Dialling in with Venuq & Luso
Teaming up for a multifaceted conceptual project titled 'Coins only'. Leeds based artists Venuq and Luso travelled to various locations to record this ambitious, leftfield endeavour.
The scope of the project is unveiled by the several reverse call records to the few remaining BT phone boxes still in circulation. Luso's amalgamation of flows and skilful ability to play with the nuances of his dialect complements Venuq's staple industrial sub driven production, resulting in an incredibly unique sound that will no doubt inspire many to come. We dialled in with the pair to discuss the fruition of the idea and the journey they took to completion.
Hey guys thanks for taking the time to chat, how did you first meet and when did you start working together?
Luso - Damn that's a mad one… to be honest, we’ve known each other time. I probably still had a bit of my innocence left when I first met Venuq, it was originally through graff, he and some others were up in the area so I knew the graff before I knew him, we both were part of different crews, then the two crews linked and we started doing/sharing music with each other, every Monday we used to link up to have a mix eat space cakes freestyle into a mic and record it all on tape… Shit I couldn’t even tell you the year, but it was a time ago, I bet Venuq knows.
Venuq - Yeah so we’re talking Huddersfield - 2009. There was this night running - Fresh Kids where they had a load of boards all over the walls and tables that you could scrawl on, local writers used to head down and the music was always real decent hip hop. We used to hit that up all the time and that’s where we first linked alongside meeting Sangria Kong, Hops & Ola-P.
Those guys were in a different valley to me though, so it was always a mission over some rugged inclines to reach Sangria’s for the late-night session. Often we’d lock into Mary Anne Hobbs' show too when she was still on R1 pushing mad experimental stuff, that’s how I got to know them all properly through sharing music for sure.
It wasn’t until more recently that we started working on projects though. I didn’t know if he’d be into rapping over the weirder more wonky styles I produce. Also - the challenge of sculpting sounds around lyrics always appealed to me, so yeah it had to happen at some point.
Tell us a bit about the origins of the project?
Luso - Well to be honest Venuq had originally done a flip of a track from a previous project I did call “LOST” so he remixed the second track ‘Spirals’. After that, we started doing a few shows together. We had good chemistry on stage man, I was hyped to have Venuq spinning for me, we killed off some shows, pulled a prank at one with a telephone... Spirals starts with a phone call, so Venuq added some interference and we fooled the crowd into thinking someone’s phone was ringing and fucking up the speakers hahaha. So off the back of that, we started making more tracks together, came up with the theme almost and went from there.
Venuq - That show was probably my favourite we’ve ever done. We had the whole crowd with phones in hand trying to figure out what was happening. Our mate was shouting at us from the front row ‘check your phone the sound is fucked!’.Earlier on I’d placed a Zoom Recorder up in a back corner of the venue and it captured the whole thing. It was the first time we’d performed ‘Off Again’, the crowd was super on point and responsive and it seemed a shame to let go of that, so we layered the recording in the breakdown of the finished track.
So that was the first track from the project, although we didn’t know it at the time. It was clear there was more sonic mischief to be drawn out of this and naturally, it progressed into Coins Only.
Was there any significance behind using specifically BT phone boxes?
Luso - BIG TINGS
The cover, ominous in its tone, presents a backlit booth in the centre of an estate, how did you stumble upon the location, and who’s responsible for the subsequent art?
Luso - Haha well basically going along with the theme of the project, we had a small idea of how we wanted the cover to turn out. We got in touch with Danny Flack because his work is second to none and we knew that he would do it justice. But basically, the cover came from me and Venuq driving round for hours scoping out loads of different phone boxes.. there were a few other candidates but the one you see on the cover really stood out to us. Doing the shoot was eventful too, that block of flats is occupied by a lot of what the streets would call “nitty’s” hahaha.
Venuq - Yeah the shoot ended up being pretty sketchy. We sorta landed on the location by chance and then returned with Danny a few days after late at night, he went all out bringing loads of tripods and flashes and whatnot which drew a fair bit of unwanted attention.
When we pulled up one of the flats was getting raided so we had to wait for that to calm down before we could get going. About 5 mins into it a white BMW sat in front of the box and totally blocked the whole angle, we managed to get him to relocate after explaining what we were doing, he was mad confused - but obliged and ended up parked in the background of the shot. There was another dude who kept whistling at us and we didn’t realise until the image was finalised but he’s visible on the cover too which was a cool detail looking back on it all.
Recently you’ve released a limited run physical edition of the EP. What can we expect in this product drop?
Luso - Yeah so the Physicals Come with an SD card with 5 unheard voicemail tracks, some stickers and a zine that has images from the whole process really, Shouts Danny Flack who shot the front cover he took some other flicks of mine and Venuq’s phone box endeavours haha .. there's also some 35mm shots from when we were in the studio etc Shouts to Sangria Kong for patterning that up.
Venuq - The 35mm film was ongoing from when we first started the project as we thought it’d be fun to look back on. There ended up being random flicks from all over Leeds, we had shots from the KMAH showcase over at Skipclass HQ, some in the studio and loads from other phone box locations that didn’t make the cut for the cover. Once we saw the amount of visual content we had it made sense to collate it all into one place. Danny suggested doing a short run booklet and added some of his extra shots too and that’s what made up the A5 Zine.
We also worked with an Illustrator called Dan Dowker who was on the Typography & Layout side of things. He redid the classic BT logo for the project and it looked really decent so we got a load of stickers printed which we’ve added to the product too. For the audio side of things we wanted to add something extra for those supporting the project, initially, we’d planned on recording the Voicemail tracks to SIM Card and then putting those out as the physical, but it got super confusing with various networks and topping up cards for activation etc…
In the end, we rolled with a Micro SD Card as a slightly less tricky format with a similar feel, the voicemail cuts are on there and a few extra bonus bits too.
Any plans to perform together once reality resumes?
Luso - I want to do bare shows, we got the physicals of coins only coming out soon, and I’d love to smash out some shows with Venuq and let people hear the project performed live, it's something different about seeing it live than listening to the tracks... but yeah shows and more!
Venuq - For sure. We’ve not had the chance to perform the project and that was sorta the whole point of it all really. Luso’s Showcase on the Snoopers Charter Show back in April was the only way we could premiere the material in a show situation before it dropped. As soon as events resume we’ll be back on it.
Can we expect anything from your solo works these coming months?
Luso - I mean damn maybe haha… I will be working with some of the other bredrins too. Selrok and Sangria Kong... there's bare stuff there, but when it comes to putting stuff out I hold back for a handful of reasons… but soon enough u might hear what's been going on behind closed doors, watch the space
Venuq - Yeah man, another Jack Jetson flip landing soon, it’s a track from his Fountainhead album, kinda slow though like 60bpm which is new territory for me. Aside from that, I’m back on the three-figure tempos, leaving the 85 stuff for a short while, time for a switch-up.
Anything extra we should know about?
Luso - If a nitty is whistling you mistaking you for his shotta... don't pay no attention!
Venuq - He’s in the cover though still.