Fresh off their recent release on R&S Records, I sat down with Loxy & Ink to talk about lockdown, the Phoenix Rising EP and future projects.
The five-track EP offers a fresh slice of variety, spanning three different genres of music. Woven with familiar and new sounds, this is just what the scene needs as venues start to reopen across the UK.
How long has this EP been in the works, and how has it been to be collaborating over lockdown?
Ink: The EP in its first creation was actually Give Me a Dubplate, about 2 years ago. There was no talk of it being in the format that it’s become now. It’s evolved over time.
Loxy: Back in the day production had to be done together in a studio, but now with modern technology, we can bounce tracks between each other, so lockdown wasn’t a hindrance.
Ink: On the other hand, we found seeing each other in person meant we could more naturally roll on to new projects. We have a lot of the same interests – Gremlinz, Resound, Loomis, Pessimist, Overlook, Clarity and ourselves. It’s like our extended family.
We end up at the same gigs or see each other around the city. You see someone out, and before you know it, you’ve hooked up to do a tune. We’ve been able to negotiate the territory but you want to be out high fiving and getting a drink.
R&S have such a variety of sounds and artists, how did that link come about?
Loxy: I’ve got a good friend, Meriton, who runs Mentality in Belgium. He’s friends with the guys at R&S and was the driving force behind us making that link. He started passing over our music and things lined up from there.
Ink: Back in the day I remember seeing Wax Doctor on this label with a horse on it and I remember thinking that they had some dope tunes, and even before that with Plastic Dreams.
Listening through this EP, my first surprise was to hear an opening hip hop track, ‘Manifested Visions’, that you both spit on. Where did this idea come from?
Loxy: We’ve actually been doing hip hop as long as we’ve been doing dnb. When I first started DJ’ing I used to MC for myself on Chillin FM and Pulse FM or down at Eruption FM. After that, Ink, MC Rage and I had a group called School of Mad Thoughts and then that was followed by another group called Fifth Element. To others, who don’t know us well, it’s been a surprise.
Ink: I remember being in the Sixth Form College and hearing all the hardcore music and wanting to be part of the scene. I thought the best thing for me was to pick up the mic and start MC’ing for DJ Kwest who at the time was mixing at the school. From that, I got a taste for it and my focus was initially the mic.
I came up with Justyce MC who now rolls with Sigma. Back in the day, on Defection FM it was the Prospects Crew. So I was trying to get an in by going on the mic at Roller Express but my passion for playing music eventually took over. Once I linked up with Lox we were already doing the hip hop anyway. It was second nature but we didn’t release it.
The timing is right now, Sway was one of the first in the UK to burst the bubble, as it were, and paved the way for everything in the UK scene. He said that back then Fifth Element was ahead of its time, and it showed as only the committed kept with it and supported. Right now, the changing climate has meant that people are now ready to hear what we’ve got to say.
Phoenix Rising is returning to more familiar ground, a real set-opener. Does the name carry any profound meaning for you both?
Loxy: We’ve been doing this a long time and we’re always coming with new work. Sometimes people think that someone in our position might be out of ideas, you might get counted out. So, the title represents that we always come back with something that makes a ripple in the scene and rises from the ashes.
Ink: When we make music, we always give it that further meaning. There are always levels within what we’re doing. If you take time, you can identify that meaning. The style is what we’ve nurtured over time. We’ve always been that schizophonic style, where it starts in one place and ends in another. You’re never sure where it might go. But we’re also known for the rollers, so what we tried to do for Phoenix Rising was bring that rolling element with the schizophonic movement.
To finish the EP you’re hit with another surprise – a dub track, ‘Get Back Up’. Can either of you see yourselves pursuing a future outside of dnb?
Loxy: We like music in general, so this just comes from another influence. There’s a lot of music that we haven’t released that people are probably unaware that we do and they’ll be more surprises down the road. We’re big into dub.
Ink: Tha Lion has been a friend for a long time and he’s like family, so it was a no-brainer. Initially, we did something on the Architecture label and then laced up some vocals. I liaised with Lox but we didn’t have a soundtrack for it. He’s chatting like a DJ from back’a yard but then he goes into rap. It’s not quite dub and not quite Manifested Visions. You can hear the lyrical content and it’s got more of a structure.
What can we expect from you both in the future?
Loxy: We’ve got an album in progress for R&S, you can guarantee that we’ll have some more hip hop on there. Also, some other bits that people will be less accustomed to hearing us release but nevertheless we’ve been working on it in the background for many years.
I’ve got Cylon Records and Ink’s got Architecture, so expect releases on both of them.
I’ve got a few gigs this month, playing a Boiler Room night in Poland. There’s a backlog of gigs over the last year so there’s going to be an influx of events. The lockdown has removed the culture of ‘rinse and throw away’ because there have been no clubs to play in. People won’t be as hungry for the newer tracks as DJs will be looking back across the last year for pieces they’ve been wanting to play.
Ink: We’ve both got releases coming out on Dispatch ‘Blueprints’, both dropping this year. We’ve got a Metalheadz release which is a revisit to that nostalgic sound, that essence. It’s the reason why we were first interested in this music. We’re also both playing at Hospitality events in the late summer.
Any shoutouts? Jodi Lulati, Miriam Safo, Tha Lion, Meriton, Gremlinz, Resound, Loomis, Pessimist, Overlook, Clarity, Kwest, J. Dub and S-Capade.