It’s rare to come across a debut album that delights and surprises in equal measure, but that’s exactly what you can expect from Human Call, the first full-length LP excursion from daydreaming dancefloor fusionists Earthboogie.
The East London-based duo of Izaak Gray and Nicola Robinson has previous form when it comes to creating beautiful, funk-fuelled fusions of soundsystem-ready rhythms, humid instrumentation and intergalactic audio explorations. To date, they’ve released an strong EP and 12 inch records on Leng ,both of which did a splendid job in showcasing their unique musical vision.
We sat down with Nicola Robinson before her album launch on 12th May to ask her a few questions about what she’s been up to…
So tell us, how did you first get into DJing? And how did DJing become a career path for you?
When I was studying psychology at Westminster uni, I used to go out to a lot of music nights. There was a phase where I really liked electronic music but electronic music was also changing and I couldn’t find the music I liked in clubs, so I decided to start learning how to DJ because no one was playing what I wanted to hear. I bought myself a miniature sound system and CDJ’s so I could learn to DJ and eventually host parties at my house. I then learnt the DJing skills from the parties at my place and eventually various people heard me and began asking me to DJ in their venues, it was all very organic.
When it came to making music I started out DJing on the side of working. I finished my degree and I was doing 1 or 2 gigs a week on top of my job. And then as my gigs increased I realised I couldn’t do both – it was too exhausting so I chose to do music and open up my days. It opened up a door for me creatively to be able to start other creative projects, music or be involved in music and write for my publication www.itsrudetostare.com
How did you get into vinyl?
I originally didn’t play vinyl. But when I got asked to play at Chilton Firehouse which is vinyl only, I had to start buying records. I didn’t have a record collection at the time and then my mum said to me “I have loads of records!” so I went home and was given about 1000 records from my mum and dad. They were the most amazing records, including the likes of Manu Dibango, James Brown, Chic etc. I was playing some of them last night. So that’s how I got into vinyl and it’s fantastic that vinyl and vinyl sales are winning over digital at the moment, which is exciting and positive!
Vinyl vs digital DJing?
I tend to play a lot of vinyl only because it’s more enjoyable as a performance, it’s not just a DJ with a laptop and USBs. People enjoy watching someone play records because its therapeutic – you watch someone choose the record and sort through them – where as someone playing USBs, you don’t know what’s going on within the DJs head other than them twisting a button. Instead people say “Oh wow you’ve got records” and people ask questions and its part of the performance. Obviously the sound quality is also better with records as well but you do have to lug them around everywhere which can be hard work!
How long have you been collaborating with Izaak (the other half of Earthboogie) ?
Izaak is my partner and we met a few years ago and started making music around 2 years ago. Since then we have been exploring with our collaborative sound in our East London studio, The Control Room. Our studio is an immersive space and we do lots of music production, live recordings and events with our custom built sound system. When we moved there we started really understanding what kind of music we could make together. Our music is identified by international sounds aka world music. I love Afro disco, Brazilian, Eastern and Latin dance music. Bonobo is a good example – chill out but slightly worldly.
Where did the name Earthboogie come from?
We were trying to come up with a name that represented what we were producing musically. At the time I was very attached to Rim Kwaku’s Too Tough record. It’s afro-disco music and funky disco & boogie from the early 80’s. I noticed on the back of the record that it said “do the Earthboogie Dance” and I was like “Earthboogie? Like sounds from the earth that make you boogie?” We thought that fusion really represents us! So I googled earthboogie and nothing came up and it was just a random thing that they wrote on the back of the record and I just loved the name!
How would you describe your music in 3 words?
Positive, movement and high fidelity.
What do you have coming up over the summer?
Our album launch is on the 12th May.
We’re doing Flamingo Pier canal party on 26th May. https://www.facebook.com/events/174145346620709/
We’re playing at Citadel festival in London in July. And on 2nd June there is a vinyl party in Soho at Jack Solomon’s.
All our upcoming events go up on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/earthboogie/
Where do you play week to week? How can we see you?
My vinyl gigs are at Chiltern Firehouse, The Ned and The Ace Hotel. Other residencies I have are Roka, Soho House and Jack Solomon’s speakeasy in Soho!
Do you have any tips for young Londoners starting out in the DJ industry?
Make sure you explore as many sounds as possible and make sure that you learn the journey of music. This will allow you to discover what your drawn too. You can then specialise in playing your own sound, people are attracted towards unique talent. You get a lot of DJs who just want to make money and play commercial music and then you get DJs who are one set person who are personalities with greater diversity. You need to build your own network and do parties to surround yourself but people who represent and love what you do aka constantly being your own brand ambassador.
What’s your fave song at the moment?
It’s really hard for me to choose, so I’m going to choose two – one afro-disco track from the 80s called “I need some money” by Chicco and a dance track called “Bonita” by ninetoes
Where is your favourite place in London to hang out?
Izaak and I love Brilliant Corners as a music venue. For food we love going for roasts at The Hemingway in Victoria Park – the taxidermy pub. And we also love going to Nine Lives, which is a cocktail bar and we do DJ there but we also hang out there.
Pick up her album and let us know what you think in the comments below!