Getting To Know… 2fox

Getting To Know... 2fox

f: Hi, Max and Renell. It’s a pleasure to chat with you both today. How are you? 

2fox: We’re doing well, thanks. We’ve been doing some exciting sessions with artists we admire, and we’re excited to get it all finished so we can share it!

f: Please tell us a little about your musical background.

Max: I began DJing in ‘98 and was heavily involved in East London’s pirate radio scene in the garage days. I started producing properly in 2012 and have been releasing music under various aliases.

Renell: I started professionally writing songs and touring as a session musician as a teenager. Working with artists from various musical backgrounds taught me how to blend genres and find my sound. Over time, I became known for bringing my sound to the room/stage. 

f: How did you meet, and when did you start making music together? 

Max: We first met while touring with Rudimental in around 2013. I was their support DJ, and Renell was their multi-instrumentalist. We initially bonded on the tour bus about similarities in our music taste, then arranged for some sessions after the tour. Our story began when we first got in the studio together in 2017.

f: What’s the inspiration behind the name 2fox?  

Max: So we made our first EP, which was ready for release. Renell told me, “We should probably think of a name to call ourselves”. I replied, “The name feels irrelevant; I just want to make music. I couldn’t actually give 2 f**ks about a name”. And just like that, 2fox was born. Maybe not as profound as people may think, hahaha!

Renell: This is literally what Max said. When I heard him say, “I couldn’t actually give 2 f**ks about a name,” I replied, ” That’s it! 2fox.” It was good enough for both of us and a subtle reminder that the music is always the prime focus.

f: Who did you listen to growing up, and do they influence your music career today? 

Max: I listened to a very wide range of music growing up. My mum had everything from Erykah Badu and Fela Kuti to Buena Vista Social Club, playing nonstop in the kitchen when I was a kid. My Walkman had a heavy rotation of Garage, Jungle and Hip Hop. Most was recorded from the many pirate stations broadcasted in my neighbourhood.

Renell: Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder and Earth Wind & Fire are my musical foundation. Their arrangements and attention to detail set the bar for me as a composer and songwriter. As a teenager, I got into D’Angelo, N.E.R.D, Santana and Erykah Badu; their albums got me into playing with other people and helped get my name onto the session scene.

f: What was your first release?

2fox: The first tune we made together was ‘Favela’, which eventually became ‘Mi Casa’ and features our long-time collaborator and friend Nandi.

We self-released it on our label, Arusha Records, in early 2018, and it has been our most streamed song to date.

f: Your new release, ‘Elevation EP,’ has just landed on Soul Clap Records. How is it all sounding?

2fox: We’re happy to finally have this EP out, especially as it’s on Soul Clap Records. The three tracks, ‘Elevation’, ‘Just Be’, and ‘Mare Street State Of Mind’, are different soulful dance music styles. We wanted each track to show a different side to our sound, and we feel we’ve achieved that. We started ‘Just Be’ in 2018, and it took us five years to finish it!

f: You’ve worked with some fantastic vocalists on the project, including Laville, Nandi, Sophia Thakur and Afronaut Zu. What did they bring to the table?

2fox: We respect each of these artists very highly in their own right, and they each have their unique vibe and sound, which fits in perfectly with our sound, so it all felt organic. Nandi and Afronaut Zu are strangers to our records and live shows. They are integral to the 2fox family and feature heavily on our back catalogue and future releases. Laville had been on our radar for a long time, and we were big fans of his work. We had a couple of really fun sessions with him making these tracks, and the tracks just came together naturally. Sophia has been making huge waves in poetry and literacy for the last few years. Something about her storytelling captivates the listener, and we wanted to experiment with it in our music. We couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.

f: Will there be any remixes of the EP tracks to come in the future?

2fox: There is a remix package in the works as we speak, which we can’t give away too much about just yet, but it’s really HUGE!! Very excited to share it once it’s ready!

f: Which of your own 2fox tracks was the biggest labour of love to create / personal favourite?

Max: I would probably say ‘Mi Casa’. As we mentioned earlier, it was actually the first track we ever made together back in 2017. It was originally called Favela and was much slower, at 115 bpm. The record had been out quite a few years when one of our managers, Piers, suggested it would resonate more if we sped it up and beefed up the beat a bit. So we sped it up by 10bpm, gave it a more weighty kick, hi-hat and clap, tinkered with the arrangement a touch and re-released it as Mi Casa in 2021 on Knee Deep In Sound. Very glad we took his advice on that one! 

Renell: ‘Inner Drum’ featuring Afronaut Zu & Amo will always hold a special place in my heart, I wanted to write a stadium song with a chorus that had no words, but everybody could resonate with, it’s my Stevie wonder ‘Another Star’… We haven’t got to the stadium yet, but we’ve got the music for it, lol.

f: Have you any plans for a 2fox album?

2fox: We have! We have already started on it, and it sounds really interesting. We won’t rush it; it will come when it’s ready.

f: You also perform live; what can we expect to experience at a 2fox live show?

2fox: A lot of energy and a journey for the audience that will touch on different emotions. You can expect vocalists, trumpet percussion, many vibes, and the two of us.

f: You’re based in London, how is the London soulful scene these days and where do you like to party?

2fox: The soulful scene in London is booming, with so much music coming out from homegrown talent and many great parties. Special mentions to To The Rock Records, Deep Into Soul, Underground Project and Makin’ Moves. 

f: What’s been your biggest achievement in the music industry so far? 

Max: It’s really hard to just pick one moment. Most recently, last summer, DJ Mag made me one of their ‘best-emerging artists to look out for’ for my solo stuff, which was nice. 

Renell: Winning an Ivor Novello Award in 2020 for my composition ‘The Windrush Suite’. It means even more to me that I was able to integrate conversations about my Grandparents’ experiences into the music. The music documents a part of my family’s legacy; it will be there forever in music history.

f: Renell, you have worked and collaborated with Rudimental, Anne-Marie, Nile Rogers, Emeli Sande, Jess Glynne, Skepta, Maverick Sabre, Carleen Anderson, DJ Spinall, Orphy Robinson MBE, Nitin Sawhney CBE, and more. That’s quite an impressive list. Who else would you love to work with?

Renell: I’d love to write a song for Lisa Fischer and let her sing it however she wants to. Lisa has a way of intuitively connecting to the spirit of a song; it’s beautiful. Damian Marley would also be a dream collaborator; his flow is always on point. On an instrumental level, Richard Bona, Raul Midon, and Robert Glasper would be crazy to work with.

f: Max, you’ve recently launched your label, Soul Quest Records; how’s that all going?

Max: It’s going really well. We just had our first anniversary since its launch, and we’re already on our seventh release (including three vinyl releases). The second release was a two-track EP from me, which sold out on vinyl within a few months and has had a sync on the video game Fortnite. It received a bunch of accolades from Bandcamp, etc., and had radio/club support from the likes of Gilles Peterson, Kai Alce, and Felipe Gordon, to name a few.

f: Which dance track holds the most precious memories for you?

Max: It may sound like an obvious one, but it holds extremely special memories for me. Roy Davis Jr. & Peven Everett’s ‘Gabriel’ was always my favourite song from the moment I heard it. Then, my daughter was born to it in 2019, and it made it even more special for me.

Renell: I don’t really have a dance track that holds a precious memory. My parents were Junglists and into Dub, so that was the closest I got to dance or any kind of electronic music as a kid. It wasn’t until I started writing with Rudimental and then working with Max that I got into dance records. You could say that I’m still waiting for my precious moment, lol.

f: Who are your top current producers? 

Max: I’m really into Frits Wentwink and Roberta at the minute, but they’re just the tip of the iceberg. There’s much amazing music from around the world right now.

Renell: Adrien Younge and Flying Lotus are probably my top producers right now. I know they’re not current, but I think they were so far ahead when they started that people are just catching up with them now.

f: What else is in the pipeline for 2fox?

2fox: We’re just putting the finishing touches on our follow-up EP to ‘Elevation’. It’s a four-tracker featuring Afronaut Zu. I’m really excited about this one!

We’ve also got the ‘Elevation’ remix package and a ‘So Long’ remix package coming, featuring the likes of Manoo and Coflo!

2fox ‘Elevation’ EP is out now on Soul Clap Records.


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