Sitting down to interview Unit 137s’ DJ, engineer and producer Adam ‘Hylu’ Ainley, it became clear of their innovative music and spirited approach. Having had three events previously at The Stretch and with another this Saturday, NoPips#4, they are at the core of south-east London’s rising music scene…
Unit 137 are a family, a group of close-knit friends who have been drawn together by their passion for producing brilliant pieces of music; the crew’s love and desire to demonstrate to everyone around them just how amazing sound-system culture can be is the driving force behind their music and unprecedented work rate. Their music is vibrant, it’s full of life and energy, and they pride themselves on being able to bring out the dance in absolutely everyone.
Situated in Lewisham, they are rooted into the sound-system dynamic of London’s life-rich culture that has for many years, brought together communities and people irrespective of colour, race, gender or religion. This for them, is about unification, it’s about having a good time, it’s about making people learn the true power/finesse of sound and how it can teach us all about our disposition to stray towards great music. This they certainly can do.
Within their crew you’ll find a cascade of the best up and coming DJs, producers, vocalists, engineers and instrumentalists. Whether it’s dub, reggae or jungle you’re into, they bring it – we saw them do it back in March when they came back for the third time at The Stretch, in spectacular fashion. Aside from the great individuals that make up this group, they have in their arsenal a fantastic sound system that had us feeling the bass passing through our bodies.
The sound, the energy, the vibes, everything was immaculate. If you missed their previous event at The Stretch, you don’t need to worry – they have another event coming up on May 13th, which is fast approaching.
Here’s what Adam had to say…
Mehrdad: So Adam, who are Unit 137 and how would you describe yourselves as a collective?
Adam: Well, Unit 137 are a collective of many different artists, DJs, producers, instrumentalists and engineers, to put it down to a few words, we’re a family. We’re all united by a shared consciousness for forward-thinking bass music, we produce anything from reggae to jungle to dancehall to hip-hop to dub and much more.
M: What do you think is important to understand about your music?
A: It’s about the message in the music, to get everyone involved and bring the community together. We have a studio in Lewisham and that’s where most of the work gets done, everything’s in-house for us, we’re just all part of the same movement and we want everyone to be there with us on our journey.
M: You guys have such a diverse group of individuals, how did you form and what was the inspiration for your name?
A: We officially formed in 2012, a lot of us were doing music together anyway. The name essentially comes from where Jago [Unit 137 member] and I lived, 137 Hither Green Lane, a few of us worked from here too. That’s where the ‘137’ comes from and we’re a unit, hence the ‘Unit 137’ name.
M: That’s so intriguing, so you were all doing music together beforehand anyway, this was a way to formalise the crew?
A: Yeah definitely, I mean music was the biggest catalyst but there was a number of different reasons why we made a group. There was/is a band called ‘onlyjoe’ and they were the ones that brought most of us together, there were a few exceptions, but for the most part it was about the music, it’s what meshed everyone together we all just have similar dreams and we’re constantly pushing each other to progress.
M: This was a spontaneous coming together then?
A: Exactly, it was spontaneous but generally we were all quite involved and as the studio was being built, we were coming together and we decided to create Unit 137 as a collective and we started to run live events, build the sound system, release music and so on. And everything’s just a progression on that, we wanted to push out our music to the people and do it in the right way.
M: Generally with groups there’s always the element of synergy in place, but other than that, what’s the best aspect of being in Unit 137?
A: Aside from the synergy, it’s just inspiring, you get to see every individual in the group pushing for big things and it drives us to do the same really. It makes all of us remember what we’re doing it for; it’s a constant reminder. It’s beautiful to see what everyone’s doing and then you’re there like rah, and it pushes you to do better and we all progress in the end. The comradery and the vibes, it’s all blessed.
M: Fair enough, so what was it about the SU that made you guys interested, having come here three times already and a fourth time in mid May?
A: I mean the venue is just great, we’ve been to several others and they just don’t have the setup or the electrical output for us to be able to push the sound and experiment. We found out about The Stretch and we just thought it was perfect, it’s local, great setup and with there being a lack of venues, it was just nice that we came across something with such a nice capacity and layout.
We’re trying to bring the people together, that’s the heritage of the culture in itself, we want people to have a great time but also to enjoy the space around them and their community and just be part of the movement. It’s a venue that allows us to utilise everything we have.
On another note, it’s not just about having a party, we want the people at Goldsmiths to get the message in our music, we want them to feel the vibes and just chill out and socialise, you know?
M: Yeah I mean it’s such a good opportunity for everyone to come and see this kind of sound system and the culture in action; how long has it been that you guys as individuals have been doing music professionally?
A: The majority of the crew started in their early 20s, some of us have been doing it since a very young age but I’ve done it professionally since my early 20s. It’s just cool how we’ve all come together through music and we’re such a big family now. Different members of the crew are doing all sorts of things right now, for instance Sleepy Time Ghost (member of Unit 137) is doing an EP with Logic (People’s Army) right now and it’s just great to see how far we’ve all come and where we’re headed.
M: How did you start out yourself?
A: I went to Access to Music, a music college in Norwich and ended up doing a degree in recording arts at Middlesex University, I learnt a lot there really. I’m an engineer/DJ/Producer. I started out really when I was 13, I was at a mates house and saw a vinyl deck, when I saw him DJ I was just kind of inspired, it got into my head that I wanted to do music really.
I was doing grime, jungle, drum & bass, hip-hop, bit of everything really. Moved onto doing live music and did electronic stuff for a while too.
M: Who were your inspirations growing up?
A: There’s so many to name really, but the real inspirations are just the people I surround myself with, my old teachers and everyone that’s been a part of my life, the people who taught me things. It’s just a collection of so many different people, I never forget them because they formed my identity and they’re a part of me now, fully.
For information about tickets and their own personal profiles you can find their Website, Soundcloud, Twitter and Facebook pages below:
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