Get to Know: Tough Love
Having had a breakthrough past year with releases on sort after labels such as OFF and Toolroom Records, receiving continual wide spread support on your SoundCloud uploads and bookings coming from every angle. How has it been adjusting to the whirlwind life of in demand DJ/Producers and what is significantly different?
Its been a gradual process over a 3 year period so things have happened fairly steadily, although you are right the last 12 months have been really strong for us. We’re busier than ever, which means we have to be a lot more particular with what we work on. Although we love making music, we’re much more focused on what we’re making music for and time is definitely limited. The only other thing we’ve had to get used to is the increased travel and lack of sleep, so we're getting better at sleeping when we can.
You lads are at the forefront of the UK bass heavy house sound that is growing rapidly. How do you see the sound developing?
The UK has always been good at taking elements of various other genres & putting a new twist on it, which is evident when you look back over the years at the likes of UKG and Speed Garage. Even though our earlier material like “Can’t Find The Words” had a more NU-Disco feel, we love making high-energy house that we call big and bumpy. Sometimes this fits into ‘bass house’ sometimes its straight house, & occasionally it’s a little bit deeper.
House has always been global but even more so lately especially across the UK and were sure influences from other genres will start to creep in, which can only be healthy for the scene. It wont be long before you’ve got established vocalist’s and artists wanting to jump on features & we can already see guys like Aoki venturing into the more bass driven sounds. For us this is progression, it shows the development of the sound & how its being accepted globally especially across the pond. You only have to look at guys like Chris Lorenzo who’s been pushing Bass House from the midlands for years & is now being accepted state side.
‘Get Twisted Records’, your label, has had some wicked releases on it this year. How did you come about Get Twisted Records and what is your vision with the label?
Get Twisted Records was always a vehicle for us to release material that we believed in, whether it be our own productions, a friends or a demo we’d been sent. We had so much material in our back catalogue & so much quality music that we’d heard from others in need of a push. A lot of labels messed about and in the earlier stages only cared about artist profile and not the quality of music being brought to the table so it was a natural progression to set up our own imprint. It gives us flexibility & reliability, something that not all other labels could offer us.
What do you look for when signing a track onto the label?
Get Twisted is really an extension of our sound as Tough Love. There’s no better way to promote new music then by playing it, so everything we sign has to be able to fit into our sets, when you love a track it’s a lot easier to sell. We wont just sign a track because of the artists name, we want something original that really stands out and can hold its own. We don’t look at other labels or sounds & try to recreate it, we want to build our own family, drive our own sound in our own direction.
With an ever-growing list of successful duo DJ acts, what do you think are the key elements for a successful duo, and what in your opinion are the benefits of being two rather than one?
First & foremost you have to trust each other and get on. You’ve going to spend a hell of a lot of time together, so if you don’t enjoy each others company you’re in trouble. You have to be brutally honest from the get go so everyone involved knows where they stand.
Having different strengths in different areas that can compliment the brand and each other is really important, its makes a more powerful package. You have to have fun, this is the most important thing, it’s the reason why we all do music in the first place right?!
Having 2 creative minds means you can really push your tracks to place’s you might not get to as one person in control. It also means you can share the work load at busy times, which takes a huge amount of pressure off, but more than anything it means you share all your experiences together, good & bad, and this is priceless.
Was there anything growing up which set the course for your music and career?
Alex – I come from a very musical family, my mum was a dancer all around the world before turning her hand to choreography and teaching. My dad can shred the electric guitar & also started a record label, management, music & production house when I was in my teens. I gained a lot of experience from being around my family, especially from the business side of thing. I had the options to get into production, but in my teens I really wasn’t interested or dedicated enough. But I guess it was something that was destined to happen
Stef - For as long as I can remember I was always involved in music one way or another. I got my first set of budget belt driven turntables at the age of 13 and from then on was hooked. I started making dubs to make my sets different from everyone else’s and moved onto remixes and original productions a few years later. In 2001 I managed to release and sell over 1500 copies of my first vinyl by hand which I suppose gave me the confidence to try and make a career of it.
What were the first records you heard that made you think, “I want to do that”?
Alex - There were a few but Tori Amos - Professional Widow (Armand's Mix) has to be up there for me.
Stef – I always struggle with this question because there’s been so many but my earliest memory would probably be tracks like Charly By The Prodigy, Kadoc – The Night Train & The Bucketheads – The Bomb.
Which 3 DJs do you listen currently to the most?
We rarely find ourselves listening to other DJ’s as we try and focus on what we're doing but if we do
How do you stay on track with what’s hot and what to play in upcoming sets?
Fortunately we get a lot of promos & demos on a weekly basis so we spend a lot of time going through them and we have a weekly radio show on Sunday’s on KissFresh (KissFM UK) which gives us a chance to test out new tracks.
Off the top of your head which 8 artists would you choose to perform at a Tough Love electronic festival?
Gig wise, any particular out of the ordinary standout moments?
They’ve all been pretty amazing, Mexico at the start of the year was really good, we played an extended set on our last night there at La Santanera & the crowd was electric. A few of the festivals so far have been quality but the Toolroom tent at WeAreFstvl was different class. We always love playing in London, our support here is amazing & they really know how to party.
Can you tell us how your first gig was as Tough Love?
It was pretty fucking good to be honest. We played main room at Egg with No Artificial Colours & our boy JR, not a bad opening gig for an act. It was really busy that night & we had so many friends there with us. That will always be a special memory for us both.
What do you want to accomplish most off your musical bucket list?
Alex – I just want to see the world & enjoy my life.
Stef – We're both highly ambitious so I want to ride the wave as far as it can take us, but most importantly for me I want to provide my parents and family with the security that they deserve, everything else is a bonus.
What’s on the horizon for Tough Love?
Well next up is our collaboration EP with Amine Edge & DANCE, which drops on our label on August 18th. We’ve got loads of remix’s due out this summer for the likes of Shift K3y, Borgeous, Ill Blu & more. We’ve just got back in to the studio working on a couple more singles plus a new compilation for Toolroom Records, which will feature some brand new work from us, including some really special collaborations. We’re also in the early stages of starting to develop a live show, which is something we’re both really excited about.