Tough Love: Bursting At The Seams
Since bursting onto the scene back in 2012, Tough Love have blessed the house scene with a wide variety of styles. Some are sweet and saccharine, some are as sinister and sleazy as anything you can imagine; but all are bursting at their seams with character and a song writing flair that has marked them out from their peers as ones to watch. With releases on institutions like Nervous, and burgeoning contenders such as CUFF, the Tough Love boys have been securing plaudits from all corners of the house world as they continue to delight with productions putting a premium on dancefloor sensibilities. The plaudits are set to continue with the rapid growth of their own imprint Get Twisted Records, so we caught up with the pair following a successful Ibiza sojourn to discuss the past, present and future
You’ve got samples from Joe Budden to Jagged Edge in your productions so I’d imagine you guys were pretty big Hip Hop and R&B fans growing up. What I’d like to ask first off is what house music means to you? Where did it all start and what artists/labels were you checking for in the beginning?
We grew up on a multitude of genres, but you’re right R&B and Hip Hop are definitely genres that we love which is why they heavily influence our productions. We’ve always loved labels like Strictly Rhythm, Nervous, Postiva, Defected… the list goes on. Stef’s vinyl collection is really impressive with loads of white label in there to, so we often go through them for references & inspiration.
Would it be fair to say your house diet in the early days was mostly composed of the kind of 90s House & Garage that’s experiencing a revival today?
Yeah totally, we’ve always loved that feel good factor, but we try to add a bit of grit to our own productions.
No doubt, ‘Fun Train to Reno’ definitely has that sleazy bounce. You’re just getting back from Booom Ibiza. What was it like playing out and raving with guys like Sonny Fodera, Bontan and the Toolroom Records crew? Do you guys still get star struck or has that faded?
Ibiza was wicked; it was a packed house at Booom! for Toolroom. It was our debut there and the vibe was really good. We’ve played with Sonny & Bontan on a couple of occasions so we knew it was going to be entertaining. Poor Weiss felt the brunt of the after party with everyone piling back into his hotel room. Everyone is human & especially in the house seen everyone is approachable so there’s no reason to ever be star struck.
It’s gotta happen in someone’s room! You hear so much about egos in the music world so it’s good to know people are still down to earth. My first introduction to Tough Love was ‘Keep It Burning’ which would eventually go on to get signed to Nervous. Digging deeper I found tracks like ‘Taking Over’ and ‘The Night Is Calling’ that I could get down to, but ‘Keep It Burning’ is for me still the best representation of your style, how did the track come about?
We had actually already signed ‘I Feel You’ to Nervous as an A-side & they wanted a B-side option to make an EP. ‘Keep It Burning’ was part of a collection of tracks we were working on at the time which included ‘Loving You’ & ‘Hating Me’. ‘Keep It Burning’ was the best fit for the EP which became a double A Side.
It must’ve been a great feeling getting your record signed to a label you look up to right?
Yeah it was great; they’ve got a really great A&R team at Nervous, so it was a pleasure to be a part of a label that we’ve supported from very early on.
You guys have been bubbling up for a minute now but in the last two years you’ve really come to the forefront. Your emergence coincides with the explosion of deep house on both sides of the Atlantic. In a world of EDM, UK bass, Hot Creations and the growing chart success of cliques like Black Butter Records, where do you guys fit in?
We like to make music we enjoy playing out, which is normally the more bumpy side of house & vocally driven as well. All of our music is built to make people dance in one way or another. Having said that we’ve also got production we’re working on at that will surprise a few people. Our music is quite accessible so it fits the dance floor well, and we’ve been lucky enough to pick up good radio support so far.
What I think you guys really have going for you is that terms like underground and mainstream don’t really apply, from warehouse greeze to festival anthems you’re extremely versatile. Speaking of the underground though I would like to touch on the CUFF connection; the aforementioned ‘Fun Train to Reno’ was massive here on the London underground circuit as well as the wider house world. How did the hook up with Amine Edge & DANCE come about?
We’ve been good friends for some time now. Amine Edge & DANCE we’re some of the first people to support our early material & ‘The Fun Train To Reno’ is one of those tracks so it only felt right to let the guys to have it for the launch of their label.
The Perfect Love’ EP is due to drop in a week or so, ‘Heels in a House Rave’ sounds like it was made for the sweatboxes of Vauxhall and ‘The Eight The O’ is definitely gonna go off at those kind of parties, meanwhile you got some of the more vocal driven sweet sounds on the EP as well, it’s a great balance.
You sound like you know those places only too well! [Laughs] We came up with the hook for ‘Heels in a House Rave’ in one of those sweatboxes. We wanted the EP to offer something for everyone as well as stand the test of time, so there’s some more classic vocal house in there, as well as more driving bass options. We’re really happy with the end product and can’t wait for its release.
I might as well be a Vauxhall resident! I could defo hear the influence of the underground scene in that track and it’s a good look so props on that. With the likes of Marco Darko, Chris Lorenzo and Luvstuff you’re already building up quite the catalogue. What is the MO of Get Twisted and what can we expect in the future?
Everything we put out on Get Twisted Records is a track that we love and we have to be able to support it in our sets and on radio. It’s an extension of the sound we push as Tough Love. We’ve got some amazing artists both established & future stars. We’ve got release’s coming up from N:Fostell, Jessica Wilde, Jett, Origins Sound, Jaded, Nastaly & loads more. We’re also continuing our showcases across the UK with abroad options as well, so the future for GTR is exciting.
So far the music is definitely stuff I can see you guys playing in your sets, it’s always good to have a kind of musical theme running throughout the label. DJ Naughty aka Nick Fostell has been part of the music scene in London for a minute now and you guys also remixed ‘Gone In The Morning’ by Carnao Beats which was undoubtedly one of the biggest anthems of last year. The shuffle angle has been done to death but the music coming out and the scene itself is very healthy, what are your thoughts on it?
We really couldn’t give a shit how people dance as long as they’re dancing and having fun, as long as the vibe is right we’ll happily play. The music coming out of the UK and in particular London is really strong at the moment. It’s really competitive so you constantly have to raise your game.
Well said! You played at Siesta in South End if I’m not mistaken and recently rocked the crowd at the outdoor block party, will you be part of their Sankeys Ibiza residency this September?
Yeah we’re out at Sankey’s Ibiza Sept 29th, should be a good one!
Leftwing & Kody and No Artificial Colours are just two of the dynamic duos from London that have been heating up dancefloors worldwide. Along with them you guys are really bringing back the idea of a studio partnership, what is the creative process like working in a pair and how do ideas tend to flow?
We work tirelessly in the studio together & when we’re home we end up working some more. There no set way or pattern to our work, every production starts in its own unique way. We knock heads together and whatever works we keep. Whatever doesn’t goes in the trash.
Do you have a preference between playing out and producing, or is the added high of playing out with your own productions what really gets you going?
Nail…on….the…head! You can’t beat getting a reaction from the dancefloor of a club to one of your own creations. To watch people sing our music back gives us a real buzz
I can imagine the adrenaline. Can you tell us about the Kiss FM link up. I know DJs on the station have been steadily pushing your music, is the show on Sunday a guest mix or a weekly thing?
Yeah Kiss have been really supporting of us from very early on. We had done quite a few guest mixes on the station & one thing led to another so now we have our own weekly show on Sundays at 10pm on Kiss Fresh.
Stations like Kiss and Rinse have really been pushing the current crop of UK talent. With such a healthy underground scene and the support of mainstream outlets like them I’ve got really high hopes for people in the next two to three years. Finally apart from your own productions and those on Get Twisted Records, can you name three tracks you’re really beating out at the moment that never fail to shut it down?
TL: S Man – Dangerous Thoughts
Tensnake – Pressure (Special request Remix)
Huxley ft S-Man – Callin
Tough Love’s new collaborative EP with Amine Edge & DANCE ‘Perfect Love’ is out now via their Get Twisted imprint.
Words: Christopher Grees