Skip to main content

Fresh Kicks 185: Ally Tropical

Fresh Kicks 185: Ally Tropical

Pleasant Life’s Ally Tropical records a mix of bubbling house, electro and breaks for the Fresh Kicks series and chats to Eoin Murray about the Ransom Note publication and his new party, Meanwhile

Ally Tropical likes to keep things loose. Listen to his monthly show on France’s LYL Radio and you’ll hear breezy Balearic, ambient and downtempo jams mingle with cosmic electro belters, thumping house and drum-driven disco, with occasional detours down dub, jazz and psychedelic avenues. The London-based, Glaswegian DJ’s style is fluid; guided by mood more than genre. He meanders about the electronic music map with an open mind, and an ear for sounds that make you feel as well as dance.

“I’ve basically just explored as much as I can,” he says. “Sometimes with the intention or focus of DJing, but more often just for my own personal interests. I wouldn’t say that there is any one sound or reason behind it all, just a series of experiences or events that have guided me... I guess that’s what keeps it exciting for me.”

When he’s not DJing, Ally is editor of the independent electronic music publication and label, Ransom Note, which, since being founded over 10 years ago, has shone a light on underground sounds from around the world and, according to its website, sought to “challenge societal norms, defy political agenda and create art”. “I’m not entirely sure how we ended up here at this point to be honest,” he says. “As a publication I feel proud that we’ve stuck to our guns. It may not always be the glossiest or the shiniest, but we are proud to support grassroots creatives, musicians and journalists. It’s about giving people a shot in an industry that can be notoriously closed-door.”

Ally had a busy post-lockdown summer reconnecting with friends and DJing at clubs and festivals. One highlight was Houghton festival, where he played a spontaneous b2b2b with fellow Ransom Noters Rosie Ama (of Kiara Scuro) and Matt Cowell. “[It] ended up being really unique and exciting as we don’t often play as a crew,” he says. 

Another highlight was Watching Trees, an intimate DIY festival that Ransom Note ran alongside legendary Glasgow DJs, Optimo, whose freewheeling, genre-splicing sound feels spiritually tied to Ally’s own. “There were a lot of special moments there and it was really exciting to watch the whole thing take shape,” he enthuses.  

After several years of throwing parties in Glasgow and London, Ally’s latest venture is a collaborative event series alongside DC FSLMan and Samson A.K. called Meanwhile. Its first outing took place on 10th September at the AAJA Snake Pit in Deptford, and featured sets from its three founders alongside a line-up of guests. The event’s slogan describes its aims plainly: “An exploration into the unknown, meanwhile we dance”.

“I guess we wanted to start something that we felt represented our collective music tastes, which perhaps wasn’t bound by the same ‘big room’ constraints of clubbing in London,” he says. “A lot of spots book the same DJs on rotation, presumably because they know they make money. To be honest, after everything that’s gone on, I don’t blame them.” 

“I do feel that there’s a real gap in crews or individuals putting on DIY parties that allow for that next wave of artists to push through and create new scenes,” he continues. “Much of these limitations stem from social, political and economic constraints, but unless people are willing to take risks and give it a go for the right reasons we’ll stay stuck in the same loop.”

Ally founded the Pleasant Life label in 2020. Described as a home for “textural, experimental electronics”, it’s put out three EPs to date from Darcey Electronics, Remotif and Jackson Ryland. From bubbling kosmische electronics to fast-paced breakbeat techno, its steadily building catalogue is reflective of its founder’s exploratory tastes. “There aren’t really any constraints in respect of sound and style,” he says, adding that now, more than ever, labels are faced with a range of environmental and economic concerns that can affect their process. “I don’t believe that buying a record should be a luxury item, but current circumstances mean the whole process is ridiculously expensive and that the consumer is charged an extortionately inflated price for an EP. I think that’s universal though.”

Ally Tropical’s Fresh Kicks is a high-energy excursion through bubbling house and breaks, with flourishes of technicolour techno and velvety synth added for good measure. “This one was recorded on a Friday night with the lights down and a few beers at the end of a busy week,” he says. “It’s a little loose in places but I think that adds to it from the perspective of being honest and reflective of a set you might hear in a club or at a festival. There’s a few new tracks in here and some secret edits so thanks to those who’ve shared music with me lately.”

Dive into the mix, and check out the tracklist, below. 


Christina Petrie ‘Ballads’
Personas ‘Northside Hibiya Sen’
Low Tape ‘Life After Acid’
Closet Yi ‘9 Dreams’
DJ Chrysalis ‘I Want To Dance’
Jasper James ‘0141’
Kassian ‘Off World Vehicles’
Baldo ‘Ex Machina (Trance Mix)’
Priori ‘2-9-1’
Tom VR ‘Soared Straight Through (Midland Mix)’
Vienna ‘Tell Me (Interspace Mix)’
Wallace ‘Welcome’
Bella Winnewisser ‘Interlude 1’
Unreleased Edit
DJ City - ‘Archeoicae’
Eden Burns ‘Hand On The Chart’
Joe Montana ‘Nimbus (Tulbat Mix)’
Drexciya ‘Andraean Sand Dunes’

Want more? Check out Fresh Kicks mixes from Ngoni Egan and Closet Yi

Eoin Murray is DJ Mag's deputy digital editor. You can follow him on Twitter @eoin_murraye