With their love for ‘90s R&B and bass-heavy house, Tough Love have had a quick rise since emerging in 2011, landing on top-shelf labels like Toolroom and Kenny Dope’s Dope Wax, as well as launching their own imprint, Get Twisted. Similarly, Russia’s BYOR has channeled his no-holds-barred attitude into a steady stream of bangers on labels like Zulu Records and Tough Love’s Get Twisted imprint.
It’s no surprise they would wind up on a split single together, which they have done for IN / ROTATION, Insomniac’s sister label. The only surprise is that it took so long. We caught up with them just in time for today’s drop of “My House” and “Wired” to talk about R&B heroes, crossover sensations, bad habits, video games, and the crazy things people do with champagne bottles at 6am.
Buy Tough Love and BYOR’s My House / Wired here.
You got a shout-out from DJ Q. What’s DJ Q mean to you?
Well, DJ Q and us go way back. We’ve toured together, he’s on our label Get Twisted, remixed some of our music, and we did a residency in Ibiza together many years ago. We’ve always tried to support each other, right from the early days, and even though our style is different, we all come from the garage roots.
The tweet you’re talking about is about a mashup record called “Pow-Hype” that came out back in the day. It was made infamous by DJ EZ, who still drops it in all his shows today. What people don’t know is that dub—and pretty much all the big dubs back then—were made by Stef under an alias. DJ Q—being a UKG boy and our friend—is well aware of this and was pushing for them to be re-released, as they only came out on 12-inch.
You posted: “The whole point with records that cross over is that they are rarely made with that intention.” What are some of your favorite dance tracks that have crossed over?
I mean, if we’re talking about all house records that crossed over, we have to go back to the beginning of house, because these records showed that anything is possible.
Tracks like Steve Silk Hurly’s “Jack Your Body,” which went to #1 in the UK chart—if you sent a record like that to a major label’s A&R, they would never in a million years think this is a “crossover record.” That’s what’s bullshit about this industry, because the only people who decide what record is a crossover is the public.
A record that really caught our attention growing up was Roger Sanchez’s “Another Chance,” a perfect example of a great song which will always stand the test of time. It just took time to bed in through the underground before it got to radio.
In the last decade, maybe Breach’s “Jack” is the best example of a record like this, and that’s kind of where we’ve started making a stand when labels ask us for crossover records. We won’t go in the studio and make a “crossover” record, because there is no such thing; these examples are all just great records that smash the underground, and there’s so much demand they hit the radio. That’s exactly how our crossover records happened; they were organic and took years in the underground before they ever touched radio.
How did “My House” come together? What part of it came to you first?
BYOR sent over a vocal and bass loop as an idea for it, and we got to work on it straight away. I think by that moment, we had already finished “Wired,” so we wanted something sonically that would sit well alongside it. There was a bit of back and forth over email, as we never got in the studio together—because BYOR lives in Russia—so it’s not so easy to get a session!
That’s a snazzy, fuzzy bassline on “My House.” How’d that come about?
After a lot of messing about, trying to design a sound which didn’t sound like every other bass out there. This record actually took a bit of time to get the bass right, to the point where we felt it was dynamic.
What’s the strangest place you’ve found yourself at “6 in the morning”?
We once played a show, and mid-set, we were told to turn the music off, as a show was about to begin. To our surprise, a man came out and proceeded to shove a champagne bottle up his arse. He then bent over and squirted this all over the front of the crowd and stage. We don’t think you can get much stranger than that at 6am. We hope we never have to witness something like this again!
Without “naming and shaming” who’s copying your sets, what were some of the tracks you recognized being lifted?
It’s less about the records. I mean, we all have the same records available. It’s more about the style and mixes. We always mix on the fly; no set is ever pre-prepared. We use all four decks: two track decks, one for FX, and one for acapellas. So, when someone listens to a recording or is at our show and then mixes the same two tracks and acapella, it’s real obvious to us. That’s all we’re going to say on it. It’s flattery at the end of the day, but damn, it’s annoying when the wrong people are always getting the credit that they really aren’t due!
You have a soft spot for R&B. What is it about R&B that moves/inspires you?
We’re both ‘80s babies, so R&B played a big part in our lives growing up. You can always remember that slow dance with some girl you liked back in the day, haha. 1990s R&B was really what we grew up on—it’s got more soul then most records today, and the artists back then were crazy talented!
Who are some of your R&B heroes you’d love to work with?
Timberland, Teddy Riley, and Baby Face. They changed the whole game!
Your alias encourages people to bring your own rules. Has that ever backfired for you?
Yes, actually. My girlfriend often makes her own rules. If we sit with the guys at the studio for too long, I misbehave myself.
“That’s the way we’re wired…” What’s a habit you can’t shake?
Probably three of my unshakable habits are to fall asleep late, play Dota with my mates, and smoke everything!
That extra bit of syncopation/knock-knock in “Wired” adds a funky vibe. How’d that wind up in the track?
You know, I think creation of grooves and rhythm sections is my strong point. When I am in studio, I can do it all night long, but I need more practice in synthesizing sounds; that’s the key!
How did you come up with that chunky bassline? What is your process for putting a track together?When the main rhythm section is ready, the basslines themselves come to my head. I don’t know how to explain it. Maybe my habits help me, if you understand what I mean.
How did you connect with Tough Love and end up doing this release together?
My friends Going Deeper introduced us during the conference in Amsterdam. I certainly heard about these guys before, but we decided to work together after our acquaintance in Holland.
You posted a photo of yourself with a guitar, “making tech house.” Do you play any instruments?
Yes, I play the acoustic guitar. With it, I made various melodies into my tracks. By the way, sometimes it helps in creating basslines, too.
You’re not much of a Twitter user. What doesn’t appeal to you about it?
Who the f*ck even uses a Twitter now? Compared with Instagram, it looks obsolete and unnecessary.