The Mix 006: Errol

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You’ve travelled the world playing music, what are some of the musical discoveries you didn’t see coming?

Going to Japan and hearing Japanese grime. While I was working at Boiler Room, I had the opportunity to host Skepta’s ‘Konnichiwa’ album launch in a Tokyo record store called Manhattan Records. Hearing mandem on the other side of the world being influenced so much by the sound that they want to take it and make it their own and hearing them spitting at 140 BPM in their native language. It was crazy, especially coming from Bow. I feel like I’ve grown the most as a person when I’ve gone to different parts of the world and seen how people spend the same 24 hours differently.

You’ve found immense success as a curator working with the likes of Jenn Nkiru, Boiler Room and other institutions – how does curation for a space like 180 Strand compare to a typical DJ set?

What excites me most about curation – whether it’s for an institution or a DJ set – is the conversation between elements. Playing with contrast. The joy is in the details. Working with Jenn on the Black To Techno film was such an eye-opening experience. She is, in my opinion, an oracle. A visionary. It felt like a real privilege to work alongside her. The level of detail and research she brings and expects from every project is a true lesson, and that has set the bar extremely high when it comes to curating elsewhere.

It’s funny that you say ‘immense success’ when I still feel like I’m only starting when it comes to the level of curation I would like to explore. Programming is one thing, but I want to get more experiential and cerebral as I continue to learn; with music as an anchor but also finding other ways to communicate. I’d love to explore different artistic mediums, working alongside people who, like Jenn, are Power Rangers in their field, so I can just learn.

Switching gears to Touching Bass, has your mission changed over time? If so, how?

At its root, Touching Bass has always been about trying to connect people and creating space. As the years have gone on and we’ve developed as artists and people, we’ve gotten more ambitious. Ultimately, we’re still trying different ways of speaking to that same message; whether that’s through a radio show or curating a gallery exhibition. Same goal, the same ethos, the same energy.

The Touching Bass record label released it’s ‘Soon Come’ compilation in 2022. How has being a label owner affected your view on the music you push?

I think for as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted Touching Bass to be a label and a megaphone for who we are and what we’re about. A lot of the music that we’ve been releasing has been quite eclectic in terms of style and geography. Going forward, I’m pushing even further to make the releases a reflection of the sounds heard on our dancefloor as well as the music that soundtracks your down time. That duplicity is really interesting to me, and ultimately it’s about sharing music that moves people.

It’s been important for us to really question why we’re still running a label in a time where an artist can promote and share their music themselves. But I think the reason why we’re still here and the reason why we still want to release music is because we feel like we can act as a network builder for artists and as we continue to grow, our ability to facilitate ideas also grows. If either of those things stop happening, I’ll know it’s time to do something else. I used to be so hellbent on being one of those labels that puts out a gazillion records, but as Yvonne Turner recently said, ‘100,000 tracks are released a day, that’s pollution’. I’d much rather Touching Bass be a buy-on-sight imprint, and that means quality over quantity.

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What are some memories attached to Touching Bass that you hold dear?

Our first We Out Here Festival takeover in 2019. We’ve been blessed to pretty much be a festival resident since it started, and for the first three editions, we really made a home out of the forest stage. The setting just seemed perfect for us and the way we like to play; the feeling of playing in a woodland, under the tree canopies made things feel otherworldly at times. I’ll always remember how good the sound was that first year.

It was myself and Alex, Ruby Savage and Theo Parrish playing. Theo is such a major influence for so many of us, so to have him come and play was insane. What’s even more insane is that the year before, I’d been on Facebook saying Theo Parrish is going to play at Touching Bass one day, then it literally happened the next year. It’s just mesmerising to see him on form. There’s such courage to the way that he plays. A fearlessness that I’ve tried to take on myself. He’ll be playing some crazy jazz-funk song and then go into some opera, some techno. The way he blends those chapters is so exciting. He plays with so much heart. He had such kind words to say about what we’re doing as well. That was a special night.

What are some of Touching Bass’ plans for 2024?

Last year felt like consolidation and working on our systems. We’ve been doing Touching Bass for a little while now, and if you want longevity you have to keep interrogating your why and how. From throwing parties to running a team feels so adult but also super rewarding. Daniel and Carli – our day to day team – are both great minds, so we just want to keep empowering them to take the reins.

We’re collaborating with Tayo and Rohan – longtime Touching Bass OGs – on our first film project. I can’t say too much about that just yet, news will be revealed, but that’s something that we’ve had on the moodboard for a long time. Seeing the vision coalesce has to be one of the most fulfilling things that I’ve ever witnessed and as I say earlier, this is the direction of experiential storytelling that I’d like to dive into more. I don’t know if bigger is always better, but we’ll try finding more ways of growing alongside the people that we love, incorporating new people into that as well. And hopefully continue to connect with different parts of the world.

Shifting things back to you, what are some of your favourite records to play during a DJ set?

Over the last few years, my sound has widened to incorporate the driving and high-spirited, slightly harder sounds as well as the gloopy, soulful and percussive end of the spectrum I’m known for. I thought I’d heard a lot of Volcov’s Neroli and Archive discography, for instance, but I was diving back into some more from Nubian Mindz and KemeticJust/Just One and found some real gold in that realm.

I’m always trying to find ways to sneak in bits that pay homage to my heritage, and the polyrhythmic energy of soca works so well into electronic riddims, kuduro, UK funky and even techno when timed right. Classics like Collin Lucas’ ‘Dollar Wine’ feel like a breath of light, fresh air after you’ve been getting a bit hard and tech-y. For me, it’s just about playing with the right colours at the right time, and I’ve been increasing the colour palette so I can hopefully paint some better pictures.

I see you just did your first all night DJ set at The Carpet Shop a few weeks ago – can you tell us about it? What’s next for you?

I hadn’t done an all-nighter outside of Touching Bass before and in mid-2023, I remember looking at my 2024 goals and thinking, ‘how can I continue to challenge myself?’ For a large proportion of 2023, I was lacking a lot of confidence in myself as a DJ. Just getting too into my own head about career and progress. At one point, I just had to remind myself that the left-of-centre path that I’m on is beautifully individual and if I just remain true to myself, hopefully people will gravitate.

The all-nighter sold out in under a week. That breathed new life into my lungs and reminded me how lucky I am to have such support around me; from friends, supporters and strangers that became co-pilots. The night was everything I could have wished for and I’m still reflecting on it all. There’s a particular resonance that occurs most powerfully on small, intimate dancefloors. It’s the reason that the vast majority of Touching Bass’ dances remain that size. I always love how the dancefloor breathes throughout the night too. The ebb and flow of bodies. There was something particularly connective about that night, which I’ll hold close for a long time.

It reminded me of another recent favourite dance. A few months ago, I played at Doka in Amsterdam and after my set, a complete stranger came up to me and said he could see my heart glowing when I played. That’s like the biggest compliment because I’ve always worn my heart on my sleeve when I play. The more vulnerable I get behind the decks, the more that people feel like they’re just joyriding around every corner with you.

Anyways, shouts to Matt and the rest of The Carpet Shop team for being such a pleasure to work with! More solo plans to come (alongside the Touching Bass pursuits of course)!

What can you tell us about your mix?

After having a little break to welcome my son into the world, I’ve been relishing the opportunity to play out again. This mix is pretty indicative of where my mind is at musically right now. Percussive, groovy and a bit of a joyride (as I always like it). Also finding time to dip into the darker, heavier shades of my taste towards the end before finding the light again. Shouts to all the artists for making this incredible music.

Yemi Abiade is a contributing editor at Trench and freelance writer, follow him on Twitter

Written by: Tim Hopkins

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