After bursting onto the drum and bass scene in vigorous fashion towards the latter stages of 2015, it’s safe to say that Shogun duo GLXY have gone on to fulfil the potential that their early releases alluded to.
Now seven years, one album, and an abundance of tantalisingly good music later, Tom & John’s GLXY project has gone from strength to strength year after year.
As two chemist graduates who met at their university's DJ society, GLXY’s back catalogue on Shogun has often alluded to the duo’s scientific background, with their ‘Research & Development’ album and ‘Method’ EP acting as perfect examples.
However, after a period of time without releasing music, GLXY have been able to reset, rethink, and redesign the manner in which they want to present their art. Cue ‘By Design’, GLXY’s latest EP on the label.
Soaked in a melodious aura of quality from head to toe, GLXY’s attention to detail is extremely prominent in this latest offering. From the crisp sounds of ‘Something Good’, which incorporates the assistance of Unglued’s signature wobbles and Javeon’s soothing R&B-tinged vocals, to the groove-laden, vocal sampling masterclass of ‘New Day’, the degree of drum and bass on this EP is nothing short of exceptional.
We caught up with Tom & Jon to talk about the past, present, and future of GLXY.
Let’s start at the beginning, do you two remember the day you met at your university’s DJ society?
Jon - Nah my memory is clapped man, I can’t remember anything from the past two weeks. I think I brought Tom under my wing a little bit though, this lost little boy out in the cold haha. Seriously though, our DJ society had a night in town at a club called XY. We had the third floor and were playing house and garage up there, and we’d occasionally sneak in the odd drum and bass track too. We were both already producing, so then we messing around on Ableton together.
Tom - It just went from there really. John graduated a year before but stayed in town so we just carried on writing together.
How quickly did the name GLXY come about?
Jon - The name is actually a great story. Our individual producer names were Middleman and Alston, but we knew that it wouldn’t run as a duo name. We had a chat about it it and then that night, I had a dream that we were called GLXY. At the time as well, there was a trend in Trap music where artists were removing vowels and capitalizing their aliases, so for a laugh we did it, and once you have one release under that name it just sort of sticks.
We did it with our email address too and now ten years down the line it’s really annoying. People try and email us and they send it to the wrong name, so if you ever come up with an alias, make sure it's spelt properly haha.
Top industry advice that. When did you decide to ditch the individual names and make music as a team?
Tom - Pretty much straight away to be honest. The first couple of years as GLXY was us playing Duke Dumont to 18 years old.
Jon - It was a vibe tho! GLXY was the start of our careers in music.
I bet they’re great memories though, it’s all a part of the journey. Is it ever a bit surreal to look back and see how far you've come since meeting in uni?
Tom - It is when you hit those milestones. When you’re 18 and in university you know how much of a privilege it would be to play those sick clubs. The first fabric show, the first album, we just did Sun & Bass for the first time as well.
Jon - It’s weird to think that it's been happening for eight or nine years now. Playing Tomorrowland was a mad one as well.
In a 2015 interview, you said that you’d both love to be signed to a big label and DJing regularly. Now that you’ve done that, do you ever sit and think about it?
Tom - Massively. It’s a huge thing for us to have released on Shogun. I know it sounds cheesy, but when you’re coming through uni, Shogun is a label that stands out to you.
Jon - When we first started, we wrote a hit list of labels we wanted to release with on a whiteboard and Shogun was on there. From that perspective, it’s great, but at the same time, I don’t feel like we’ve ever set too many goals. That was the only time we’d ever written down our goals together, so signing to Shogun was 100% a milestone.
If we take a step back to those uni days, what were you both studying when you met?
Jon - I did a Master’s in Chemistry.
Tom - And I did one in Biochemistry.
Jon - We’re arguably the smartest duo in drum and bass haha. Maybe we could do a University Challenge drum & bass edition, but only if it’d about drum and bass and chemistry.
I’m sure that’s something we could set up… Anyway, let’s talk about the new ‘By Design’ EP. It really encapsulates that dreamy GLXY sound.
Jon - A lot of our influences in aesthetics and musical design come together in this project. Old Soul:R and old Shogun releases, as well as people like Halogenix, are big influences on our music. We also love those jazzy and soulful melodies in music so we incorporate that in our sound as well.
Tom - That’s bang on. Within drum and bass, we both have very similar tastes, so this was always a very natural direction for us to head in.
What was the inspiration behind the EP name?
Jon - We just thought it was a cool name. Our projects in the past, like ‘Research & Development’, was playing into that whole Chemistry/experimentation vibe and definitely had a big theme behind it.
Tom - We carried on that theme into the ‘Method’ EP, but because we’ve had a long break between that EP and this one, it felt like a good time to reset and reestablish what we want to do with GLXY.
Jon - The ‘By Design’ name does tie into that. People may not notice, but we definitely know where our style has changed and progressed and from that point of view, this EP has a lot of intention behind it.
How was the sound changed?
Jon - It’s just got better haha. But in all seriousness, it’s a bit more clinical now.
Tom - If you look at our back catalogue, before Shogun and on Shogun, you can see our learning process. The tunes change and have matured over the years. We’re more established in our techniques and creative process now and it’s allowed us to focus on the music we want to release and the sound of it.
Jon - The more you make music and the more you learn, the fewer chances there are of you accidentally making those sounds. Although there’s no fixed method to it, when you know more it's easier to make those cool sounds. Because there’s been such a big gap between our last two EPs, it feels like we've learnt a lot in that time too.
We’ve got ‘Puddles’ on the EP as well. It’s a huge vibe and genre switch-up from the rest of the EP! Where does the Garage influence come from for you both?
Jon - I’ve got an older sister and she was part of the prime Garage era generation. When I was super young, she’d be playing loads of Garage in the house and it was just ingrained into me. It’s such a fun genre too.
Tom - It’s also just a great refresher when you’re so involved with drum and bass. It’s fun and it keeps it interesting for us.
It’s been two years since the debut album, have there been thoughts about a sophomore album yet?
Jon - Not sure. Maybe. At the moment, we’ve got more music stored up than we ever have before. We’re also doing a lot more collaborations now, which we haven’t done so much of in the past. I think we’re just happy to continue exploring our sound, whether that be in an album or a collection of EPs.