Exclusive: Stööki Sound reminisce on early trap days, return from hiatus

Jamal Alleyne aka Jelacee started making music at 14 years old as a teen who, unbeknownst to him as he played with innocuous sounds on music DAWs in and around Stratford, was on the cusp of a new genre. “There weren’t a lot of things to do as a kid growing up in London. We’d be hanging out in youth clubs, and a lot of people in my area were making music. One of my friends was like, ‘here’s Fruity Loops, it’s free, make some music,’ and I did. I just hit the ground running once I realized it was something I was naturally good at,” said Jelacee who, 15 years later, continues to produce dance/electronic music with his collaborator and long-time friend DJ Lukey. Together, they’re known as the UK trap duo Stööki Sound.

The other half of the esteemed act is Lukey, whose musical prowess stems from a lineage of classically trained musicians. Growing up, the artist’s mother and three sisters played the violin, cello, and the piano, and his father was a reggae artist in a critically-acclaimed UK band. “I was always making music at home, but it wasn’t until secondary school that my cousin introduced me to Fruity Loops, Cubase, and eJay [music creation software] that I became truly obsessed with music,” said DJ Lukey.

In the years that followed, Lukey went on to attend university, DJing live sets at parties in East London and Shoreditch and eventually, established art collective Stööki: “I was playing smaller 100-cap parties with these mixed hip-hop sets,” he said.The two like-minded artists met in the ’90s, during a hip-hop night at a mutual friend’s birthday party at a Vietnamese restaurant in London. “So, me and Jamal linked up and started playing out these ‘Three 6 Mafia mixed into grime’ type tracks and lots of 140-BPM dubstep. Hip-hop was huge then and we were having fun…Soon after, we created the Stööki Sound project.” It was around this time that the trap genre had begun to emerge in the UK.

In 2012, the pair released “Ball So Hard,” their first original single as Stööki Sound. Previous releases included two successful reworks: a Lil Wayne flip of “A Milli” and a remix of “Mercy.” Officially established by DJ Lukey in 2011 as a lifestyle brand for apparel and jewelry, Stööki is now a three-tiered venture—”Sound, Vision & Play”—though Stööki Sound’s official launch was heavily focused on music and fashion. Shortly after the iconic trap tune’s release, the two musicians found themselves immediately thrust into the frenetic whirlwind recognized by many as the frenzied golden era of trap and dance/electronic music. “Since the beginning, it all happened so fast. Everything took off while we were still learning,” said DJ Lukey. It was during this time that the Stööki Sound project began amalgamating into what Jamal and Luke now remember fondly as the “Stööki Movement.”

“I remember listening to Hucci for the first time at 16 thinking, ‘this is different, and I want my music to sound like that.’ At the time, we didn’t know who else was in the trap scene—there wasn’t one in the UK. I knew of [Mr.] Carmack, Hucci, Flosstradamus, TNGHT, Hudson Mohawke, and then the list started dissipating from there. It wasn’t until we made it that we said, ‘wait a minute. Here it is, we’re it,’” Jelacee recalled. “This is why we have such a unique sound—because we accidentally put ourselves into that realm of music by listening to what inspired and influenced us.”

After being catapulted into the limelight as UK trap’s frontmen, the two young artists—Jamal was 19 and Luke, 21—went on to collaborate with their influences (Mr. Carmack, Hucci, and many other trap icons) while remaining true to their hip-hop-meets-dance-music roots. “People have commended us for sticking to our unique sound over the years, continuing to look up to us and how we’ve stuck to it over the last decade, and then we ended it almost four years ago. It doesn’t feel that long, of course, but COVID put us in a time machine. It’s quite interesting to see that we’ve left the music industry for what we thought would be a permanent break, and still, people are very much interested in listening to our project. It definitely feels like a testament to what we’ve done from 2012 to 2018,” remarked Jelacee.

He recalls struggling during these fruitful years as they navigated through the industry pipeline and live event sphere with no guidance and no mentors—no one they knew had ever experienced the dance/electronic frenzy that they would embark on:Featured image: Cameron InnissTags: , , , ,
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