Tongue and Groove – Hard to categorise, easy to love
Tongue and Groove are a refreshing new take on the psytrance theme. They’re not progressive, they’re not fullon; their music is just an incredibly funky concoction of infectious psychedelic grooves at slower bpms guaranteed to get any dancefloor smiling.
Offering a unique blend of oldskool ethos [together with lots of phat analogue squelches] and nuskool production dynamics, Jake and Ric, aka Tongue and Groove, are as fun to talk to as their music is to listen to and recently they have been getting support from some heavy hitters in and outside the psy scene.
This is NOT a 2 minute read but it IS a laugh so kick back, relax and enjoy the anecdotes. I did…
Our sound gets people locked in to the psychedelic vibes and the funkiness definitely gets them on the dance floor.”
So the usual first question is ‘How’d you come up with your name?’ but considering a ‘Tongue and Groove joint is a unique woodwork joint that is attached edge to edge with two or more pieces of timber,’ I guess the real question is which one of you is the carpenter?
Jake: [Laughs] For a moment I thought you were going to ask who has the biggest tool! Our name is a question we do get asked as it is not a typical psy “esq” name. We are both pretty handy when it comes to a bit of D.I.Y, think men/bbq vibes so hard to say. In fact when Ric was laying his oak floor in his old house in London and called me up to say he had had a light bulb moment about a name for us and weirdly I had just got back from South America and had a dream about that being our name, so you could say great carpenters think alike.
Ric: Yes we both like whipping the toolkit out. When I moved to Somerset and bought my house it had a properly sized summerhouse in the garden that Jake and I converted into the studio. We are talking full refurbish, layed a new roof, replaced the sash windows, insulated and yes ‘Tongue and Groove’d’ the place. Then of course moved into building the bass traps, baffles and treating the space. We even built a load of the studio furniture.
You’ve just released a remix of Rock Bitch – the Green Nuns of the Revolution classic and may I add a really, really refreshing rendition of the original. Why did you guys decide to make it a FREE download?
Ric: Thank you. It’s fantastic that it is getting such a great response. It was actually our first foray into the concept of taking a faster psytrance track and slowing it down, giving the psychedelic riffs and licks room to breathe and funking things up a bit…..Jake, Free download?
Jake: Dick Trevor is a really good mate of ours and of course The Green Nuns were a huge influence and inspiration. For me Dick is one of the best and funkiest psytrance producers on the scene and it was a great honour for him to let us have a crack at remixing Rock Bitch. We sat on the remix for a while as we all wanted the best platform to release it on and it only seemed natural that after we joined Nano for it to go out through them. We’ve had two EPs out now with more in the pipeline so after a chat with HQ it seemed like the perfect thing to do to release it as a free download. Its great exposure for us, letting people have it for free and of course the fact that it is an original track by one of the biggest and most influential bands in the history of psytrance.
…within the limited choice on Beatport for example psytrance [as a genre] probably does fit best…”
Reading your BIO it’s obvious that you both have the pedigree and a long history with psychedelic trance, as punters, promoters and DJs…. from the outside looking in, one would think you guys are something of an overnight sensation as Tongue and Groove though…
Jake: It’s a pretty mad one, there certainly have been many nights honing our sound, but for me there is nothing better than hanging out with one of your best mates and indulging in your passion of making music. In a sense it has been both a long and a short journey. The short bit and probably the most exciting has happened since we had the incredible offer of joining the Nano Records and Nano Bookings family; Regan and Monique are an incredible team that have really taken us under their wing and have without doubt been the reason we have been propelled onto the international scene so quickly.
Ric: Yeah if there is a long and short bit, the longest part of the journey was a lot of fun, long nights and throbbing speakers and it was also I suppose the time to define our sound and make it unique. We stuck to our beliefs in what we were creating, on the way getting recognition from other artists and producers and releasing on labels like Flow, Broken and Liquid Records. At times of course we talked about should we take it up to a faster bpm etc, etc but we stuck to our guns and now it’s amazing to see loads of the psychedelic community digging our sound and vibe. One thing that has really helped us to sound different to a lot of what’s out there is that we have a pretty large collection of hardware, from analog mixers and outboard gear to a load of vintage synths but in the last few years I have got a bit addicted to building synths and Euro rack modules which really makes everything sound much more unique to simply tweaking a preset on a soft-synth.
There’s actually quite a lot of techno/tech house and/or progressive house that I like to call ‘techno for trance heads’ – but Tongue and Groove I’d almost call ‘trance for househeads’ – i.e. it has thoroughly psychedelic but with a groove that is way funkier than the average psy tune (even the prog stuff) and of course often closer to a house tempo – does this analogy make any sense?
Ric: Yes it does. Always been impossible trying to decide what genre we are but really within the limited choice on Beatport for example psytrance probably does fit best, a more groovy slower type at least! We have been partying and listening to psychedelic music for over 20 years so it’s in our blood. Our mission from the start was to create ‘having it’, fun psychedelic party music, never trying to be genre specific, just to make rocking music for the dance floor.
Jake: We have had some brilliant descriptions of our sound; a good one once was “psy-tech-trance-house-funk”. Yep that just about covers it……..
I am a firm believer in pursuing your passion in life and I think our story is the perfect example of this.”
If I said you reminded me of Manmademan – their Love Technology album – would that be an insult or a compliment?
Jake: Dude, a complete compliment. They are another UK act that deserves a lot of respect and credit for shaping the whole scene. They are an amazing band with great energy and never frightened of pushing the envelope. In fact their track with Tristan – William is without doubt one of my all time top 5 tracks and we very luckily to have been given the parts from them to do a remix for a single release on Nano in the near future.
Ric: Agreed. Have loved their work through the years and yes in the same way that Love Technology is a slower bpm it does have a similarity but also they, like us, love a naughty bit of acid music.
The Tongue and Groove sound is tailor made for festivals but do the slower BPMs often mean less favourable slots at psy events or do the promoters understand where to place you on a lineup?
Ric: I have never thought of them as being less favourable, at a psytrance festival we are never going to be headlining a main stage, unless of course we pitched everything up to 145bpm so that has not bothered us. I think as promoters become more and more aware of our tunes then it would make sense for us to warm up the main dance floor or even better close it.
Jake: A couple of recent parties we played at we were the act on before the faster stuff kicked in. It worked really well and the dance floors were jumping. Our sound gets people locked in to the psychedelic vibes and the funkiness definitely gets them on the dance floor. As we can climb from 127-132bpm it suits the journey, it would be great to get some main floor action….Promoters? [Laughs]
The golden rule is “Chunky. Funky. Naughty!”
You have definite crossover appeal – evidenced by the support you’ve received from the likes of Paul Oakenfold (old Oakey can still spot a quality tune), John OO Fleming (a long time supporter of psytrance), Nick Warren (one of the classiest DJs for sure) and of course from a host of top psy DJs/producers, are you starting to get booked for events outside the psy circles and is/was that your aim?
Jake: Yes, Oakey just featured our track Cruise Control in three separate Perfecto radio mixes online so I think he must like that one! It has been a very welcome surprise to see our tunes breaking out of the psy circles and reaching a wider audience. No bookings yet at Amnesia in Ibiza but would give it a go. Just great to see tracks that we have written because its music that we want to hear on the dance floor being appreciated by other types of human beings.
Ric: Our aim has only ever been to do what we love doing, we have never set out to make a commercial track or this or that. It’s a great feeling to know that you have not compromised your integrity and that the music you make from your heart is reaching far and wide. And now what’s really exciting is the remixes and collaborations that we are having the opportunity to do. Awesome.
Having both deejayed for many years – what style have you both played?
Ric: Wow. Well for me I started playing as a student up in Edinburgh in the early 90s. The Scots love their music filthy and are bang up for it. I had a couple of residencies up there and played a massive mix of music from Trance to Acid, Techno to Psy. The golden rule is “Chunky. Funky. Naughty!”
Jake: I was a big Ozrics [Ozric Tentacles] fan so when Eat Static started to emerge it was a great intro into techno/trance. The early years for me were playing tunes from labels like Zoom, Harthouse, Noom, UFK and Eye Q records. Pre Goa acid house/trance. Then of course I fell into a long obsession with psytrance playing loads of [Flying] Rhino, TIP, Dragonfly and the list goes on. For me personally I thought the scene went through a strange stage at one point and I thought, Christ I have listened to nothing but psytrance for 10 years. So kicked back to a load of classic psychedelic rock from my parents’ vinyl collection and from there started exploring and really getting excited by what DJ/Producers like D-Nox and Beckers, Perfect Stranger, James Monro, Alex Di Stefano were playing. I think this is where the Tongue and Groove sound emerged from.
You’re both relative veterans of the dance (and psy) music scene. Your recent success as a production duo – what does this say? It’s never too late to pursue your passion, because many ‘veteran DJs’ are content to do just that…. DJ and not get in the studio like you guys have?
Ric: I started to produce pretty soon after I left college actually. I used to release tracks under the name ‘Dragon’ and had a bunch of releases on Flying Rhino, Dragonfly and Spiral Trax. It wasn’t exactly paying the bills though so I when I was offered a job at EMIs Townhouse Studios in London I was there in a flash. I worked there for about 10 years and worked on pretty much every kind of music imaginable and learnt so much. The big downside was that it took up way too much of my life. Thankfully I upped-ship and moved to the countryside and since then we have had loads more time to devote to writing the music that we love.
Jake: I feel quite strongly about this as I am a firm believer in pursuing your passion in life and I think our story is the perfect example of this. It’s never too late, but at the same time you have to love it to commit yourself to the studio but if you do love it then you will not want to do anything else. And of course have a very understanding wife. Phew managed to get that one in there!
Outside of dance music what one artist could you both agree is a common Tongue and Groove all time favourite?
David Bowie. The Starman
WITH TONGUE AND GROOVE