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Since hosting their first club night in 2012, the Boxed lads (Mr Mitch, Oil Gang, Logos and Slackk), have helped redefine the essence of a grime club night. Playing mostly instrumental grime, they’ve helped establish grime as a club genre, which is big new considering the movement has struggled to establish solid club roots in the past. Last year also saw them take the leap from club night to label with 'Boxed 001', a vinyl release which showcased the variety of sounds usually heard within the club night.
With their third birthday party happening this Thursday March 24th, we caught up with Mr Mitch, Oil Gang, Logos and Slackk to ask them about where Boxed originated from, and about the transition from club night to label, as well as the strength of the grime scene right now.
Where did the idea for Boxed originate from?
Oil Gang: "I think it was a conversation between Mr. Mitch and Slackk?"
Mr Mitch: "I was tweeting something about wanting a club night where I could just play loads of these weird beats I’d been receiving/making. Slackk messaged me and said we should do it."
Slackk: "I'd been running a night with Tom Lea and Oil Gang which was a bit of everything and I wanted to refine the focus. Most of our sets there had ended up being full of grime instrumentals anyway."
Did you find that an instrumental grime rave attracted a different crowd to an MC-led night?
Oil Gang: "Not really, I see the same people at both, it’s all grime…"
Slackk: "Most people who go raving in London seem to be quite open to anything really, so I think a vast majority of your Boxed crowd are going to some grime MC nights and some techno nights and some bass nights and so on."
Oil Gang: "Some of the MCs have bigger fanbases so there will be people who aren’t aware of some of the music we play, but I went b2b with Slackk at one of Novelist’s raves and the crowd were as into it there as they would be at one of our nights."
Mr Mitch: "It does always surprise me how open minded the audience can be though. We can put a Darq E Freaker set next to a Rabit set and they will be very different in sound, but the same people will stay on the dancefloor for both."
Logos: "MC-led grime has never really had a club scene, not in the same sense anyway. We are here for fans of the music who want to hear and experience it properly."
"Most people who go raving in London seem to be quite open to anything really, so I think a vast majority of your Boxed crowd are going to some grime MC nights and some techno nights and some bass nights and so on." – Slackk
What do you think of the strength of the grime instrumental scene at the moment? Who are you rating outside of Boxed?
Mr Mitch: "It feels like there are releases every week with new stuff, which is great. I’m a big fan of what Bandulu and Sector 7 are doing, got love for all of the Bristol guys. Kahn played on our stage takeover with R&S at Bloc Festival and smashed it."
Oil Gang: "I obviously rate everyone who I’ve released on my label extremely highly and apart from them Slimzee has been sorting me out with a load of dubs from the people on his Slimzos label. The likes of Trends, JL SXND7RS, Dallen Producer, As.If Kid and Stirling Beats. I’m a big fan of Rocks FOE, Novelist, Grandmixxer, Murlo and Syer B as well. They all write the sort of music I’m into."
Logos: "I'm going through a bit of 140bpm and dubstep phase at the moment which I do occasionally, and I love what Kahn and Neek and Pinch are up to. Other artists I rate highly within our loose scene are Boylan, JT the Goon (all day), Asifkid and this guy called DJ Sinclair, just to name four."
Oil Gang: "It’s going really well at the moment. More and more people are writing really high quality music, doing radio shows and running nights. Sometimes there are three different grime radio shows on at the same time, it’s healthy."
Are there any Boxed raves which you’ve played which stick out as particularly memorable?
Slackk: "A few of the ones from when we were running Birthdays kind of melt into one but I still think the birthday and the Spooky vinyl set ones were my favourite there, just because they were so mental."
Oil Gang: "I think the first birthday was the main one where I noticed things had changed. The crowd had been building at each one but we got a load of press for that one and all of a sudden it was ram jam, one in one out."
Mr Mitch: "Our birthday raves are my favourites, every one we do feels like we’ve gone a level up somehow and it’s always to my surprise. They’re a good focal point to realise where we’re at and how far we’ve come."
Logos: "There are too many good and funny memories. Personally selling our Corsica felt like a great achievement."
Slackk: "I legitimately can't remember the last two hours of the one at Ministry but a lot of people liked that one a lot. I drank too much rum to comment…"
Oil Gang: "It’s just been a pleasure to hear people who I rate as the best around come down and play sets of their own music."
Why did you decide to form the label?
Slackk: "Because Oil Gang kept saying we should do one and eventually he just wore us down I think."
Oil Gang: "We were all getting sent so much good music and even though we’ve all got our own labels this was another outlet to release stuff, so more tunes get released and are available for people to buy."
Mr Mitch: "Personally, it gives me the freedom to put out some music that won’t necessarily fit on a release on Gobstopper. We receive so much good music and have already helped a lot of artists through Boxed. We thought the label would be a perfect platform for us as curators and creators."
Will you always be sticking with vinyl releases? What do you think the future for vinyl is, given that it’s on the rise again right now?
Oil Gang: "Personally I wouldn’t run a label if I wasn’t putting out records. It makes it all worthwhile to have that finished record on the turntable."
Slackk: "I don't see the point of doing a Boxed label without vinyl to be honest. Everyone has a turntable, you just need to make sure the releases are good enough and they'll sell- I've got no qualms about that at all."
Mr Mitch: "To me, vinyl is merch. If people want the music they can get it, but they buy the record because they believe in the physical form. We’ll be selling vinyl for as long as we’ll be selling t-shirts/stickers and any other merch we bring out."
Logos: "There can never be too much grime on vinyl – it’s nice to get the good tunes documented and preserved for all time physically. Digital, even stuff you buy, is so ephemeral."
Oil Gang: "I would imagine a lot of listeners just stream stuff on their phones and then most people DJ on controllers or CDJs so they want digital. The amount of people buying and playing records is pretty small, it costs loads to do and things can easily get delayed, but I still want to do it for people like me that like to have it on vinyl."
"To me, vinyl is merch. If people want the music they can get it, but they buy the record because they believe in the physical form. We’ll be selling vinyl for as long as we’ll be selling t-shirts/stickers and any other merch we bring out." – Mr Mitch
What more can we expect from the label in the near future?
Logos: "A focus on 12"s!"
Mr Mitch: Just more great music from the artists we support.
Oil Gang: "We rarely plan ahead to be honest. I think we all prefer to just do whatever we feel like at the time. The second EP is at the pressing plant at the moment so we’ll be announcing that one very soon."
Logos, Slackk, Oil Gang and Mr Mitch all play the Boxed third birthday at The Laundry on March 24th (info).