Words: Colin Brownbill
‘Real rockin' raw shit from the street for the clubs.’ It would be fair to say that Dixon Avenue Basement Jams have delivered on their mission statement. A home for some of Glasgow’s most energised new talent and a tour de force behind the booth, label founders and DJ tag-team, Dan Monox and Kenny Grieve have reminded us that for all the pomp and hype involved with club culture, all that really matters is that you bring the heat.
Having just announced a new residency in Glasgow’s satisfyingly intimate sweat-den, La Cheetah, the duo are preparing for their biggest year to date, and the Queen St basement is the perfect place to set-up their dancefloor headquarters: “La Cheetah is where we launched the label and where we first put on parties under the DABJ name, so it makes sense for us to come home” they tell us over email.
With the label’s reputation growing with every release, introducing us to local favourites like Denis Sulta and Big Miz, as well as modern house heroes such as Marquis Hawkes, Dixon Avenue Basement Jams has become a quality assured, ‘buy on sight’ imprint, and that translates to their parties with label-mates and guests you can trust.
“Music, art and friendship are the basics of what makes us both tick, and being able to offer young artists the chance to pursue their talent will always be the drive in pushing on with DABJ” the duo affirm “Our ethos has always been strongly built around family and friendship, so it's a buzz when one of the troops catches a break.”
Expect the troops to be out in force when Dan and Kenny launch their residency on February 25th, as mysterious Viewlexx producer Cliff Lothar climbs on board for a special live performance. With La Cheetah’s newly upgraded soundsystem set to stun, ‘real rockin' raw shit’ is likely to will take on whole new meaning.
Listen to Dan and Kenny in the mix below and read our full interview with the guys in which we talk more about their new residency, the label’s ethos and why Denis Sulta deserves every ounce of his recognition:
SynthGlasgow: You’ve just announced a new residency at La Cheetah where you’ll be joined by some special guests. What have you got planned for the residency and who can we expect to see at the parties?
Dixon Avenue Basement Jams: We just spent a fantastic year in residency at The Berkley Suite mostly doing all night sessions on our own, building up from nothing to a frenzy, having a great time. Massive shout to all involved at The Berkley for making it so easy for us to do our thing. Top troops.
This year at La Cheetah we're looking at doing it slightly differently and plan to add some special guests into the mix. For the first party we've invited Cliff Lothar to come and perform live for us. We've followed Cliff's stuff from the early Viewlexx release and we're still playing ‘One Man Show’ from last year in our sets, so we're pretty excited about that.
We have some pretty tasty guests tucked up our sleeves, but we'll have to play secret squirrel on that front for now. La Cheetah is where we launched the label and where we first put on parties under the DABJ name, so it makes sense for us to come home, so to speak.
SG: Last year La Cheetah benefited from a renovation, with changes to the soundsystem, lighting, layout and booth. Following the upgrade, how do you think La Cheetah compares to other small clubs around the UK?
DABJ: Even before the re-fit La Cheetah was as good as anything of it's size in the UK; we've been able to dance to people like Casco, Cosmic Force, Matthew Herbert, Egyptian Lover, Theo Parrish etc. The list is endless and the names speak for themselves, so it goes without saying that if they've upped the sound and light game, they're going to ruffle a few feathers.
SG: The DABJ label has gone from strength to strength, and you can be credited with launching some serious local talent into the world, most notably Denis Sulta. How satisfying has it been to watch his profile rise so rapidly?
DABJ: Yeah of course, it's always great to see a friend do well and we couldn't be prouder watching him grow into the one man hurricane he's becoming. Our ethos has always been strongly built around family and friendship, so it's a buzz when one of the troops catch a break. Mr Sulta deserves every bit of fortune coming his way though, the man puts heart, soul, sweat and tears into every production and performance, and that more than anything else has helped his rise.
SG: Fellow native Big Miz has also been a popular addition to the label and you’ve just recently released an EP from local lad Fear-E. Do you get sent a lot of music from local producers and what do you look for in a potential release?
DABJ: The two guys you mention were friends first before they were artists on the label, so I think we pushed them for more material to be fair; but yeah, we get sent a fair bit and a lot of the time it's just young guys looking for advice or a sounding board for their early productions as opposed to looking for a release. We don't have a blueprint on what a DABJ release should be. If we listen to a track and say things like "oooft", "that’s fucking nasty" and "YAS" then we're heading down the right path.
SG: There’s a comment on your discogs page from someone that simply says “buy on sight!” It must be the ultimate compliment when people feel they can buy a record without even hearing it. How would you describe DABJ’s musical reputation after five years of releases?
DABJ: You'd probably have to ask someone else what our reputation is I think. We've been trying to put out club tracks for DJs to fill dancefloors with, and if someone says we're ‘buy on sight’ then it's testament to the amazing stable of artists who let us release their music and a massive compliment.
SG: The label’s reputation seems to be reflected by you as DJs, and you’ve picked up bookings everywhere from Finland to France; how has the label influenced your sets in terms of what you play and how you play it?
DABJ: I think it probably works both ways. We don't tend to release tracks that we wouldn't buy and play as DJs, so we're kinda always going to sound like the label because that’s genuinely what we're into. We’re pretty lucky that off the back of the label people expect us to sound that way, so we rarely ever have to tether our approach to a dancefloor.
SG: Finally, there's clearly huge momentum behind DABJ at the moment with growing recognition; what keeps you driven and what are you excited about with regards to the label in 2017?
DABJ: Music, art and friendship are the basics of what makes us both tick, and being able to offer young artists the chance to pursue their talent will always be the drive in pushing on with DABJ; that and a pride for our city within our industry/scene helps the charge. We've also lined-up a few established artists for the year ahead just to shake things up a tad, and they've already been an amazing addition to the family. The next three releases are all new faces and we've got a buzz on for the year ahead.
Dixon Avenue Basement Jams launch their new residency, ‘Hot Footin’, at La Cheetah Club on Saturday 25th February. They’ll be joined by Cliff Lothar who plays live. Advance tickets are available from Resident Advisor priced at £8/10 (excl fees).