The Lowdown: Bok Bok on Night Slugs

Revisiting the 15th anniversary celebration of Night Slugs with label founder Bok Bok as we round-up the mix takeover from last year. A seminal imprint that has stood the test of time and has built a close knit community around it, Bok Bok guides us through the NS 15 tour, how they differentiate their work when running a label and working on their own personal artistry, the label’s key influences and approach to curation.

Founded by Alex Sushon (Bok Bok) and James Connolly (L-Vis 1990), Night Slugs was initially launched as a club night series after Alex and James met on Myspace in 2008, expanding into a record label in 2010. From then, Night Slugs quickly became one of the distinctive dance music labels of the 2010s as they pushed a hybrid of grime, house, electro, R&B, hip hop and dubstep. With a lasting influence across the globe to this day, the label released career defining releases from the likes of Jam City, Girl Unit, Mosca, Jacques Greene and Lil Silva to name a few.

To celebrate their 15th anniversary, Night Slugs have pulled together the ‘Classic Remixed’ compilation which fuses the label’s past, present and future with artists taking on remixes of the label’s classics. These remixers include Night Slugs family Ikonika, Helix, CalvoMusic & OSSX, as well as many of the labels peers and next-gen favourites including Grandmixxer, Bored Lord, MoMa Ready, Hagan, Karen Nyame KG, River Moon, DJ Polo & NKC, DJ Lag, scotti dee and more.

Last year we had two key label affiliates DJ Polo and Ikonika contribute to the mix series alongside Bok Bok which you can delve into below.



You’ve just finished celebrating 15 years of Night Slugs, what does it mean to you to reach that milestone? What were some of your highlights? 

Yea it was such a hectic but heart-filling time. I felt so happy and vindicated for all the hard work over the years, the community we had built up long-term felt so strong and I’m overjoyed to see all younger artists now come through. 

Highlights were definitely the release of Night Slugs Classix Remixed, a release I’m really proud of. It was well-received so again that makes me feel like all the hard work has been worth it. Also the various tours were really special, but I must say my fav event of the NS15 runs were ultimately London and Manchester, with special mentions to Bristol and Tokyo as well. 

The energies those nights were just unparalleled. 


You toured the label around Europe, Australia, Asia and the US for a series of anniversary parties – were there any cities / countries that you didn’t reach and would love to host a party in some day? 

I’m a big believer in not forcing anything. (Sometimes when I’m invited to play in a certain territory, a big part of me goes “wooow are you guys sure???”) 

So I’ll let it all manifest at it does. It would be cool to be in Ibiza with the label though. We’ve never done that and I feel aspects of the sound are really heading somewhat that way. So putting that out there! 


What has been the biggest motivation for you to continue working on NS for so long? 

It’s twofold I think. Again, our community and the up and coming artists keep me inspired daily. But also I’m still in love with all my influences, I still love this culture. I wake up everyday (well, mostly) feeling like this is my life’s calling. Though it mostly doesn’t feel like a choice, in reality I chose time and time again to commit to this. 


Is there a separation between who you are as an artist and who you are as label founder? How do these feed into each other? 

Yes. Especially lately, I feel like Bok Bok has been leaning towards something really specific. Since I started my other label AP Life with Nammy Wams in 2021, I feel that really allowed the Bok Bok project that lives over here at Night Slugs to really progress. Through my DJ sets I was really able to dig into my House music bag again – and ofc for me that is a very broad idea that involves Uk Funky, South African influences, US Club music etc – and really focus and figure out what I want to do and specialise a bit after years of playing a lot of different styles.  So for the first time ever, there’s things Night Slugs will put out that I love but won’t necessarily even be playing in Bok Bok sets.



How has running a label influenced your relationship with music? 

Mostly positively! Making music can sometimes have strange effects on enjoyment / consumption of other music. But running the label doesn’t really do that for me. The only thing is occasionally things come out elsewhere that I wish I could have released, but all this does is motivate me further. 


What do you enjoy the most about running the label now versus when you first started? 

Not that much has changed in my approach tbh, but I enjoy being more hands-off with mixing etc.  I’ve learnt to enjoy putting out rawer unmixed work that captures a perfect energy at demo stage and doesn’t need revisions. 


What is it about the label format and curation that appeals to you? 

I think it’s the same thing that makes people enjoy making playlists or mixtapes, or that makes DJs want to DJ. Sharing your ideas and communicating through selection, arrangement, curation. I’ve finally realised lately that I have really specific taste, and it’s nice to lean into that with like-minded artists. Also series are satisfying, lets face it that’s a big part of it. 


What does community mean to you and what does that look like? 

I’m just not that individualistic as an artist and never have been, that’s probably why we still haven’t seen a long-playing solo project from me in all these years – I’m always making myself busy with someone else’s projects instead. I think music is all about collaboration and plurality. There are brilliant individuals amongst that of course but it all makes the most sense in combination with all the many others. That’s how movements, scenes and genres happen ultimately. For me, I definitely started doing this to find new connections, to find my people, it was a way to communicate, to send out signals and see what comes back. I think that’s what it is to this day. 


What is it that draws you to a track and influences you to sign it to the label? 

I can’t totally put it into words. Like i say I realised my tastes are soo specific… but there’s a few things that I can identify – atmosphere, intimacy, emotiveness; priority given to physical sub-bass – a certain spacious approach to production that we have ultimately inherited from Dub. 



You previously mentioned that Night Slugs releases are built for sound systems and that you’re not only going to hear them but feel them. What would you say is the weightest record that NS has released? And what is the best sound system to listen to it on? 

My ground zero was the system at Plastic People of course (RIP). ATM I’m loving the systems at Loki in Brxiton and Spanners also in Brixton is nice and warm too for a tiny room. Room 2 at Corsica Studios of course. 

I was also loving the system at Enter in Tokyo, which came from a much bigger club and is powering a tiny room with the DJ in the middle. 

These would all be great places to hear NS classics like IRL, Stalker Ha, Silo Pass, Pulse Flex and Shutter by Lil Silva and as for newer stuff, Ikonika’s remix of Hysterics’ “Code Switch”, DJ Lag’s mix of Neana’s “Cyberia” or River Moon’s mix of “Ouais” by myself would be ideal. Can you tell I’m bad at favouritism?   


You also mentioned that ‘NS has been known for transgressing genres, and it’s because as DJs we’re always trying to fit different rhythms into each other’, what sound or rhythm is exciting you the most right now? And who in that field is leading the way for you? 

Personally as a DJ I love bringing in non-4/4 bass patterns into 4/4 environments, for example I will probably switch the 808s from a Gqom track into something more straightfwd House in a live blend, this is the type of blends I love the most atm. I’ve been making a lot of edits along these lines as part of my Hardbody series on Bandcamp, and in a way this idea of 5/4 bass under rolling percussion has been the formula and my inspiration for all the new stuff I’m currently producing as well. 


What influences the artistic direction of the label? 

Sound wise it’s the tension between my DJ sets &  interests and what artists make & send me. If you’re asking re: visuals – Jose and I have recently kind of been revisiting the original vibe of NS artwork which is this escapist world-creation – atmospheric digital environments with some glowing or monolithic elements (much like the tracks themselves). 


What has been one of the biggest lessons you’ve learned over the years running NS? 

Don’t force things, try to work as much as possible with what’s already there. Try to capture the moment and release things quickly (where possible). & that time really changes many things, but some things can stay constant.