Tuesday 14th December

| BY Paul Toner

UK Garage Legends Locked On Release a 25th Anniversary Merch Collection

Self-described as “purveyors of 2-step flair and true 4/4 champions”, seminal London-based record label Locked On turned the big 25 this week.

If you’re into your UKG, you’ll be well aware that Locked On is the creative force that brought us The Streets, alongside a catalogue of floorfillers, including Antonio’s “Hyperfunk” and “Anytime” by Nu Birth. Bringing underground white labels to the general consciousness since ’96, Locked On has remained as one of London’s most respected dance labels, with its now-closed record shop – Pure Groove on Holloway Road, North London – serving as a cultural hub for all garage heads through the eighties and nineties.

It’s not every year you get to celebrate a quarter of a century in the biz, and Locked On is going big. Teaming up Mathew de Jong, a collaborator of FKA Twigs and Tyler The Creator, the label has released a brand new line of logo-stamped tees and long sleeves, inspired by the label’s first compilation mix by Todd Edwards. And that ain’t all. In response to a series of samples and remixes of Locked On hits from the likes of Aitch and Rudimental, the label will be reissuing limited edition vinyls from the likes of The Streets and Crazy Bank.

Here, we caught up with one of Locked On’s label heads, Tarik A Nashnush, to get the rundown on what we can expect from the garage pioneers over the coming months.

How would you describe the past 25 years”

Nashnush: “An exciting roller-coaster ride in the early days, leading to a more defined and polished stage, and now looking at embracing new media and opportunities for the future.”

What have been some of the highs over the last quarter of a century?

“The initial thrill was hearing Todd Edwards DJ mix on our compilation Locked On: Inside The Mix for the first time. It inspired us to start the label with the same name and signing Saved My Life. Also, picking up our first 12”, Somore’s “I Refuse (What You Want)” from the pressing-plant. needing more than one trip in the Nova and being involved in some great releases from Artful Dodger, Operator & Baffled, Dem 2, Nu Birth & Zed Bias, to name but a few. It all culminates in The Streets having a number one single “Dry Your Eyes” in the same week as a number one album, A Grand Don’t Come For Free.”

What have been some of the biggest hurdles?

“The main hurdles were learning how the industry worked. We had our own record shop, Pure Groove, so it was relatively straightforward at the start – acquire the track, get the vinyl pressed and sell it in the shop. Although eventually we had to expand out of Archway and later start to navigate around the digital world. Looking back through the highs enabled us to overcome most hurdles, especially once we replaced the Nova.”

There is a garage resurgence happening at the moment, with a whole new crop of DJs adopting the sound – what excites you about this new generation of UKG fanatics?  

“In a world where all music is so accessible and there is so much of it, I think UKG scene still holds that feeling ‘If you know, you know’. It’s a scene where digging for old gems and finding old white labels is still very much part of it.  I think that exclusivity makes it feel special. And the core of UK garage is authenticity, there is so much respect for the root and history of the scene, which is what makes these new artists so exciting. They hold true to the core, but bring a whole new life to the genre. We have put out a new remix of Antonio’s “Hyperfunk” with the amazing Bklava. She has such a fresh take UK garage, DJing and producing.  She’s a real talent and the rework is an instant garage classic. Over the summer, we saw loads of talented young people putting on some really well-curated UK garage nights, and opening up the genre. There’s a young DJ and producer called Interplanetary Criminal who does an amazing live set. 

How are you planning on pushing the label forward? 

“The future of the label is busy…. But exciting! We had the amazing Bklava do a “Hyperfunk” remix for us last summer which was gorgeous. It’s been great two work with new women and non-binary artists in the UKG scene. We have also started to move into a new clothing era. The fashions that surrounded UK garage in ’90s/’00s has really come back on trend, and Locked On being the backbone of UKG has meant some really cool designers have approached us and we’ve begun collaborating on pieces n clothing. The gravitas and history of the label have inspired some really cool pieces.”

How do you plan to continue with the celebrations?

“We have four lots of original Locked On anniversary vinyl coming out. They are super exclusive and they celebrate eight of our most iconic records. They are up for pre-sale now and will arrive in March 2022. We will be holding a party when they arrive with some of the coolest UKG faces involved…”

Photography by Isaac Lamb. Shop the Locked On merch collection here.