Facebook communities are fast becoming the most popular mediums for like-minded individuals to become involved with a particular field of interest. We’ve seen it with groups such as The Basement and Wavey Garms, where people who share a passion for streetwear are able to discuss, buy, sell and socialise.
One of the more recent yet fastest growing of these is Lengoland, a group where producers, DJs and club-goers can interact and share their work. The group has a Bassline focus – a genre that originated in Sheffield in 2002, sharing characteristics with subgenres such as Dusbtep and Grime.
However, Lengoland is more than just a group that focuses on bass and clubbing. It is now a brand (there is merchandise available) and a place where people can learn from others. It’s administrated by a group of successful DJs and producers, and I spoke to DJs Skepsis, Bushbaby, Clean Shirt and Tony Tribe to find out more about the community, and what it takes for a tune to be ‘leng.’
How did Lengoland start?
Tony Tribe: Lengoland was formed originally in April 2016 by a guy called Jonty Harrison. He was quite an active member of a group called The Basement, which focuses a lot on streetwear fashion. He had the idea to create this group to discuss music originally titled The Bassment. However the name clashed with another group and we underwent a name change, subsequently becoming Lengoland. Scott (Skepsis) has been an admin since day one I think and from there it’s ended up with the rest of us gaining admin roles and the group growing to the size it has.
What is the community like within the group?
Tony Tribe: The community is thriving within the group. People constantly look forward to new tunes, discussing production tips and sharing their musical success with others in the group. So it’s a very friendly and welcoming atmosphere. We’ve seen a lot of musical partnerships form within the group and we hope that there will be many more to come.
Skepsis: Strong. Everyone knows each other, and there is a real sense of integrity within both the scene and group. Everyone knows everyone and (most people) supports each other. As the group has grown some of the intimacy has been lost, but it comes with the territory.
Clean Shirt: It’s pretty great. There’s people from all over the country with some amazing talent, and everyone is pretty open minded. Some members are really helping others build upon their sound and others are definitely helping in regards to bookings. Everyone just wants to do their bit for the scene and it shows.
Bushbaby: Yeah it’s dope, a lot of sound guys in there. It’s starting to get more and more recognised as well now like I can’t go to a show without seeing a leng sticker or a tee or something so the community’s definitely getting stronger.
What constitutes a Leng track? How do you differentiate between a tune that is leng and a tune that isn’t?
Bushbaby: Anything that makes the club shake is a leng tune I guess
Skepsis: The word leng is often thrown around – more generally i would say something that makes you react strongly and positively, e.g. a screw face or gun finger.
Clean Shirt: In my opinion a ‘leng’ tune is one designed for impact, a song that’s been made with the primary objective of getting the crowd rowdy. Regardless of genre, if it mashes up the dance its leng.
Tony Tribe: See now this is a tough one for me. I’ve never really described a track as “leng” myself so it’s quite a hard question to answer. I’ve always assumed that describing a track as “leng” means it’s a straight up banger, a crowd pleaser if you will. So I guess for me a “leng track” needs to hold a few key elements: great production value, an intense build up and of course a highly energetic drop.
Is bassline changing? If so, how?
Clean Shirt: I think so. I feel production standards are getting a lot higher and people are getting a lot more intricate in their sound design. I feel like its starting to borrow more and more from that late 200’s style of dubstep; not quite those brostep sort of sounds but still very distorted and aggressive.
Skepsis: Very much so. The new wave of stuff isn’t strictly bassline anymore I’d say, more just 4×4 or “bass house” as some call it, although I don’t like that term. Popularity is also gaining again, bringing the genre to a more mainstream light – this has both positive and negative consequences.
Bushbaby: I think the problem is it isn’t changing enough, everyone’s starting to rinse the same sounds and samples so I guess it’s a prime opportunity for someone who’s developed an interesting sound to pave the way.
Tony Tribe: I’d say bassline has changed immensely. It’s come a long way from the 06/07 days where it was all girly vocals or hype MCs over really basic wobbly and wompy tracks. I feel like a lot of guys making bassline these days, especially the newcomers, have been influenced by other genres such as Dubstep & Drum and bass and were definitely seeing that reflect in the sound right now. I’m just hoping it doesn’t become an all out filth war because that won’t do favours for the genre and might send it back into hiding again. There are still people repping that old school 4×4 sound though. Big ups to JG, Thorpey and anyone else I’ve missed out because those guys never abandoned their roots.
What has been your best achievement to date?
Skepsis: My latest single peaked at #24 on the iTunes dance chart and was uploaded to UKF, which is pretty insane. Also playing at Boomtown, Bassline Festival etc and generally just the fact I get to do what I love so regularly.
Clean Shirt: Probably the Fabric booking we’ve got coming up on the 30th. Bucket list level achievement right there.
Tony Tribe: Without a doubt getting booked to play at Fabric! The Fabriclive CDs were a staple part of my musical diet as a kid and I used to listen to them religiously. Never in a million years did I think I would be playing at the hub of underground music in the UK that is Fabric. I’d say getting booked to play alongside Chase & Status and Shy FX in Leeds has definitely been a highlight as well, as they are phenomenal producers that I have looked up to for as long as I can remember.
Bushbaby: Probably the fabric event at the event of this month
Which DJs did you grow up listening to?
Tony Tribe: I was very much into Dubstep growing up as a teenager. A lot of my musical influence and the producer I am today has come from the genre, and I still hold it very close to my heart. There were a lot of DJs from the dubstep scene that inspired me at the time, so it would be hard to narrow it down to just a few. Labels wise though I’d say: Tempa, Deep Medi, Sin City, Wheel & Deal, Hench and Chesplate played a massive part in shaping the sound I have today.
Bushbaby: My Nu Leng were probably the first producers I found when I started getting into bass music and pretty much fell in love instantly.
Clean Shirt: I was a big grime kid. I grew up listening to a lot of Logan Sama, Slimzee, Plasticman ( and the likes.
Skepsis: My music taste changed like every month. The first people who got me into electronic music around 2008/9 were Pendulum and The Prodigy though.
Advice for aspiring bassline producers?
Skepsis: Do your best to be different and create your own path. The scene is rapidly over-saturating with the same sound over and over again. I would say try and find your own sound, so people would hear a tune of yours and automatically think “yeah that’s him”. More generally, just work hard and I believe you can get wherever you want to.
Clean Shirt: Do your own thing. Don’t let anyone tell you what you can or can’t do. It’s your art, do whatever feels right to you.
Tony Tribe: Make the sound that you want to make and don’t let anyone tell you differently. There are quite a lot of people in Bassline at the moment that are pointing fingers saying “that’s not bassline, this is bassline” etc. but it’s all musical snobbery really. Take influence from other genres that inspire you and make yourself stand out from the crowd. That’s how the biggest people in the scene have got to be where they are today.
Bushbaby: Be different.
Skepsis at Bassfest NYE:
Darkzy (Also Lengoland admin) at Stealth, Nottingham:
words and interview by Will McCartney