Ivy Lab is a collaborative project between Sabre & Stray
Originally starting life as a trio, North London outfit Ivy Lab were brought together out of a shared enthusiasm for experimentations on the fringes of the UK bass music scene. The years that followed saw them go from strength to strength, earning a place in ‘The top 10 DJ’s of 2015’ (Mixmag) and propagating a new generation of hip-hop inspired abstractions housed within the framework of their ’20/20 LDN’ project.
The duo now find themselves at the apex of the ‘Halftime’ / ‘Future Beats’ / movement – A motley assortment of actors from across the bass music landscape applying their sonic-heritage to experiments with hip-hop and drum machine electronica.
Ivy Lab invested further in the exploration of this sound with the creation of their ‘20/20 LDN’ clubnight. Housed primarily at Brixton’s Phonox nightclub, it earned the characterisation of “ultra innovative” (Timeout Magazine) and a “London standout” (Mixmag).
Minted in late 2015, and borrowing the same raison d’être as its elder sibling nightlife brand; 20/20 LDN Recordings was unveiled with the pseudo-mixtape/compilation LP “Ivy Lab presents 20/20 Volume.1” – described as “uncompromising, insightful and rather awesome : 9/10” (Mixmag) and “impossible to categorise : 9/10” (DJ Mag) . Little over a year (and only 5 releases deep) the label was awarded the title of ’Best Breakthrough Label 2016’ in the DJ Mag ‘Best of British Awards 2016’.
Now a galvanising presence in the ‘Future Beats’ movement, Ivy Lab’s’ “20/20 Volume.1” release and the subsequent follow up E.P’s were benchmark moments in forging the genre into a pillar of the electronic music landscape. Tracks such as “Spooky Dub”, “Can’t Say No” & “Peninsula” all garnered incredible currency, supplemented by showpiece remixes for Banks (“Fuck with myself”) and Noisia (“Tentacles”).
That same currency as bass music figureheads has been embraced by festivals as varied as Glastonbury, EDC Vegas, SXSW, Sonar (Barcleona + HK), CTM Berlin, Dour, ADE, Woo Hah!, Shambhala, Lightning In A Bottle, Lowlands, Origin NYE, Exit & Outlook.
Ivy Lab head into the horizon not only with an anchored presence at the cutting edge of the bass-music landscape, but also a secured reputation as pioneering label bosses & event promoters in ownership of one of the UK’s most exciting contemporary music brands.
IVY LAB: 20/20 VISION
Gove Kidao and J. Fogel were initially brought together by a shared affinity for music that hovers on the fringes of the bass music scene, experimental sounds and ideas that live on the borderlines between genres.
Both are accomplished producers in their own right – Kidao goes by Sabre, and has been a maverick in the DnB world since 2004, whilst Fogel produces as Stray, having debuted on Critical Recordings in 2009 and pushed a forward-thinking approach to the genre ever since.
Coming together as Ivy Lab, they produce hard-hitting, bass-heavy abstractions that stretch the boundaries of mid-tempo electronica. As a duo they’ve moved away from the structures of DnB and towards the amorphous future beats movement, a loosely defined proto-genre that takes initiatives from hip-hop, trap, DnB and bass music, fusing aspects of various scenes to create weighty, bombastic music that bangs at a halftime tempo.
Since establishing 20/20 LDN in 2015, a record label and dedicated club night at Phonox, they’ve become figureheads of the scene, providing a platform for fledgling artists and a space for their music to be shared with a wider audience.
20/20 LDN Recordings are marking their tenth release with the debut album from Ivy Lab, Death Don’t Always Taste Good. It’s an audacious 12-track foray into the duo’s twisted imaginations, fusing the sonic signifiers of UK bass and DnB with the rolling tempos and cocksure attitude of hip-hop and trap. Following the record’s release on 11th May, we caught up with the pair to get an insight into their creative process and hear about the thoughts, ideas and influences behind each track.
1. Fortune Teller
As an opener the aim was that this set the haunting and unsettling tone that permeates the entire LP. The demo version was titled ‘RZA’ cause the beat has this kinda gritty wu tang vibe about it, and the vox and strings give it a B-movie horror aesthetic which is as tense as it is playful
2. Ugly Bubble
This one has a heavy dub-oriented influence and stands unique on the LP in it’s reliance on 4/4 kicks to drive the beat. The sudden switch into the melodic and lush dreamlike middle breakdown is a ‘surface-to-air’ moment before the bubble comes back and infinitely descends with a shepherd tone illusion quality to it
3. Jet Lag
Jet Lag was written at a time where we both happened to be undergoing emotional stress in our personal lives, and we’d like to imagine that there is a tangible sense of melancholy conveyed in the music
4. Astral Pirate Theme
The sirens, pops and baroque bassline melody are a nod towards Dilla, and the hallmark to its groove is how early the snare hits. There’s also a kinda prog-jazz leaning to the melodies that happen later on in the track and the whole thing has this travelling through space vibe about it, hence the title
This track is a straight-to-the-point affair carried by it’s G Funk styled worming reese bass and swagged out groove. It’s essentially a drum & bass tune at heart, which is where it took most its engineering cues from. The key to the drop is the empty space created in the sparseness of the intro; someone described this to us as being like a ‘palette cleanser’, which feels pretty apt!
6. Vanity Fair
Vibe here is all about making peeps feel on edge, and making use of as small an amount of different elements as possible. There’s a somewhat non-descript and almost alien nature to it’s main instrumentation, and the creepy, bitterly suggestive vocals felt like the perfect fit. It’s the most lowkey track on the LP but arguably one of the most essential in its cementing of the project’s aesthetic
7. A & E
Another very drum & bass oriented affair with glaring techno influences, tunes like this are probably the closest we get to a ‘roller’. Slowly evolving, repeating hypnotic riffs sit as a throwback to some of our earlier tech dnb, and the sound design intentionally maintains a sense of panic, conjuring images of an accident and emergency ward at a hospital, which is how it got its name
8. Death Don’t Always Taste Good
This one bears flickers of Company Flow/El-P, with it’s industrial & grungy core. There’s a sense of tangible urgency, and the burrowing insect percussion keeps things freakish enough to warrant the chunky neurofunk styled bassline which underpins it all
9. Snack Time
Picking up where ‘Death Don’t Always Taste Good’ leaves off through it’s overarching industrial and machine like quality, the juxtaposition in mood between this track’s two halves acts as a fitting microcosm of the project as a whole – it carries a particularly jarring and challenging nature, born out of the playground taunt melodies and awkward groove, and the payoff once again is in the lush, cradling sound design and chords which float in and out over its duration
The factory / machine aesthetic comes to a head here, with the robotic rendition of Monty Python’s Argument Room sketch playing centre stage. In contrast to much of the rest of the LP, the beats here carry a more classic boom-bap groove, which is offset by the choice of offkilter & industrial drumkit
Here, a film-noir dark circus evil clown aesthetic converges with dub-influences and tips its cap towards jump up drum & bass. It carries a very tongue-in-cheek sensibility over from it’s predecessor ‘Calculate’ and sits as one of the album’s most playful and dancefloor centric jawns
This was built a lot like one of our old liquid dnb rollers but in halftime, with an emphasis on filter work which creates the moments of clarity. There are gospel themes to the music which hopefully conjures a kind of celebratory headspace to leave the listener in as the album draws to its conclusion
Credits to: Hyponik
Ivy Lab are one of the hottest groups around right now.
The London trio – made up of Stray, Sabre and Halogenix – are releasing their debut album, ‘Ivy Lab Presents 20/20 Volume One’, this week and it’s an absolute belter from start to finish. Producing tracks individually and collaboratively on it, they’ve served up a mix of scorching halftime and hazy, future-facing instrumental jams.
It’s a bold move from them, too. Even though they made their name giving us some of the most divine and delicate drum ‘n’ bass cuts of the last few years – ‘Make It Clear’ with Hydro and Frank Carter III on Metalheadz, ‘Oblique’ and ‘Live On Your Smile’ on Critical Recordings and their remix of Anushka’s ‘Never Can Decide’ – they defied expectations, rewrote the game-plan and decided to give us a taste of the style of music they’ll be championing on their new label, 20/20 LDN Recordings.
Another way of letting us know what the label’s all about is through their 20/20 mid-week club night that recently made the move to south London venue Phonox after a year at The Silver Bullet in Finsbury Park. Joining them and residents Tim Parker and Deft, guests like Alix Perez, dBridge, Om Unit, Fracture and Sam Binga have passed through to spin cranky, twisted bass, blazing hip hop beats and frantic footwork. The next one sees them team up with London/Glasgow label Astral Black at east London venue Village Underground on November 21, inviting Ryan Hemsworth along. Judging by how much we loved the last one, we fully suggest you go if you’re in town.
They were one of our favourite acts at Croatian bass fest Outlook as well. So much so we basically stalked them and saw them play three times, on two boat parties and once at the Critical takeover of The Moat, and they smashed it every time.
Joining forces in 2013 and finding themselves among our breakthrough DJs list last year, 2015 is definitely the one they’ve become a name everyone’s raving about. The ‘Twenty Questions’ EP on Critical landed early doors – serving up a contender of drum ‘n’ bass tune of the year with the title track – before Lenzman called on them to remix ‘Paper Faces’ on the ‘Looking At The Stars’ remix album. The result? A soul-oozing gem, of course.
It’d be rude not to mention their solo skills while we’re here, although Sabre’s been quiet on that front since the crunching ‘Pinch Me’ with Cern on Dispatch Recordings in 2013. Stray and Halogenix might well have produced two of the year’s best EPs in ‘Paradise’ and ‘All Blue’ on Exit Records and Metalheadz respectively. Taking into account the sheen-smothered beauties they produce individually, it’s no wonder the group manage to blow us away with everything they do.
This mix is a tidy warm-up for the album, featuring six tunes from the record, with tracks by Alix Perez, Mr Carmack, Eprom, Enei, Kasra and Skeptical also being spun. Rugged and spanking in places, beaming and swooning in others, it’s a prime example of their tight, varied selection and the direction they’re heading. Crank up the sub, this one’s fully of rowdy bass.
Credits to: Mixmag
Ivy Lab makes their debut in Reno at The Bluebird on September 4th, 2019 as part of the Great Depressurization.
About this Event
Ivy Lab makes their debut in Reno at The Bluebird on September 4th, 2019 as part of the Great Depressurization.
Special G Jones afterparty featuring special guests Kowta, VGNX and Furth b2b
Wormhole and The Untz Takeover!
$20 / $25
$20 at door with G Jones ticket stub.