London-based Jazztronica duo Blue Lab Beats - formed of NK-OK and Mr DM - make an exclusive mix for Notion and demystify music production.

First meeting at art college a decade ago, Blue Lab Beats have since gone on to release three albums – 2018’s ‘Xover’, 2019’s ‘Voyage’, and this year’s ‘The Sounds of Afrotronica’. Prolific collaborators, Mr DM and NK-OK have worked with the likes of Kojey Radical, Adeline, Ghetto Boy, Ruby Francis, and many more.


Their latest track, “Dat It”, sees Blue Lab Beats team up with LA-based artist and Stones Throw affiliate Keifer for a delicious slice of jazztronica. Next Friday, they are set to share a brand new single with Kofi Stone and Tiana Major9. “Labels” combines some of the best UK talent to fuse velvety vocals with rap lines and of course – tasty beats.


Notion caught up with the pair to hear about their dream collaborators, the accessibility of music production, and more. Plus, don’t miss their exclusive mix – the perfect wind-down.

How did you first meet and what inspired you to work creatively together?
NK-OK: We both met at a place called Weekends Arts College 10 years ago and I was playing my beats in the lunch hall and David walked past and invited me to the live rehearsal room. At that point hearing and playing I knew we needed to get in studio ASAP.
You’ve collaborated with the likes of Ruby Francis, Ghetto Boy, Kojey Radical, Kiefer and many more. How do you decide who to work with?

NK-OK: Well with most of them We met them at live music events, jam nights or just simply shooting a DM on Instagram and just arrange a date from there.

Who else is on your bucket list for collabing?

Both: Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Gary Bartz, Roy Ayers, Harvey Mason, Kendrick Lamar, Anderson .Paak.

You’ve got an album coming up – what can we expect?

Mr DM: Our upcoming album will showcase even more experimentation and collaboration with other artists, in and out of the UK. 

If you could host a dinner party and invite any 3 celebs, who would they be and why (dead or alive)?

Mr DM: I’d invite Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, and Robert. All 3 of these innovators have gone beyond the acoustic instrument-oriented jazz tradition and have displayed the capacity to push music forward. Miles, when he was alive, was at some point criticised by traditionalists and being called a sell-out for going outside the box and using electric instruments such as bass guitars and synthesisers in his lineup. This is what gave Herbie and Robert the inspiration to take this music forward. 

What’s one myth you’d like to debunk about music production?

NK-OK: I think for the upcoming generation, production seems like it’s an easy tool you can access through an app on your computer when actually it’s just the program side and even that is hard enough. For me, being a music producer is a whole other game in itself. Music production it’s about understanding the room, understanding what vibe the room wants to capture that day and especially understanding everyone’s part taking place in a song to make the best piece of art.

What vibe were you hoping to create with your mix? 

NK-OK: In this mix I’ll be playing some jazztronica and soultronica sounds from old and new acts.

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