Bristol bass duo My Nu Leng have been a major part of the city’s electronic dance sphere for the last half a decade, turning heads with breakthrough track The Grid in 2012, and continuing on a steady path to success with Set It and more recent Bristol anthems like Soul Shake and brand new track Border, which they released last month with drum and bass don Friction’s bass-centric alter ego, FineArt. On top of that, they were bestowed the honour of hosting a Fabric Live mix last year, and Radio One Essential Mix this February.
Although not born and bred here, they’ve become part of Bristol’s music community in a big way. Tommy and Jammo, who make up the two parts of My Nu Leng, actually met in Jammo’s hometown of High Wycombe.
‘Jammo used to run a night there and that’s how I met him – doing some tiny night with Hazard!’ Tommy explains.
‘The decks were on a bit of wood on a snooker table,’ says Jammo. ‘That was the DJ stand – it was quite DIY! Not soon after, I moved to Bristol and then Tommy moved down a year later.’
They moved into a four bedroom house in Bristol with two other producers, Troy Gunner and Rowl, who’ve both also played a major part in the local scene over the last few years.
It was quite wild for a few years – and that’s when some of our best music was being made
‘It was quite wild for a few years,’ says Jammo. ‘And that’s when some of our best music was being made, in that house. Both of them were really influential, because they were always making music.’
‘It made us buck our ideas up a bit,’ says Tommy. ‘They taught us a lot about music software and how to use it – we learnt a lot from being in that house. Rowl is still in Bristol and Troy now lives in Berlin working for Hype.’
How they ended up coming to Bristol to figure out a music career rather than their neighbouring London is thanks to Jammo deciding to enroll on a university course here. Although ‘the uni thing didn’t work out’ he tells us, eventually they were getting enough bookings to quit their jobs and survive off shows.
‘It took a long time to get there, but once things start picking up, you catch the momentum – the snowball effect,’ says Jammo. ‘I think it happens with a lot of producers, once you start tapping into people’s consciousness, it spreads.’
‘The Grid was a big turning point for us, then Masterplan, and then it kept going from there,’ says Tommy.
The Grid was a big turning point for us, then Masterplan, and then it kept going from there
Although they don’t release music as often as some other producers, they’ve been able to maintain a pretty consistent presence in people’s consciousness through other projects like their Radio One Essential Mix, which dropped in February, and also their sell-out Leng & M8s tours.
‘The Leng & M8s tour we’ve just done, we had nine dates and they all sold out in advance. That’s the second year in a row, so it feels like a really positive thing that we’ve got going,’ says Jammo.
We won’t write music just for the sake of it. It has to be really perfect
‘Things like that really help catapult us forward, because we don’t release music more than once or twice a year. We won’t write music just for the sake of it. It has to be really perfect.’
‘We’re at the last stage of finishing off our next release,’ Tommy says. ‘I can’t wait to get that done and wrapped up. It’s going to be on Friction’s drum and bass label Shogun. There’s a couple of drum and bass tracks on there and one 130(bpm) track. We’re really excited about the music.’
Jammo explains: ‘We’ve been exploring the drum and bass world a lot more lately, because that’s how we met. We like to keep it interesting for us and also to show that we’re not just going to recycle Set It and Soul Shake again and again.
We’re not going to turn into drum and bass producers, we’re just showing what we can do and having fun with it
‘We’re lucky that labels like Shogun are interested in putting music out by us, and letting us be creative with it all. We’ve got some really cool collabs on there, we’ve done our own original drum and bass track, and an original 130 track, which we’re really excited about and will be out for the summertime.
‘We’ve also got a lot more drum and bass bookings lately, and it’s nice to be accepted by drum and bass promoters. We’ve got Playaz coming up and we used to go to those nights at Fabric, so it’s nice to be a special guest there and be respected enough to know that we can go there and play drum and bass in the right way. Because the drum and bass world is a serious world! It’s even more serious than what we do…’
Tommy says, ‘I think that’s why at the start, even though we were both complete drum and bass heads, we started making housier stuff because it wasn’t as harsh a scene, whereas the drum and bass scene was quite cliquey.
‘It’s a really difficult scene to break into, and the fact that we’re doing it now over ten years later shows how long it can take. We’re not going to turn into drum and bass producers, we’re just showing what we can do and having fun with it.’
For those looking forward to catching My Nu Leng at Love Saves the Day this year, they confirm that they’ll be doing the My Nu Leng sets that fans know and love, with those heading to the Leng & M8s afterparty at Motion getting a chance to catch some more of their different sounds.
‘It’ll be our normal kind of set,’ Jammo says. ‘Depending on how long we’ve got. We normally do about half an hour of drum and bass and an hour 130 stuff. If it’s an hour, we might even just do all 130 stuff. We’ve got the after party at Motion as well, which gives us the freedom to do a bit of everything.
‘With Leng & M8s, we have a list of our friends who are DJs, and we try and work with the promoters to do things like back-to-back sets that you wouldn’t normally see. So for the Love Saves the Day after party, we’ve got Redlight and Zinc B2B; New York Transit Authority, Jus Now and GotSome B2B2B.’
For the Love Saves the Day after party, we’ve got Redlight and Zinc B2B; New York Transit Authority, Jus Now and GotSome B2B2B
They’re also planning on taking Leng & M8s to Common People festival, bringing with them: Redlight, Novelist and Goldie; and to South West Four festival, where they’ll be going B2B with Goldie themselves.
‘Going back to back with Goldie is pretty daunting,’ says Tommy. ‘We get on with him quite well and we’ve hung out with him enough times that it won’t be awkward, unless we drop a really, really dodgy tune.
‘Goldie been really supportive of us. We get some amazing text messages from him saying how he looks at us and thinks we’re doing something great. When you receive something like that from Goldie, it’s a real big booster.’
Goldie been really supportive of us. We get some amazing text messages from him
‘There has definitely been moments in our career where we’ve looked at each other and gone: what the… how did that happen?’ says Jammo.
As for what’s next for My Nu Leng, who seem to be gathering momentum by the day, Tommy explains how going independent is helping them progress creatively and professionally:
‘We haven’t had management for the last two years and I think that’s a testament to ourselves, but also to the people we work with. You can’t beat a good circle of people around you that are all in it together and all on the same wavelength – our booking agent, our accountant, our touring company have all been amazing. We’ve actually achieved more without management.
You can get yourself lost in the industry and think that you need to rely on people to be successful, but everything has been positive, if not more successful, since we’ve left the label
‘We parted ways with a label we were on and management at the same time. It wasn’t our choice and it was a bit of a blow – we thought that was the start of the end for us. You can get yourself lost in the industry and think that you need to rely on people to be successful, but everything has been positive, if not more successful, since we’ve left the label.’
Jammo says, ‘It’s been more creative and we’ve released on three different labels now, and we’ve now just started our own label…’
Their new label Maraki Records is a joint effort with Friction under his bass music moniker FineArt. Their first release In Too Deep dropped just last month and is a three-track EP from FineArt, with a look in from Taiki Nulight, as well as My Nu Leng.
‘13/ 14 years ago we were buying his tunes on vinyl, going to his sets, and now we’re putting out on Shogun and working with him on our own label,’ says Tommy.
As well as putting out some of their own stuff, Tommy explains: ‘It’s a chance for us to put out music by people who aren’t necessarily getting that much attention.’
‘It’s stuff we went through at the start of our career,’ says Jammo. ‘And the labels that put belief into us, we are so grateful to. We want to be able to give people that are in that position a platform. There’s a few producers that we’ve backed for a while, but now we get to put music out for them, which is sick. We’ve got about five releases planned already.
‘It’s amazing the position we’re in, because we can put out stuff from new producers, but then when we tell people that it’s a label from us and Friction, we’re getting a lot of support from established names as well. We’ve got a various artists EP coming at some point this year and the track list at the moment is looking really cool – new names alongside people who’ve been doing it for about ten years.
‘The label will be about the 130 stuff – if we get drum and bass it will be through remixes. I think for Friction it’s a chance for him to break away from drum and bass.’
We’ve got a various artists EP coming at some point this year and the track list at the moment is looking really cool – new names alongside people who’ve been doing it for about ten years
Looking again toward their Love Saves the Day set, where they’ll take the second headliner slot on Sunday’s Cloud 9 stage, and their Leng & M8s takeover at Motion afterwards, they say they’re looking forward to playing to a home crowd.
‘I think Bristol’s got the biggest sense of music community of any of the cities in the UK,’ says Jammo.
‘It’s helped us – no question – to get where we are now,’ says Tommy. ‘We had residencies at Thekla when we first started out, and they really helped build our name. We’ve pretty much played every venue in Bristol.
‘Now whenever we do a show here – we probably do one or two a year because it has to be special – they sell out weeks in advance and it’s always a crazy homecoming vibe. Even though we’re not born and bred in Bristol, we feel like this is our home. I think any producer that moves here, it would be difficult not to be influenced by Bristol and the energy here.’
Photography by Buki Koshoni