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Introducing: Hooversound

Hooversound is the burgeoning UK club label run by SHERELLE and NAINA. As the much-hyped imprint celebrates its first release, prepares for the future, and recalibrates in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, its founders deliver a thrilling mix of 100% Hooversound material, sprinting across the 140 - 170 BPM club music spectrum

Nothing can stop Hooversound. When the UK government announced that it would be going into lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic on the 23rd March, SHERELLE and NAINA’s much-hyped label had just released its debut EP, and was a month away from its official launch party. Where others would have felt the wind knocked from their sails, Hooversound’s co-founders took stock and recalibrated. With over a year’s worth of releases lined up for the label, and plans in motion for when clubs reopen once again, SHERELLE and NAINA’s determination is more intact than ever, and they’re ready to take the world by storm. 

“We had a Hooversound launch party ready to go,” says NAINA, a Beats 1 presenter and Reprezent Radio DJ. “Line up, venue... Everything was sorted. We just had to announce it. Obviously due to the circumstances we cancelled the party, but we’re definitely going to be doing one when this is all over. And it’ll be worth the wait. I can’t wait for club culture to return into all of our lives. It’ll be amazing. We have a few other things up our sleeve but I don’t want to say too much, especially with the world going through a lot right now. There is so much uncertainty. But we’re always plotting!”

“There will never be a day where we stop plotting,” echoes SHERELLE, winner of DJ Mag’s Best of British Breakthrough DJ award for 2019 and fellow Reprezent resident. It’s a sentiment that has defined Hooversound since day one. Long before the label announced itself to the world in August 2019, plans were in motion to create a platform that championed “club music with a twist”. The idea first arose when the pair  went back-to-back supporting The Prodigy at a sold-out Brixton Academy in 2017, SHERELLE told us back in December. “Hooversound has been in the making since then, and after nearly two years of back and forth between us we decided to create the label championing the weird side of bass and club music.”

Upon launching, Hooversound’s call-out for music submissions made no specifications on genre, asking instead for “Anything unusual between 140-170!”. The request not only invoked the vast, fluid and freeform nature of UK club music in 2020, but also both DJs’ respective styles. With SHERELLE’s expertise in footwork, jungle and other 160 BPM-heavy styles merging with NAINA’s emphasis on percussion, syncopation and bass-weight, the Hooversound ethos lends itself perfectly to the confluence of sounds from the UK, US and beyond.  

Enter HOO01, a frenzied collaboration from footwork/jungle fusionists Sinistarr and Hyroglifics. Coming from Detroit and London respectively, the collaboration, titled ‘BS6’, encapsulates the transatlantic mindset at the core of Hooversound, while Hyperdub affiliate Scratcha DVA’s masterful gqom remix of the title track brings a crucial emphasis on sounds from the Global South to the fore. No other EP could have introduced Hooversound to the world. 

“I really wish you could’ve seen mine and Sherelle’s reaction when we first played the EP,” says NAINA. “We spent a lot of time sitting in studios blasting out demos and unsigned music we’d found for hours and making decisions. When we played ‘BS6’ we were literally screaming ‘THIS IS THE ONE! THIS IS THE FIRST RELEASE!’. It’s really spooky how our minds are linked and we agree on everything. The EP that Hyroglifics and Sinistarr put together was the perfect blend of footwork, jungle and techno, with the right amount of aggyness that you can usually find in our DJ sets. 

“We loved the fact that it’s UK meets Detroit," she adds. "It combines the faster 160 club music of Bristol and London with the Ghettotech / acid techno / footwork sounds of Detroit / Chicago. We then asked Scratcha to slow the release down with a remix, and he delivered on the moody percussion. So all together combined, the entire EP was a really good way of showing what Hooversound is about. It literally ticks all the boxes for our debut release on the label.” 

“What we love about HOO01 is that it has an impact,” SHERELLE agrees. “It’s a release that we feel will be remembered as a footwork/160/jersey hybrid that broke the mould. And hopefully a lot of producers will be inspired by it too and start to create some more 160 inspired tracks.” 

The response to the EP has been “fucking amazing”, they tell us, and despite delays in vinyl distribution and the label party cancellation, SHERELLE and NAINA have remained positive as possible throughout the current crisis. Both feel blessed to be able to continue working, with NAINA back broadcasting from her bedroom on both Beats 1 and Reprezent, and SHERELLE continuing her BBC Radio 1 Residency from home. 

“We are just grateful everyone on the label is okay and healthy,” says SHERELLE. “Having all this time now means that we are able to focus more on the label. Thank god for Bandcamp day.  It seems that people collectively want to support you. We are very grateful to everyone that has purchased our bits.” 

HOO02 will be announced very soon, they tell us. “I think most of you have heard at least one or two tracks from the release because Sherelle and I have been blasting it out for ages across radio, in both our most recent Boiler Rooms, out in the clubs. It’s a UK producer. He’s honestly one of the best producers I know. I could sit here and gas him up all day but I don’t wanna give too much away.”

One place you will be able to hear tracks from the new EP is in the label’s brand new, 100% Hooversound mix for DJ Mag, which you can hear below. “We wanted people to hear the variety of music coming out on the label,” says NAINA. “Sherelle and I originally bonded years ago over our love for footwork and 160, but both our music tastes are much broader than that. In this mix you’ll hear what we plan to release for the rest of 2020 and even maybe a little dash of 2021 releases, but we’ve collected so much amazing music over a really long time now, so it felt like the right time to share a taster.”

Dive into Now That’s What I Call Hooversound Vol.1 below. 

Anything else we need to know?

NAINA: “Big up the NHS, stay safe everyone! Sending lots of love and positivity to you all, love nay and shez x” 

SHERELLE: “And stay healthy too. Stay the fuck at home. Big up the NHS of course. And thank you DJ Mag for having us.”

Revisit SHERELLE's 2018 Fresh Kicks mix here, and get to know NAINA here

Eoin Murray is DJ Mag's deputy digital editor. Follow him on twitter @eoin_murraye