Fanny Beats?

20 September 2012 | 6:00 am | Kosta Lucas

"It’s really great to be doing well and surviving off making music, but honestly it doesn’t really feel like ‘flying high’ to me."

If you scour through the available press about under-25er Greg Feldwick aka Slugabed, a significant portion of it seems to talk about an ineffable sense of humour being present in his work. This is interesting in a scene like contemporary electronic music, because the Warp/Ninja Tune monster is arguably more readily associated with an assortment of serious, furrow-browed beat-heads who smoke dope, wear hoodies and make beats in the dead of night. Whilst it's not to say that their music isn't fun, such labels aren't exactly known for their class clowns.

So when Feldwick answered our questions, it was reassuring to see his apparent 'musical' sense of humour translated socially. Those same qualities that were present in his debut were present in his answers; a mix of intelligence, humility and an acute self-awareness that were all peppered with a casual sense of fun. He manages to express something that is easily inexpressible over a medium like email, much like how his album Time Team is about musically expressing those feelings which are incredibly difficult to express in everyday discourse. So how does he do it? In a rather relaxed fashion, of course: “I just lie around in my pants drinking beer and making music, and I can't be bothered to do the washing up,” explains Feldwick, with no doubt a wry smile. “I think part of the approach involves not really approaching it with any particular approach, really. Writing the songs was quite a natural and thoughtless process.”

In other words, staying close to his truer nature is key. It makes sense then that he likes to write music first thing in the morning when he's “feeling a bit weird from having a weird dream or something.” It also makes sense then that his approach is very centered around making music that he “wants to hear.” Perhaps it was this artistic philosophy, that is quite true to his natural creative instincts, that got Feldwick noticed by imprints like Mu and ultimately Ninja Tune. After all, he appeared on Ninja Tune's radar after throwing together an unofficial remix of Roots Manuva's Witness (1 Hope) which subsequently appeared on the label's 20th anniversary boxset and received some pretty big praise from Mr Manuva himself. But it almost didn't happen that way.

“Funnily enough, there was no pressure because when I asked if I could remix Witness they were like, 'No, sorry',” recalls Feldwick. “So that evening I downloaded an mp3 of the a capella and instrumental versions of Witness and got to work, just for fun. My manager took it into the Ninja Tune office a few days later and they put it on, enjoyed it, and then changed their minds about letting me do it.” And the rest is history really.

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On his signing to the prestigious label, he remarks that his most significant career highlight was simply the opportunity to make and release his debut album. “It's really nice to watch something develop and take shape and then to be pleased with the finished thing and be able to share it with people. That's a nice feeling.”

Insert the arrival of Sluga's first LP, Time Team, a title that seems like an odd choice for an album he's been quoted as saying is about “fannies, pubes and nervousness.” He clarifies with a laugh, “That quote was talking about the single 'sex', referring to how it's not really very sexy; it's a bit more immature and fanny-y.” Clearly a little bemused at being asked to explain the title, a question he probably receives a lot, Feldwick concocts a hilariously trippy story about it referring to a group of friends who exist in “various different legs in the trousers of time,” before conceding that he made that story up and actually named the album after the TV show about archeological digs. All because he thought it would be funny. It's that very lightness that shows up all over Time Team. Despite the harsh g-funk beats and the elusive syncopation of the album's rhythm, it never feels overwrought or oppressively apocalyptic.

In terms his of career outlook, Feldwick keeps a cool head about it all, showing a maturity beyond his 23 years by not getting caught up in all the fuss attached to being signed to a great label and landing on it at such a young age. “It's really great to be doing well and surviving off making music, but honestly it doesn't really feel like 'flying high' to me. My aims aren't so much to do with signing to labels and stuff, and I'm more interested in my own personal development and writing music that I love.” He does however acknowledge that this is a pretty momentous achievement. “Obviously if 16 year-old me could see me now, he'd be really excited. And I am definitely proud that I have seen a bit of success. But I don't ever want my priorities to change.”

Sure enough, some things haven't changed for Feldwick. After all, he still holds a residency at the Brighton club that hosts Donky Pitch, a club night and subsequent label that he credits as a key to his success. “The club nights have always been so atmospheric and friendly and party-y. I feel like it really reignited my love of partying a couple of years ago, when I'd become a bit fed up of clubs and stuff. It reminded me how fun it can all be. Also just having people so passionate about good new music around me has definitely been inspiring. People like Ghost Mutt and Boss Kite have been big musical influences on me, and the Donky Pitch guys themselves are always so up to date on rad new music that I'm never needing to search for stuff myself because they've got it all already!”

Luckily for Australian audiences, they're in for a treat when Slugabed arrives for shows including the debut This Is Nowhere Festival show, featuring a great line-up some of the world's busiest and fastest rising stars in alternative music. “I'm super excited to be coming out to Australia. I have never been before.” So how does he prepare for the land down under? “I've watched Neighbours quite a lot so I think I know what to expect.” But what can we expect from him? Well, the plan seems to be to “play some really good music, really loud and jump around a bit.” Feldwick also reveals, “Got lots of new Sluga stuff to test on your sound systems and crowds… I'm working on my second LP at the moment and it's coming along great!”

Slugabed will be playing the following shows:

Saturday 13 October - One22, Sydney NSW
Sunday 14 October - This Is Nowhere, Perth WA