Bristol’s Sector 7 records may have only put out two white label singles, but they’ve already proven that less is more, as long as the records you put out make an impact.
Owned and operated by producers Boofy and Lemzly Dale, the imprint’s releases stand toe to toe with scene-leaders Bandulu, pushing a similarly dark, sound system oriented style of grime. But while their bangers are serious, Lemzly and Boofy are nothing if not down to Earth: two friends making music and happy to let their creative process unfurl at its own pace.
I met the two in Boofy’s Bristol studio to discuss their musical building blocks, how to accidentally launch a label, and the significance of matching head gear. —Son Raw
When you were growing up what were you listening to? Some people in town told me how they started with garage, others were more into hip hop or reggae.
Boofy: My mum’s sister left a ton of her old tapes around. Marvin Gaye, Parliament Funkadelic, a lot of G-Funk – I was born when Snoop’s album came out. My dad would record these old G-funk videos off his friend’s cable cause we only had five channels! We’d come back and listen to those. So Dr Dre based music – I used to love that and still love that. Those were my first influences. It moved into Garage when I went to secondary school when Dizzee Rascal and Slimzzee were first doing things for Sidewinder in 2001/2002. Before that it was just really hip-hop, I wasn’t really into garage ’cause I think I was too young for it. From my parents it’s always been soul, reggae and definitely bashment. And a lot of Parliament Funkadelic – I love George Clinton, he’s so sick.
Lemzly Dale: For me it’s –
Boofy: Souljah Boy!
Lemzly: [Laughs] Souljah Boy and Gucci! Yeah, just reggae and ska sort of stuff, actually my dad was in a band and played blues, rock, and punk. Until I was 12 I was just into rock and then hip-hop and then grime as a teenager. The Movement’s “Fuck Radio” and Westwood stuff.
That was a hip-hop influenced era in grime too. It’s funny you guys mentioned Doggystyle, that was the first tape I ever stole from a mate’s older brother when I was a kid. My parents wouldn’t let me listen to it…
Boofy: Doggystyle was such a sick album. One of the best combinations of two artists ever.
From being fans of music, how did you start participating in music?
Lemzly: For me first, I started rapping cause I was really into hip-hop. That was the first music I fully put time into in terms of finding artists. So from that, listening to instrumentals I started making hip-hop and dubstep. Then, as dubstep started getting a bit shit – I started making grime at 15-16.
Boofy: For me, when I was in primary school, I used to play the trumpet and I played classical piano with my grand dad. I used to play quite a few wind instruments. It’s just something I always wanted to do and when it became a qualification for school, I was just like “Sick, I’ll do that.” So yeah, year 10 I started Cubase and Reason and then just stayed on Reason. I actually started making grime – bedroom grime, oldschool stuff. Then, when I started DJing, I started with dubstep just because it was quite straight forward in terms of trying to mix it.
Lemzly: Yeah, me too as well!
Boofy: The first thing I heard was Skream’s first album and I just thought it was slow grime, I didn’t even know what it’s called. But yeah, it was easy to mix cause the snare’s in the same place on all the tunes. From there, I just gradually moved back to what I was doing at the start.
Coming from abroad, a lot of that distinction between early dubstep and grime gets flattened, just ’cause the neighborhood differences don’t resonate the same way they do for Londoners or even people from elsewhere in the UK.
Boofy: People here made dubstep, it was really big in Bristol, it fucking massive! Then when it got a bit baiter, we just wanted to move to something a bit more underground. Some people moved to different tempos but I always stayed around 140BPM, I love 140. But yeah dubstep was massive in Bristol. Some of the sickest tunes when I was growing up – it wasn’t even dubstep then, it was Joker’s mixtapes. Coldhearted Crew.
Boofy: That was Joker’s first crew when he was in school. That was one of the first things that made me think “Wow! This kid got on the computer and made beats.” Then a couple of years down the line, when I started liking dubstep, I saw Gullybrook Lane came out and I realized how big Joker was getting. He was still a youth, really! He was just doing his thing.
Lemzly Dale: There were so many different sounds going on in dubstep, it’s mad that they all fit under one category.
There was always strong underground community where I’m from in regards to dubstep, although it’s sort of fallen to the side since it blew up commercially. But we used to have Rob Smith come over, Peverelist… now Pinch is actually playing this techno festival we have, annually.
Boofy: Tell you what, Pinch has dubplates now that you’ve never heard, even back then. Once in a blue moon when he does a dubstep set, I feel like a kid again.
Lemzly: It’s mad as well, there’s so many tunes from when we were growing up and starting to go to clubs, and it’d be the same DJs cause we grew up in Bristol. And you’d hear all of these tunes but you’d never really know what they were. And then you’d start DJing a few years later and buying records and realize “I’d heard this when I was 16!”
Boofy: The amount of stuff that used to get played out…. especially Pev! Roll with the Punches was just a real defining sound system tune. It’s so hypnotic. Everything Punch Drunk put out, bruv.
Was there any other local acts you remember from back in the day, that were an inspiration?
Boofy: Producer wise, Joker and Guido. Guido reminds me of being a teenager. When his album came out, it was fucking sick. I still listen to it today, actually. And Joker was just the guy who took that sound to the forefront for our city. People kept talking about Purple, Purple Purple… to me it was Reason! You could hear everything come from Reason, which is what we used. We would jump straight into it and try to replicate these sounds. So Joker was always that trendsetting guy who just paved the way. I play his grime today! I actively asked him when I was chatting to him once and he just sent me all these WAVs he made in 2004. Joker’s always been always unbelievably creative for who he is.
It ties into the Dr Dre thing too with those synths.
Boofy: It sounds west coast influenced but he’s definitely moved forward.
Lemzly: Him and Ginz made made stuff together. Some of it was just hip-hop. I guess it’s similar for me I reckon, those records. Before Joker was labeled as that Purple guy, his ideas were so sick. His ideas were so fresh, it was kind of grime but not – you didn’t know what to call it.
Boofy: Oldschool Gemmy as well. Him and Joker were doing quite a bit together as well, he had his own twist on it. Old synth kind of sounds.
From there, when did you start putting out releases? Was “State of War” first?
Lemzly Dale: Boofy’s “Catch a Body” was before “State of War.” I made “State of War” almost a year before it was released, I played it for my mates at my house and they were gassed! I remember the time I played it out and knew it had potential was at a Bandulu night – it was the last tune I played and it went off.
Boofy: The only thing about that tune is that if you wheel it, you have to go through that intro! You have to wheel it and then skip it up! I’ve had quite a few releases but vinyl wise, my first release was “Bandulu003” in July, and then we released “Catch a Body” a month later in August. They were really close, we made “Catch a Body” in April 2013 and we got a massive buzz off it. We figured we’d make another one and kept it secret. We talked about getting them pressed and next thing you know, I told Lemz that we’d have 300 copies coming back to mine in a couple of weeks. [Laughs]
You just kind of did it?
Boofy: It could have been a fucking disaster as well! I didn’t really think too much of it. I figured worst comes to worst: fail, learn a lesson, sort it out, and we’d do another one.
Lemzly Dale: If there was ever a time for us to do something like that, it was then. ‘Cause the response to “Catch a Body” was unreal. We’d never, ever had that sort of response, in terms of how quickly it blew up.
Boofy: That year I took a big dive into spinning only vinyl. I didn’t want to cut my dubs if no one wanted to put my tunes out. But then Kahn cut “Since When,” which is a tune I didn’t really rate at the time. He played it out and people loved it. When I saw him cut that, I figured I’d start cutting dubs. Then he asked me to release it on Bandulu, which was my favorite label. So we just wanted to follow that up and release something that was really a product of me and Lemz and we were really proud of that. Since then we slowed down, but that’s because I want to keep the feeling of how special the first one was. It’s all coming into focus, making sure everything slides into each other. But yeah, that was a great year for both of us actually.
In a weird way, you wanted to put out that record, but it wasn’t even a plan to start a label?
Boofy: Precisely! The label just came around because people kept asking us what the next one was! We were like, “Next one? What are you on about?” We just essentially wanted to make a tune and put out a white label, and we just put the stamp on it so you’d know what it was. Then people asked us “What’s next on Sector 7? What’s 002?” We kind of panicked, looked at each other and thought “for fuck’s sake! What have we done?” But it worked out, nothing was planned and there was no intention and we could have left it as that but…why? Why not I guess?
Where’s the name Sector 7 come from?
Boofy: I’ll let him explain that!
Lemzly Dale: It’s from a computer game. It’s one of the first areas in Final Fantasy VII. My brother and his best friend used to call our area Sector 7 as a joke cause the postcode was BS7. It was just something we used to joke about and when we decided to release a record we figured we should give it a name, so we called it Sector 7.
Boofy: When we used to say we’d link up, I’d always call Lemz’s house Sector 7. It’s Lemz’s house! It sounds like a joke but everything we do for the label goes through that house. I’d take a cab with the records and we’d stamp them there. It’s close to Idle Hands in Stokes Croft and the post office link up so it makes sense.
I’d have never guessed that in a million years. I didn’t even write that question down, it was just a sudden thought: why DID they call Sector 7??
Boofy: It’s the same thing with the picture on the record. We were like “What the fuck should we put on the record?” and we realized we both wore beanie hats.
Lemzly: So yeah, the whole label was just a joke. [Laughs]
The tunes were serious though! It’s important to highlight that comedic aspect cause those weren’t jokey tunes. They’re actually proper dark.
Boofy: When those tunes came out, we were getting hype and stuff, but recently I’ve been hearing them so much more. It’s like they’re getting a second wave. Specially Impey’s tunes [the second Sector 7 release] that one flew off the shelves.