Q+A: Five minutes with DJ Lag and Novelist

When South African gqom pioneer DJ Lag set out on his extensive and ongoing Alpha Zulu world tour, he promised that he’d also be using the trek to collaborate and release music with the artists he might meet along the way. “I want to blend genres and create new sounds along the way,” he said of his plans. Bulldozer, released today, is one such case. UK grime MC Novelist proves a perfect match for Lag’s hard hitting instincts. One of the first tracks to bring gqom and grime together at the hands of one of each genre’s pioneers, Bulldozer is the sort of track that can only be born from pure synergy. With its minimalist electronic production, syncopated rhythms and percussive heavy foundation, and Novelist’s explosive lyrics riding over the top, Bulldozer feels hefty enough to make out of the dancefloor – where it has all the makings of a summer club hit – and into the charts. We caught up with DJ Lag and Novelist to find out more. 


Download and stream Bulldozer here


DJ Lag, welcome back to The Playground. And hello Novelist! It’s great to chat with you.

Nice to meet you too!


DJ Lag, you’ve been globe trotting on the Alpha Zulu World Tour. Can you tell us what the experience has been like so far?

It’s been amazing, all the shows were on fire and I have been testing out my new music, the response has been crazy.


Are there any cities on the tour that you’ve been particularly excited to play, and why?

Yes I am excited to play Donaufestival in Austria, I remember my first show there in 2018, it was crazy, so I can’t wait to go back 


When you announced the tour, you mentioned that one of your goals was to collaborate with artists around the world and make music while on the road. Is that how this collaboration came about?

Yes, we recorded this song last year but there’s some new stuff I’ve been making whilst on tour, the plan is to release them consistently throughout the year. 


Novelist, as an MC you come from a grime background. What was it like applying your style and flow to gqom?

I’d say my music palette is massive, and when I first heard gqom it was surprisingly like grime in essence, in terms of the raw industrial sounds, drum patterns and heavy bass lines, so it felt natural to me. The song was created very quickly because of the vibe in the room.


How did you approach collaborating on Bulldozer? What was the creative process like?

Lag – We met at the studio in London and I was making the beat while we were chilling, Novelist started rapping on top of the beat, it was all recorded at the same time. 

Novelist – Me, Lag, and our mutual friend Joe were chilling and cracking jokes, we just zoned out to the music and let it naturally flow. I spoke what was on my mind at the time without really questioning anything, we talked about production and were just all on the same vibe.


What do you think these two genres from different parts of the world have most in common and why does it work bringing them together?

Lag – I knew this was gonna work when I first heard grime, I just needed the right person to kill it and Novelist did just that. 

Novelist – I think the thing they both have in common is they’re both essentially derived from the same essence of underground, raw, black music with no filter made to make you dance, with an unconventional spin.


You guys have an awesome synergy on the track. Do you have any plans to work together again in the future?

Lag – Yes we will do more for sure. 

Novelist – Most certain, and it’s mainly because of Lag’s calm character, I like him a lot.


Could you share some details on the music video?

We had a B2B set at NTS and we just decided to shoot a video driving around London together ahead of our show at KOKO that night.


DJ Lag, where is Alpha Zulu taking you next, and what other collaborations can we look forward to along the way?

I am going to Amsterdam, Austria, Brussels,Geneva and back to America in July. 


Thank you both for your time! 

Thank you! 


Watch the music video for Bulldozer below.