We Need To Talk About Bou

Neck deep in the jump-up/rollers/jungle melting pot – and constantly pushing his sound to new places – few breakthrough artists have had the same impact as young Manchester murker Bou. A regular face on the likes of Critical and Souped Up, this year alone has collaborated with Unglued, Kasra & Enei and Stompz. Later this month he’ll be dropping collabs with Trigga and Serum, too.

With March’s Critical Systems EP still reminding us to batty wine on the daily and his Souped Up release (the Scorpion EP) just weeks away, plus a whole stack of festival gigs and his own label rebrand on the horizon, we called up Amine Bou to see where he’s at right now. This interview is long overdue… The first time he was mentioned on this site was two years ago by way of a shout out from none other than Current Value… A man who he’s since collaborated on more than one occasion. That’s where this conversation starts.

That Current Value biggup, though…

Mate that was mad. I remember reading the interview and was like ‘what the fuck? Come on man!’ A sick producer like that getting inspired by me? That blew my mind. So yeah I hit him up to say thanks. We’ve done something else together since so yeah biggup for that.

Awesome. That link up summed up what the was happening at the time – the flood gates were opening…

Yeah a few years ago things were a lot more divided. It was like there was a wall between us all and no one collaborated and everyone kinda stayed in their camps. But from around that time it felt like everyone was a lot happier to work together. Everyone’s trying different stuff, it’s great.

Like yourself. You came from jump-up but your sound gets broader with every release

Oh I totally came from jump up. Jump up on Soundcloud specifically, then free parties. I was about 16 and I couldn’t just listen to them – I had to make them myself so picked up Fruity Loops.

It was local release tune wasn’t it? The first tune that inspired you was on G13 if I’ve done my research correctly…  

Yeah that’s right it was. Pacso The Trip. That tune is still massive banger now. It’s not that old but that’s my first classic banger I heard.

So around this time were probably going down Bloc 2 Bloc?

I was and still am. I can’t big those guys up enough mate. You go there and link up with people. Everyone’s into music and is doing loads of sick creative shit. Guys like Dub Phizix and Chimpo pass through and hang out. It’s such an inspiring place. I learnt how to DJ there and everything.

That’s Jack Banner saying cheeky on Wine Ya B, right? Spot his voice a mile off…

And him saying ‘wine your batty’ as well! That man is a legend in the city, he’s helped so many people and given people opportunities. Indika only started a year ago and she’s blowing up, she played with Chase & Status. All of that is through Bloc 2 Bloc. He’s setting up people’s careers.

Sounds like you’ve taken to producing pretty quickly…

I’m addicted mate. I’m on it constantly. If I don’t make a tune a night I feel like I’m slacking. Just like everyone else in the scene when you love what you do it doesn’t feel like work does it?

Absolutely man!

It’s not always easy, there’s ups and downs and you’ve got to watch what you say or do but it’s all a learning curve. I’ve learnt so much in the last four or so years. Back when I first started I thought it was all about Soundcloud. That was the peak of it; getting a tune on Soundcloud and getting loads of plays. I quickly realised the world is bit bigger than Soundcloud!

Haha. That’s the thing as you get deeper into what you do, right? You realise bigger goals and set bigger targets and progress sonically…

I think so too. I’m just always trying new things and learning new things. It’s funny, some people say ‘oh I want the old Bou sound’ but to be honest I’ve learnt so much with mixdowns I could never go back to that sound if I tried. The way I mixdown, the effects I use, all kinds of things. If I tried to go back to that sound and do things in that old way then it would feel wrong. And the more I listen to other music and listen to other producers and work with different ones I’m always learning.

Shame about people moaning on about ‘the old Bou sound’….

People associate you with the first tune of yours they heard and liked innit. So there’s a lot of people associating me with the Poison sound but I’m trying to move away from that, I don’t want to be associated with one sound because I love making and playing so many different sounds.

Yeah tracks like Foxtrot spring to mind there. Complete flip on what people might know you for. But to be fair Poison really did pop, though!

I think after Noisia played it on their radio show then started dropping it into their sets it went off. They were really helpful pushing it to be the tune it became and then it went mad.

I always wondered about the Unglued bootleg. I’m not a fan of these bootlegs of current tunes to be honest.

Yeah he asked my permission so it’s all good. I saw the bright side; it meant people were into the tune and that brought it attention. Shyun bootlegged it. Serum made a jokes version of it to play against Voltage in a clash. It was all fun and games, I didn’t take it too seriously. I love Unglued now, he’s become a good friend and he’s a banging producer. I play a lot of his music in my sets too.

Speaking of other people’s music what’s up with Diamond Audio? That was an early level up in the life of Bou wasn’t it?

Yeah it’s just a bit of fun to be honest. A chance to release up and coming artists’ music and having a place to release my music if other labels didn’t want to sign it. I had to let it sleep for a bit while I’ve been so busy but I’ve got a team on it now and we’re working on a rebrand. It’s not going to be Diamond any more, I’m gonna switch it all up and bring it up to date. Watch this space on that. I’m well happy.

Sick. So what’s up next?

I’ve got an EP coming on Souped Up, the Scorpio EP including collabs with Trigga and Serum. I’m buzzing about it, I feel it’s my best work to date.

You love a collabo don’t you?

I fucking do man, more heads, more fun. You learn so much too.

How about that recent Kasra and Enei one?

Yeah that was mad! They made an idea and sent me some stems and I finished the arrangement and mixed it down and put my own stamp on it. That was a really cool project. Those guys were a big inspiration for me so doing that was sick.

Do you prefer IRL collabos or online ones?

I’d say real life ones, but it changes depending on the situation or vibe. If you’re in the studio and you’re bouncing ideas around and it’s a proper buzz then yeah that’s the best. But if it’s not coming so easy and you’ve got to work hard on bringing an idea over the line then it’s not quite as fun. Sometimes it’s better to be working in isolation, having that time to really work on what you want to do with the tune and think about it. Of course I love being in the studio with anyone, especially the older guys who have so much more experience and just know so much more than me, but I love having my own space and time to do things and all. You can spend all night on it if you need to.

Amen. What else can you reveal beyond the Souped Up release?

Loads of festival gigs. My agent’s been working hard on getting me onto those line-ups. I’ve got Boomtown, Let It Roll, just played at Balter, which was sick. I’m buzzing, it’s my maddest summer yet. Just keep an eye on the usual pages; I’ve got a team of camera guys called G&S visuals. They’ve been following me around to film my biggest tunes and drops. We’ve been working tightly to promote my new music.

Sick. You’re a machine. The hard work is paying off…

Yeah man I feel I’ve been lucky too. I’ve noticed how I never focused on making that one specific tune better but been more focused on making bigger moves. Working towards the next big label, the next big collab, things like that. That’s what it comes down to; I’m not trying to perfect what I do. It’s been better to do it gradually than just focus on making that one tune better if that makes sense?

Total sense!

It’s something I’ve noticed about durm & bass: people labouring over tunes when they should get them out and work on the next thing. You’re not Kanye West, you’re not putting out an anthem a year, just be constantly at it, constantly making tunes and getting yourself out there. Nothing can ever be perfect… These things happen over time.

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