Rebel Bass meets Brighton-based duo, Tengu, covering previous projects, upcoming tunes, their favorite shows to date and more.

Hey! We’re Chris and Kenny, Chris is 24 and Kenny is 34! We both come from a town called Worthing, located a few miles from Brighton!

How did you originally meet and begin producing as Tengu? Have you always played and produced under that alias?

We have always been KNOWN as Tengu, but we have had projects before we met. Not so successful ones, unfortunately, but nonetheless, they were fun, haha!

Chris: I was in another duo called “Assistants” with one of my childhood best friends. We made dubstep, drum and bass and moombahton together! When we performed live, I was DJing, and Freddie was a live drummer! If you have heard of Tek-One and what they used to do, it was similar!

Kenny: Was DJing as “Nino” since I was young, playing garage on vinyl and then moved to DnB. After moving from London, I was asked if I could play RnB, which at the time I had never tried. After making a mix, I got a residency playing hip-hop at a local club. I started making music as “Nino” on the side, making everything from DnB to house, grime and chilled stuff.

You’ve had quite an impressive year of shows thus far, having played alongside Flava D, Notion, Redlight and more. What have been your favorite shows to date and what is usually in heavy rotation during your sets?

Yeah, it’s been super fun! This year has been the best for bookings so far. Those nights you’ve listed are actually probably the best shows we have ever done! Flava D, out of the three, however, was probably our favorite, she is such a nice person!

If we are talking shows that haven’t been mentioned, then our favourite one has to be when we supported Foor, Tom Zanetti and Notion all in one night! We were actually in the smaller room of a club in Brighton called “The Arch”, which is fast becoming a world famous venue! We played our set and it was great, the night was such a success that they asked us to close the main room for the final 2 hours and we couldn’t believe how mental it was. You know when people start to slowly start going home? Yeah, that didn’t happen at all. If anything, I think there were people trying to get in 30 minutes before the closing time – and we forgot to mention, this was on a Thursday, haha!

Every single show, we have always played Foor’s “Everybody’s Free (VIP)”, an unreleased Pavv tune called “The Future” and anything from our boy Mofaux. Those tunes are our staple tunes for our sets!

You’ve got a lovely little slapper, “Weapon” out now on CruCast’s “Shake the Bass 2”. Talk a bit about the production process for this track. Have you played it live yet? If so, how has the reception been?

HAHA! A slapper, that’s so funny, that’s what we call tunes we think are crazy! Or a “voomer”. Yeah, we are so excited about this release! CruCast is a label we have always wanted to be on – just seeing the reception of Skepsis’s, Darkzy’s and everyone else on the roster’s releases is incredible. When we were asked to provide a tune for the compilation, we felt honoured – and honestly, a little scared! We didn’t think we could hit their standards.

The production process of this tune was definitely one of those sessions where the tune was accidentally made in 2 hours…we will be honest about that, haha! We recently released a tune called “Right To Kill” on Four40, which did so well, even before the release. I think it was one of our most requested tunes live – and to be sent for about a year and a half before Four40 asked for it! The point of that story is, we used a similar lead for “Weapon” which we feel really represents our sound. It was also the first tune we tested our own drum sample pack on to see if the samples were ready! The tune just came naturally to us and as we said, we finished it so quickly!

We have played it live, and the reception has been great! We say that if we don’t hear the crowd shout “OIIIII!!!!!” Then its not a good tune. To this date, we haven’t not had any “oi’s” for Weapon!

How do you feel about U.K. bass and garage popping off and becoming so widespread over the past year? Is it strange to see people all over the globe trying to take a stab at something so strongly rooted in England?

Oh it’s great! It’s really, really kicking off, I mean, it’s becoming commercialized without becoming “bait” as anyone who hates commercial music says, haha. People ’round the world taking a stab at it is a compliment to the sound, it’s evolved since the early 2000’s too.

We had a tune played by Oliver Heldens and Ephwurd recently, and they are two artists who we have always looked up to, so we love the fact that it’s going global! We hope to come and play to the U.S. as we play quite American-style bass house in our sets over here in the U.K.!

It’s a genre everyone is having a go at, but keep to their area’s vibe. For example – the Night Bass crew, I would say, is very “Americanized” which on the other hand is definitely coming over to the U.K.! It’s honestly great, and I want to shout out Jauz for supporting the U.K. crew recently!

What’s in the pipeline from you two in the upcoming months?

We have LOADS! We have been the busiest we have ever been recently. What we can talk about is that we are releasing on Zinc’s label, “Bingo Bass” on the 18th of July, and he’s already asked us for more music to be released!

We have loads more gigs coming up as we have recently signed to a new agency called “Gram Agency”, who deal with the big boys such as Delta Heavy, Brookes Brothers, Mind Vortex and more! So that’s exciting!

We have a nice project coming up with YOSH (Foor’s Label) which – unfortunately we can’t talk about JUST yet – but it’s exciting!

We’ve also got a collaboration with Foor, Jaguar Skills, Mofaux, Pavv and loads more people coming up soon, too!

As mentioned, your forthcoming track entitled “Preach” is out now on DJ Zinc’s label, Bingo Bass! How did you initially connect with Zinc, and how would you describe this tune in your own words?

We initially made “Preach” for fun and didn’t actually want to release it – we feel this tune is the beginning of a new brand of Tengu – the more dark, melodic side of bass music rather than our usually placed sounds!

Zinc is honestly the nicest guy! Before we started talking, he popped our tune “Jinzo” with Mofaux into his Spotify playlist – showcasing tunes he loves at the moment – and it blew us away! Mofaux then pointed out that he had added more of our tunes. Initially I reached out to Zinc just to thank him, and he ended up asking for more tunes! From there, he asked if “Preach” was signed, and we instantly changed our mind on releasing it, haha! We have already been asked to release more music with them so this is the start! It’s so exciting!

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Claire Carlson
Claire Carlson is a 22-year-old music journalist and producer (Clarity) hailing from Dallas, Texas. Her journalistic work for PRIME and Rebel Bass has encompassed rising artists of various genres, while her own music has most notably been signed to PRIME, Pack London and Hybrid Theory's Four40.