Neana in conversation with Deamonds

16.04.14

Neana and Deamonds are DJs and producers living around London. Neana makes ultra-rhythmic club tracks and co-runs the Gang Fatale collective, a small crew split between North and South that includes fellow producers like Trap Door and Georgia Girls as well as designers and visual artists. Deamonds makes similarly club-focused tracks and heads up the currently vinyl-only East London Club Trax label, which, refreshingly to hear, operates outside of typical vinyl distribution channels and PR avenues.

Both are part of a wider pool of new DJs and club producers emerging from around the capital, both are associates of Night Slugs (they’ve DJed at Night Slugs parties in the past and on their Rinse FM show, while label head Bok Bok has hinted that there’s material from both of them to come on the imprint in the future), and both are playing back-to-back at Rinse FM’s Easter night at Fabric tomorrow (April 17th). As such, it seemed a no-brainer to get the two minds together to get a shape of the music that they’re making and the crews that they run in before they play, and to generally get to know two exciting new artists making music that matters to them.

Oh, and that photo above is from the first time that Neana and Deamonds partied together – the blossoming of a true romance.

FIRST LISTENS

Neana: “I think it was about October, maybe? I went on the East London Club Trax Soundcloud, when the previews for #002 had just gone up.”

Deamonds: “August or, like, maybe July last year? Alex [Sushon, aka Bok Bok] was like, ‘There’s this dude, Nina…’ That’s how I thought he was spelling it, so I looked for ‘Nina’ for ages. Found some pretty shit tracks – was like, what the fuck? Then yeah, Neana – Al showed me the proper one.”

Neana: “Do you remember what tracks you heard first?”

Deamonds: “That track you done… uhm, for fuck’s sake, brain… Uhm…”

Neana: “Bow Kat?”

Deamonds: “Nah, I play it all the time… Jawbreaker, is that it? Did you name that after the sweet?”

Neana: “Nah, it was just after the sample – the Miss Jay one, where she says, ‘Every time you dip you break control.’”

INTRODUCTION TO PRODUCTION

Neana: “I started producing maybe four years ago. I used to make mixtapes on this moist software, and I remember the first chop I ever did. It took me weeks, no grid or anything.”

Deamonds: “Soundforge?”

Neana: “Nah, I think it was Mixmeister. So I started making mixtapes, then I used to chop up pop songs on FL Studio. Then I moved on to Ableton like three years ago.”

Deamonds: “Oh, did u use FL as well?

Neana: “Of course. I miss FL lots.”

Deamonds: “I know a lot of people gas about the sequencer, but it’s not gas, it’s so sick.”

Neana: “What did you use? Have you had hardware since early, orrr…?”

Deamonds: “Nope. Used to use FL in school. Got parred by the music teacher – ‘that’s the programme that does it all for you, ain’t it?’ – when trying to learn Cubase. I didn’t take music at GCSE ‘cos it was shit, and the people I knew who were doing it were thinking it was sick.”

Neana: “Music teachers though…”

Deamonds: “You know what it’s like – they just want you to make compositions of old shit, or do stuff for the preview ad before Countdown. We had such good equipment at our school as well.”

Neana: “Like what? I never had Cubase at my school. I was always jealous.”

Deamonds: “You ain’t missed much. They had a sick studio – two booths, recording ‘n’ that, maybe even an SSL. Actually, they had a sick room. Never let anyone in there though – says it all, really.”

Neana: “That’s pretty tech. Mine was so moist. Like, all the kids used to disrespect anything that the teachers bought ‘cos they couldn’t control ‘em.”

Deamonds: “Yeah, I hear that. I think that was the problem with me. They would let me use it occasionally after school, but Cubase isn’t like Ableton or FL Studio – it’s bollocks unless you know what you’re doing. Like, obviously it’s a worthwhile DAW…”

DJ BEGINNINGS

Neana: “I used to make mixes just on software. Then I started messing around on Virtual DJ with my friends. I bought a basic controller with no cue or headphone port; rinsed that for a little while. Then I asked for two vinyl records for my birthday and bought some decks. Took me time to get some working though – fuck that guy on eBay selling me dodgy equipment. Almost put me off for life, swear down. Took me ages to rake those fifty bones together as well.”

Deamonds: “I started on one deck and a mixer.”

Neana: “One deck!!! How???”

Deamonds: “Not mixing, obviously.”

Neana: “You copped one at a time.”

Deamonds: “I wanted decks, but my dad was like, ‘Nah, nah, you won’t use ‘em, you’ll put ‘em up in the loft’, blah blah… I could only afford one and a mixer and a powered speaker, and I used to borrow the guy next door’s deck, and on Saturday when I got my pocket money from my nan I’d go to Rhythm Division, hoping that when I came back I could mix – but I’d come back and he’d taken it back. Happened so many times!”

Neana: “Bogus. Tell me about some of some of your first records.”

Deamonds: “Boooo! by Ms. Dynamite – not the original release – it was on Social Circles, but I got the licensed copy from Public Demand. I used to go to this DJ school thing at the Sikh Social Club near my house, and the guy there gave me a few garage records.”

Neana: “No way! That record bangs man.”

Deamonds: “Yeah, just old garage really – garage, 2 step… What about you?”

Neana: “I missed out on garage, I’m clueless, sorry.”

Deamonds: “It’s a London thing. Same as bassline is a northern thing – I presume, anyway. I never really connected with that.”

Neana: “Yeah, fuck bassline – also over my head.”

Deamonds: “So, your first records?”

Neana: “Okay, first records… Fantastic Mr. Fox’s ‘Evelyn’ EP. Um, SBTRKT’s LP… That Jacques Greene white label that he put out. And this Deadboy one. Yeah, not a rich selection, I know. This was 2011, maybe.”

Deamonds: “Was that from a record shop in Manchester, or..?”

Neana: “Nah, I copped these off Chemical Records. Also, at the same time, I was going to charity shops and picking up shitty disco. The first dedicated record shop I went to was maybe Phonica or something.”

Deamonds: “Record shops are intimidating though when you’re younger.”

Neana: “Very.”

Deamonds: “Trust, I hated it. Fucking, only place where you go into and they make you feel like a prick for buying something or asking a question. Literally bruv, when you go to record shops when you’re young, like, everyone’s bunnin’ in there, it’s peak, you’re like, ‘Alright mate, you got any grime?’ Guy’s like, ‘Hmpth, dickhead.’”

MUSICAL CROSSOVER

Neana: “I don’t think we have loads and loads in common, musically. We come from different areas, but Alex is fucking jokes to mix with and we catch a vibe, so that’s why it works. Hope you agree!”

Deamonds: “Actually fucking spot on. Yeah, like, we have got a little bit – like Chi-town ‘n’ that…”

Neana: “Nah, nah, I’m not saying that we are different. We cross on, like, ghetto, bits of house, grime, and club works.”

Deamonds: “Yeah, exactly. And like, I’d say that there are instances where I lack in certain areas of the genre, and vice verca – we kinda make up and blend it coherently.”

Neana: “But, like, what makes it good is the movement. And ‘cos I know barely any of your tunes, it’s really fun to mix into.”

Deamonds: “Same. Exactly.”

Neana: “Okay, cool – I’m glad we agree.”

Deamonds: “What are the other topics? We’re on a roll. Feels like homework.”

GANG FATALE / EAST LONDON CLUB TRAX

Deamonds: “Talk about Gang Fatale. Who’s the founder? What’s the sort of, you know, group mentality?”

Neana: “Okay, so Gang Fatale: me and Ra’s [Al, Gang Fatale crew member] wanted to start this radio show after this one time we had a crazy mix when I moved to uni. And at the same time, we had some friends who were making some really inspiring music and creating exciting visual work. So we decided to create this lil’ crew of people, mostly as a kind of outlet where we could channel all of this creativity.

“Obviously there is a geographical distance between a few of us, with Georgia Girls, Trap Door, and Seedy Creagz being up north, but it’s calm when we’re together. I feel like we are on a similar tip, even though it might not be distinct or apparent.”

Deamonds: “There you go. Any nights?”

Neana: “Yeah, we’re starting a clubnight soon, but I don’t really wanna say much about it other than it’s going to be an environment where we can bring our favourite DJs together in a visually stimulating place, with emphasis on the overall sound, rather than names.”

Deamonds: “That’s better than having ‘DJ XXXXX’ on your flyer. Not saying that’s not live when it’s done well, but whatever.”

Neana: “Okay, so Deems: do you not think that there is so much solid club music in London at the moment, but no outlet for it? As in, it exists on the internet – there are tapes on the internet – but in a physical place. Sure, people are booking the odd set every now and then, but I feel like there is a crowd for this kind of party.”

Deamonds: “Yeah, it’s tough, I dunno, but it’s about what you define it as really, you know?

Neana: “Yeah, yeah, so it’s all confused at the moment, but there is scope for a clubnight there if it was supported in the right way.”

Deamonds: “Yeah. It’s because it’s pretty, like you said, it’s disjointed and stuff. That’s not a good thing though. Like, I’m positive for 2014, music-wise. It’s just about what moves you, innit? And the people around you.”

Neana: “Neither of us wanna sit here and bitch, but like we say there, needs to be an outlet or something. On the internet, everything comes out at the same time, in the same format, and it’s boring, so it doesn’t surprise me that people are concerned or frustrated. It’s very flat.”

Deamonds: “To be honest, I’m just enjoying what I’m doing and the people I’m interacting with.”

Neana: “Nah, you’re right man, stuff like that is important.”

NEW SCENES

Deamonds: “New music-wise, it’s only on weekends that I get to check for stuff – when I’m not out or making tunes.”

Neana: “I rarely go on tune hunts anymore, it’s sad. Most of the music I play is what my friends send me, which is good and bad.”

Deamonds: “I suppose that’s what’s kind of replaced looking for new music for me, because everyone is making so much new stuff now.”

Neana: “Yeah, innit. But if you get involved in your own scene too much, and you don’t take time out to hear anything else, it gets stale. It’s finding a balance between local and outside sources.”

Deamonds: “You need to have that insular thing. Because if not, it becomes too disjointed. That can be misconstrued for a scene progressing, when really it’s just people doing different things. It doesn’t help when certain things get grouped together and people get grouped together. It’s good though, because it’s definitely a lot of people doing different things and different people doing stuff.”

Neana: “But I think that another dangerous aspect is that people do want to group things. And sometimes if things get associated too eagerly, it can kill someone or something’s sound too quickly.”

Deamonds: “Totally. Need more local parties, though.”

Neana: “Yeah, we need a party, or even somewhere to congregate regularly and DJ and listen to people’s music in succession instead of just on the internet. I tell you what though, I really wanna put something on at, like, early evening, 7-11pm. That time we went to Boiler Room and I was home by 12 and I got the tube was fun.”

Neana and Deamonds play back-to-back in Room 3 at Fabric on Thursday April 17th (buy tickets).