From the lofts to the clubs, Sleepy & Boo are tireless promoters of the underground in New York City. Best known for building a better brand with Basic NYC, the DJ pair can now be heard at residencies including Illusion at Cielo and Frequencies at TBA Brooklyn and a fairly active out-of-town schedule as well. They’ve also taken a deep dive into production, following up records on the iconic Nervous and 3Bridge Records in New York with The Gift of Adversity, their first release on Street King. This is their 5 Mag Mix.
Sleepy & Boo: A 5 Mag Mix
Sleepy & Boo: The 5 Mag Interview:
I still think of “Basic New York” whenever I see your name. How did Basic NYC get started?
When we started doing our parties a little over 10 years ago, the New York music scene was much different than it is now. There were no big clubs at the time that were interested in underground music. Brooklyn was not a place you’d go to hear House or Techno. But we were eager to DJ, and we knew all these great artists from around the world who wanted to come to DJ and experience New York.
We stated throwing parties at small bars and lounges, and moved up to a small club where we could do some bigger things – the Sullivan Room. That’s how it started. We wanted our party to be about the fundamentals – an exciting, out-of-town DJ, good sound, a place for people to dance and just focus on the music. The definition of Basic is “forming an essential foundation”, and to us, those were – and still are – the elements you needed for a good party.
What is the state of it now?
It’s still growing, changing, evolving. Our own DJing and production has become our focus over the last few years. We do a bunch of parties in New York, and we travel a lot to play in other cities. Once a month we have our own headlining residency at Cielo, where we do our own night called “Illusion.” Cielo is one of New York’s truly great nightclubs, and we’re honored to present this party there. We get to curate the whole night from start to finish, and we’ll be celebrating the third anniversary of Illusion in the Fall. We also have started an event at TBA Brooklyn called “Frequencies” where we headline.
With those sets, our own productions are being highlighted and played the most. In addition, we play at a lot of different events here in the city, after-hours, rooftop parties, other clubs. Putting our emphasis on playing headlining sets, instead of focusing on bringing in out of town DJs, has expanded our sound as artists and DJs, and that’s worked its way into the music we make as producers as well.
On top of that, we are working on launching our own label, we have our own weekly radio show on Pioneer DJ Radio called Illusion Radio, so all of this is an extension and reflection of us as artists and what started with Basic.
What have been some of the highlights and lowlights over the years?
There have been so many great memories and thankfully very few not-so-great ones. For lowlights, we really try to focus on the positives, and take the high road. With any passion and creative endeavor, there’s always going to be challenges along the way. But how you deal with them and learn from them is what’s important.
As for highlights, we’re blessed to have had so many to think back on throughout the years, and be able to create new ones. We always think about all the iconic and inspiring artists that we’ve had the pleasure to host and to get to know. People like Jeff Mills, who has played at some truly amazing events we have done over the years. And being able to have Frankie Knuckles, who sadly is not with us anymore, DJ for our events several times is something we will never forget, and will always treasure. There have been so many artists, and they’re all different and individual. It’s not just the parties itself, it’s the conversations you have with them, the relationships you develop, the things you learn. It makes you realize that this whole timeline of underground music around the world is connected and seamless.
For us personally, being able to DJ in so many places outside of New York, like Montreal, Berlin, Philly, Vermont, Ibiza, St. Martin to name a few, it’s always a joy to bring your music to new places and have those experiences with new crowds. We love being able to travel and connect with all these different cities and absorb their scenes. And then making our own music and having it released on labels we love and admire, to be able to achieve that is another dream we’ve had for a long time. It’s very gratifying to make a track that other people want to play themselves and enjoy listening to, and when big artists – especially headliners you used to book – want to release your music, and play it in their own sets, it’s like completing a circle of sound evolution.
What is your take on NYC nightlife at the moment?
Nightlife in NYC is always morphing and changing, and right now it’s at one of those in flux moments. The center of gravity for dance music has definitely shifted to Brooklyn, where you have clubs like Output, Schimanski’s, Analog and Good Room bringing in great talent and doing some creative events. Recently, things have gotten tougher for the groups who do warehouse events and alternative spaces, which for the last few years has been a really vibrant sector of New York’s nightlife options. There are some new venues coming to the city very soon, which is always exciting for everyone. But overall it’s great to be in New York. As an artist there’s a nice variety of different venues to work with, the crowds are always up for partying, they love good music, and there’s always tourists and international visitors coming out who want to see what the party scene is like here. It can be a little overwhelming sometimes with all the different events going on, but that’s the diversity that everyone has come to expect here. It’s nice to be connected to all.
It was a long time between when you began DJing and when you began producing records, right? Why is that?
Well, we had already been DJing for a while before we released our first record in 2015. Production was something we always wanted to do, and something that we knew would be the next step for us to take. But it does take time to learn how to make music, and we wanted to make sure the tracks we made were something that would represent us well as artists. So it was just a matter of making time to really focus on production, and making time to sit in the studio and start working on tracks and getting them finished. To do anything well takes time and focus, and we just shifted our focus towards our own creations. And since then, production has become a real passion of ours and something we just want to get better at. There’s so much to learn and we feel like we’re just getting started on this phase of being artists. It’s very exciting and rewarding, and we’re so eager about it.
Tell me about this new record coming up on Street King?
The Gift of Adversity is our first artist EP on Street King, which is a sublabel of King Street Sounds. King Street is one of the great New York house labels, they have released so many classic tracks, so it’s a huge honor for us to be a part of this label. We have already released two individual tracks on Nite Grooves (which is another King Street label) before, so we’re thrilled to now release a full EP with them. This EP has three tracks of ours. All of them are geared towards the dancefloor, and we’ve really enjoyed playing them out over the last few months.
And tell us about this mix you have for us?
For this mix, we picked out a bunch of our favorite recent tracks from producers and labels we love, like Reset Robot, Loco and Jam, Kevin Yost, Tronic Music and a few others, We started off on a deep and melodic groove before bringing up the energy and tension a bit. Then we touched on some darker Techno before winding it up with a very uplifting and euphoric deep house track. We included one of our favorite productions of ours, our track “Thought Form” which was released on 3Bridge Records in November. We usually structure our mixes like this, we want the listener to really experience a nice variety of moods and textures in the tracks, not just the same vibe over and over. We do mixes every week for our Illusion Radio show on Pioneer DJ Radio, so that keeps us on our toes with all the new music that is steaming into this universe every day. We hope everyone enjoys listening to the mix, and can feel our love resonating through the music.
Freakeasy and learning the fine art of not giving a f#ck: Inside 5 Magazine Issue 148 featuring Chicago’s Freakeasy, Session Victim, Sleepy & Boo, SunceBeat and more. Become a member of 5 Magazine for First & Full Access to Real House Music for only $2 per month!