Written by Eli Sulaiman
Tuff London is a DJ duo who specialize in house and techno. They’ve been mates for a long time and we got to talk to them about what it’s like working together and how it all began. They’re best known for their big hit Front Line and have lots of gigs coming up over the summer. Keep on reading to find out where they take inspiration from and what’s in store for them!
What is your name, age and hometown?
Sam: My name is Sam, I’m 28 and I’m from Leeds.
Ben: My name is Ben, I’m from London and I’m 37.
What’s your musical background and when did you first start producing?
Ben: We’ve actually been in music for quite a long time under different various guises. We probably started 15 years ago, if not longer. I originally started as a band engineer at a recording studio. I was also the tea boy. I had to make cups of tea for the artists that were coming in. At the time the guy who taught me how to program and stuff was heavily into clubbing and he took me out to my first clubs and that’s when I sort of discovered dance music.
Sam: My background’s the same as Ben really. I messed about with music in youth, I played the piano, trumpet and recorder. Very useful instrument. I grew up going out clubbing and I was interested in how the music was actually made and so I got into the DJ side of it and it just kind of went from there.
Ben: We started to go out to the same clubs and listened to same music years ago. There’s a club in London called Trade that had DJ’s like Alan Thompson, Trevor Rockliffe, Malcolm Duffy, The Sharp Boys. They were making tech house of that time. So we had a mutual love of being inspired by the same sounds, going to the same club, we had the same outlook of dance music.
When did you two meet?
Ben & Sam: Ah, years and years ago! We kept going to the same clubs and a friendship blossomed, and here we are today.
Who would you state as your biggest influences?
Ben & Sam: There’s been loads over the years. The Sharp Boys were from a night club called Trade where we used to go out and they DJ there sometimes. That was London’s first big after hours club. It didn’t open til’ 4am. It was music like that and from that time that’s influenced us but we take inspiration from anywhere and everywhere really. We’re heavily influenced by the 90s sound.
Who are you listening to right now?
Ben & Sam: The people we play a lot currently are Ben Remember, Carl Cox, Alan Fitzpatrick, The Rhythm Masters who are some very influential producers. There’s so many artists with so many good things it’s such a good time to be a music fan at the moment. There’s so much talent out there and good music being made. It’s also an exciting time to be an artist.
Who would your dream collaborator be?
Ben & Sam: Carl Cox, Todd Terry. Err, we’re currently working on collaborations but can’t say anything just yet!
What’s it like working as a duo. What have you learned from each other?
Ben & Sam: It’s good when you have one person bringing in different sounds. Two people working as a team to create music and keep the fun element. It’s important to keep the fun element and enjoy ourselves.
What is something that bugs you about the DJ scene?
Ben & Sam: Black T-shirts (laughs). It’s standard DJ attire. Ben wore a white t-shirt for a gig and it was a bit risky, but the thing is we ourselves always wear black t-shirts anyways. Weak fist pumps is the other one! A lot of DJ’s are just putting their arm in the air and waving like the queen and it’s the trend now for some reason.
Could you walk us through the production process of Front Line?
Ben & Sam: We started off wanting to take influence from tracks we heard in the past and make something that was quite tough but then we wanted to counteract the toughness of it with techno production behind with a vocal, a hook, so people could actually remember it. One thing that dance music lacks sometimes is a memorable hook. You can walk out of a club and not being able to sing what you heard all night because it’s just been beats and bass. We wanted to take the modern sound but also give it that memorable hook. We were introduced to singer Steve Edwards who’s worked with loads of people over the years like doing vocals for Cassius on Sound of Violence, he’s also worked with Bob Sinclar and Axwell. He’s got a brilliant voice. There was no messin’ around working with him, it was good.
Can we expect more music from you this year, perhaps an EP?
Ben & Sam: We’ve got some upcoming release on Snatch Records coming up. We’ve got another EP we’re working on at the moment and a collaboration with Ben Remember that we’re working on. We’ve got another collaboration with someone else but we can’t say at the moment. It’s pretty huge. It’s all exciting. We prefer quality over quantity so we’d rather spend more time on the music and getting it absolutely perfect.
Where can people catch you over the summer months?
Ben & Sam: We’ll be playing in London in a couple of weeks, there’s a festival over in Holland that we’re playing at, and a couple of dates in Leeds booked in as well. You can check our dates through our social media. /tufflondonmusic on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Soundcloud.
If you could be a cocktail, what would you be and why?
Sam: A mojito because it’s sweet and they get you hammered.
Ben: A Black Russian – but without the coke. I spent a whole DJ tour in Australia getting hammered on them with a lot of DJ’s. It holds some good memories and it always does what it says on the packet. It’s strong.
Check out Tuff London’s latest album release: The Block EP
Credit: Tuff London