An Interview with NameBrandSound
NameBrandSound are IG Culture and Alex Phountzi, pioneers of broken beat: the movement that began in West London in the late 90s. Now combining dancehall, jungle, 2-step and footwork to make Brukworx, they have released on Ninja Tune offshoot Technicolour and more recently on their own label Arena Yard. They have also started their own regular night at Bussey Building and will be playing the Outlook and Dimensions Festivals in Croatia this summer.
If you want to catch them in action even sooner, they will be playing at Bar A Bar on July 2nd for a special Good Street x Hyper Feet showcase of footwork flavour and more. Ahead of their performance in one of the most forward-thinking clubs in London, I talked to them about their musical roots, Brukworx, and the importance of collaboration.
Before you worked together you were both heavily involved in the broken beat movement. Can you explain what the broken beat movement was and how you were involved?
IG: The Bruk movement ended up being a collective of guys whose roots were in dancehall house, drum n bass and jungle. We built the scene around the Co-Op club and Goya music distribution, which were two main platforms we were involved in at the time.
Alex: My involvement was as a member of the group/collective ‘Bugz In The Attic’; we had numerous projects under that umbrella and a label and studio that we ran for a number of years. I think our approach was to try and keep the spirit of all the music we loved but to try and do it in our own way.
Did you meet each other through your involvement in the broken beat movement?
IG: Yeah, we worked occasionally. I met Alex through his crew the Bugz In The Attic, and later released one of his productions on a label I was doing at the time.
Alex: An early collaboration was between a group I was part of called Neon Phusion and IG’s New Sector Movements. The track is called The Future Aint The Same As It Used To Be.
What are the reasons behind your successful partnership?
IG: Off the bat we take making music pretty serious, and always turn up to sessions, and try to push each other further on every tune, pretty much like the broken beat days.
Alex: We’ve known each other a long time and know what to expect and we make music together every week without fail. We jam in the studio and out of that we shape a track.
You’re playing the Outlook and Dimensions Festivals in Croatia this summer. How excited are you?
IG: Well we always planned to play at festivals because we felt that our music would translate to that type of arena. Juke and Footwork European style is made for a big crowd, especially when you mix all the tried and tested genres up with it
Alex: We’re looking forward to it, we’ve been working on this sound for a couple of years now and we want to play it to people.
You recently had a remix out on Gilles Peterson Worldwide, where you introduced the term Brukworx. What is Brukworx and what does it mean to NameBrandSound?
IG: When you select NameBrandSound for track lists you draw for selections that work in a set, so ’bruk works’ when you play it. Footworks as well!!
Alex: Well it’s a play on words originally but we would use it to describe the music NameBrandSound make.
When and where did you first hear footwork and what were your initial thoughts? What was the first track?
IG: I was making short films about dance styles. I got very into styles like Get Lite, Krumping and Footwork. When I saw the Footwork Kingz documentary, I was like ‘what is this?’ which led me to buy the DJ Diamond EP and Bangs and Works Vol. 1. I wasn’t sure about the Bangs and Works at first, but on more listens I got totally hooked to the sound and for a time found it difficult to listen to anything else.
Alex: Initially started to hear it 5-6 years ago via Rashad, Teklife and the Bangs & Works compilations and then I became aware of the dance movement that fuelled it. In some ways some of the energy of it and samples used reminded me of the energy in the jungle movement
Alex, you teach at the Point Blank College in London. How important is education for a music artist’s personal development?
Alex: It’s important and it can come in many ways, whether that is at a college such as PB or gaining experience by working with others in the studio. If you are doing this over a number of years you realise you never stop learning
What advice would you both give to upcoming producers?
IG: I think once you learn the rudiments of any genre, it’s important to bring your own take on it as opposed to biting. It’s probably important to realise that the music is made for dancing, so if it makes you get up from your chair then it’s probably gonna work in a set.
Alex: Keep developing skills. Listen to lots of music, not just stuff within the genre you are making and learn to trust your ears. Collaboration can be beneficial; working with someone and having two sets of ears you trust can mean that you make bolder decisions.
Who are some of your favourite producers or artists at the moment?
IG: Gully Bop & Busy Signal
Finally, what are your plans for the rest of 2016 and beyond?
IG: We intend to release maybe 2 more EPs, continue to push ourselves out there gigging, and work with some artists to develop our sound even more.
Alex: We’re planning our next releases now as well as working on new material. We launched our Arena Yard night at Bussey Building in May and will be back there in September
Interview and words by Tevye Markson