Whenever I travel back to Europe or the States, I always feel a significant culture shock after spending weeks DJ-ing at home in Ghana: where's the bass? Good clubs with good subwoofers are simply not the norm in the EU or US—the norm is the neighbors want to sleep. The norm in Ghana, however—as I discovered soon after moving here—is, keep it up, the neighbors are coming!
That's why I instantly felt at home when I entered the basement of Soup Kitchen in Manchester: the wall of speakers was towering over me, the sound was thick, and the Swing Ting team was manning the decks impeccably, mashing together dancehall, hip-hop, UK funky, azonto, soca, and more. Swing Ting is a collective that's been rocking airwaves and dancefloors in Manchester for close to a decade now. They're highly influenced by sound system culture, which has permeated northern England ever since West Indian immigrants started throwing parties there a few decades back. The Swing Ting party, however, is home to a rare crossover of genres, with one foot in bashment, one foot in hip-hop and R&B, and, to my surprise, an extra and very steady foot in azonto and other contemporary African music.
Luckily, Swing Ting's music doesn't stop at Soup Kitchen: their budding label is gearing up to put out its second EP, and as expected, it's high grade and bass-heavy. Just check out the booming opening track "One Step" by Swing Ting co-founders Samrai & Platt that FADER is premiering below. Enormous, inimitably UK bass, extra minimal arrangement, and blazing dancehall vocals: it instantly made me want to stand by a wall of speakers and find out more about the crew. I was able to catch up with Samrai, who gave me the lowdown on where the Swing Ting concept originated, and where they're headed.
Tell me about Swing Ting? Swing Ting is a label, club night and crew consisting of DJs, producers and an MC. Members include Platt, Joey B, Murlo, Fox, and myself. We're all united by a love of soundsystems and street sounds. Swing Ting began as a radio show back in 2008 before becoming a club night which now runs monthly at arguably the city's finest club, Soup Kitchen. We started the label in 2014 to showcase some of the music that was being played at the party that didn't have a platform for release, kicking things off with Brackles & Fox's "Skank," an anthem on the UK underground.
I'm a Manchester resident via the Midlands, a producer, DJ, and co-founder of Swing Ting. I've released material on labels including Keysound, Niche & Bump, Dutty Artz, and UTTU. Platt is a Manchester via Yorkshire based DJ and producer, forming one half of the Swing Ting production outfit. With a keen ear for a trunk-rattling jams, Platt's sets champion R&B, rap, garage, bashment, bassline, and anything that combines or blends these styles. Joey B has been a lynchpin of the Manchester scene for many years, cofounding the city's finest bashment night, Hotmilk. His sets connect the dots between dirty south (please see his highly acclaimed Straight Swangin series), street soul, dancehall, afropop, soca and beyond with coherent, quick-fire juggling.
Fox has previously lived in Kingston, New York, Miami and Manchester. [Whether you call him an] MC, singjay or toaster, [he's a] lover of dancehall, hip-hop, garage, jungle, and everything in between. Fox holds residencies at many of the finest clubs in the UK as well as being a sought after vocalist for his unique, versatility when he touches the mic. Previous collaborators include Zed Bias, Mark Pritchard, and Marcus Intalex. Murlo is a prolific producer and remixer able to conquer any style he tries his hand at, with releases on the likes of Mixpak, Rinse, and UTTU. He was so good when he played Swing Ting the first time in 2012, we had to add him as a resident. Expect his sets to take in dancehall, funky, R&B, grime and more; Murlo slays any and every dance!
What music do you focus on? At the party we like to represent underrepresented club sounds so Swing Ting focuses on but is not limited to styles such as: rap, R&B, grime, bashment, reggae, garage, funky, soca, afropop, and much more.
Where does Swing Ting fit? The dance takes places every third Saturday on the month at one of top ten clubs in the UK, a basement space with an emphasis on music first. In the UK at large, Swing Ting has a great reputation as being one of "the places" to play in the North. In the past year our guests included Butterz, Smutlee, Okzharp, BBrave, and many more.
You mentioned soundsystems and street sounds, can you tell me more about that? We're all lovers of soundsystem culture from dubwise to bashment sounds, whether it's Kilimanjaro and Saxon to Classique and Federation Sound. Rap and R&B are close to us, as well as UK underground street sounds such as garage, funky, bassline and grime. Heartless Crew are a big influence on the eclectic yet current party style selection that we seek to supply.
What's next? Many exciting plans for releases in the schedule this year and beyond from residents, friends, and extended family...boom!
Photo credit: Katie Cooper