EXCLUSIVE: Cooly G Shares New Track ‘Booboo’ + Talks Tuff

Growing up with parents who exposed her to a diverse array of music from acid house and jungle to hiphop and soul, South London based DJ and producer Cooly G aka Merrisa Campbell has shown herself to be one of UK bass music’s most versatile and distinctive artists. Alongside her club-orientated EPs, her two LPs to date Playin’ Me (2012) and Wait ‘Till Night (2014) demonstrate her willingness to throw an original spin on established genres. The latter in particular saw Cooly forging a unique mutation of sexually-charged R&B driven by complex rhythm patterns, frank lyrics and sensual vocals. The rugged new Armz House EP on the other hand finds the producer in armour-plated combat mode following a period of emotional turmoil and doubt. The EP drops Friday via Hyperdub but we’ve been given an exclusive sneak preview of ‘Booboo’ (scroll down to listen). In addition, Cooly took time out to discuss the motivations behind her new material – and why she’s on the warpath.

Armz House has a very different sound to Wait ‘Till Night. What inspired this?

It was just what I was going through and some crazy stuff that’s happened. My boyfriend had a motorbike accident and he’s paralysed now. I didn’t know how to say that. He’s out now and he’s doing wonderful, to be honest, for someone who’s paralysed. He does boxing, y’know what I mean? I’ve been caring for him and it’s been like a rollercoaster ride. But when it all happened, that’s when I was making the EP and it was very stressful. Just not knowing what’s going on. Like, is he gonna walk again? Or what’s gonna happen if he doesn’t walk again? How do things… happen? D’ya know what I mean? Is he still gonna love me? Am I still gonna love him? Just all sorts of different emotions. So that’s how that EP came out. It’s more like being in pain and anger. And obviously, when the album [Wait ‘Till Night] was out, I felt like it was kind of underrated. So that was part of the anger as well. So ‘Armz House’ means I’m like on an Armz House ting with everything. Meaning I’m goin’ on aggy. Y’know what I mean?

I’m glad you mentioned Wait ‘Till Night. I wanted to ask if you were happy with the response it received.

Hell no. I didn’t wanna probably talk about it to be honest. But… I kind of like used to make music like that when I was younger. So when I did it again, naturally, now, I really wanted people to hear the other side, different genres. Because I can actually make all sorts of music, and you lot don’t know that. Y’know what I mean? I can make grime, anything really, reggae, dub… but none of you lot really heard that kind of stuff, and it can come out, it’s not a problem. But I was trying to make people hear what I can do as well. I don’t just make electronic music. I grew up with acid and reggae and soul and revival and all that kind of stuff. So I still listen to that now and it influences me on what I do.

How important is it for you to represent all these different elements?

Well it’s quite important because when I used to hear that sound when I was very, very young, I didn’t understand bass, the mid and the treble. But when my dad [who ran a studio from the family home] used to take out the bass on the mixer, I used to be like, “Oh my days! Bring it back in! Bring it back in!’ and that’s when I used to get, like, some crazy feelings. That’s what got me into DJing, just knowing that you can hear different elements of the sound. It’s important because that’s the music I grew up on and that got me into it.

So Wait ‘Till Night was really coming from the heart then?

Yeah, it was coming from the heart, but just really a lot of frustration. Me being single and stuff, and overly overworking, and not having anyone to love me or pay attention to me or anything like that. Then it basically started to become real when I met the guy that I’m with now. So it’s really weird, it’s kind of like I wrote it… and in the future it happened. Like the song, ‘Like A Woman Should’… sometimes we have conversations… sometimes when I say something, the lyrics come out of me. It’s like in our daily routine. And it’s  really, really weird. Like the other day, he’s like, ‘Are you gonna wait ’till night?’ and I was just laughing ’cause I was thinking, oh my God, you’re so funny. [laughs] Loads of little things from the album are in action now in real life. It’s weird. Because all of that was like fantasy and frustration, and now it’s becoming real.

I can relate to that. Having conversations about something that later becomes reality. Like you’re making something happen. But back to the album; do you think people had trouble figuring out where it was coming from?

I think it could be that it was hard to get into, especially after hearing stuff like ‘Phat Si’ [2010] or ‘Narst’ [2009]. It’s just totally different. It was a whole new thing. So I was understanding before that maybe this could be a bit too much, and it’s probably too advanced for them. All my music has been anyway. People are like, hollerin’ at me about ‘Love Dub’ [2009] like ‘Wow!’ Six years later. Like it was too much for them then. So I reckon that’s what it is, I just think it was a bit too early for them. But in a way I’m still happy that it came out ’cause there’s loads of people that are coming by it and saying, ‘Wow, this is really different’ and loads of singers want me to make music for them now on the R&B thing. So that’s what I’m heading into. Producing for other artists.

That’s interesting. Have you got people lined up to work with?

I’ve been talking to a few people, I don’t want to mention no names. But I’m very excited to get into it, because it’s something I’ve always wanted to do, as a kid, like make beats for people. Even though I can sing on my own tunes, I’ve wanted to be a producer that I can make tunes for everyone and be that producer. Y’know like Timbaland and Missy, just make bare tunes for people, that’s what I wanna do as well.

You mention making beats. Thinking about both the last album and the new EP, there’s some advanced rhythmic business on those records. Do you feel underrated as a beatmaker?

I do. But I got this really wicked message yesterday from a 17 year old boy. I’ll text you it, I’ll send you it. It’ll probably make you cry. I was at a stage where I was feeling really low, and then this message came and I was like, ‘Oh my God, God is good.’ Because I needed to read that. And it’s based on being underrated, like me, I felt like that for a hot minute. At the moment I don’t have an agent because of little issues that’ve been going on, and I don’t have time to be emailing anyone to even get a new agent. But obviously I need to find time now to sit down and do that. It’s just been crazy. And yeah, I do feel like I’m underrated. I feel like [fellow Hyperdub artist] Scratcha DVA is underrated. I just feel like quite a few people are underrated in sound system music, because it’s probably too much for them. But, then you hear people making beats like us, and it’s mad. And they’re getting a different response as well. But I’m not bothered. I make music naturally. I don’t make it because you tell me to make it. I just make music whenever I want. And if I play it to [Hyperdub founder] Kode9, he wants it. So that’s how it goes. I just do this as a normal thing. This is my life. This is what I do. I’m not trying to be like most of the other people, trying to be famous or anything like that. I do this naturally.

Yeah, I think you’re right that these LPs and EP are advanced. So it might be that they’ll only receive the recognition they deserve a few years down the line.

That’s fine if it gets recognised more in a few years because that’s just how it goes innit. But I know what I’m gonna be making now is gonna be… crazier.

So what kind of direction are you going to take with the next album?

I think it’s gonna be on the Armz House tip but [with] a bit more variety. I’ve been listening to a lot of grime lately and I feel like I’m in a sort of reggae basslines vibe at the moment. So that’s all I can say right now. That kind of dumb bass that’s like slow and crazy. I’m on that kind of tip at the moment.  But I’ve been talking to a lot of artists and vocalists and stuff, so you never know what’s gonna happen…

Interview: Joseph Stannard

Listen to ‘Booboo’ from Cooly G’s Armz House EP:

Cooly G kicks off the Armz House UK Tour at Fuse Art Space in Bradford. Full list of dates below. For more info visit the Hyperdub website

Cooly Tour

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