Impact caught up with electro-swing duo Dutty Moonshine (Members: Michael Rack and Alex Furley) prior to their set on the main-stage at Summer Party. They enlightened us with their tricks on how to keep their audience energised, the beauty of mixing genres and the importance of playing what you love.
How are you? Are you looking forward to your performance today?
Dutty Moonshine: Oh yes! Most definitely.
So you guys are part of a massive Electro-Swing movement which has got really popular over the last couple of years; what made you choose this genre?
DM: Well, we were kind of doing it before the genre even had a name; we were one of the first UK acts to do it. When we started out there was only three of us; Mr B. The Gentleman Rhymer, The Correspondents and us. And that was before the name was even known as ‘Electro-Swing’. A French record label dubbed this compilation album ‘Electro-Swing’, then we all put our hands up and thought “Hold on a minute…we do this!” and that sort of kicked off the movement. We just like quirky sounds!
Alex: Mike started doing Swing and Bass, he already had that going. I was doing Funk stuff but moving into the Swing element as well. Then Mike booked me for one of his nights and that’s where the magic started!
Mike: Alex supported Subfocus randomly, and he did this Balkany-Swing set and I was just blown away. Then I made some suggestions and that was the birth of Dutty Moonshine!
Clearly, your music is an amalgamation of a lot of genres! I know you incorporate Dupstep and Jungle elements into your music. Where else do you get inspiration from?
DM: Well, we both went to quite a few warehouse raves when we were younger and were into the heavy dance scene. Hip-Hop and Drum n’ Bass have got to be our biggest influences, and the Funk! It’s all about the instruments. Trumpets, we like trumpets. Love a bit of Ska. We’re into loads of different genres.
So, which artists would you say have influenced you the most?
Alex: I guess usually it isn’t Electro-Swing acts that we are influenced by because we were doing Electro-Swing right at the beginning…but an artist who stands out is Cormac, because all of his Electro-Swing stuff is really nice to listen to and really well made but his live sets are not strictly Electro-Swing. There’s a lot of Hip-Hop in there too. He’s just a brilliant DJ, so people like him are quite high up there.
Mike: I grew up as a circus performer! So I had a lot of influence from actual, original Big Band music, Cabaret and bizarre, quirky sounds. Given our passion for the Dance genre, with Breakbeat and D n’ B etc, we liked both movements so we wanted to fuse them.
Do you have any specific 1920s or 1930s influences?
Mike: Django Reinhardt; even though our set doesn’t reflect it in the slightest! My dad got me into him, and he was just damn good gypsy jazz.
Alex: I’ll openly admit I don’t have any pure 1920s/30s influences…not until I started using all this music did I actually go back and listen to the old stuff.
You’re quite a crowd-starting act; you played last year at Summer Party and really got the crowd going then. What would you say has been your most energetic gig?
DM: The most energetic ones we probably don’t remember because we’re quite drunk! But about two years ago, we played at the main open-air stage at Shangri-La, which is a field at Glastonbury. We were jammy enough to get a late-night set on an open air stage and that was unbelievable.
Unfortunately, the only footage of it is a really dodgy camera phone video taken by us; but it’s just a sea of people trying to do the hip hop dance to The Aristocrats. Something we both had in common when we started working together was realising that a DJ who stands there pushing buttons doesn’t really vibe with the crowd. So, we both said we needed to start moving, because it makes all the difference; people want to see something nowadays!
So, what sort of things do you do to interact with the crowd more than a regular DJ?
DM: When we played at Secret Garden Party, we saw a few bands we wanted to see and it clicked that the problem with DJs is that bands have a front-man. They have a way of connecting with the crowd and saying hello, and unless you’ve got an MC, you need to find a way to connect with the crowd, so we just started using a mic; Secret Garden Party was the first festival where we tested it out. We jumped on the mic and just said a few things to engage with the audience and to give the set a raw element. Getting the crowd to sing along is also good, like to ‘King of the Swingers’, they love that kind of stuff! Beardyman’s an undeniable pro; it’s in his blood! At one show, he was running round recording technicians. That was beautiful, poetry in motion.
Nottingham University itself has jumped on the Electro-Swing scene recently. We’ve got loads of student-orientated events like The Jitterbug, Swing, and Swingbox at Spanky Van Dyke’s. Swing Dance Society was also set up this year. Would you say that Electro-Swing is quite student or young person orientated?
DM: It’s dynamic! The stuff that we make, it doesn’t really follow any rigid pattern. There’s no deliberate target. There’s so much stuff that we like, and in our sets it ranges from anything from original Swing to pure badboy D n’ B or Dubstep. It’s just everything from A to B. So there’s no real aim, it’s more like: “We like this, and by some random coincidence, so do lots of other people!” I think that’s a really good sign. There are so many manufactured acts who have a specific target audience and it’s just so soulless. So I think, make what you like and if you make it big, that’s fantastic. Maybe bend the rules ever so slightly but do what you want to do. That’s what we’ve done, and we’re just very lucky!
Mike: I’d say there’s no target audience age-wise. My mum loves it! I know quite a few mums who dig it.
Alex: It’s about people who don’t just buy into the latest thing; they’re open to try new acts and new sounds and to experiment. Festival goers and people who go to alternative nights and stuff…that’s maybe our target audience. Gaining a commercial crowd would be lovely, but I don’t think it’s going to happen!
This amalgamation of genres is the new popular thing, it’s really exploded onto the scene…so what could possibly follow Electro-Swing?!
DM: We got asked this the other day, and it’s a late night drunken debate that we often have. There’s an explosion coming out of America and Canada – people are getting into this thing called Ghetto-Swing. It’s essentially Electro-Swing but Electro-Swing is getting so big that it’s sub-genre-ing. Because there’s no limitations on the genre and no rules, it can just spread anywhere. Electro-Swing can be anything! Ghetto-Swing is this bass-heavy, 110 bpm funky sort of Brokenbeats, which is getting really popular really fast. With technology growing, that also gets people to experiment; a lot of people are using laptops. There’s a Nottingham group, The Killer Dillers, who run The Jitterbug night and their set-up is really tech, far more tech than us. They’ve got all sorts of gadgets for doing amazing stuff. With technology comes new stuff. Live visuals as well, there’s a lot of that going on.
What does the future hold for Dutty Moonshine? Will your genre change or adapt?
DM: Firstly, we’ve got our first ever release coming out, which is very exciting. That’s an EP featuring Mr B. The Gentleman Rhymer, JFB, a band called SkubaRoots, Kitten and the Hip…it’s a big collaboration session. We’ve got a single coming out shortly after that with a music video, so we’re going full throttle at the minute. What you’ll notice about the sound of the EP and the single is that each track is completely different. The next EP will also be a collaboration of different artists. We really like to push creative boundaries. We might take a DJ who’s big in the Breakbeat scene and make him do a Swing-style tune and all of a sudden you’ve got this whole new artist, sound and influence. And that’s beautiful; that’s just jazz, original jazz.
Amazing. Thanks very much!
Dutty Moonshine’s first released EP ‘Rauchestra’, out on ChinChin records, is available for download from July 13th.