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What matters are the records. The ones that shaped Raphael ‘Raf Daddy’ Rundell and Joe Goodard when they met in the DJ booths of London. House music has buried itself within the roots of the best of us, but for these two it became more than just a fleeting hands in the air moment, it became The 2 Bears.
Honing their craft with all the care and attention paid to a well-groomed patch of facial hair, the duo have bounced from Brixton to Tel Aviv via Cape Town, sharing the decks ever since their fateful incarnation, delivering a memorable blend of house, techno, ragga and more to almost every continent. A bearded pilgrimage if you will, and one that has coloured in the bold dancefloor-centric shapes of their second album The Night Is Young.
Where debut smash Be Strong was rooted in their love for London, The Night Is Young takes on a more global vision. With a love for their home city still at its heart, the album pulls influences and experiences from across the world of dance music, drawing deeply from their trip to Africa last summer. As part of a project for Brixton based youth magazine Live, the duo played shows in Cape Town and Johannesburg and spent time recording in a studio run by BLKJKS’s Tsepang Ramoba. The lead vocals for Son Of The Sun were recorded there with a young singer called Sbusiso and Kwaito legend Senyaka, who also added his vocal to lead single Angel (Touch Me).
‘It’s very much like being in London driving around,’ says Raf of the album. ‘You get bored of the radio station very quickly and you switch from Kool to Vibes to Radio 4 or back to Tony Blackburn’s show on Radio 2. I love walking along Atlantic Road in Brixton. If you go there at the right time it’s a complete assault of sounds. People sawing off goat legs, playing Bhangra, someone selling Reggae mixtapes, someone selling Christian Soca… It’s an endless barrage and it’s kind of psychedelic.’
Speeding through multiple genres, often condensed into single tracks, The Night Is Young lifts The 2 Bear’s famed, eclectic DJ sets to higher realms, shifting the imperative to lose both body and mind distinctly up a gear. Currently mid-way through a residency at London’s XOYO, their innate ability to lead a party down multiple musical rabbit holes carefully joins a long-harbored desire to weave deeper thoughts and personal ideologies into their productions.
‘I love tunes that disguise things,’ says Joe. ‘A really sweet melody with a really dark sentiment. Money Man is meant to be like that, you can have those glossy reggae records that still say something. We didn’t want to just be in that culture of not saying anything, where it’s all a fantasy world and everyone just goes and gets fucked up but no one says anything.’