WELL ROUNDED HITS THE CAPITAL!!

As you may have realised by now, we at AKA AKA ROAR! hold a special place in our hearts (just by the sinoatrial node if you must know…) for Well Rounded. I mean, whoever kick starts their label with a track like Deadboy’s “U Cheated” is more than ok by us. And then to go on to release records like Cash Antics, James Fox’s “New Jack Swing” (with our man LEON on the flipside) and of course Donga and Blake’s own productions, well, need i say anymore. Basically, they’re what you’d call a proper record company – they don’t make CDs, they don’t just release shit because they think it’s going to be the next big thing, they simply put out tracks that they love and believe in which considering the current musical landscape is nothing less than admirable! Quite frankly, Brighton would be worse off without them…fact.

So what’s all this got to do with AKA AKA ROAR! i hear you faintly mutter. Well, nothing really…. other than the fact that we rep Well Rounded. So when we got wind of them breaking the confines of Brighton and putting on a party in the big smoke we kind of took it as something of a big deal. DEADBOY, BASS CLEF, HOUNDS OF HATE and, of course label boss and wearer of one of the finest beards in the south DONGA.

And you know what? Fuck you recession, because it’s only a bloody fiver, so we don’t want to hear any weak arse excuses like “oooh, i’m sooo broke” or “But London’s so expensive…” because we’re not buying it. Put on some fresh garms, get on a train and come support one of the finest independent record labels this country has to offer.

You can find more info following the link below

https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=123983697678614

See you at the bar, then the floor, then probably the bar another couple of times, then maybe have a quick natter in the loos and then the floor (again…..)

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Crate Digging Vol 1: Strictly Rhythm


Over the course of five posts I’m going to take a greater look at some of dance music’s greatest labels, profiling their history and their (in my opinion) five best releases. To kick things off I’m going to look at the well known US House imprint Strictly Rhythm. During the 1990’s, this label absolutely killled it: their red brick wall twelve inch designs were the sign of a good Chicago house track. However they eventually tried to join hands with Warner Music, which just never really worked out…. (Wonder why?)

Independently Strictly Rhythm are still open today after a relaunch in 2007 that saw them do what no dance label had really done before: relaunch succesfully. The label that invented the white label 12″ + put out the first ever commercially released DJ Mix: ‘Tony Humphries Strictly Rhythm Mix’, are still getting played by DJs all over the world and the songs sound as relevant now as they did then.

Many of the label’s fine releases are available as a digital download, but for the real red brick experience the only option is to hit Discogs… (Those located in Brighton should definitely check out the selection in/above Wolf + Gypsy, there’s plenty of old Detroit & Chi House & Techno 12″s.

Anyway, enough words – onto the music: the (my) top 5 Strictly Rhythm records of all time:


Obvious one here, although I’ve never heard anyone play the (brilliant) dub. Watch out for the Night Slugs white with the Pearson Sound refix of this & Rod Lee’s Let Me See What You Working With, out sooon.


This one’s another classic, produced by the Morillo brothers (M&M) and with a pumping, squelching bassline. The B-Side ‘I’m So Hot For You’ is bang on the money too.


This is another Morillo production, just one brother this time: Eric working as R.A.W – Unbe is a proper belter of a house tune, african chants, bongos, and that drumbeat following you all the way through the song. Just doesn’t sound like it was released in 2003.


You still hear the hard dub of this out, but I almost favor the vocal version for its slinkyness – but that’s the beauty of this twelve – the differences between the hard & soft dub and the two vocal mixes are so big that you really feel like you’re getting value for money. You could warm a night up with the vocal mix and then hit them with the hard dub at peaktime.


I don’t really need to introduce this one… Fritoflight from that well respected music comment website youtube comments says it “sounds like someone challenged R2D2 to a beatboxing contest”…. I almost don’t want to disagree. Interestingly enough despite having one of the most distinctly ‘acidic’ basslines, Wink didn’t use a 303 to make HSoC… Maybe that’s why it sounds so distinctive. Whatever you do, don’t listen to the 2007 Dirty South Remix… I stumbled across it on youtube and I’m now permanently scared. Seriously.

There we go, that’s Strictly Rythm – if you disagree with my choice of tracks please let me know, I’m by no means any kind of expert on SR, and obviously am only familiar with a small section of their huge back catalogue – what would your top 5 Strictly Rhythm’s be? Plus if you’ve enjoyed this, watch out for the other 4 label profiles, I’m still deciding the labels so get your requests in!

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Ustream Vol 1

The first Aka Aka Roar Ustream hit your screen last sunday, and it was a heavy one – we had music from Temple, Lorca, Leon and myself Ben White.  Don’t worry if you’ve missed it though because the glories of modern technology means you can hear it again.  What with it being the first one and all we haven’t entirely ironed out all the technical difficulties, so unfortunately the sets from Temple & Lorca are largely unrecorded, but we’ve got mine and Leon’s at least! Check em out below and keep your ears peeled for news of next Sunday’s session – feel free to come down to Life and listen / have a drink, we’ll announce the lineup during the week.

Ben White Set:

http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/12676968

Tracklist:

NICOLAS JAAR // Angles // Clown & Sunset
COTTAM // 002 B // COTTAM
OLIVER $ // Shaka Lao // Made To Play
JAMES FOX // New Jack Swing // Forthcoming on Well Rounded Housing Project
CONTAKT // Not Forgotten // Local Action
XXXY // Ordinary Things // Ten Thousand Yen
MASTERS AT WORK FT INDIA // To Be In Love (MJ Cole Remix)
LITTLEFOOT // Planet October // Well Rounded
GuGu // AC Riddim // DVA
CHRISTIAN MARTIN // Hoes // Cadang
JOY ORBISON // LADYWELL // Doldrums
CJ BOLLAND // Sugar Is Sweeter (Armand Van Helden Remix) // Armed Records
VICTOR ROMEO // Love Will Find A Way (Ray Hurley & Mark Yardley Dub) // White
MJ COLE // Sincere (MJ’s 2000 Edit) // Locked On
SALVA // 40 Karats // Friends of Friends

Leon Set:

http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/12678785

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Broadening Horizons PT II : The Juke Mutation That’s Been Ignored

A couple of months back I wrote a blog post on the new directions being taken by some producers right now – focusing in on 4×4 vibes, and the mutations associated with 4×4 music.

You can read that post here, and it’s definitely worth it – I took a closer look at Hyperdub’s house side, Braiden’s Doldrums release & 4×4 filled sets, Werk Disc’s Actress, Lone, Slackk & Nicolas Jaar.

I’m continuing the Broadening Horizons series – I’m going to try to round up a few of the other mutations that are doing it for me right now– whether they be 160bpm juke inspired stuff, drum & bass that doesn’t sound anything like most of the 175bpm stuff that gets labeled as D&B, music that leans towards classic electro or everything else in between.  This post deals with US producers who’ve taken on the Juke mantle but aren’t from Chicago and whose sound is on closer inspection, vastly different.

Juke has become a bit of a buzzword online, with much being written about both the Chicago scene that gave birth to the genre (Xlr8rPitchfork) and also the UK producers who have been inspired by it (Headhunter / Addison Groove, Ramadanman, Girl Unit).  For me personally, a lot of the juke that’s been released has failed to live up to the early promise of the first bits I heard, probably Headhunter’s excellent juke mix.

Similarly the UK producers who have taken on the 808 heavy drum patterns and unique vocal sampling that makes juke juke (Addison Groove’s ‘Fuck The 101’ is a perfect example of spellbinding vocal sampling) have kept their productions largely around the 140 mark, bringing British sounds to it but shying away from the high energy feel that those extra 20 beats per minute give juke.

There’s more to the story than just British 140 tunes and Chicago producers making the classic 160 sound:  a host of American producers from other parts of the US have sprung up over the past six months – usually taking parts of the UK underground but sticking to the 160 template of Juke.

The first of these is Sines (Houston): check out his soundcloud, my personal favourite is Supreme, which is available for free download.  Just watch out for those synths at 2:35… Juke has never felt so ’92…

Cedaa (Bellingham, WA) is also making a lot of noise, with an Xlr8r Bubblin’ feature on him.  His synth heavy sound tames the wildness of Juke and offers up a more melodic, dancefloor friendly version: single ‘Tiffany’ is almost a classic juke track in percussion and vocal samples, but throughout it Cedaa uses a bed of lush synths which contrast nicely with the other elements, creating a banger with a bit more feeling.

My personal favourite Cedaa tune, SRVR, opts for twinkling arpeggios and head snapping rhythms that sound as much like Southern rap as they do juke – swapping raw frantic energy for swagger and a well placed Destiny’s Child sample.

Wheez-ie (Boston) is another producer using the 160bpm template to turn heads – his All Werked Up Ep will be the debut release on Brighton label Well Rounded’s new side label – Well Rounded Individuals.  As far as hyped tracks go, the title track will grab most people’s attention first, but it’s 6 minute Leave Her Alone that is really worthy of attention here: Juke is not really known for it’s breakdowns, but skip to 2:30 and you get one of the most emotive and rewarding breakdowns I’ve heard in a while, especially in Juke.  Check the whole EP below, and don’t sleep on WRIND001, hopefully to be released soon.

These producers may be geographically absent from Chicago, unlike Nate, Rashad, Spinn, Roc or any other Chitown producer but are in my opinion every bit as pertinent & vital as any Chicago head or Addison Groove / Ramadanman.  They have been largely unhyped – perhaps because they aren’t really reinventing Juke like the UK producers, or the innovators within the genre like Chicago producers, but it is their ability to sit in between these two scenes, cherry picking their favourite parts that makes their productions so succesful. Unlike Chi stuff this lacks that naivety in production, that raw sound that footwork tracks often have – perhaps the same thing that has made bands like Salem so popular. These US producers offer up a more polished, dancefloor friendly version of Juke – some would argue that it’s a safe option, but listening to these tunes there’s certainly nothing safe about them, perhaps just more conservative than some Juke tunes (something that’s pretty easy to achieve considering how crazy some of the Chi stuff is).


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New Music from the Aka Fam

The Aka residents come correct today with a fresh remix and a new DJ mix… New addition to the pack Lorca, part of London based collective Live Ones, also known as DodgerMan when he’s DJing, recently put up his Zero 7 – Home remix for free download… Just in case any of you missed it I thought it was only right to throw it up on here…. The remix is a great one, capturing the feel of the original but upping the vibes…  The vocals float on top of some lush synths, and a heavy skittering beat. Don’t sleep on this one.

Next up is a mix from myself, this one on a slo-mo house tip…  Kicking off at 110 bpm, moving up to 125 and then back down to 75 bpm to finish things off. Unreleased bits from Well Rounded, Well Rounded Housing Project & Local Action alongside classic cuts from KDJ, Prelude, West End, Rush Hour, Strictly Rhythm and Urban Beat.

JULIO BASHMORE // The Horn That Time Forgot // PMR Records

KRYSTAL KLEAR // Greensilver // Dub Organizer

WOLF & LAMB // Love Someone // Wolf & Lamb

COTTAM // 002 B // Cottam

MOODYMANN // I Can’t Kick This Feeling When It Hits // KDJ

UNLIMITED TOUCH // Searching To Find The One // Prelude Records

GLASS CANDY // Miss Broadway // Italians Do It Better

LOOSE JOINTS // Is It All Over My Face // West End Records

BAKEY USTL // A Tender Place // Firecracker

JACQUES GREEN // The Look // LuckyMe

CREEP // Days (Azari & III Remix) // Young Turks

JAMES FOX // New Jack Swing // Forthcoming on Well Rounded Housing Project

HAYNES // Jacks // CDR

LITTLEFOOT // Planet October // Forthcoming on Well Rounded

M & M // So Deep, So Good // Strictly Rhythm

CONTACT // Not Forgotten // Forthcoming on Local Action

ALTERED NATIVES // Altered Jefferson // CDR

ROBERT HOOD PRESENTS FLOORPLAN // Funky Souls // Rush Hour

INSTRA:MENTAL // Voyeur // Disfigured Dubz

KMA PRODUCTIONS // Cape Fear (Vlad Caia & Cristi Cons Edit) // Urban Beat

JULIO BASHMORE // Battle For Middle You // PMR

NICOLAS JAAR // Time For Us // Wolf & Lamb

Enjoy the free music business, and make sure you’re down at the next Aka… If you don’t know the lineup by now, then I give up. Seriously. In case you genuinely don’t, it’s James Blake, Joy Orbison & Blawan, with the Nightmoves crew in Room 2.  Tickets are flying like hot cakes, and will soon go up from £8 to £10. So get them sooner rather than later… Resident & Rounder record shops have both got tickets, as do Ticketweb & Fatsoma:

http://www.fatsoma.com/tickets/aka-aka-roar/life-brighton/brighton/e39707

http://www.ticketweb.co.uk/user/?region=gb_south&query=detail&event=428656

In the meantime – there’s plenty to keep your ears occupied in Brighton:

Deadly Rhythm presents Scuba, Donga & Ben White for only £6 before 12 on Friday 28th January

Life presents Numbers: Deadboy, Jackmaster, Redinho (live) & Spencer for only £6 on February 4th

Dagger presents the Heatwave, Renegade Youth & Dagger DJs for only £3 on February 9th

Aka Aka Roar vs Well Rounded presents Julio Bashmore on February 19th for only £5

Word. Aka Ben


 

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Q&A with… BRACKLES

In anticipation of our 1st Birthday Bash at LIFE on Friday here’s a little interview we managed to secure with Mr. Rob Kemp AKA BRACKLES. From his awsome Rinse FM show to his amazing synthn led productions and incredible DJ sets the last couple of years have seen somewhat of a meteoric rise in popularity for Mr. Kemp and with a string of releases due out this year and his Blunted Robot label growing in stature 2011 looks set to carry on that trend. In this interview we discuss amongst other things how day to day life’s changed for him, remixes, radio and the influence of 80’s Synth Pop on his music…

 

Hi Rob, just in case anyone’s been living under a rock for the last couple of years could you just start by telling us a little bit about yourself?


Hey I’m Rob Kemp AKA Brackles, I have a weekly show on Rinse FM and I run the blunted robots label alongside Shortstuff.

 

I’m guessing it’s been a pretty crazy couple of years for you what with things blowing up on both the DJ and Production front in a massive way (that’s without even mentioning Blunted Robots!) But if at all possible, what have been your personal highlights and how has your day to day life changed?


I quit my job just over a year ago and have jus been working on music since. Personal highlights since then include playing Dub War in New York and a great small rave I played in Aachen, Germany called Dub and Bass. Things haven’t changed too much apart from the gigs, I do get sent a lot more music now tho.

 

Your productions are quite often held in comparison with 2 step, Garage and R&B but personally when I listen to your tracks I feel they also evoke memories of classic 80’s synth pop like Kraftwerk or Gary Numan, was this ever an influence, is it just a happy accident or am I just mental?


Yeah I love Gary Numan, Kraftwerk, Human League. Kraftwerk are big influence and also people like Juan Atkins and Drexciya who kind of come out of the Kraftwerk thing anyway.

For me you have also produced some of the best remixes of the last couple of years – MSTKRTS “Heartbreaker”, Tempa T’s “Next Hype” and Crystal Fighters “I Love London” come to mind, but do you ever feel intimidated when an artist the size of say MSTKRFT asks you to remix their releases and how do you go about putting your own stamp on someone else’s original work?


It’s usually fairly easy to put my own stamp on it, with the tunes you mentioned I just used the vocals mainly so the beat is completely me. But when it’s a big rmx I do get a bit stressed about it, I remember spending over week trying to get something good for the MSTRKRFT rmx and then ended up coming up with the finished product in a couple hours.

You’ve also (understandably) built up a reputation for yourself as one the tightest and best DJs on the scene and after seeing you tear the arse out of AKA both times you’ve been down I can attest that your sets are a very intense experience, sometimes even bordering on frantic (that’s a compliment by the way!) Do you ever feel any pressure to keep the high standard of Djing up and how much time and effort usually goes into a typical Brackles set?


I’m a bit lazy with Djing – I don’t really mix at home, I only mix on radio and in the clubs. Radio is great for keeping you sharp and listening to everything you’ve been sent tho.

Your obviously playing the AKA 1st Birthday party on Friday, going back to back with what a lot of people would consider to be one of your adversaries on the decks in regards to skill level, BRAIDEN, but how does your approach to playing out b2b differ from playing out on your own in regards to how you prepare for it?

If it’s possible I try to get em down on Rinse before the show as a warm up – you can catch me and Braiden on thurs 3-5PM. As to different approach I just try to kinda match we’re the other DJ is going and not pull in a different direction.

 

Your Rinse show (along with Oneman, Hessle and Braiden’s show) is a staple here at AKA AKA ROAR! towers as it always seems have a definite emphasis on pushing new tunes every week, is that always your intention and do you find it hard finding time to prepare for it every week?


Yeah I want to make sure I’m playing as much new music as is possible, all the DJs I remember liking when i was a teenager would play a completely up front show of unreleased music so I try to keep that going.

 

It does take up a lot of time to get through all the music but I do listen to everything before my show.

 

On that last tip, what tracks are you feeling most at the moment??


I’m still loving the Funkystepz – Deep Roller e.p. that dropped on iTunes and anything Champion does is gold. There’s also another guy called Walton from Manchester who’s been sending me some great instrumentals..

 

Finally, and seeing as it’s January, what do you see the coming year holding for Brackles and do you have any New Year’s resolutions that are blatantly going to be broken by February?

 

I’ve got a lot of music to get out, I have about 14 tracks stacked up and I’m also gonna start working with vocalists. Only resolution I made was to work harder on the label so I’m hoping I can stick to that one!

 

Massive shouts to Brackles for the interview, remember he’ll be playing our 1st Birthday Bash this Friday @ LIFE Brighton back to back with Braiden, SBTRKT and Slackk. £6 b4 12, £7 NUS/ £8 thereafter. There may even be cake….

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Questions & Answers with : SLACKK

What with his imenent appearance at AKA almost upon us we decided to have a chat with SLACKK aka Paul via email about Grime vs Funky, his recent Numbers release and errr…. Capeoira. Here’s what happened:

Q: First time I got to know about you was a post on Dan Hancox and Bok
Bok’s Lower End Spasm blog on your Eski House mix – how did that come
about? Did they ask you to put the mix together our did they just pick
up on it?

A: To be honest I asked them to put the mix up. I’d been making these grime influenced tunes for a while and passing them to a few DJs here and there, Jackmaster being one of them, and he arranged the Fire Flies/Peru 12″ off the back of all that. I’d known Dan & Alex for a while via raves and just generally talking shit about music, so we sorted out the idea of me doing this mix as promo for the 12″. The timing didn’t really work out as it happened because the vinyl had pressing issues but that was the idea behind it. That’s another story though.

Q: Obviously you’ve been around in the music scene for a lot longer than
that mixtape – you were instrumental in http://www.grimetapes.com/ – a
fantastic archive of pirate radio Grime and other ‘nuum centric mixes.
how long have you been into Grime, and what do you feel about the
state of Grime in 2011? Was your move to South London an attempt to
get closer to the heart of Grime?

A: Er, I’ve been into grime for I don’t even know how long. First moved down here from Liverpool at the end of 2002 and I was really young and clueless about most things really. Picked up on grime from there because well, it was ubiquitous on the pirates at the time and was just a really vital sound. It just kind of found me I guess.
A lot of people are always ready to label grime as being dead or irrelevant these days but it’s never really went away for me. I think it’s in quite a healthy state coming into the start of the year actually; it’s swung back towards being an instrumental led scene as opposed the little mixtape era we had, and there are a lot of promising producers and good music being made. I’ve got a couple of mates running grime labels in Oil Gang & Butterz and they’re selling well, putting out good music. I dunno, grime’s one of those scenes that just keeps running along whether you like it or not, and I think there’s a lot to be said for that kind of mentality.
Living in South London has nothing to do with grime or anything really, it’s more a matter of it’s cheaper to live there than most of London, there’s less twats and good food. Can’t ask for more than that.

Q: Obviously your brand of house music bears comparison to the grimier
edges of Uk Funky – Lil Silva is the first name that comes to mind,
having been around for so long, though Jam City, Bok Bok & Spooky are
all doing great things between the two genres. How big an influence
is this kind of Funky on your productions? Obviously it’s easy to
hear Grime too in your tunes, specifically the sounds of producers
like early Geeneus, DJ Oddz, Wiley, Jon E Cash – which would you say
is more important to you?

A: I always find it difficult to try and categorise influences frankly, Ben. I guess you pick up on the things that you listen to the most and I do listen to grime more than house, but that’s possibly just because I’ve got so much of it. I do prefer the ideology and aggression of grime though, there’s a lot to be said for the upfront nature of the music which isn’t always apparent in funky. Really though I just do me; I think in my earlier stuff (as some people who’ve heard it will attest to) there were certainly attempts to try and emulate the early funky sound but these days, nah. I’m frankly just trying to recreate the sound palette of grime at 130 these days, make things as bass led and odd as I can.

Q: You’re closely linked with the Wifey LDN crew – which by the way is a
wicked night, taking place at Dalston’s Alibi, blending Grime,
Bassline and hard Funky to great effect. How did you get involved
with Wifey & when’s the next night?

A: It’s weird, the Wifey thing, because I knew Ralph (one of the promoters) long before I knew what Wifey was or that he was involved in it. I used to do Capeoira a few years ago- during a brief health-conscious period, long since dissipated- and Ralph used to go to the same classes, he was a lot better than me, and plays the Berimbau as well, all that shit. Anyway I stopped all that ages ago and then around the time of the Eskihouse mix he got in touch with me, primarily about the mix etc, and we realised we’d known eachother for time. Really odd.
Wifey is great though, really do love the night. It’s gone monthly now, every 3rd Friday, and I’m playing the January one alongside DJ Q & R1 Ryders.

Q: I was really pleased to see you guesting with the Wifey crew on Marcus
Nasty’s Rinse show, although a little bit suprised in a way, as I seem
to remember Nasty, alongside the Circle crew, being one of the most
vocal in the Funky scene against any kind of grimey side to the music
– wanting instead to make a completely fresh start, away from the
mistakes that they saw the Grime scene as having made.. Has Nasty come
around to the possibilities of grimey house?

A:Nah I think you’re getting your wires crossed here slightly- the stuff Marcus was bemoaning was more the abundance of MC tracks that were coming through from “failed” grime MCs as opposed to Circle’s avowed hatred of anything that didn’t fit into their dubbage aesthetic. I don’t really agree with the latter but that doesn’t matter too much.
The Rinse thing was a great look for me though, and I really did fucking enjoy it to be honest. It’s a different kind of vibe, being in there, bouncing off the energy of the MCs and well, being part- however briefly- of the most vibrant station in the city. Was a big moment for me, that. I know in theory I’m meant to be really nonchalant about it but I’m not, it was mental.

Q: What are your favourite tracks to play out at the moment and which
artists are you most excited about in the coming year?

A: To be honest I don’t know the names of anything. Generally if I get a tune and like it enough to burn it to CD I write down something to remind me of the tune as opposed to what it’s actually called. I know that’s stupid but that’s what happens. That does mean I end up calling tunes by completely different names but I know what they are so who cares.
Really think Damu’s going to be the one to watch next year to be honest. He’s got a couple of twelves coming on Local Action and Silverback and they’re both brilliant. Grimewise I think you need to watch out for Deset, he’s coming out with some of the best stuff I’ve heard in a long time. So aggressive and mental.

Q: Finally your Numbers EP has had a really great response, with Wiley
sampling ‘Fire Flies’ being one of the bigger tunes of last year for
me, and your self released Eski Clicks tune was equally large.
However judging by your mixes and soundcloud, and the constant stream
of dubs you send over, these two releases are just the tip of the
iceberg… When and how can we expect more Slackk releases?

A: Yeah, I make a lot of stuff. Some of it’s shit but whatever, that’s part of the process. As for releases, I’ve got a split 12″ coming on my mate’s label late February/early March, that’s next. My tune’s called Synthetics and the B side is by this lad called Hervey Jenkins, a real garage throwback kind of thing. After that I’ve got a few remixes coming and a second release on Numbers towards the middle of the year.
Got some stuff coming with MCs as well but trying not to talk about that too much to be honest. You’ll hear some of it in Brighton though.

Big ups to Slackk for answering our questions and don’t miss him alongside Brackles b2b Braiden and Sbtrkt at Life this friday…. Plus one final interview incoming later in the week.

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