as A.Skillz, Nick Thayer (OWSLA) and Featurecast working with them in the early days before attracting the long term talents of Pimpsoul, HerbGrinder, Neon Steve and more.
Now, 10 years on and with the label fast approaching 1/4 of a million units sold via 50 plus releases, their high quality output continues to pick up fans globally with DJ Mag describing them as the scenes premier label. Radio support from the likes of BBC Radio 1 and 1 xtra, Triple J, Xfm, Kiss Sirius (USA) with Djs ranging from Zane lowe, Plump Djs, Mixmaster Mike, Ca$h Money, DJ Yoda, Rusko and many more all having supported their releases.
We caught up with Mooqee and Beatvandals for a chat about the first ten years of Bombstrikes and a
little about what they have planned for the next ten. Not only that; to mark the occasion the guys have
plenty to give away. We have a completely free, very rare and very special track from Mooqee/Herbgrinder
that has never been available in any form before and is only available for a limited time so get downloading.
Downloaders will also be entered into a prize draw to win the entire 10 years of Bombstrikes back catalogue.
Congratulations on the 10 year anniversary. If you cast your minds back how did the label come about in the first place?
Beatvandals (B): The idea for the label came about as a result of our weekly night in Leeds; Sugarbeat. We had everyone playing there from people such as Soulwax, Run DMC, Freestylers, the world champion turntablists such as DJ Craze and then DJs that we were into like A.Skillz, Krafty Kuts, Yoda, we even did the early Hospital Records nights and had quite a bit of Drum and Bass on. The vibe of the night was more anything goes house party vibe rather than focusing on a specific genre. What we started to find when digging for records was that the music we found ourselves wanting to play at the night was just not around so we started making things our self. I guess that we just made the tracks that we wanted to play out and thought that if we wanted to play them out and couldn’t find the stuff we wanted then maybe there were others who would like to get hold of the music as well.
Mooqee (M): Our Ethos and hence the name Bombstrikes was that every track was a ‘Bomb' and by that had to be able to rock a dance floor at peak time in any situation. A kind of 'go to' 12 for when you wanted to really rock the party. The early releases were mostly Beatvandals and myself as we established our sound but then we started releasing records from other artists that we were into. One thing we always wanted to do though was keep a high quality threshold and get the label to a stage where people would look forward to the next volume and would always buy it regardless so it became like a collector’s edition. A big influence on doing it as a volume series idea was the Ultimate Breaks and Beats releases from way back, where you always wanted to get the different volumes and if you only discovered it at a later volume you knew there was more to track down. I know that many people out there have all the volumes on vinyl and some of our early releases now fetch quite a considerable amount of money second hand if you can manage to track them down.
You are widely credited with helping to create the Funky Breaks scene with a lot of your releases helping define that sound and bring it to people’s attention. Was that always a goal and how quickly did people get on board?
B: That’s great that we have been given credit from other people within the scene who we respect for helping to create the whole funky breaks thing. We never had a master plan and we still don’t, we just want to put out good tracks that stand out from the pack and DJs can play out in clubs, that could be a 110 banger, a DnB track, or something glitchy. Rather than being about one particular genre, it is more about just putting out these dance floor bombs that are party but not cheesy.
M: People seemed to quickly get on board with what we were doing and whilst we didn't have a plan beyond just wanting to put out solid dance floor music we always tried to make sure the music was pushing forward and not just rehashing old ideas. We also tried our best to make sure that any samples used were used in a creative way with something different coming out the other end. We get sent quite a lot of demos from people and we always listen through and respond to every one but we are very picky about what we actually end up releasing which is why we don’t release music every week. We are both really proud of our back catalogue and all of the music that we have released over the last 10 years.
You mentioned that support came in pretty quickly for the label, were you surprised by this?
M: I think we were a little taken aback by how quickly people seemed to get what we were trying to do and also how wide the support was. There wasn't a big plan to win people over as it was just about doing our thing. We were definitely surprised by how far and wide the support spread. We had messages from around the world showing love for our releases, which for a small label with no marketing budget and in the days before social media had taken over the communications (although Myspace coming along when it did was a great help), was quite special. We thought DJs would be into what we did given our ethos of wanting to move dance floors but the range of DJs on board was quite phenomenal. To hear about legends such as Ca$h Money and electronic acts such as Plump DJs dropping your music at peak time in places like Fabric's main room was a big boost. We even had reports back about Mixmaster mike opening Beastie Boys stadium shows with one of our tracks.
B: The radio support we got was a big surprise too. BBC radio 1 started playing our music weekly but just as surprising were DJs such as Steve Lamacq, better known for playing indie and rock, started dropping our tracks, I guess the cross genre feel appealed to them. Annie Mac was also a big fan and I was even lucky enough to do a Mini Mix for her show.
Eddy Temple Morris at Xfm and Ali B at Kiss were also big supporters from day 1 and the radio support has continued to date with Triple J in Australia and Sirius in the U.S.A. still showing support for our releases. The speed and range of support was a big help when with attracting ground-breaking artists such as Nick Thayer, Featurecast and A.Skillz to the label. Also when other labels sprang up that was great as we always felt we would be stronger together and could help each other define a scene, labels such as Good Groove, Insane Bangers and the Ghetto Funk all helped expand the audience in their own way.
What have been the highlights of the 10 years?
M: There have been so many highlights but one of the things I am most proud of are the official compilations; Bass Funk and Funk N' Beats. Given where we started with doing 12 inch pressings having a fully licensed compilation featuring artists such as Opiou, Breakestra, DJ Format sitting alongside some of our catalogue was a moment to be proud of with what we had achieved, especially then watching them go on to top sales charts. The other thing I am constantly energised by is the way people seem to so love our music and recognise our quality control is high.
B: A highlight for me is that 10 years on we are still around as an independent label supporting great new music. Also picking up two Beatport awards for our releases and picking up top chart positions across so many genres shows me that what we do has a wide audience. It still always is a massive buzz when DJs that we used to listen to when starting out then end up asking you for your music and you then hear them play it out and it's going off in front of big crowds.
How do you see the sound of Bombstrikes evolving of the next ten years?
M: When we brought the Volume series to a close we wanted to expand what we did and start working with more artists on a long term basis. The idea being that if we worked with them more over the long term it would give us chance to help them expand their musical range and explore what they want with the aim to then build them into album selling artists. Part of that was to expand into music that maybe didn’t have the instant ‘Bomb' appeal but was more engaging, something more time consuming but ultimately more rewarding. The idea being to allow ourselves to explore other avenues for our music but still keep our original style going. It has been great to see artists such as Pimpsoul and Neon Steve expand their appeal and musical sound. I guess we won’t ever be constrained by genre but more about quality, as we always have been.
B: Equally though if someone sends us through a cheeky 2 track ep with 2 killer club tracks then we can have that out within a few weeks. We don't want to lose what we were originally about and will always keep that side to what we do alongside our other avenues. We also plan to release more compilations such as 'Funk N Beats vol 2' and another 'Bass Funk' compilation and have many more plans and ideas up our sleeve. What made us successful in the first place was making tunes for DJs to play out first and foremost, so we still need to keep that side going but equally we would like to put out music that has the potential to cross over and as a label we would love to have a record get in the top 40 but it has to be on our terms.
What are the plans for the future?
B: One of the things that we have been working on for quite some time is a project with Loopmasters to release a Bombstrikes pack so that it has all the ingredients for DJs and producers to make their own Bombstrikes tunes and edits. We have asked many of our favourite artists on the label to submit complete loops and have also had in musicians to play guitars and vocalists in to record drops so that there will be lots of original beats and breaks to work with and all copyright free. We are also constantly on the lookout for fresh new artists to introduce and work with. We were really excited to launch the massively talented Gaddy upon the scene recently, he has a sound all of his own. We plan to do much more of that in the future.
M: Our next release is by a Canadian artist called Bryx and features the vocals of fellow Canadian Corb Lund and is out in a couple of weeks in time for Halloween and is the aptly titled ‘Gravedigger’. We hope to have a new Pimpsoul release (which believe us is VERY special) before the end of the year. We've also put a lot of effort into our Youtube channel and over the coming months and years will be using it more as a channel to not only feature our music but as a place to check out other artists and music that we love, making it more of channel where we curate content, but with the original Bombstrikes quality standards allowing us to help push the music we love in the ever changing times online music gives us.
"Bombstrikes has been a long time favourite in the Funky Breaks world, since back in 2007 while I was crate digging for that KW GRIFF - Respect (Mooqee & Russ Cuban edit). Then I stumbled upon Nick Thayer & A.Skillz bangers and that was pretty much it. 7 years after I am still looking for anything that comes out of this trusted label and I am always surprised to see how quickly each release always manages to find its way to my crate."
"Like most, I discovered Bombstrikes at the record store I shopped at. I was DJing at a lot of bars at the time and always needed those weapons that you reach for time and time again. The first track I heard was see mice elf by Mooqee & The BeatVandals. When you discover a new label you always look back at past releases and I wasn’t disappointed with what I heard. A little while later, I was putting on shows and booked Mooqee to come and play, he did the business and I sent them some music id written. This was signed by bombstrikes and its being going downhill ever since..."
"Bombstrikes was one of the first labels I found putting out the funkiest party breaks, I have almost every early release on vinyl still, and will never sell those records, they are a piece of history to me, thanks for all the great tunes"
"Bombstrikes was a big influence for the Funkanomics!! We have nearly all records and we will love them forever!! It was always one of the best feelings when the postman arrived with a new Bombstrikes release for our record collection!"
"The early days of Bombstrikes certainly had a HUGE impact on my taste and direction in music. There's something irresistible about a classic funky fun party jam, and the Bombstrikes catalog was filled with those. The early stuff from the Beatvandals, Askillz, and Mooqee all really paved the way in terms of the sound of the label and that whole funky party breaks sound. It was right when I was getting into DJing and finding a new Bombstrikes record right before the weekend was the key to knowing you had some fresh gold ready to unleash on the dancefloor!"
"We love Bombstrikes. They have launched the careers of some many artists who are at forefront of the scene today. The success has been proven by the fact all the original artists release on the label still. They are the tastemaskers of Funk Breaks. We have always supported them, as they have us. We are like one big funky family and we can’t wait to hear what the next 10 years has to offer. Long live Bombstrikes."
One of drum & bass' most unconventional producers, Icicle has repeatedly re-written his own rules when it comes to forging his own sound and this time around he's chosen to ditch the dubstep for cut-throat political verses in "Problem" from Salford's own master of the vocal dark arts, Skittles. Twisting back into contorted bass and synths for "The Edge", a dirty, electrified stomp and step through the Icicle mainframe. It's good to be challenged every once in a while.
Currently in the midst of popping open champagne bottles left, right and centre, Mooqee & Beatvandals, are celebrating the tenth birthday of their popular party breaks label, Bomb Strikes. Following some retrospective anniversary releases, we now get a selection of "Future Bombs" to enjoy. Highlights include Neon Steve's brutal dubstep/hard funk hybrid "Kill Em With The Vibes", the wobble-heavy synth epic "Rumble" by Herbgrinder and Mooque's own breaky electro-houser "Piano Thing".
Origin One got it together to release album All For The Love back in May, but it looks as though things have slowed down since then. As a result, we just get the one new track, "Good Ganja", here - a laidback dub reggae jam with an authorities vocal from Cheshire Cat. There's four remixes to choose from, our favourites being DJ Maars' half-time hip-hop influenced head-nodder and Juice Foresight's surprisingly lively deep tropical house jam.
Morlack comes correct once again with a 27-track collection of total funk blasts. Naughty booties, reversions and mash-ups galore, the eclectic vibe ranges from skippy hair-swishing party rock ("Funky Woman") to cheeky Ting Tings reversions ("Hang It Up") via crazy blends of Zeppelin, Black Box and Outkast ("Ride On A Whole Lotta Love"). Elsewhere we hit gems like the big disco string B.M.W sucker punch "Get A Lil Stupid" and Bowie-busting block party slammer "Triple Fame". Morlack's repertoire was already bulging before this - now it's just ridiculous. Easily one of the best masters of the illicit art of mashery.
Mash-up hero Tom Showtime has assembled quite a cast for his latest production Funk Pants, a reworking of one of his older tunes. His own rework sees samples of funny old stage banter introducing some big tough breaky funky hip-hop madness. Remix-wise, BadboE ups the jerky funk, D-Funk adds some electro bass and breaks, Roast Beats goes brass-centric but it's Showtime's regular partner, DJ Maars, who wins out with his hyped reggae 're-skank'.
More scrumptious sonics from the Polish party crew, the fourth volume of Tru Funk's "Tasty Beats" series sees old friends and new lay down five sizzling jams that will guarantee unified butt-shaking. New faces Bruno Borlone and Boogie Mike lay down a Spanish rap funk jam "I Like The Party", DJ Axe pays homage to Nice & Smooth and Curtis Blow, ElectroGorilla reach for the lazers with the euphoric breakbeat flexor "Funky Beast" and Rory Hoy and Saxon Scoundrels get busy on a classic rock and swashbuckling drum vibe with "Bouncin & Rockin". Finally The Beat Selecta boldly fixes up the classic Batman theme tune on a D&B with - quite cleverly - Hijack's "Badman Is Robbin" rap originally sampled by DJ Supreme. Holy bootlegs!
It's been a long time since Australian artist Algernon Renton last flung out a whole body of funk. And an even longer time since he changed his named from the psy-minded Positive Thought. The wait, however, has been well and truly worth it. Bulging with nine tracks, "Textures" rolls with album-level weight and consistency. Peppered with switches, glitches and great organic Rhodesy, guitar-twanged wafts and slaps, from the bluesy, smoochy opening sentiment of "Intro" to the strolling sax flurries of "Kaizer Sosage" via the more punctuated gutter grit bass and vocal breezes of "Shirt Lifter" there's a great consistency to be found throughout. Funky, slick, tighter than a nun's purse strings, these textures will captivate for a long time to come.