"[Dillon Francis] was like 'Oh my god, I did not expect this.'"
2015 is quickly shaping up to be a groundbreaking year for Stööki Sound. The London based duo consisting of Jelacee (Jamal Alleyne) and DJ Lukey (Luke Hippolyte) have already played a handful of dates with Dillon Francis, dropped Vol. 2 of their Legacy mix series, and recently announced their first North American tour starting in late March.
The two producers have been doing the damn thing for a minute now, but it’s pretty clear that their time to shine is now.
Stööki's goal for this upcoming tour is relatively simple: bring their dark style of UK trap and endearing love for grime to the states. They want to educate those that watch their sets, showing crowds a good time while teaching them something new. We were able to jump on a call with Jamal and Luke, fighting through time differences and a shotty Skype connection to touch on everything from Mr. Carmack to the Stööki art collective.
Hey guys. What can you say about your recent tour dates with Dillon Francis in the UK?
Jelacee: It was amazing man. We got to play in some really cool venues, obviously got to meet Dillon. He’s a very fun guy. The whole team made us feel welcome, and it was really cool playing for a different kind of audience. Even though it was the same age range as our normal audience, it was a very different audience. They responded very well though, and it was all really cool.
"It was also pretty funny chillin in Dillon Francis’ hotel room. We were educating him about grime music..."
Were there any memorable moments or specific nights that stood out for you?
DJ Lukey: Venue wise, KOKO in Camden was awesome because it’s quite a unique venue. It’s got like three different tiers where the audience are, and that was just a pretty sick show. Brighton as well. It was the first night, and we kind of didn’t know what to expect but it had one of the best vibes. That was definitely a highlight.
Jelacee: It was also pretty funny chillin in Dillon Francis’ hotel room. We were educating him about grime music, because he had never heard about certain types of grime music from over here. He did a tune with Dizzee Rascal, so we showed him Dizzee back in like 2004 and he was like “Oh my god, I did not expect this.” It’s unfortunate that not enough people know about it in the states, but we will bring it there.
What are you most looking forward to about your upcoming North American tour?
Jelacee: If there’s a territory in the world where trap obviously flourishes it’s North America, because that’s where it came from. Just being able to come over and play our own style of the music that they already love and see how they react to it is quite exciting.
DJ Lukey: Yea we’ve been to America before, and we love the States. It’s going to be cool because we’ve been interacting with fans online, and they’ve been expressing their excitement for us getting over there to tour. We will finally be able to do that shortly, so we are super stoked about that.
Jelacee: We haven’t been to Canada before, so that’s a whole new territory that we haven’t played in. It’s the combination of going to both places and also places we’ve already been. I want to go back to New York, LA, Chicago, and also places I’ve never been to that I would have never gotten the chance to see.
"Stööki kind of started as an art collective in 2011. One of its first outputs was fashion..."
How has your sound been influenced by living and spending time in London?
DJ Lukey: I think it’s been influenced by genres that kind of originated in London such as grime, UK garage, and dubstep. The sounds kind of have a dark style to them and a minimal side to them, which I think our music has elements of.
Jelacee: I think the UK just generally has darker sounds like garage, grime, and drum ‘n’ bass. They all have much darker sounds than the US kind of style. We kind of just put all of our influences into one pot.
Why do you think the UK has that darker sound, weather-wise maybe?
DJ Lukey: It might be. It’s cold out here. That’s a good question.
Jelacee: That is a good question. I don’t really know why the UK has that darker vibe musically. I’ve never actually thought of why. It’s not like you walk around London and it just has this dark vibe.
How has the UK embraced the trap movement over the years?
Jelacee: I don’t think the UK has taken it on too much. There’s definitely a scene for it, but not like a really developed scene. I don’t really know why. I think the UK is playing it very safe right now with like house music and stuff like that, but it’s definitely possible that it could push through in the next couple years. There are a lot of people that like the scene because it’s not too far off from that grime kind of sound with that 140 BPM stuff. Maybe not so much the “synthy” stuff or hardstyle kind of trap, but more the darker style of trap. Things like RL Grime or Flosstradamus with “Mosh Pit.” Those work quite well over here.
"As we said, we don’t really like to call people fans, we like to call people supporters, because you are supporting the movement."
Who are some other rising English producers that the world should know about?
Jelacee: People I’m liking at the moment are obviously TroyBoi, HU₵₵I, OZZIE, and Mura Masa, and there are a couple grime producers that I really listen to like Rynsaman and Swifta Beater. There’s quite a few, I can’t really think of everyone off the top of my head right now.
What can you tell people about the Stööki Movement and collective?
DJ Lukey: Stööki kind of started as an art collective in 2011. One of its first outputs was fashion, and design in that sense. We had screen-printed shirts and we made jewelry as well. As the movement grew and I met Jamal, we started to really explore the sound element of Stooki. It made sense in a way that as we were putting on events for our friends and our network, there was an opportunity for music to be brought into it. It kind of just grew naturally.
Is there a specific meaning of the word Stööki to you guys?
DJ Lukey: It was the nickname of Quincey, one of the co-founders of Stööki growing up and he kind of put the name forward to us and it didn’t really have a meaning other than that. It’s kind of what we liked about the name. It didn’t really have a meaning, so we could create our own from there.
"Obviously you will play certain tunes that you know are going to go off, but not just one after another. That’s kind of a one-dimensional set."
How vital was a song like “Uppers” to helping jumpstart Stööki Sound, and what have you learned from working with Mr. Carmack?
DJ Lukey: Yea, it’s been a crazy reaction to that song. People are still discovering it now two years later, so I think that shows the strength of that song. It’s always good to see people’s reaction to it.
Jelacee: We did the whole track over the internet, so I got a bunch of .wav files. Just kind of hearing the way he layers certain things, there’s like undertone basses and percussions that you don’t even really realize until you split it all apart. It made me realize how much of a smart producer he is, and that was back then so he’s gotten even better now.
I got off a call with him yesterday because he’s in London for a show, so I told him that we definitely need to get started on “Uppers Vol. 2.” He was down, so it will be interesting to see what we come up with this time. He’s a special kind of producer, because he doesn’t really have any limits to his sound. He kind of makes whatever he wants when he wants, and manages to make it really well. You really have to respect him as a producer.
Too many people worry when performing like “Oh is this a banger?” or “Oh is the drop hard enough?” or “How are they going to react?” But if you are having fun, then everyone will have fun as well. We’ve never really done a show anywhere where people didn’t come up to us after and say “Yea, that was really fun,” because you just got to make everyone have fun and if they don’t understand, then you teach them. That’s what music is about, educating and teaching people about a certain sound. Not just playing. Obviously you will play certain tunes that you know are going to go off, but not just one after another. That’s kind of a one-dimensional set.
What comes next on the music front for you guys? Any plans for official releases?
DJ Lukey: We debuted our collaboration with TroyBoi on the recent Dillon Francis tour, so that’s in the pipeline. We’ve been working hard on a load of new music, but we can’t really speak about specifics right now.
Jelacee: We’ve got about nine tracks coming, so there are quite a few tracks coming out. Then we’re going to work on our EP, either later this year or early next year. We haven’t really decided yet.
What do you most attribute the success of Stööki Sound to?
Jelacee: I’ve never thought of that question actually. I think just like humility and sticking to our own basically, in terms of trying to uphold our sound for the whole time. Just trying to educate people into the whole movement, not just the music side of things but the whole movement an embrace that family element.
As we said, we don’t really like to call people fans, we like to call people supporters, because you are supporting the movement. We’re trying to build a movement of people that like a specific kind of thing, and it’s been working out well.