Meet the collective at the forefront of the UK's burgeoning new neuro movement
A new wave of UK labels have been making some serious noise on the neuro side of drum & bass lately. Labels like Stonx Music, BrainRave, Dirtbox Recordings and Route 97 have been leading the charge of this movement. But one of the most prominent? Check Neuroheadz. A rapidly growing label with a solid reputation for parties, a soundsystem in a bin (?!) and even their own live neuro band, they’re a major driving force behind the current new neuro wave.
Established 2021, founders Ben Killey and Mike Simpson, plus label manager Lee UHF, resident selectors IDeaZ, Jx2, Mink and label partner Albi NHZ, have been tearing up Bristol dancefloors in full effect since the lockdowns lifted. A successful passion project, the brand has spawned into community-driven platform that continues to attract devoted, die-hard neuro fans and seeks to push the ever-evolving subgenre forward.
The label are a forward thinking tribe with a real assortment of operations and talents to their name. Artist-wise, the likes of Avile, TRCD, Kaizen Flow, Stonx and Transforma are all fierce acolytes and feature regularly on the Neuroheadz discography and event line-ups. Meanwhile their Neuroheadz Live band – featuring High Octane, Keenan and Ollie Stonx with Killey behind the decks – has emphasised the heavy presence of rock and metal that’s always lurked deep in the neuro alchemy.
Their events are far from your standard underground rave, too… Unique parties such as a prison break themed jailhouse rave (held in an actual abandoned prison) and their own Neuroheadz Festival (held in a farm in Wiltshire) are proof of the crew’s ambition, vision and exciting energy. As is their Notorious B.I.N; a council bin pimped up with in speakers and subs from to lid to base, they’ve taken it to various festivals this season – including the mighty Boomtown.
For a snapshot of where they are now, post-summer, check their latest release, TRCD & Kaizen Flow‘s epic double-header Shatter Machine / Control Freak. The second season of their Get Funked mix series is also well worth exploring. Relaunched recently on Soundcloud, expect nuclear neuro bombs every Monday with Burr Oak being the latest guests shelling utter carnage.
For more doses of carnage, we asked the Neuroheadz crew some questions about their remarkable and inspiring journey so far.
Congratulations on what you’ve achieved so far! What does Neuroheadz mean to you?
Thank you! It’s great to get recognition after all the hard work we’ve put into the label. We love doing it and if I had to describe Neuroheadz in one word, it would simply be family. That’s what our label is built on, a strong community full of devoted neuro lovers who support us to the end of the earth.
How did it all begin?
There has been a big group of us that have been going out to neurofunk raves together for a few years now, mostly based in-and-around Bristol. Ben was a career promoter in D&B so he decided to throw a show at Loko club with Prolix. We did it as a passion project, we didn’t care if anyone came. We just wanted our lot to come and have a great time! The event did really well and so many people thanked us for putting it on, it was super heart-warming! After that we decided to structure a team around the brand and form a label.
Have you faced any challenges along the way at all?
I think with the running of any label, you are going to come across problems and challenges, but it’s how you react which I think is important to being successful. Events across the whole spectrum have struggled since Covid so I think if I had to describe a constant challenge, it would be to make sure tickets sell and events do well enough to be considered a success.
Neurofunk looks to be returning to the forefront of drum & bass, what’s your opinion on this?
We think it’s absolutely great! Neurofunk is the best subgenre in drum and bass (in our humble opinion of course). Quite a lot of people have felt neurofunk can be a bit too intense for them, but I think deep down everybody loves it and everyone has a wicked time when it drops in the club. We are gassed to be a part of the neuro revolution!
What’s your current take on the neuro sound and where do you think it’s heading?
There are so many styles with the sub-genre at the moment. Right now a lot of artists are pushing the 4×4 sound on the dancefloor – which is a nice switch-up in the rave but we think this will die off as quick as it comes. There is also the rock/metal element which we are big fans of and are pushing through our Neuroheadz Live project. Neurofunk may be quite niche but rock and metal are obviously huge and could be a great way to bring new people into the scene.
Let’s talk about the Neuroheadz roster. You’ve got some real eclectic, unique talent on your books right?
We have a really tight team of unique artists who bring their own cool sound to neurofunk. We work closely with the likes of Stonx, TRCD, Avile, Kaizen Flow, Jestah and Sovryn who are all incredibly talented. We also have our Neuroheadz LIVE! Band mates, High Octane, Keenan and Ollie (Stonx) who blow the crowds away every time they take to the stage with Killey behind the decks. We are in constant contact with our producers across the UK and Europe and are looking forward to deepening our relationship with them as well.
You’ve thrown some awesome events over the last few months at some really cool venues, tell us a bit more about them. How have these events gone down?
The events have been great! We always get the same 150-200 faces which is so much fun. It’s like a family reunion! But then we get new faces which is great. Previously we did our shows at Loco Klub, which was awesome for having the Oh My Gosh soundsystem and our video wall. Then we tried out The Island, an old jailhouse and ran a little ‘prison break’ theme for a laugh. We’ve enjoyed this years events as we have tried new locations, new themes and new ways of promoting the night.
Neuroheadz Festival was phenomenal! How have you seen it progress and flourish over the last two years? Anything special planned for next year?
It was a big step up from last year. Massive shout out to Joe and his family who own the farm, they put in a massive effort to set the site up. We’ve learned a lot from the first two, they were almost trial runs. We now have big plans for next year’s festival, bigger stages, soundsystems and a much bigger lineup.
There’s been a familiar setup of yours doing the rounds at festivals and pre event meet ups. Please tell us the story behind a certain green bin of yours?
Essentially we wanted a second stage for our first Neuroheadz Festival in 2022 – I had the idea and asked the Headz if anyone had a spare bin and by chance, Ben did. I carted it away and was super secretive about the project until I sent a video of it all working in to the Headz chat. The festival rolled around and the bin went viral on TikTok and Instagram, getting picked up by a bunch of other pages along the way! Since then it’s making appearances at our own events as well as popping up in various locations around Bristol and most notably at boomtown 2023! The Notorious B.I.N has big plans for the future.
Lastly, what’s the next year looking like for the Neuroheadz family? Any tours, albums or events in the pipeline?
We’ve got nine releases planned taking us to March next year. We have just booked Enei & Mel to play in Reading at Sub 89 in November and are currently planning another Bristol event for March which will be our biggest yet. Neuroheadz Live is really stepping up its game with us looking to do full band sets in March and for the festival, plus we are starting to create our own music using the bands instruments. Recently, we’ve been working with Phantasy to be a part of a new Drum & Bass holiday experience in Kavos, so expect to see the Neuroheadz out there in June!
Mike and Ben are discussing a stint in Prague to build the brand and play out in Europe. When we went over for Let It Roll we met so many Neuroheadz and realised we have a bigger following in Prague than Bristol! So, we think there is an opportunity for the brand to build over there.