Exclusive Interview: Tough Love
Tough Love first appeared on our radar a couple of years with the excellent ‘Can’t Find The Words’ on one of our favourite young labels, Love Not Money. Fast forward to 2014 and they’re traveling all over the UK playing high-profile gigs and releasing one hot EP after another. Most recently they had the storming ‘Dreams’ on Toolroom and next up is a seriously fresh collaboration with friends of Deep House London, Amine Edge & DANCE, which you can check out below. With all this in mind we thought it was high time we had a chat with the guys and here’s the result…
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So guys, how’s everything going at the moment? You seem to be doing pretty well for yourselves right now…?
Thank you, yeah we’re really enjoying ourselves at the moment. When you’re doing what you love for a job everyday it’s pretty amazing. We’re very thankful to be in this position, but there’s so much more we want to achieve so we’re not letting up any time soon.
Is there a point over the last few years that would define as your ‘big break’? Or a moment when you really felt like things were starting to work for you?
We’re both highly ambitious so we’re still working towards that big break. There were some key releases early on in our career as Tough Love. Tracks like “The Night Is Calling” grabbed people’s attention but traction has definitely started to pick up in the last 12 months, most probably due to a combination of successful releases on solid labels and also playing at some great events.
When you first got started with DJing and production, what style of music were you focused on?
We’ve both always loved house music and any associated genres and sub-genres. That was surely the sound that kickstarted our DJ careers but between us we’ve played everything from jungle, garage, Motown and disco to RnB and hip hop. We still have love for that classic hip hop sound, Alex purely for his own pleasure but Stef Produced and played RnB and hip hop for many years.
How would you say your tastes and musical style has evolved since those early days?
We’re more creative than ever before. We still listen and gain influence from all sorts of genres and by dissecting music and choosing elements that we like, we try to mould and merge those sounds into our productions.
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How did you guys link up with Amine Edge & DANCE?
We first met about two and a half years ago. It was when Amine & DANCE had first started producing together but Amine was still gigging solo. Amine got in touch with us about our record “The Night Is Calling” and he quickly became one if its biggest supporters. Over a short period of time the four of us have become good friends. We signed our track “The Fun Train To Reno” to his label and eventually decided to do a collaborative effort on ours. When we’re in the same city we’ll meet up and grab some food, which usually ends up in an argument about who the current best hip hop artists or producers are.
We hear it’s taken a couple of years to get the EP completed, why did it take so long?
One track alone can take time but a five track EP is a lot of work, especially with both of our schedules and our different styles in music. To build something that represents us both, and that all parties involved are happy with, is a process that couldn’t really be rushed.
Perfect Love (Part 1) was a track that Amine & DANCE started a couple years back. Over time we developed the record together and tried to create that classic timeless sound which hopefully stands the test of time. More recently we wanted to give the track a darker, more bass-driven twist, which is where (Part 2) was born.
‘Heels In A House Rave’ is a track that we had started with our boy Nastaly, but knew that the guys would be perfect in helping us give it a new life and identity. ‘The Eight, The 0, The Mother Fuckin’ Eight’ is for us, a bit of a hidden gem that has been forgotten because it’s less obvious than some of their other productions, so we asked the boys if we could sign it and remix it. In the end we decided to put all these tracks together to create The Perfect Love EP.
What was it like working with two other people? Is four collaborators a difficult dynamic to handle?
No not at all, the only real difficulty came from our schedules slowing down the process. We’re all very creative and each has our own style. Everyone involved had a great understanding of what was trying to be achieved. We’re all honest and if we don’t like something we say so.
Did you have to delegate who was doing what from the start, or did you all just work it out as you went along?
We threw a bunch of tracks back and forth and the ones that stood out we decided to work on, so it was just a case of building around the initial ideas which meant sending lots of project files and rough edits to each other until we were all happy.
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What would you say both duos have brought to the EP in terms of musical style?
A characteristic we both share is the love for tracks made for the dance floor, with the intent to get people moving and this was definitely a focal point with this project. Even though Our DJ and production styles are quite different, we tried to incorporate the best of both worlds. Something that many probably underestimate is both of ours and the guys love for classic house. We all talk about hip hop, which is heavily present in a lot of our productions, but there are probably a lot more classic house elements within this EP.
Who parties harder, you guys or the Frenchies?
We’re actually quite similar, both duos have one T-Total, while the other is almost always found with a drink, although DANCE has an endless supply of champagne to hand which makes him much more “G” than Alex who will normally just have a beer. We definitely get more animated behind the decks and if those fFenchies try to say otherwise we’ll just have to have a dance off at the next event we get to play together.
When you guys play together who’s more likely to get drunk and need looking after?
We have no idea what you mean, we’re the epitome of professionalism. Hahaha, here’s not been any occasions to date that we can think of where any of us have been in that state, but the French boys always seem to have plenty of nurses around to look after them if they do decide to carry the party on.
Who’s the better dancer and what’s his signature move?
Hahahaha. There’s another excuse for a dance off. We recently had this conversation talking about Alex’s signature move called the helicopter, and no it’s not with his dangly bits. Also anyone who’s seen us play will notice Alex often starts hip thrusting the decks while Stef awkwardly tries to avoid him. Stef has the handclap and finger point on lock, just give him a beat and he’ll hand clap and finger point the shit out of it.
What else do you guys have coming up before the end of the year?
We’ve just finished off a load of remixes for the likes of Sigma, Shift K3Y, Borgeous, Ill Blu and Jessica Wilde, which should all be available before the year is out. We’ve also got a couple more singles and a compilation album coming on the mighty Toolroom Records, which will include some brand new and original material from ourselves.
Finish the sentence, without house music we would…
Probably get a lot more sleep….