Dollars to Pounds: Girl Unit

Photographer Steve Braiden
November 12, 2010

By the time we hit publish on this week's Dollars To Pounds, buildings across south London will be shuddering their way to an early demolition as Night Slugs (label of the year?) go all night with their biggest party of 2010. Lining up alongside label bosses Bok-Bok & L-Vis 1990 will be Phil Gamble AKA Girl Unit, the twenty-four-year-old mastermind behind one of the year's biggest tracks, the euphoric, skyscraping sci-fi banger, "Wut". I talked to him about Fruity Loops and Milli Vanilli and he made us an amazing, genre-bending exclusive mix that includes his incredible, unreleased remix of Katy B's Lights On.

Download: Girl Unit's Dollars To Pounds Mix for The FADER
1. Jimmy Edgar - Funktion Of Your Love (Instrumental) (Items & Things)
2. Krystal Klear - Tried For Your Love (Hudson Mohawke rework) (All City)
3. Lazer Sword - Batman (Lando Kal remix) (Innovative Leisure)
4. Optimum - DS10 (Unreleased)
5. Instra:Mental - When I Dip (Unreleased)
6. Mr De' - Detroit Zoo (Instrumental) (Electrofunk)
7. Starkey - Holodeck (Forthcoming Civil Music)
8. Rick Ross ft. EbonyLove - Money Make Me Come Instrumental (Edit) (Slip-N-Slide)
9. Katy B - Lights On (Girl Unit remix)(unreleased)
10. Salva - Blue (Unreleased)
11. Low Deep - Down Like That (Low Deep)
12. Kid D - Swung (Sweet Beetz)
13. Sekta - I Need (Top Billin)
14. Keri Hilson - Slow Dance (Zone 4)
15. The Blessings - Keith Sweats (Nod Navigators)
16. Nivea - Once I'm Gone (Formula)
17. Lunice - Hitmane Anthem (Forthcoming LuckyMe)
18. Cam'ron ft. Jadakiss - Lets Talk About It (Instrumental) (Prod. AraabMUZIK)

"Wut" is huge. Did you know it was special when you made it?
I didn't really think it was particularly special, but I knew that I really, really loved it when I made it, I listened to it loads before I'd really sent it out to anyone since it was one of my first forays into working in that kind of 140bpm half-time template. I think putting the demo of it on my mix earlier this year was definitely a turning point, I was never sure whether to really indulge this particular side of the music I make, but I feel that the sparseness between each beat when working at this kind of tempo has allowed me to really explore writing big melodic arrangements, which is so much more satisfying, I put a lot more of myself into it.

It's been getting a massive reaction. People have suggested you'll be working with big league rappers and divas before long.
Yeah I mean my intention with the EP, however club-worthy you may deem it, is to really just have some instrumentals out there, and see what happens. I'm happy they stand up on their own as tracks, but I'm really excited at the prospect of artists going over the tracks, or even just getting some bootlegs back.
I always have some hip hop artist or R&B singer in mind when I'm making a track. In terms of people I would like to do a track for, I think my opinion is usually swayed by what producers they work with, but on the basis of their vocal style alone there's definitely a few artists I would love to do tracks for: DJ Paul, La Chat, Diamond (ex-Crime Mob), Twista, Tweet, Nivea, Teedra Moses, Erykah Badu, to name a few. Most of which remain totally slept on, but I think all of them carry a signature sound that I think I could really complement.

"IRL," Temple Keys, "Wut". There's a lot of diversity in your sound. Is that something you strive for, or does it just happen like that?
I think it just happens like that, I mean this mix, and all my other mixes should hopefully convey that there's quite a wide range of sounds that inspire me, so itís usually whatever is particularly grabbing me at the time. Also if I'm planning to put out some tracks together I want the whole thing to be more than just one vibe, so I like to think each track has quite a specific character.

Girl You Know It's True. Are you a big Milli Vanilli fan?
Haha, not really, I came up with Girl U No Its True so long ago I can't remember really what I was thinking, but things have progressed and I'm past the point of no return with it now. I shortened it to Girl Unit around the time I made "IRL" purely 'cause it looks better written down, and itís possibly just a bit easier to remember. I started producing around 17 years old on Fruity Loops. Maybe I'm just being nostalgic but I would kill to get back all of the stuff I used to make on there, I like to think some of it I could even work with now, although I'm sure I'd think otherwise if I actually heard it. Itís a great piece of software though, sometimes I wish I could still make tracks on it.

Night Slugs is going from strength-to-strength. How did you become involved?
Well I met Alex through Manara, whom I'd known for a few years already, I did a mix for Lower End Spasm in 2007, which admittedly was pretty awful, but it got us talking about music. I met James maybe a year later when I went to see him and Alex play down there and things have gone from there really. I played at one of the first few Night Slugs parties when it was hosted at the Redstar in Camberwell. The label just took off from there really, I was really surprised when they said they wanted to put out "IRL", and the label has taken my music, and my own profile as an artist so much further than I'd ever imagined it would go.

From The Collection:

Dollars To Pounds
Dollars to Pounds: Girl Unit