By April Clare Welsh August 22, 2022
The British music community of Touch the bass has spent the past eight years on a slow and steady journey to the forefront of the UK’s DIY dance scene. Beginning as an online interview and mix series that gradually grew to include a club night, a radio show, and eventually a taste label, Touching Bass was founded by DJs Alex Rita and Errol Anderson. , who first crossed paths in east London seven years ago. “My inspiration definitely comes from the concrete jungle,” Anderson says. Raised in East London’s Bow area by Jamaican and Grenadian parents, Anderson was “significantly trained” by the British soundsystem icon. Jah Shaka and the legendary Notting Hill Carnival, as well as the “brutality and spirit” of house and techno that he began to encounter as he got older. Rita, a Copenhagen-born, London-based breeder, illustrator, singer and designer, cites Theo Parrish among his musical favorites, describing Touching Base’s work as “authentic music, very intentional music. It is very hot, even if it is hard. Jazz, hip-hop, break beat, future soul, all this is regularly present in the group’s club evenings and radio broadcasts.
As TB champion Touching Bass cohort, artist manager and DJ Daniel Spinola puts it, “music that makes you think and feel, with a soulful pulse running through it.” Spinola first met Anderson at a 2015 show, and the pair immediately bonded over their shared desire for a transformative musical movement. “We were just bursting out for something new in London, to create a scene for ourselves,” he says.
Spinola recalled the laid-back comfort of the South London house parties he attended early on, where prominent names in the now-legendary South London jazz scene were throwing the breeze and playing tunes, and saw it as a potential role model. for tuberculosis. “It was just really good vibes and I felt really at home, like a place I needed away from my own family,” he recalled. Touching Bass may seem like a close-knit family affair, but it’s also welcoming and open, with no boundaries. “[Touching Bass] it’s not just us”, says Spinola, “it’s everyone who comes to our parties, who buys the records, who eats with us, drinks with us. Everyone is part of the community.”
“TB has been a great connector of ideas and people, either directly or by creating space for it,” says London-based poet Brother Portrait, whose track with 10.4 Rog, “The Lighthouse,” opens the label . latest compilation. “They show what can come from being intentional and thoughtful, leading with values and philosophy, the importance of the right stage and setting.”
For the London singer Requestincluding the first EP of 2020 Life works..Usually was published by Touching Bass, it is about creating a sustainable entity that will provide for the needs of future generations. “Ultimately, all of the hard work we’re doing now is about passing the baton to the next generation and hopefully making their journey a little easier than ours,” she says. “There’s a lot of musical energy brewing in South London and London in general at the moment, it’s quite magical. I think Touching Bass is a good representation of that. They gave a voice to the London music scene.
Here are six released by Touching Bass and their affiliate artists that sum up their free-thinking aesthetic.
Touching Bass Presents: Coming Soon
“We wanted to reflect all the things we listen to and all the energies we share,” Rita says of the label’s new 22-track compilation. “I hope there is something for everyone.” In effect, Touching Bass Presents: Soon Come spans moods, time zones and continents to bring the growing TB family together for sonic love. Contributors include international rising stars like KeyiaA and CHAIN signatory Nala Sinephroas well as disciples of tuberculosis like Wu Lu. “Between some of the artists [on the comp] there’s only a degree or two of separation,” says Anderson. “They’ve either been on each other’s tracks or they’ve been on friends of friends’ tracks, so it’s like this really nice ecosystem of people that we consider in our world.”
Split into two halves – “Day” and “Night” – the compilation builds a slow-building narrative that would work perfectly as a summer sunset DJ set. The Selector hooks you up to spoken word, celestial neo-soul and avant-R&B before kicking things up a notch with heart-pounding club mutations. It all ends with a cerebral massage finale that sends the listener on a high. “The Last Song (“Dis & Dissolve‘ by Molinaro) might feel like that time when you’re coming out of a night out at a club and it’s 6 or 7 a.m.,” Rita says. “The sun is coming up and you just have this euphoric knowledge of what has just been.”
Rita and Anderson may be based in South London, but the TB family tree spans every continent. The duo have bonded everywhere from Chicago and Detroit to Melbourne, where they first toured in 2018 and quickly found affinities with the city’s soul and electronic scene. “When we go there, we feel like home,” says Rita. Anderson agrees, adding, “These guys exist in some sort of parallel universe to us.” Pareidolia, the debut album by Melbourne-based hip-hop producer (and Australian jazz funkers drummer Hiatus Kaiyote) Smart Austinwas the label’s first-ever solo album of 2019. (It was also released by Wondercore Records in Melbourne). Scattered with squawking gulls and steaming furrows, Pareidolia feels like a cool swim in the ocean on a balmy day, where the crackling transistor radio is tuned all the way to the TB frequency.
Brooklyn-based multi-hyphen AMYRE is a spoken word artist, singer, educator, activist and friend of Rita and Anderson. Released in 2020, Witness is a smoky, soul-baring R&B record that touches on the same spirited jazz-inspired sound as recent Erykah Badu, while offering an unflinching political meditation on black identity. In 2019, AMYRA performed at a series of intimate Touching Bass concerts in east London alongside Melbourne’s ‘art-based resistance movement’. Mandarin dreams and spoken word dynamo portrait of brother which, according to Anderson, “felt like a cementing of various parts of the world of Touching Bass… There were so many moments where I looked around the dance floor that day and thought ‘Wow, I don’t don’t know what it is, but it’s something very, very special.
Afro Chronicles of Tuberculosis: Volume 1
Touching Bass took listeners on a contemplative journey through the sound of ’90s hip-hop, modern jazz and more when they first appeared on NTS Radio in July 2016. Soon to transition to a monthly show celebrating the full spectrum of soul music, they toasted their first year at NTS with an inspiring mixtape, Afro Chronicles of Tuberculosis: Volume 1. The compilation brought together Wu-Lu, Nubya GarciaDylan Jones and Sheldon Agwu (aka Blue Lab Beats), and a handful of up-and-coming artists on its 12 titles. Like all good DIY labels, the visual identity of Touching Bass is an integral part of their history, and Afro Chronicles was accompanied by an A2 digital print produced by Mason London. “Over the years, each of our flyers has acted as a chapter in an interdimensional love story,” they wrote on Bandcamp at the time. The tradition continues to this day: Rita designs the collage-like cover that adorns the cover of the latest TB compilation.
portrait of brother
navigate: in limbo
Of Kae Storm at George the Poet, the spoken word scene in the UK exploded into an international phenomenon. Beginning his career as a third of the hip-hop trio Black/Other, portrait of brother combines intricate poetry with jazzy hip-hop beats on his haunting debut mixtape, navigate: in limbo. “I really feel like I’m in communion with a kindred spirit,” the South Londoner says of the importance of Touching Bass. “TB is a community that holds a mirror up to the best sides of ourselves, a welcome reminder of dark and difficult days, of which there will be many. It helped keep alive a belief in self-actualization, open-mindedness, and kindness.
Life works out…usually
“I would climb a mountain for you,” Demae coos on the second track of his debut EP, Life works… Usually. It’s a fitting line for the bright love stories that appear in the Touching Bass catalog. Demae, who cut his teeth in hip-hop trio Hawk House, is in good company among the guest contributors Ego Ella May, Joe Armon-Jonesand beatmakers Eun, Jake Milliner (Slum Village) and 104.Rog. “It was vital for me to have the time I needed to do very honest work and I knew I would need the time to do that,” she says. “Touching Bass gave me plenty of space, time and patience, [and the fact that they] took a chance on me made me feel safe. Since then, I’ve felt like I’ve really blossomed not just as an artist but as a person. Working with them gave me time to really shape my thoughts, my message and my ideas about myself.