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In Conversation: Tough Love

In Conversation: Tough Love

Andrew Kemp | Features & Interviews

Five years in the business is a cause for celebration in any industry, but few industries are better at celebrating milestones than the dance music scene. Marking the fifth birthday of their label Get Twisted Records, versatile dance duo Tough Love have organised a reception with some of their favourite artists at Egg London, serving up MJ Cole, Blaise and more to add the icing to a cake that carries the candles for half a decade of dancefloor weapons. With a new full-length release also on the way, we thought it a fitting time to speak with the pair about all things Tough Love.

Hi chaps! At the start of the month you released “Animal”, the second series from your forthcoming LP Past Present Future. How representative is the track of the rest of the album?
The album is a collection of records, styles and sounds that give the listener a better insight into what we’re really about. It’s quite easy to be pigeonholed from the success of previous records so the album is a way of showcasing our capabilities as an act that people are probably less familiar with. Sonically, it’s a combination of genres and styles that have shaped our musical journey so expect elements of House, Garage, Hip-Hop & RnB.  

The release of a first album must be a hugely exciting time; how long has it been in the works?
Since we started. We’ve been relentless in the studio from the get go so there’s plenty of material to go through. Every time we create something new it becomes a question of should it be a part of the album? There are a few tracks that have been tried and tested in our club shows for at least the last two years and we’re as confident in them today as we were when they were first made.

You’ve also chosen to stagger its release with a single every four weeks. What made you do it this way rather than drop it all out of nowhere, as seems to be increasingly fashionable at the moment?
From running our label Get Twisted Records and being on the other side as an act we’ve been fortunate enough to experience both sides of the industry and have noticed people digest music differently with the increase of streaming. A massive global act can afford to drop an album out of nowhere because they have millions of fans. It’s difficult for anyone underneath to compete so with us it’s much more about telling the story over time, giving people a short window to digest the record & then offer them something fresh. Were not expecting miracles but hoping it’s perceived well and becomes successful over time.  

Your record label Get Twisted will be celebrating its fifth birthday on Friday 2nd June, with a party at Egg London. How has the label changed over those five years?
It’s growing every day and the sound is constantly developing. It really is our labour of love and we’ve learnt so much along the way. When you start a business from scratch and there is no one else involved then you have no choice but to learn as you go. The Get Twisted catalogue is really strong and full of amazing acts. We’re excited about the records coming out throughout 2017 because there is a really nice balance between straight up club material and records which have much more potential to reach a bigger audience.

The lineup for that includes MJ Cole, Blaise, N:Fostell and Nastaly. What made these artists a good fit for the occasion?
MJ Cole was a no brainer; we both grew up on his music, which has played a huge part in the development of Tough Love. We’ve played alongside him numerous times in the past and have been trying to cement him on a line up for some time. What a perfect time to have him, celebrating 5 years of the label. Blaise & N:Fostell are without doubt two of the industry’s finest, they’re seasoned professionals who have been our London residents for 2 years and are finally getting the recognition they deserve. Debutant Nastaly is a surprise addition. He’s been a part of the industry for almost 2 decades so is no stranger to the turntables but is more notable for is vocal and hosting capabilities. He has featured on collaborations for us alongside Amine Edge & Dance and Roger Sanchez so his understanding of music is unquestionable.

Tough Love have always existed as a duo, so how does that affect the creative process?
Before Tough Love formed we worked as solo acts, so our knowledge & experience stretch a lot further than people realise. Touring solo is nowhere near as much fun and the creative process can sometimes be a battle so as a duo two brains really is better than one. We both have home studio set ups and we share a studio. We can go into our own zones and work on ideas alone, then bring them to the studio or we can just vibe it out in the studio together. Every session is a blank page and we work our material until we're both completely happy with the end product.

The vast majority of Get Twisted releases tend to be digital only. Does that reflect a lack of interest in vinyl culture or are you looking to press records as well with future output?
We’re from the vinyl era and loved every moment of it apart from lugging those bastard crates around! But times have changed and so has technology and the way people purchase and listen to music. Although vinyl sales have increased, we live in a digital age and to survive as a business and give our artists a chance we have to adapt. The majority of our business is now stream based and sales are notably falling every year. That’s not to say we will never go to physical, we did an extremely limited run of the very first Get Twisted Records release.

How do you see the underground dance music scene changing in the coming years?
The underground scene is forever evolving. What’s happening right now is nothing new and the cycle is always the same. People think they’ve developed a cool new sound. It starts in smaller venues, gradually gaining popularity until it becomes uncool or too commercial and then the cycle starts again. The sound slightly changes and so does the sub genre to make it sound cool. Its ridiculous how certain tracks are categorised now. In the last two years alone we’ve been categorised as house, nu disco, deep house, tech house, UK house, bass, garage…the list goes on. One of the most notable changes that always seem to occur in the underground scene is its transition from feel good melodic music to a darker bass driven sound. The current scene seems to be at that lull where people are getting bored of the trend and wanting something new. Over the next few years we believe the cycle will stay the same but due to social media the transition will occur at a faster rate. So expect a 5 year cycle or even a 2 year cycle. Either way, there will always be some amazing music to look forward to.

As you are based in London, how do you feel the city compares with Europe’s top party cities?
London is our home and we love it although it does have its limitations. The competition is fierce and people are spoilt for choice. London will forever offer an amazing party experience but from touring we appreciate what other cities and countries in Europe have to offer. Certain cities have a much more relaxed approach to everyday working and social aspects of life. Club culture is a way of life, it’s a chance to relax, a form of expression and a much-needed outlet so it’s really important that our culture and government are forward thinking and continue to offer this outlet.  

Let’s finish with a track. What’s the tune that you most wish had been offered to Get Twisted to release?
Well we were about 24 hours late to the party with Jax Jones ‘House Work’ last year so that’s the most recent one! Jax is a friend of ours and he would have been a great addition to the GTR family, but we’re genuinely so happy for the recognition he’s finally getting.

Tough Love touch down in Egg London on Friday 2nd June for a night alongside MJ Cole, Blaise, N:Fostell and Nastaly, as they seek to continue their impressive form with another bumping party.

Photo courtesy of Tough Love

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