Are you lot ready for a Funky fix? Jalapeno Records, the UK’s HQ for everything Funk, Soul, Disco & Motown are taking over here at Juno! The imprint has been on fire throughout 2017 with a whole host of A-list albums and compilations from some of the scene’s most exciting acts. One of those acts is of course Bristol’s boogie behemoths The Allergies! We caught up with the guys just after the launch of their second album Push On; a funky excursion through hip hop and breaks that features the vocal talents of La Rochelle, Dr Syntax and the infamous ugly duckling Andy Cooper! The lads personality sure is shining through in their music as you will see in their interview, lots of laughs a few cheeky answers and perhaps most interestingly some great tips for producers on how you can start “reshaping vintage beats for the modern dancefloor’! The boys show us what they are all about with an exclusively recorded and mix for you to check out and of course we managed to blag you a freebie!! Download the guaranteed hip-shaker “Since You’ve Been Gone” for free!
For more of this kind of goodness have a wee look at our Disco page now for more feel good vibes from Kraak & Smaak.
Formed in the late 90’s by producers Skeewiff, Jalapeno is a label that has encompassed many genres with one proviso – it’s got to be funky.
In the early 00’s the label was mainly focused releasing music by Skeewiff and IKON (both aliases of label founders Elliot Ireland and Alex Rizzo but one of their first outside signings - Kraak & Smaak proved to be the start of a long and extremely fruitful relationship that has set the bar and the tone for many of the Jalapeno artists that followed.
Initially a producer led project – Kraak & Smaak were the first to establish themselves as international touring artists and with their full live show continue to be in heavy demand (in 2017 they headlined the main dance stage at Glastonbury) with their latest album Juicy Fruit one of their most acclaimed and successful.
While the label always has time (and indeed a soft spot) for creative producers, as time has continued live acts like Smoove & Turrell, ephemerals, Izo FitzRoy and Alexia Coley as well as Kraak & Smaak have increasingly dominated the release schedule.
In 2002 label boss and now owner Trevor Mac took over running of the label and in the years that followed as well as the 250 releases that Jalapeno have racked up there have been multiple sub label imprints – Illegal Beats / Floorplay / Lost Tribe / Boogie Angst all either partnered with or on behalf of artists.
The label now encompasses soul, funk, jazz, blues, disco and house with the focus split between album led touring artist projects and producers making records for the dancefloor.
A happy intersection of those two priorities are The Allergies who are about to release their second album for Jalapeno while making a reputation as dancefloor destroyers both with their DJ sets and productions.
2017 has already seen album releases from Izo FitzRoy and ephemerals, with new album projects from Smoove & Turrell, Skeewiff, Dr Rubberfunk and Aldo Vanucci all in the pipeline.
DJ Moneyshot: Lovely. Plenty of support for the album so far, and some great gigs in the bag, and a fair few festivals on the cards for the rest of it. Happy days.
Rackabeat: All gravy. My new camper van is making us much more comfortable!
So for those who are uninitiated with The Allergies please tell us a little about yourselves and your musical backgrounds.
DJM: I’ve been a DJ since the mid-nineties. My main residency was at the Hustler Showcase in Cardiff. I span hip-hop and breaks there for about ten years. Then I got deep into mixtapes, turning out another decades worth over at Ninja Tune’s Solid Steel radio show. Then I got into making beats about 2010 ish.
Rackabeat: I started out as a Drum and Bass DJ/producer. Remixed the likes of Groove Armada and was signed to various independent labels based here in Bristol. Then Money and I met and starting something entirely new around five years ago. The Allergies was born. Since then we have just been grafting, releasing the music we want to hear.
How would you describe the Allergies sound?
DJM: Someone deemed it at the “classier end of big beat” in a review, and I think that’s a good start. We like breaks, funky basslines, horns, and dancefloor grooves. We’re inspired by the golden eras of funk, soul, disco and hip-hop, and we try and cram that into three and a half minutes.
Rackabeat: Our tag line, which seems to have stuck is ’The Allergies - Reshaping vintage beats for the modern dancefloor’. That was always the goal really and we stand by that.
How did you come up with the name The Allergies? Do you both suffer with autoimmune conditions?
DJM: We were toying with a few different names (nothing noteworthy, or I’d remember them now). Then that one stood out. It feels pretty timeless and it’s not a mad obvious name. We felt it could be a cool name for any genre… I may have had mild hay fever at the time, too. But now we’re just allergic to wackness.
Rackabeat: Yeah there’s no romantic story here. Just thought it sounded different, almost punky in a way. We are always aiming to be less obvious than the norm.
Individually you are known as DJ Moneyshot and Rackabeat – now we may regret asking this but how did you come up with your individual DJ names?
DJM: I was “DJ Roy” (my first name) on a handful of flyers (which was very wack, to be fair) until I found a name that fitted. Much like a native American, your name has to come to you and fit right… I believe it was the dawn of internet pornography, as well, which helped. I wanted to be called DJ Anus, as I found that hilarious, by my mate DJ Kivas slapped some sense into me before I got the branding done.
Rackabeat: Fuck knows. I’m not sure what I was thinking at the time. Like most things, when you come up with a name you always go on to look back on it and think, that’s a bit crap. Haha.
Do either of you have plans to release any solo material in the near future?
DJM: Nothing on the cards. All my best stuff is for The Allergies. I do have crates of tunes for about six fully themed mixtapes, though… The Breakin Bread podcasts are normally a good home for them, so watch that space…
This week sees the release of your second full length album “Push On” how happy are you with the reception it has received so far?
DJM: It was always going to be hard to follow your debut – As We Do Our Thing was about four years in the making, but we knuckled down for a year and got this one in the can. I’m chuffed with it. I think we’ve upped our game, and the guests like Andy Cooper, Honey Larochelle, our bassman Johnzy, and Dr Syntax all brought their A-game too. So far it’s had some solid support from 6 Music (another ‘album of the day’ is coming from them), and the fans keep sending us happy pics of the pre-orders on their decks, so people seem to dig it, too.
Rackabeat: Although this is essentially a little shorter than our first album, it feels like a lot more work went into it. We recorded more live instruments and worked with more vocalists so it was a real labour of love in many respects. Mixing tracks seemed to take longer, having more layers than usual but I think the sound has become richer as a result. Can’t wait to see the reaction when it drops!
Your first album “As We Do Our Thing” was a great success, how do you feel that “Push On” differs from that album, or was it a case of if it ain’t broke…?
DJM: We didn’t want to do a massive u-turn, or over reach. We like what we do, and so do the people, so we brought more of the same vibes, and worked just as hard to make the new stuff fit with the style of the first album. We maybe even touched on more styles with this one. If the breaks ain’t broke, indeed…
Rackabeat: As I said above, the main difference was the introduction of more live recording. But essentially we were resampling all that stuff so the process ended up being very similar.
Vocalists Andy Cooper features heavily again on this album, you guys seem to enjoy a great working relationship, how did this come about?
DJM: We sent him a remix of his recent solo battle rap classic Bring It To Me, and he loved it…That opened the door to sending him some new stuff we’d been working on. The first things we sent him were the ideas for Blast Off and Rock Rock. He was bang up for both of them, so we went back and forth and pooled our ideas until they were done. Then, like now, he rolled up his sleeves and put as much work in as we did. He wants to make classics, and so do we. It’s been an amazing working relationship. Shouts to Mr Cooper!
Rackabeat: He’s a workhorse. We call him ‘Bat Ears’.
Andy has an authentic old school hip hop flow and Indie rock star looks, were you surprised when you first saw the man and then heard his vocal style?
DJM: As we all know, white people can’t rap. And extremely tall people have no funk. So when he flip reverses all expectations, jaws are dropped. Nah, haha. He’s a don. You don’t have to wear a backwards cap to take rap forward.
Rackabeat: I was aware of his lanky features before we met for real. That incredible voice comes from those massive lungs. Although he might say it comes from his plums.
Speaking of vocals… there are so many lush vocal hooks on the album, are they live recorded vocals or samples?
DJM/Rackabeat: It’s a mix. The hooks are dug out from the dark recesses of dusty wax. And the full vocal lyrical songs are sung by the delectable Honey Larochelle. That was a link our bassist, Johnzy, set up. Then Andy Cooper set the sessions up in LA and had no trouble coaxing amazing performances out of her.
If you could pick one vocalist dead or alive to work with on your next record who would it be and why?
DJM: Chuck D on verse one. Richie Havens on the hook. Special Ed on verse two. James Brown on the adlibs. Then Frank O'Hara doing spoken word on the outro. Why? Why not?
Rackabeat: You know I’ve always wanted to do a track with UK MC Ty. We did a remix for him a while back but didn’t get around to creating the right beat for him but it’s coming.
Your tracks can range from quite polished, modern production to a very authentic original funk and soul sound, is this something you are conscious of when writing and producing or something that happens organically?
DJM: We’re led by the loops. If we can polish them – great. But too much sheen loses the raw factor. We need the tracks to stand up against the modern productions that people expect on the dancefloors these days, so countless hours of post-production goes on. The old saying does go, though – You can’t polish a turd. As true today as it ever was…
Rackabeat: Yeah it feels a fine balance and super highly polished tunes aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, we have come to realise. So we try and keep it punchy but raw.
Do you guys play many instruments? It is very hard to decipher what is live instrumentation and what is sampled on the album.
DJM/Rackabeat: Our man Johnzy played bass, and guitar. Andy Cooper played keys. We might have programmed some other synthy type bits, too. It’s good to beef the loops up.
How do you go about finding samples for records? Are you still old school vinyl diggers?
DJM/Rackabeat: That would be telling. We’ll whisper it in your ear, the next time we see you…
Achieving that authentic Northern Soul or Funk sound with a modern record is not easily achievable, do you have any tips for producers on how to create that authentic sound?
DJM: Use sounds from that era. Sack off trendy production techniques or preset sounds from sample packs. Go back to the old tracks and study the elements that made them pop, and respectfully attempt your own versions. And keep your drums sounding live and organic. For what we do a massive wobble synth bass or over compressed drums just wouldn’t fit.
Rackabeat: And in terms of recording, try and use kit that would have been used back in the day. Ribbon mics and tube amps etc. That’s gonna help you get a warm crunch. Of course there are plenty of plugins to help with that as well these days, but do some research.
Can you tell us your all-time favourite Northern Soul track?
DJM: Patty & The Emblems I’m Gonna Love You A Long Time has an epic intro. Roy Hamilton’s Crackin’ Up Over You has dope drums and a groove at the beginning. What Kind of Lady by D.D Sharp has an ill mood. And if you want a spy film vibe peep Yvonne Baker’s You Didn’t Say A Word. And I bet I Got To Find Me Somebody by The Vel-Vets would rock a crowd tonight.
Rackabeat: Picked up a banging 45 recently ‘Bobby Patterson - ‘What’s Your Problem baby’….Motown/Northern…..that’s my bag.
The album is being released via Jalapeno Records – a label you guys once described as the HQ of UK Funk. Was it a natural fit for you guys to release on the label and will you be releasing exclusively with them from now on?
DJM/Rackabeat: You gotta love Jalapeno. Such a family vibe behind the scenes, and everyone else on the label is super cool and supportive. Each time something new drops it feels like they get better and better. We didn’t shop around much before landing on Jalapeno. They’ve been behind us since day one, and hopefully we can build and build as they do.
Did Jalapeno offer any form of guidance and direction during the creation of the album or was it a case of them leaving you to it and eagerly awaiting the finished product?
DJM: Trevor at the label will tell you if something doesn’t cut the mustard, so you have to admire that honesty. If a track doesn’t get his stamp of approval, then it ain’t worth releasing. I don’t think there was any big sit down, regarding what direction we should go in. We turned in the album, then we all figured out a release strategy for the singles and running order.
Rackabeat: They certainly know how to pick the singles and have a good ear for what will work on the radio. Trevor’s (label boss) favourite was ‘Entitled to That’ which has done the most damage on radio so far!
Jalapeno are without doubt the premiere brand for Funk in the UK and in many respects they stand on their own in terms of success and notoriety. Is there anything else that the Funk scene can do to elevate itself and create more established brands and artists?
DJM: Keep the quality high and reach out to other artists. Get collaborations going, and help and support each other’s releases. If you see another label, band, DJ or producer has dope material out, shout about it.
Rackabeat: I’d like to see more Funk and Soul parties. I think a lot of people are crying out for a less serious night out then your usual club night.
Funk can be a really difficult genre to mix when DJ’ing with live drums and shorter intros it can be nigh on impossible to beat match at times. Do you guys have any tips for Funk/Soul/Motown DJ’s?
DJM: If you’re spinning wax, check your levels. You don’t want the next track coming in too loud or soft. Sequence tunes that build off each other – Don’t just get locked into spinning one tempo all night – it gets boring. Also jump between genres. A latin groover after a frantic fast funk track will create a nice peak and trough for the crowd to dance through. Also, if you’re just spinning and not blending, cue up the first bar of one 45 and rewind the record back into silence for two rotations. Then when the playing song begins to fade, release the next one and it’ll drop in nice without you wobbly releasing it. Oh, and check the end of the track you’re about to drop – If it’s a fader, do what I said. If it ends on a dime, use that opportunity to play something that starts dramatically.
Rackabeat: There are an abundance of re edits out there now, lots of producers have re made stuff to be more DJ friendly and sync much easier. So if you struggle a bit, have a look through the Juno archives and find some edits!
What do you feel The Allergies bring to their DJ sets to make them unique?
DJM/Rackabeat: We try and cross a lot of styles and tempos and do the odd cut and scratch, and a few doubles. It’s good to show off some skills, as well as keeping an eye on what makes the dancefloor tick. If we’re on Serato we make loads of edits so we can quick mix records to keep the intensity up. Also, we consider the mixes a great deal so every one is in key and works just right. I don’t know about unique, but we take it seriously. Also, there’s two of us, so we keep each other in check - Four ears are better than two!
Do you have any plans to do shows with a live band?
DJM: There is always talk. Never say never. I could play congas – Shout to Smoove!
Rackabeat: There have been discussions and will be more, but essentially…we are DJs. That’s why we got into it.
What would you consider the biggest ever gig that you guys have played?
DJM/Rackabeat: Glasto was a huge showcase for us – Shouts to Chris Tofu and Craig Charles for putting us on. And the 6 Music Festival in Bristol was epic. We got to share headlining with some epic acts and DJs in our home town. If you can’t rock it in Bristol, then you can’t rock it at all.
And what is your all-time favourite ever gig you have played so far?
DJM: I like it when we can bust out the 45s and go back to back with someone. We did a wicked show with Boca 45 at The Lanes in Bristol for his and Pete Isaac’s 45 Live night. Boca kept pulling out bangers from his crazy collection, so it was a fun test to keep up with him. I wanna do another one of those!
Rackabeat: Much to choose from but we get to support Craig Charles a lot and his parties are always RAMMMED! Good sound systems too, so more of that please!
What can we expect from you guys for the rest of the year?
DJM/Rackabeat: Push On promotion. Got keep that album in everyone’s ears. Then a third 45 single off that – Should be Main Event/Buzzsaw with Andy Cooper on the raps. Then a Jalapeno label compilation we’re putting together from their vaults, which will have a couple of Allergies exclusives on it. I think a remix we’ve done for BocaWoody and BluRum13 should be out as you read this. Then a cheeky remix we’ve made for Nola Breaks and DJ Yamin will be coming on 45 soon. And then a little something for Bomb Strikes early next year is on the cards. Plus DJing anywhere that will have us.
Any final thoughts and shout outs?
DJM: Shouts to Rackabeat, my brother in breaks. Andy Cooper for his ‘bat ears’. Trev and the Jalapeno camp. Mel and Ema and Frank, our booking agents…All DJs that meet us after shows and say they play our tunes – That’s why we do it. Everyone else gets the ‘gas face’. Peace out!
Rackabeat: Mad props to Money, I always try and acknowledge his patience for sample digging. Shouts out to my little girl…Bella…she’ll be a funkster one day soon!