In 2017 Earthboogie released 'Mr Mystery' on Leng Records, it was an E.P. of African drum workouts, lo-fi synth washes and intergalactic cosmic funk reminiscent of David Byrne productions and down-town NYC Boogie.
Earthboogie now continue their work on the Leng roster with brand new album 'Human Call'. It is an album that continues with their Afro-disco approach where the drums are loose and wonky, owing as much to the streets of Nairobi where voodoo vocals meet disco flourishes. Its an album that sounds like Fela Kuti's electro ghost deep into a dancing session at the Mudd Club where Anita Sarko is on the decks playing Konk and someone thirty minutes ago pulled out the acid blotters for a long night ahead. Earthboogie, or Izaak Gray and Nicola Robinson to their pals, have created a melting pot sound that is dance-floor freaky, off beat and hugely entertaining.
I caught up with Isaac and Nicola to discuss music, the release of their new album and where their inspiration for their music comes from.
Where are you from?
Izaak - Battersea
Nicola - I was born at home in Herne Hill
What is your first music memory ?
Nicola - My German grandmother playing German opera, she was an Opera singer while i skipped between all the rooms in circles at her bungalow in Forest Hill.
Izaak - Listening to tapes in the car in the 90's.
What was the first record you bought?
Nicola - Its such a blur. I got given over 1000 records by my parents and they set a huge part of my musical influence. I started buying records shortly after that when Izaak got me 1210's. The first record I bought for Izaak and our joint collection was Walking in the Neon by Peter Richard.
Izaak - Future Funk by Oliverwho Factory
How did you both meet ?
Nicola - Izaak runs a high fidelity sound company called East London Audio. He was doing the sound for a fashion party in Shoreditch while I was DJing. We got into a debate about the best sound system we had heard in London and then the rest is history!
Going on to your Earthboogie project now, I hear an East African influence in your music, who are you influenced by when recording?
We are very much influenced by 70's and 80's Afro Disco & funk. 'Route Ten To Interzone' from our Mr Mystery EP has lots of African influences and features vocals from Angelique Kidjo. Our Human Call album leans more heavily on Latin influences. When recording we are influenced by the musicians we record with, they're all incredible and hail from around the globe. We've had lots of studio sessions since with Eniye Kagbala who is Nigerian, Ntem who recently recorded on Soul Claps new album and closer to home - Natalie Soden. We are really looking forward to spreading our wings with our sound.
How did your relationship with Leng Records start?
We have always been big fans of Leng. When we started to make music, a few friends in the industry heard our music and directed us in contact with them. Paul and Simon are true taste makers and we were very happy to release with them.
DJing together must have a big influence on your own music, how do you make decisions and create ideas together?
It's great having two personalities, you get the best of both worlds. Normally if we have an especially big gig then we have to prep a little more than if you just hopped on the decks solo. We bounce ideas off each other, learn and discover new music. We do have different styles of playing but that challenges our way of thinking.
What was the last record you bought, what was it that you liked about these purchases?
Nicola - On my last trip I got a groovy and funky disco gem by Light Touches label. I also bought the new Moton Records release 'Morning Shunt' and 'Jaques Theme' at Love Vinyl. I really enjoying playing Latin and Caribean disco in cocktail bar's. It makes the mood sexy and flirtatious. People just jiggle without even knowing.
Izaak - the Last record I bought was the real sound of the real sound of Mark Grusane, particularly for the track 'Sacrifice'.
Do you follow any specific record labels?
Yes, too many. Soundway, African Seven, Strut, Brownswood Recordings and Chit Chat Records are among our favourites.
What records never leave your bag for gigs?
Nicola - At the moment Spacetalk - Crown Ruler compiled by Jeremy Spellecay.
Izaak - AA4 has several pokey numbers and one of my favourite Manu Dibango tunes on it, Sun Explosion.
Where are your favourite places to hang out away from music?
We love to walk and take breaks from the city where we can, as we are often out about in town playing late nights. Greenery and fresh air seems all the more wholesome. It's really important for us to explore and be in new places, see and feel in different ways. It's hard for us to leave music for long though as it's the bedrock of our lives.
You have also mentioned previously in interviews about your work within audiophile sound systems and your private playing music parties where music has to be ‘centred and pure’, where does that idea come from?
Izaak - Eek, the intrinsic value of purity is a complex notion. Certainly a lot of my energy and attention has been focussed on creating and working with sound systems that deliver a high degree of fidelity. When you listen to records on that kind of a system, music gains a literal depth - a depth because the dynamic presentation creates the sensation of a depth of field across the stereo presentation, beyond just locating instruments, but to hearing their shape and depth. The best way to explain is if you've ever heard a really good jazz trio, the dynamics can be wild. That same level of dynamic is in well recorded music, only even louder if the system is capable. When you can reproduce that without distortion and with effortless dynamics, you can play records in a very different way because the contrasts you can create are far deeper.
What is your current setup for playing music at home?
Izaak - Our sound system, which meets the specification of above for approx 500-1000 people.
Where are your next gigs?
We've got our album launch at Nine Live Bar on May 12th, Jack Solomon June 2nd Vinyl session, Citadel Festival 15th July. Updates are on Resident Advisor.
What are you plans for this Summer?
This Summer we are moving our studio base to Margate, we love the seaside and moody weather. Izaak's running a Forest Festival. Plus, working on new music!!
For a new listener to your music, what do you hope people take from it?
Inspiration, energy, warmth.
Outside of music, what films, books, blogs are doing it for you at the moment ?
Nicola - I run itsrudetostare.com which keeps us having fun and experiencing new concepts across London and globally. We don't have so much time at the moment, things have been very busy so our fingers are a bit off the pulse. We just returned from an inspiring trip to Lombok, Indonesia where we started working on some really interesting new sounds.
We recently finished Fargo series which we loved, The Cohen Brothers are genius.
Pick up Human Call on the Leng bandamp website, as per usual with Leng releases they have put the effort in so you can also get a nice gatefold vinyl included with the usual digital/CD formats. The album releases on May the 11th.