Anyone who thinks they know oldschool but doesn’t own at least a few Bay B Kane releases should be ashamed of themselves! From 1990 to 1996, Mel Tanur aka Bay B Kane was one of the most prolific and influential hardcore/jungle producers around. Tracks like “Hello Darkness”, “Bagpipes in Effect” and “Quarter To Doom” are some of the best that early 90’s hardcore/jungle has to offer.
Around 1996 however, these Bay B Kane releases seemed to stop completely. While some of the other biggest producers of that time have popped back up in recent years with reissues / interviews / reunion DJ sets, I’d never heard any word about Bay B Kane. So, I did a bit of searching around, found him online, and posed him the question which oldschool jungle nerds like me want to know: “what ever happened to bay b kane??”
Thanks to all the B2VOSers who suggested questions for this interview. I tried to fit in as many as possible. In fact, because there were so many, Mel and I decided to split the interview up into a few parts.
Origin of the name “Bay B Kane”
The name Bay B Kane originally came about as a dedication to my son Kane who at the time was a baby…so I named an ep bay b kane and dedicated it to my son. At the time there was no intention of takin that name on as an artist name or anything like that…when the ep was released it quickly became one of the most popular eps of that time and there was huge interest within the underground scene, and somehow certain djs started to identify me as Bay B Kane whenever I came into contact with them. Amongst those djs were Mickey Finn..Darren J..Chris Energy..Grooverider to name a few… and so I also started to warm to the idea of keeping it as my professional/producer name. And thats basically how I got the name Bay-B-Kane.
…Incidently those who own a copy of my album “Guardian of Ruff” can see the real bay b kane (my son) on the back cover, pictured drawing circles in the sand…at the time aged 3yrs.
My influences to list individually would take too long and would probably be boring to read but lets just say that the biggest influence for me without a shadow of doubt was HIP HOP…from beginning to the present day hip hop still remains as the biggest inspiration within my life from a music point of view.
As for what inspired me to start making what then would have been referred to as Hardcore, it was a combination of few elements…
- being sick and tired of not getting anywhere within the music industry as a hip hop outfit (which I will go into more detail about later)
- being sick and tired of not having enough money
- a burning desire to create music which ideally would be unique and fresh but in a non conformist and not within the boundaries that existed at the time musically sort of way.
Origins of Break The Limits
Break The Limits was the foundation that enabled myself and Matt Edwards to pretty much pioneer and lead a movement from within the underground scene which was getting stronger by the day and I’m very proud to be able to say this… Getting back to the question of how did myself and Matt meet…we met while we were still at school. Matt was a dj (dj Youth) and back then I was an MC!! Yep that’s right, I used to be a rapper and very hardcore hip hop…after hearing Matt do his stuff on the decks I knew we had to put our heads together and do something to put UK and even more importantly East London on the map..
The events that followed in the next two years would again take too much time to run through but I’ll just say that we put ourselves in as many peoples faces as we possibly could…we played at parties, we played in clubs… you name it we did it, and in the end we got signed up with a small independent label called TUF which stands for The Underground Family.
They were a husband and wife team and were two of the best people I’ve ever worked with, but the trouble was they had a very limited budget so things always moved very slowly. But through TUF we got valuable experience and we got to work with the likes of Sylvia Tella and Double Trouble and many more… I even did a show with Rodeo Jones at the legendary Brixton Academy as one of the warm up acts for the Public Enemy concert…
Eventually we put out a 12inch single called “Reality”. At the time we were called “The Eastside Chapter”. But the single didn’t do very well and was the end of that chapter 4real, and what came next was born out of sheer frustration and desperation and it was called BREAK THE LIMITS.
Break The Limits
Myself and Matt Edwards we were at the most crucial crossroads we had ever had to cross, and as I’ve mentioned before, out of sheer frustration and desperation came Break The Limits…
We decided to call it this coz it was exactly what we intended to do, coz for so long we felt that we was being strangled by do’s and dont’s and rules and regs which collectively we called “the limits”. All we wanted to do now was to break them even smash them into non existance…
I am extremely proud to say we did exactly what the name suggested; we broke all the limits, and if whoever put them there happened to get in da way, we smash dem too…same speed!!!
I’m not going into full detail at this time about the Break The Limits catalog or what we achieved as its all there written on the wall of history forever, but I will just say this: Break The Limits was nothing short of an all out REVOLUTION and nothing less!!
Instead I will proceed to answer the question about Nu-Matic(XL-Recordings).
First of all, I have to say that the birth of Nu-Matic became the death of Break The Limits!!
By now the well established and respected Break The Limits was everything to us… we lived and breathed BTL 24 /7. We had just released a white label limited pressing (500 copies only) of a 4 track EP we called “Fragmental” EP. Within 3 days, we received a phone call from XL saying “wow we want dis, we want to sign you guys up” and all dat waffle… After many meetings with A&R’s and company officials and eventually with the man himself Tim Palmer, we agreed to sign a contract with XL-Recordings, but under a new name, coz I wouldn’t let them have “Break The Limits” for a sum of £50.000.
The EP came out on XL and we toured all over the UK doin PAs and promotions and photo shoots, and I hated all this and all dem record company pricks and I let dem know at every opportunity… You see, the thing is I’m from da hood and proud of it, and I’m the kind of person no amount of money can buy and if you approach me the wrong way I’m more aggressive than a wounded pitbull!!!
The unrest which was growing day by day was easily felt: more and more disagreements and arguments, and I had pretty much had enough. But little did I know that behind my back there were other things going on, and Matt had changed almost into a different person alltogether. Just at the time when I felt as though we weren’t even friends anymore, Matt came with a bombshell…
Well, it was in fact the end of “Break The Limits” and the end of an era…so we split everything down the middle. I let Matt take over the XL contract and Nu-Matic and I took over what was once our studio and we parted company…
So I had no involvement with Spring in my Step not the track or the video and wasnt even invited to the shoot..and so that hopefully answers the questions about Nu-Matic and spring in my step and Break The Limits.
Bay B Kane begins
As the BTL chapter came to a definitive close, I knew I had a lot more to offer musically and so I also knew that what I had to do now was going to be a real mission, not to mention a tuff test for me as an individual and as a producer… I got straight down to business and came up with the name for my new label: “Ruff Guidance”, and called upon a good friend and top street level designer Steve Davis of SPLAT Design to draw me a logo to go with the name, and BANG! In a matter of a few hours, Ruff Guidance was ready to roll…
A typical hip hop type cartoon character wearing a puffy flight jacket and a typical slightly aggressive slightly egotistical stance best describes the logo…Big respect to Steve for drawing that little guy who appeared on the label from there on till the end.
Luckily for me right from the word GO there was great response to this new beginning but obviously by now there was fierce competition from many other small labels as well as the big ones. But I feel proud to say Ruff Guidance held it down, and as time moved ever forwards carved a modest but well respected place within theunderground scene…”Good Good Sensi” Ep became a big hit on the underground and by now I was working with many different artists such as Peshay..Mickey Finn..Darren Jay..LTJ Bukem..Chris Energy..Hopper..George Kelly(One Tribe)..T Para (Parakat)..to name just a few!!
It was around this time that I bumped into a guy who I had known for a long time as one of the top rave promoters of that era, who used to run The Living Dream which was in the top 3 serial large scale raves of all time. His name is Noah Charlery, in later years he became one of my best friends and still is to this very day… but getting back to the story, when I bumped into him suddenly he said “you heard of the label KIKMAN?” so I was like “yeah, of course” and then he went on to say that it was his label and at the time he was working with T Para and Dance Master and that was the beginning of the KIKMAN chapter right there. Over the coming months and indeed years, I released many tracks on KIKMAN too… oh and yes I always got paid… where I come from, people lose their lives over money matters or discrepancies if you like, so yes I always got paid.
A year or so down the line and things were rollin nicely and the distribution company that always moved my releases announced they were starting a label “Whitehouse Records”, and I was one of the first artists they approached along with Bizzy B..Skanna and Remarc… I remember the first ever meeting we all attended at the label HQ, during the meeting Bizzy stood up and turned towards me and said “how do we know were gonna get paid by these fuckers man?”, and I replied “relax bizz they’ve got a huge warehouse full of vinyl and I don’t think they would wanna come to work one day and find it all turned to vinyl soup!!” hahaha…the expression on Andy’s face (The label manager) was unforgettable but needless to say that marked the beginning of a long and fruitful partnership between myself and Whitehouse Records.
Whitehouse Records and Bay-B-Kane partnership was one of the key advancements within my career as a producer without a shadow of doubt… This partnership allowed me to reach an audience that I hadn’t been able to before, as Whitehouse as well as being part of a large distribution company (Mo’s Music Machine) also had a distribution deal with Polydor International who were and still are a huge global music giant. Of course this meant that my releases on Whitehouse would reach everywhere, not just in the UK but around the world.
I released a double Ep 2x 6track Eps in one giant package, I’m pretty sure this was the first of its kind and it went BALLISTIC!! Whitehouse couldn’t press up enuff of it and were delighted with the results, which gave me very big status as far as the label was concerned… Almost overnight I had tracks raining down on me from artists who either wanted to get signed or to license tracks, or to have their tracks remixed by myself… and so I did a lot of remix work over the following months.
During this period I also struck another deal with Whitehouse to do a series of EPs which would consist of tracks from artists who I had collaborated with… this series we decided to call “4 STAR” and these were released on a bi-monthly basis, and on 2x 10 inch vinyl with 2 tracks per disc. This also for me was another highlight within my career coz it gave me an opportunity to work with different artists from my hood and guys who were friends of mine in most cases… many of whom had wicked ideas but not the means to be able to make dem materialize.
During this time I worked with..Loxy..Cool Hand Flex..Chris Energy to name just a few, but also the one and only time I got back in da studio with my ex-BTL buddy Matt Edwards, who sadly had pretty much disappeared from the music scene by then, due to things not working out with XL Recordings. So we did a one off track called CRACKERJACK under the name Double Tee & Mr E. The 4STAR project ran until we reached volume 4 and was one of my personal favorite projects.
“The Guardian of Ruff” album
I’m pretty sure that most fans of jungle / drum&bass will remember I also released an album through Whitehouse Records which was unheard of at the time for an individual artist… It was that same attitude of “break the limits coz we’re just that type” which was the driving force behind taking such a bold step, as I always wanted to be the first to do whatever it was and the release of that album “Guardian of Ruff” remains as the proudest moment of my career on a personal level.
Before I move on, I must mention one more very important point in time, which was the time I collaborated with a young American lady named Sherry…together we created “The Rood Project”, and after an initial EP we released through Symphony Sounds, we produced what was to become my biggest ever hit to this day: THUNDER. Sherry was one of a kind and I’ve never met anyone who got under my skin as much as this girl, and she was an inspiration to say the least.
The first time I played “Thunder” to Whitehouse it totally blew them away, and it pretty much blew everyone else away from there on and was a huge hit. I lost count of how many compilations we licensed it to and how many djs were chasing me for dubplates before it was released, but only four djs had that privilege and they were: Peshay..Randall..Mickey Finn and Bukem. And I wanna take this opportunity to thank them right here for all that they did for me and for the music on the whole…Nuff Respect!
Part 2 coming soon