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Joy Orbison & Boddika: Their own thing

RA’s Ryan Keeling travels to south London to meet the most distinct pairing in UK club music.


Peter’s pet rabbit is hopping around his flat. Al nurses a hangover with a cup of tea. As we casually chat before heading out into Brixton to take photos, I’m left wondering why I ever had this down as an odd pairing. Granted, there’s an age difference between the producers who are better known as Joy Orbison and Boddika. And their sounds haven’t always exactly aligned. But take a step or two back and the similarities are there in plain view.

Joy Orbison (real name Peter O’Grady) burst on to the scene in 2009 with “Hyph Mngo” through Hotflush Recordings, a single that was notable for its ubiquity (it was voted RA’s #1 track of that year) and striking singularity. Something almost immediately felt different about this artist—a belief that only deepened by what came after: No rushed sound-alike follow-up to “Hyph Mngo.” No online mixes. Barely any press presence. The Joy Orbison discography has developed at very much its own pace, with no 12-inches sounding quite the same—from the sputtering, sun-drenched garage of “J. Doe” to the woody, rolling house textures of “Wade In.”

As one half of Instra:mental, one third of Autonomic and solo as Boddika, these past few years have marked Al Green out as UK club music’s most restless innovator. Along with his partner in Instra:mental, Damon Kirkham (Jon Convex), and Darren White (dBridge) the collective “Autonomic sound” gave drum & bass its biggest shot in the arm in recent memory. But before anyone had the chance to properly absorb the scale of its impact, Instra:mental were on to the next thing. Or should we say next things. There was the deliciously cracky house of “Let’s Talk”; the pervy electro of “Voyeur”; the full-length expression of Resolution 653. Running parallel to all of this was his music as Boddika—put simply, some of the nastiest house, techno and electro ever committed to wax.

Green may have been more prolific than O’Grady during this time period, but their emphasis on quality control has been up there with the Sheds and Actresses of this world. Their first full collaboration, “Swims,” was dynamite in the hands of the DJs who had it during 2011, eventually surfacing on the equally fastidious Swamp 81 at the start of 2012. However, the real vehicle for their project was to emerge shortly afterwards: SunkLo has so far released two limited 12-inch singles (the third will be out later this month) that through “Mercy”‘s grit and “Prone”‘s atmospherics have again driven the pair inexorably forwards.

Check out the interview with Ryan Keeling: