Interview / Izaak Gray / Earthboogie

London-based duo, Izaak Gray and Nicola Robinson, AKA Earthboogie, make modern Global dance. Chanting and scatting. Excitable and Afro-centric. Mixing machines with anything that can be hit to create a rhythm. Borrowing from House and Highlife alike, and punctuated by horns. Referencing both 1988`s Second Summer Of Love and the Post-Punk of New York`s Danceteria and Factory Records. Without slavishly trying to recreate the past. Over the last twelve months they`ve released two E.P.s and their Human Call long-player on Leng. 

Izaak kindly agreed to answer a few How? Why? What? and When?s

Earthboogie Photo 1

Where are you based?

East London. Poplar. Between Mile End and Limehouse. At The Control Room

Earthboogie The Control Room copy

Where are you from?

Brixton and Battersea originally.

How did you meet? 

We met at an event in Box Park a few years ago. I was doing the sound for an the event with my company, East London Audio. Nicola was DJing.

Where either of you in bands / releasing music before Earthboogie?

We`d been working with a few different people. I did some work with Joe Swainson (Hospital Records), and Nicola with Kristy Harper. Nicola and Kristy have been working on new music which will be released under the name, Bobby & Clive.

How long have you been making music together?

We started making music together in 2016.

How does the songwriting process work? Who plays / does what?

Nicola tends to source and bring together new singers and musicians. We then record them at The Control Room, and then save this as our “soundbank”. From there we define how we want the piece of music to “feel” between ourselves, and then build the key sections of the track. I have a very particular vision with mixing and arrangement, and always spearhead the pre-finalisation of a track once were happy with its vibe. From there we “print” a demo, and play that out in our sets, or even just the car, or to our friends. With that vital bit of feedback we then make any – hopefully small – final tweaks. Having two minds really helps us to challenge each other`s way of thinking. We also like to work on the move. High Minded Man and Broken Rule Arrangement on the album were made in India, while we were travelling in 2017. It’s not hugely practical for recording or mixing, but for writing and arrangement, which are more thought-heavy tasks, there’s a benefit to be drawn from being in a different environment.

Which artists would you acknowledge as influences?

We`re influenced by new artists all the time. We both have a joint love for Angelique Kidjo, Fela Kuti, Manu Dibango, Eddie Grant and Herbie Hancock. We recently got into Supermax, Passion and Phreek Plus One..

Which contemporary artists do you rate?

Laolo remixes, Alkalino, The Mushrooms Project, Ali Kuru, Red Axes, Ron Trent, Henrick Schwartz, Flamingo Pier.

How long did it take to put the album together? 

Roughy a year.

How did you hook up with Claremont 56 / Leng?

We were suggested them by Nadia Ksaiba from NTS (Rhythm Connection). Thanks Nadia!

Earthboogie Photo 2

You present a strong visual image. Who designs / makes your clothes?

Quite a few of our friends work in fashion and have always wanted to work with us on bespoke clothing for gigs, and in general. To date we have collaborated with Polosophia, Velsvoir, Not Just Another Store & Fuud London. In our Silken Moon music video, Nicola is wearing a bespoke Velsvoir jump suit and I`m also wearing trousers from Velsvoir. 

Where do you go to chill out?

A park, the countryside with family – who’ve all moved out of town, Banya Russian saunas and holidays.

Where do you go to dance?

We have the best time here hosting events at The Control Room. We invite friends over for listening parties and we dance all night long. It’s very hard for us to find the same quality elsewhere. We used to love going to The Lift before it was shut. I enjoy Andy Blake`s World Unknown nights and have also enjoyed Lion and Lamb, Nine Lives and Brilliant Corners.

Where do you buy your records?

Love Vinyl, Sounds of The Universe, Phonica Records, and Discogs. We always raid record stores when we travel too. A1 Records in NYC is awesome.

Have Earthboogie ever performed live? Is this something you plan to do?

Not as of yet. But that’s something we’re really keen on doing and planning for. We’ve recently recorded with Ntem, Eniye Kagbala and Natalie Soden. All of whom we’d like to work live with. We also love to DJ on our custom system, which is really a very different experience because you’ve got a much broader scope of records you can play and still have them “work”.

Is the chanting in a real or made-up language?

The chanting in Silken Moon? It`s Nina Miranda singing, so some of it is Brazilian Portuguese, and we assume slang varieties thereof. But with Nina you can never can tell really, as she throws in ad-libs. Which is part of the fun really.

You can order copies of Earthboogie`s Mr. Mystery, Silken Moon, and Human Call, directly from Leng

Earthboogie Human Call Art


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