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DJ Shadow & G Jones: Nite School Klik Explained…

nite school klik

Late in April DJ Shadow’s Liquid Amber imprint dropped a heavyweight, weirded-out bass track from a brand new act – Nite School Klik. Anonymity was high on the agenda and the net was awash with the word ‘mystery’.

Dark, daring and ultimately trippy; it’s the sound of walk home from an epic party where you’ve lost your friends and had a few too many mushrooms. Eagle-eared heads knew G Jones had something to do with it as it had appeared on this rather handsome mixtape he’d put out earlier this year. No one suspected Shadow was the other partner in grime… Until last week.

We caught up with both Jones and Shadow the day they revealed Nite School Klik’s identity. But first, a sense of place: Posse is the latest in a gradually developing list of totally unique, forward-thinking futuristic releases on Liquid Amber. Following DJ Shadow’s launch release the label has served up the wonderful wonk of Bleep Bloop and the scratch-charmed designs of Ruckazoid.

“The whole idea of the label is that it’s a resource for artists who could benefit from a co-sign,” explains Shadow. “Artists I’m playing, artists I’m loving. It’s about progressive beats of all different descriptions. Some of it may have broader appeal than others but I will only release something that makes me think ‘ooh I would love to drop this’ when I first hear it. Not in the sense of a massive festival stage, but something much more intense and smaller. That’s my M.O from the beginning; whether it was driving around the college town I lived in playing obscure New York hip-hop or whatever I’ve made since then… That inspiration has always been what it’s about for me.”

And this is what Nite School Klik are all about…

We never set out to make festival trap or anything too simple. It’s on the deeper end of the pool of this music… It’s supposed to take a while to digest.

The alias was DJ Shadow’s idea…

Shadow: I got to admit, the whole mystery thing was my idea. Sometimes I feel like putting music out as an alias serves tactical objectives. People don’t have the expectations they might have if it’s under a name they already know. I’ve been doing it for over 20 years. I did a track called The Groove Robbers Featuring DJ Shadow way back in 1993. It’s fun to do once in a while. I was never sure if G was that enamoured by the concept but I appreciate him going along with it…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nOAa1OQbI6Y

It all started when DJ Shadow was invited to play at Low End Theory…

Shadow: It was about 2011 and Low End Theory invited me to play a set. In the process of preparing for it I realised I hadn’t actually done a contemporary DJ set where I’m playing other people’s new music that I’m into for about 13 years. Around 99/2000 I started playing all these big festivals and people were expecting me to play the records I make. I realised I had to make up for lost time and I started digging new exciting music. I zeroed in on a label I really respect called Saturate… Home of Bleep Bloop and G Jones.

Bleep Bloop hooked them up…

Shadow: Bleep Bloop kept telling me I had to work with G Jones. I was like ‘yeah I know about his music, I’m playing it already’ so he hooked us up on email.

G Jones: I knew Josh (Shadow) was into my music because he played a remix of mine on a mix he’d done for Diplo & Friends for BBC. I was pretty stoked! So we started chatting on email and I played a show for him. A little under a year later, we were in the studio.

G Jones showed Shadow the way of the Abelton ninja…

Shadow: G knows the ins and outs of Ableton like no one else I’ve ever worked with. He comes from the dubstep mentality where there’s such an emphasis on sound design and sonic engineering. It’s beyond what I’ve ever encountered before. The ability and speed to which he works is astonishing. He can pull up three or four different plug-ins and make them all work in harmony to create an effect in minutes… It would take me about four hours to do the same thing. That’s the great thing about collaborations; watching people work and learning from them.

Shadow showed G Jones the way of the song structure…

G Jones: That’s definitely something I’ve taken from this; how we approached the tunes like whole songs. Both Posse and Nice Nightmares are longer than anything I’ve written in the last few years. They have a more detailed arrangement. A lot of my tracks have been written with the context of the DJ set in mind; they’re really short two and a half minute tracks with one main drop and variations on the idea. But these tracks – especially Nice Nightmares – was an interesting project for me in terms of songwriting…

This could potentially mark the start of G Jones’s new infatuation with outboard hardware….

G Jones:  I’d just invested in a Moog Sub 37. It’s the first analogue synth I’ve ever owned and this is the first release I’ve used it on. I’d always been in the box before then and now I’m obsessed with this synth; it’s totally changed my workflow and made me more improvisational. I was all about the point and clicks before, but now I jam out and take the mad accidents between sounds. It’s totally changed the way I work.

G Jones cites Aphex Twin as an inspiration…

G Jones: At the time I was listening to a lot of the Aphex Twin’s User48736353001 sketches on Soundcloud so I guess I was influenced subconsciously by them. The main thing, though, was that we both wanted to do something that was outside of the standard box and completely different to what we’ve done before.

They set out to challenge themselves…

Shadow: The idea was to have a banger on the A-side (Posse) and something a little more drawn out and darker on the B. We worked at a strange tempo for Nice Nightmares.–It’s either 52 or 104BPM, whatever way you want to look at it. We wanted to challenge ourselves to make a track we wouldn’t make on our own. That’s the idea; to make something that’s different to what we’d do on our own.

We can expect more. But don’t expect the same again. And definitely don’t expect the obvious.

Shadow: Of course we’ll be working together again. I have no idea what it will sound like because I don’t know where our heads will be at the next time we’re in the studio. It’s what we want to tackle at the time so this EP isn’t the beginning of a sound or a script we’ll stick to every time. Coming up with something unique is always our goal. We never set out to make festival trap or anything too simple. It’s on the deeper end of the pool of this music… It’s supposed to take a while to digest.

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