Night Slugs boss Bok Bok takes a long-awaited step to centre stage with a sleek, blistering collaboration with sister label Fade to Mind star, Kelela. Night Slugs and Fade to Mind (founded in 2010 and 2011) have quickly forged strong global links between London and Los Angeles, and their frequent collaborations are based on a strictly cutting edge fusion style that is currently taking over the underground music, art and fashion worlds.
On the lead single for upcoming release titled ‘Your Charizmatic Self’, Bok Bok’s frantic percussion restlessly brings the rhythm of the song into a new and exciting territory, one that sounds as if it is skipping with erratic false starts. The equally futuristic Kelela breathes life and authenticity into the complex club footwork of Bok Bok’s meticulous and controlled production style. The partnership is encouragingly reminiscent of other iconic musical relationships between artists like Aaliyah, Timbaland and Missy Elliott, or Kelis and The Neptunes; one providing effortless and smooth vocals with a hyper-futuristic sonic backdrop. Bok Bok’s use of synthesizer here immediately recalls Prince’s signature mix of funk and dance music, while Kelela’s direct and open lyrics build on the enigma of her mysterious and alluring presence. The song borders on frustration, while vulnerability and rejection are some of the array of mixed feelings conveyed by the lyrical and vocal style. At different parts tough and assertive, others vulnerable and rejected, Kelela builds on her ability to captivate listeners with her honest approach to songwriting. There is a fatalistic undercurrent throughout; both Bok Bok and Kelela thrive on playing with darkness in a dancefloor setting.
The duo have previously released the tracks ‘Guns & Synths’ and ‘A Lie’ found on the vocalist’s forward thinking mixtape, ‘Cut 4 Me’. The track is another assured and unique vocal performance from Kelela, with its drama-filled harmonies and controlled responses to Bok Bok’s off the wall rhythms. His style has developed into an interesting fusion of the confrontational elements of Grime and the joyous synth parties of 1980s Minneapolis. Even the music video, art directed by Bok Bok visualizes that tension, the cinematic and sleek Los Angeles aesthetic offsets an industrial slate grey virtual Night Slugs studio space. Kelela appears projected in digital form and the theme of global internet interconnectivity and the futurist aesthetic in much of Night Slugs and Fade to Mind’s musical and visual output mark the labels (with Bok Bok and Kelela at the helm) as leaders of a new school.
Melba’s Call (ft. Kelela) is out now on Night Slugs. Buy it here.