Numa Crew are a collective of DJs, MCs and producers from Italy who have been pushing a variety of sounds that takes in dubstep, grime, jungle, fading and dancehall hard for the past fifteen plus years. The crew have a prolific recorded output and have just released Badman Ting, another collaboration with grime crew Killas Army (who consist of Killa P, Irah and Long Range) and features Numa Crew’s XL Mad going head to head with Killa’s Army on a creeping, minimalist riddim that sounds as triumphant as it does menacing. With Numa Crew’s Ago on remix duties, the b-side sees the tune slowed down to 140 for maximum Bass pressure, losing none of its menace and power in doing so, and its a win-win situation. UKBM caught up with the members of Numa Crew to hear all about Badman Ting and it’s creation as well as discussing a variety of topics including the history of Numa Crew, what other music they have coming out, the influence of grime on the crews music, culture clashes and the long awaited return of festivals.
In addition to that Numa Crew have also blessed UKBM with the next instalment of our UKBMix series which you can check and vibe to at the end of the interview.
You have just released your new track Badman Ting with Killa’s Army. How did the creation of the track go and are you excited about its release?
Leon P: We are very excited about the new release of Badman Ting! The track was created and recorded in our studio in Florence with Killas Army. It seems like ages ago that we could still easily link up and have that special creative flow that only a real meeting can produce. It was actually in April 2018 that we invited Killas Army to perform at our Outlook Launch Party in Florence. At that time we planned to shoot the video of We Nuh Tek Talk and we kept some extra time to produce some new tunes together. While we were listening to some of our riddims, Killas Army started to freestyle the actual Badman Ting chorus on XL Mad’s beat. We spent the whole day in our studio and at the end of the day, the tune was magically finished!
Ago, you do the remix on the flipside of Badman Ting, how did you approach that remix and did you achieve what you wanted to do with it?
Ago: Well, the idea of the remix came up pretty by chance. We usually try the different acapellas we have on different instrumentals for our live sets. I remember when we were at Outlook and Leo put the Badman Ting acapella (which was still a work in progress at the time) on my tune “I. Got.”.. and we heard that it was good! So, when we decided to release it, I re-worked the tune around the vocals and that’s it basically.
You have done a lot of remixes over the years. Which ones have been particular favourites and how would you love to remix in the future?
XL Mad: I personally love Vybz Kartel Clark’s remix, Busy Signal ‘Up In Her Belly’ remix and Taiwan mc ‘Catalina’ remix. I would love to link up with more Jamaican and Nigerian artists from the dancehall and afrobeat scene.
Ago: Speaking for myself, one remix that I enjoyed was the one I did of Epoch’s tune called ‘Dust’. It’s not out yet though. Within the crew, a remix that came out pretty naturally is the one we did of Tuff & Powa’s “Outlaw”. I think we did it in two days or so.
XL Mad, you are releasing One Day Dem Haffi Fall which is coming soon. Are you and the crew looking forward to unleashing more roots reggae sounds on the world?
Leon P: Absolutely! Reggae in all its shapes has always been a big inspiration for us. We are working on many new reggae projects and alongside Numa Recordings, we have created the series “Riddim Batch”, specifically for those kinds of reggae vibes that we would love to spread.
XL Mad: Reggae in all forms and influences are the roots of Soundsystem culture, so definitely yes.
Have you been working on any other new music recently that you can tell us about and when we can expect it to come out?
Leon P: We are now working with Killa P on a very exciting new project but we still can’t reveal too much! I am personally working on many new dubstep and jungle productions both by myself and with the other members of the crew.
XL Mad: We have a ton of unreleased material waiting to come out… I personally have some collaborations with Scratcha DVA and Free Movement.
What other new releases are coming out on Numa Recordings for the rest of the year that you can tell us about?
Leon P: Regarding Numa Recordings, there are a few releases that are due to come out during spring and summertime. We have planned an EP by Lapo that will be the next vinyl release and also an EP by Tkay.
You released your Grime Chronicles collection last year. How has that been received?
Leon P: The Grime Chronicles has been released on our Bandcamp page only. We’ve been very happy with the positive feedback we received.
XL Mad: It was a good way to release the immense amount of productions that we have. We were happy to give it to the world and we’re planning to make more EPs like this.
Grime Chronicles spans from 2012-2019. How has your take on grime evolved through those years and where do you see it heading in the future?
Leon P: Since we started to produce and play dubstep in early 2006/2007, we have always promoted and played grime in our sets. We started to also produce grime a few years later, in 2011 and we’ve always mashed up the grime vibes with reggae and dubstep sounds. This is what Numa Crew actually is. The ensemble of the different personalities and tastes of each member and many music genres always influences us in our music. Numa Crew is the outcome of this patchwork!
XL Mad: I think that the main thing that characterises the 140 movement is the research of unique and futuristically distinguished sounds… so the future of grime and dubstep relies upon the roots of the first period, in which every track was a parallel universe.
What are your favourite grime riddims of all time?
Leon P: S-X – Wooo Riddim, Rebound X – Rhythm’n’gash and Faze Miyake – Take Off
If you could assemble a grime posse cut, which MCs would feature on it?
Killa P, Riko Dan, D Double E and P Money!
How was the experience of working with Riko Dan on the track Babylon?
Originally, Babylon was supposed to be a trappy-ish 130 bpm beat. Once Riko sent us the vocals, we worked and reworked on the tune in many different ways so that the actual final version of Babylon was finalised a couple of years later – with a totally different sound! Working with Riko has been an honour for us both on a personal and professional level.
Have you got any plans to work with him again?
At the moment we don’t have an open project with him but we aren’t ruling out the possibility of working with him again!
The video for Babylon has been well received. Can you tell us about the video and it’s creation?
The video for Babylon was shot in December 2019 in London. I flew there with my good friend and Video Director Jaja J-K Magrini and we were joined by the talented Video Maker Giulia Savorelli. The idea was to simply represent with images what Riko was narrating with his lyrics. In order to show that we captured the contrast between the epicentre of “Babylon” – Canary Wharf – and his neighbourhood – Mile End.
How do you approach working with such different artists, would it be the same approach creating a track with Riko compared to Ardimann for example?
Leon P: Of course, at every featuring, we have to deal with different personalities and characters. With some of the artists that we collaborate with we also have a personal relationship of friendship, with others we learn to know each other “on the road”. But when music comes in, we always find a common language that goes beyond every difference or point of view. The perspective that music provides us is always so pure and magic!
XL Mad: The process of creation for me is spontaneous and irrational… after the track is made I think which MC is suitable for the track.
You have worked on a lot of material with Dub FX, most recently on There With Me. How is the experience of working with him and how did you first start working together?
XL Mad: We met a long time ago on a big tour we did together in Romania and we became really good friends… collaboration and respect have been mutual since then!
Numa Crew have also worked with a whole host of artists, including Daddy Freddy, Horace Andy and General Levy. How has the experience been of working with so many great artists?
XL Mad: It is a great honour for us… we feel blessed to be part of this musical movement as it’s what we dreamed of when we started. Music is a mission not a competition, so we just put our energies into it. Every collab is a blessing in the process.
Who would you love to work with in the future?
XL Mad: I feel that I want to connect with every artist who shares our same vibe and view, with no preference or exclusion.
You participated in the Red Bull Culture Clash in Milan a few years ago. How was that experience?
Leon P: That was a great experience, probably one of the best events I’ve ever participated in as a DJ or musician. We were very close to winning the clash, as we won the first two rounds but in the end, the very clever and smart Macro Marco and his crew won the clash. We were very proud and honoured to represent the Italian dubstep and drum’n’bass heads; we started the clash as the ‘outsiders’ of the game against big names of the Italian hip-hop mainstream such as Marracash and his label, the reggae and dancehall don Macro Marco or even the internationally renowned Crookers, but when you are in the ‘arena’ the youtube views don’t have any value. It’s all about the energy and knowledge of pushing your sound.
XL Mad: It was a big gratification to be recognized for our work in Italy
Have Numa Crew always been versed in clash culture and what is your favourite ever clash?
Leon P: In terms of clash with MCs, one of my favourite clashes ever is the Ninjaman vs Shabba Ranks at Sting 1990 in Jamaica. In terms of a clash between Sounds, Downbeat vs Rodigan in 2006.
XL Mad: We don’t really come from the specific reggae dancehall culture, in which the clash is predominant, but every time we find ourselves in a clash we are ready to kill!
If you could do your own culture clash, who would you like to have on your side?
Leon P: Bounty Killer
XL Mad: In my personal view I wouldn’t make clashes but infinite B2B underground raves forever
You had a very prolific year last year with bringing out music, will 2021 be as productive for you in terms of bringing out newer material and making your older material available?
Leon P: Yes, absolutely. We want to become more consistent at releasing new music. We’re probably going to put out some old tunes that are sitting on our laptops too, ones that are waiting to see the light.
XL Mad: Definitely… we are seven prolific producers, we’re aiming aim to reach a point where we can release all the tracks we produce on a weekly basis.
Have you got any potential plans for live shows in the summer now things look more promising for festivals and gigs? You must be looking forward to getting back on it!
Leon P: Unfortunately not so much is going on this summer for us. We had many festivals and smaller gigs cancelled. Hopefully next month we’ll have some green lights for some events that are on standby at the moment due to covid circumstances. Outlook Festival is the highlight at the moment and it’s confirmed!
XL Mad: I really don’t make plans on it… I prefer to wait and watch how the situation evolves
I loved seeing Numa Crew tear it down with Killa P at Love Saves The Day in Bristol back in 2017. What have been some of your favourite festival memories?
Probably one of my favourite memories is Boomtown Festival 2019. We had a few shows at the festival; we were starting to play our second set on the Sub-Lab on the mighty Firmly Rooted Sound System and as I was selecting the first track to play – the power went out! No one knew how to solve the problem, we were trying to fix it but the clock was running and that was supposed to be the last show of the night. After 45 minutes of struggling, we finally solved the power issue and the dancefloor was full again. In 1 minute and we played a 15 min fire set. As we played for only a few minutes, the guys told us that we could play again the day after which was the last day of the festival. During the afternoon of that day, a good friend of us, Ila Brugal, told me ‘I saw Killa P, he’s here at the festival but he’s going back to London’. I wrote an SMS straight to Killa saying, ‘Yo, if you stay at the festival we’ll play together tonight’. So we finally go on stage again for the last set of Boomtown but I still couldn’t see Killa; after 5 minutes I’m starting to mix our big tune ‘Bun dem down’, Killa P appears, and he grabbed the mic exactly on the drop of the song. It was a madness!
XL Mad: Oh man my brain mixes all memories of the gigs we made since 2005. There’s been a lot of incredible moments. Numa Crew and General Levy at turtle fest Albania; an incredible night at Boomtown festival with Killa P again; the tour in Kosovo with Flowdan; the tour with Dub FX…
What track or tracks are perfect summer anthems for you?
XL Mad: Zed Bias – Neighbourhood
How did Numa Crew start in the first place?
XL Mad: First of all, we were friends united by our passion for music and the struggles of life
You have been important figures in bringing the dubstep and bass music sound to Italy. How was it received initially, when you first started out?
Leon P: Drum’n’bass and jungle were already big in those years and we started djing around 2005-2007, both in the clubs and in the more ‘illegal’ rave scene. We started playing dubstep and grime around the same period and at the beginning, it was not so easy in Italy. Initially, people were saying ‘This is too slow to dance’ but then a few years later everyone was dancing to that kind of beat!
XL Mad: If I think about the, evolution it was crazy! We witnessed people changing from initial confusion to total love in just a few years.
What is the scene like in Italy these days and are there any artists you could recommend to us?
Leon P: Probably it is not like 2010-2013, there’s not the same amount of crew and promoters pushing bass music around Italy as in that period but there’s still a lot of great producers such as Clap! Clap!, D-Operation Drop, Piezo, Breez, Neve, Synth Ethics.
What have been some of the ultimate highlights of your time with Numa Crew so far?
Leon P: Last year in September when Killa P was in Florence, we organised a little party with our really good friends Banpay Crew, we ended up on the night doing a ‘clash’ tune for tune, playing dubplates for a few hours and we had a lot of fun!
Listen to Numa Crew’s UKBMix here
I’m a music journalist based in the U.K. with a love for bass music in many forms from drum & bass and dubstep to hip hop and grime. Always looking to check out new music as well as digging back for the classics and attending as many events as possible.