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Will / Sublogic Recordings Interview


As part of the KVA002 giveaway (which I’ll be posting about shortly), I wanted to do an interview regarding the Supertouch “Dreams”< release. The obvious interview choice would have been with Klute (the artist behind the release), and I'd still like to interview him sometime soon. Still, I thought it'd be cool for a change to interview Will from Sublogic Recordings, regarding his label and all the releases he's put out over the years. In my mind, Will is one of many "unsung heroes" who, rather than just producing tunes back in the early 90's (though he did a bit of that too), really pushed them in various ways both online and IRL through the 2000's, helping to buoy the scene when some of the original players might have been losing interest. For those who don't know, Will's Sublogic Label, along with 92Retro, were THE labels which kicked off oldskool represses / unreleased presings in the 2000’s, and were the primary influence in me starting 8205. Will has also been active in various other oldskool related stuff online, as a trusted secondhand seller (I’ve got some crazy vinyl from him over the years) and active on forums passing on information about tracks. He even wrote a guest post for this blog early on, featuring a super rare whitelabel I’ve yet to find a copy of. Will definitely has some interesting things to say about this music, releasing vinyl in 2014, and the online presence for these dusty old tracks – read on to find out.

First things first – quick background of your history with this music? The first thing I know from you is the awesome VENTURE FM EP which is a personal favorite 92/93 whitelabel. How did you get into rave , start making tunes, etc? what got you “back into it” after a certain number of years, or did you never leave?
My history with this music is probably quite similar to a lot of people who are still into it… around the last years at school (1991 – early 1992) when I was 17, 18 years old there was a pretty clear divide between the kids who were listening to indie and band music, and a smaller proportion who were into electronic music – everything from the more dance / electronic side of pop like New Order, Depeche Mode etc through to US and UK hip hop, house and of course the first copies tapes from raves that were doing the rounds when a Walkman and a C90s were standard. I don’t think it’s possible to pin it down to one moment or event but for whatever reason I found electronic music much more interesting than ‘live’ music. If there was one reason I can say for sure had a part in it, it would be computer music from the years beforehand – I was really into music from the first generation of home computers, especially the Commodore 64. I used to make tapes of C64 game music, almost obsessively, and had favourite writers… Rob Hubbard, Martin Galway and others and to this day I still think that given the severe limitations of the hardware what those guys did was incredible. The C64 music also got me into listening to Jean Michelle Jarre, Vangelis etc so I guess when I first started hearing electronic music, techno, house, early hardcore it felt like a logical progression really. Then there were certain rave tapes that started to do the rounds in 1991 that had a big impact on me too – early Dreamscape and Raindance tapes, and also DJ studio mixes, Hype, Mickey Finn, Slipmatt, all those DJs who were big on the rave scene in 1991. It actually all felt very accessible back then. You bought, borrowed or copied tapes of the DJs you’d seen on flyers, which then meant you heard tunes that you’d buy on vinyl which meant a trip to a record shop… where you’d get more flyers, hear of more events which you’d get tapes from, discover more tunes and on it went. The first events I went to – Raindance, Apocalypse Now at Rivermead Leisure Centre, a lot of the Fantazia events, were just mind blowing. It was like a confirmation that this imaginary scene lived through flyers and tapes was real and was happening everywhere, every weekend. I can still remember clearly the first tune I heard walking into my first proper big rave at Rivermead in 1991, it was Sykosis 451 – Hurricane and that was it, never really looked back from that point. Nostalgia aside, I think Hurricane is still one of the hardest hardcore tunes ever made. Still sounds so good today, 23 years later!

As for making tunes, that again was very accessible in the early nineties – messing around with samplers and sequencers didn’t feel like a big leap from messing around with home computers in the years before. It was pretty exciting to be using an Atari ST for something other than swapping and playing games, and they were very easy to get hold of. A lot of people had an old Atari 520 or 1040ST already, and that infamous cracked Cubase disc was doing the rounds everywhere. I remember the hardest thing to find was a proper high resolution Atari monochrome monitor, which made it much easier to work on Cubase for long periods. I bought an Akai S950 sampler, which had come down a fair bit in price when some of the more expensive higher spec Akais were available, and that was it – two MIDI cables and an old Roland PC200 controller keyboard and it was a basic but complete setup. The specs seem laughable by today’s standards but even with 30 or 40 seconds of total sampling time it was a lot of fun messing around with looping breakbeats and sampling bits and pieces from other records, from old VHS tapes of films, from old hip hop records, anything really. Some of the first things I did were “remixes” of some tunes I’d bought on vinyl. I did a few like that, just sampling the different bits of a tune and piecing it back together it in a new way – it’s probably for the best that I don’t still have any of them, they were pretty awful… but it was a lot of fun at the time. I do remember doing my own re-edit of Edge #1 that I was really pleased with, but the floppies have long since been lost.

I was very aware that there was a whole world of proper recording studios, high end kit, mastering and so on – but it was so far apart from what you could do in your bedroom with a sampler and an Atari that I think it actually strengthened (to borrow an Ibiza Records term) “Straight From The Bedroom” hardcore as a music in its own right. Real studio time and serious outboard kit was so expensive and so out of reach for most people that it wasn’t really a threat at all. It certainly wasn’t a reason to not make music in your bedroom. That was the great thing about even just having one Akai sampler – the mixdowns and mastering might not have been up to much, but you really could make tunes that sounded, perhaps naively in retrospect, as exciting and fresh as the studio produced dance music of the era.


Venture FM Presents Summer Rush EP
The story behind the Venture FM EP was probably like so many other bedroom releases of that time. I’d finished a handful of tracks, some on my own and some with my friend Dushan, and I just wanted to get a vinyl record released – it really was no more or no less than that. Every independent record shop was full of one-off productions with rubber stamped white labels, it was that easy. No publishing, no contracts, just loads of small releases from anyone who fancied giving it a go. I rented a DAT recorder and proper rack mount equaliser for a day, bought a blank DAT tape, recorded the tracks and took the DAT into JTS Studios in East London. At the time they were doing incredibly cheap deals on vinyl, you just dropped in your DAT, and they did everything else – a couple of weeks later you paid and collected your boxes of white labels. I remember at the time being almost a bit disappointed at how straightforward it was, I thought getting a record pressed would be a bit more glamorous than loading up the back of a car in the rain in Hackney but that was all part of the charm really. As for the EP itself, it was called the Venture FM EP as a friend was running a pirate radio station at the time, of the same name on 105.9 FM. In those days of endless white labels being produced, you had to at least try and give your EP a name, and I think we played a few of the tracks on the station from cassette tape before the actual vinyl was pressed. Selling the record was as simple as walking with boxes of stock into the usual London shops – Blackmarket and Unity in Soho, Mash Passion on Oxford Street, Zoom in Camden, from memory you didn’t even call up first – anyone could just show up with a box of tunes and walk out with a sale-or-return receipt. Wait a week, go back and see how many had been sold and walk out with your money. Or, in my case, spend it immediately on other records, rave tickets and tape packs in the same shop that had just paid you!

I made a few more tunes after that EP but never released any on vinyl. By the time mid – late 1993 came around, the music was definitely changing – getting darker, harder in some ways but also more dilute and less raw in other ways compared to the ’92 bedroom stuff. I pretty much lost interest in making tunes by then, but started to buy a lot more vinyl. Those were great times for buying tunes, especially late ’93, ’94 and ’95. You could pick up so many ’92 and ’93 tunes for pennies, the bargain bins were full of it as the new racks started to fill up with happy hardcore and jungle releases. Obviously being pre-internet, pre-Discogs etc it was always brilliant to dig the racks and discover classic ’92 and ’93 tunes you’d only ever heard at raves and on tapes – and picking them up for a pound or two! Years of listening to the London pirates like Touchdown FM, Pulse FM, Rush FM and loads of others was a big influence on buying records too. I used to record a lot of pirate radio to tape, and the DJs often mentioned tunes by name which again, pre-internet days, was a lifeline in discovering label names, track names and so on. I do miss those years more than any other, even though the jungle / drum and bass scene from 1995 onwards was very special too. In answer to your question though, a combination of nostalgia for those years and a genuine love of that music meant that I never really felt like I had got “out” of that scene, or that stuff like starting Sublogic Recordings meant that I had got back into that scene. Even now, nearly quarter of a century later, old skool still makes me very happy! People are still discovering unknown tune IDs, turning up old sets and unreleased tunes and so on. To me it’s all still fascinating. I think there are major parallels to other DIY music scenes from the past – UK punk, northern soul, Belgian New Beat and so on. I’m hoping that enough time has almost passed now that cultural historians might dig a bit deeper into the significance of this music and the progress and innovation that came from it.

Aside from putting out a record in 1993, you’re also one of the first people I know (along with Dave Elusive / 92Retro) involved in unearthing unreleased and/or impossibly rare oldskoolfor vinyl press. Sublogic was definitely one of the very first labels I know of doing oldskool reissues outside of compilations of popular tunes or labels just reissuing their own back catalog. How did you first get interested in doing these type of records? Were there any people/labels I may be forgetting who were doing it previously and were in turn influential to you?

I don’t think there was any other label that made me think “I want to do that!” and start pressing up rare or unreleased stuff. Like you say, there were a few reissues on various labels I had bought, but those were generally put out by the same original labels that had released the tunes first time around. There were a few vinyl compilations that were an influence though, stuff like the Classic To The Core albums, and the United Dance Anthems albums. But these were more of a frustration than an influence – too many tracks per side of vinyl, quiet pressings, too many obvious anthem choices. Those compilations were great and had some legendary tunes on them but I just wanted to dig much, much deeper and make the best old skool vinyl possible both in terms of content and quality. I remember buying a lot of those bootleg series records though, stuff like Knights Of The Turntables, and being disappointed over and over again with poor quality audio, obviously bootlegged, and on low quality pressings. I suppose that more than anything made me want to do it differently – and do it legally – with Sublogic.

It seems like the online “community” for hardcore/jungle has changed significantly over the years – from the early pre-www days of internet mailing lists, to early angelfire and similar static web pages, to web forums and youtube, and now through to massive facebook groups etc. At what point did you get involved with this kind of music in an interweb capacity? Any thoughts about the plusses and minuses of any of this / what has changed over the years with how people interact with the music based on the technology at hand?  

It has changed massively, in both good ways and bad. Before the advent of the internet and all the valuable resources we now have like forums, Discogs, Roll Da Beats etc, it would have been very hard to find likeminded people outside of the actual rave scene and your own circle of friends. Being able to connect so accurately and so easily with likeminded people anywhere in the world is incredible, and without that it would have been far harder to discover, sell and promote stuff like the Sublogic releases. Like with the first vinyl I did, the Everyday Child 12”… that sold out in a matter of hours on B2VOS. How on earth you would have found those buyers pre-internet is beyond me, and in fact the whole bedroom label scene these days is entirely dependent on being able to make online connections and how that leads to online word-of-mouth hype and interest in what you are doing with a label. The bad side is that the internet also gives people a sense of entitlement to music for free… the Youtube DJs / rippers, the Soulseek and torrent downloaders and so on. It’s an argument that has been done to death, people saying that it makes no difference to vinyl sales if people pirate the tracks online because the people doing it had no intention of buying the records anyway – so it doesn’t translate into potential sales that are now lost. Maybe that is true, but there has not been a single vinyl release of the nearly 30-odd that I’ve done, where someone completely random who I don’t know has asked for MP3s for free because they “don’t use records any more”. As I always politely reply, just buy a copy record and I’ll chuck in a CD-R with some 128kbps MP3s for free. Unsurprisingly, nobody takes me up on that offer!

Ultimately though, the target audience for the small run vinyl pressings I sell is incredibly passionate about vinyl as a format, and without online connections I wouldn’t have access to that audience so it’s a brilliant thing that people use the internet to interact with this music. The good outweighs the bad many times over, I think.

To me it always seemed like Sublogic was on a roll, releasing tracks even by some big deal artists I would never expect mere mortals to license from (the no u turn related tracks for instance).  But then there was a break a few years back where you slowed down significantly…. what sort of stuff made you decide to take a break from releasing, and what got you back into it?

Sublogic was on a roll, but between the mid to late 2000s things naturally slowed down – there are only so many people you can track down about back catalogue. And from those people, there are only so many who want to license it to you. And then from those people, there are only so many who still have their DAT tapes, and then from those DAT tapes there are only so many which are undamaged, and from those tracks there are only so many that are worth releasing due to rarity – so the numbers get small very quickly! I think I was lucky to be able to get as many big tunes as I did for Sublogic. And in terms of numbers and financial viability, to do them the way I was doing them just became impossible. It was never about making money, but stuff like heavyweight vinyl, label art, professional mastering, license fees etc start to add up very quick, and you end up having to do over 200 copies minimum just to break even. I probably could have gone on doing releases in these 200 – 300 copy quantities but it would have been at the expense of cutting corners on the finished product quality, and that is not something I wanted to do. The artists I did release tracks from are, in this scene, big deal artists – but in my experience, as people they have all been lovely to deal with. They’re just normal people, some are still in the music scene and some aren’t, but it’s been great to work with them. If there’s one person specifically to whom I owe so much of the success of the label, it’s Beau Thomas, who most people will know from Intense and Babylon Timewarp. I first got to know him when I did the SLRV004 – Durban Poison release. Since then he has not only put me in touch with countless other artists and producers, but has also engineered and cut to perfection nearly everything I’ve done on vinyl (almost 30 releases now). As anyone who has bought some of the Sublogic back catalogue will know, his mastering skills are phenomenal. He’s also given me so much advice and shared his knowledge of everything to do with making records… I owe him a great deal for all his help over the years.

Thinking back over all the people I’ve been in contact with, you can usually tell very quickly the people who are going to be good to work with and who are supportive of what you’re doing with a label. I won’t name any names, but some people I contacted and who I never managed to license tracks from were very resistant to the idea of reissues – the usual reason for not wanting to get involved was that they were planning to do it themselves. This is a real shame when it happens, as in nearly every case they don’t end up putting the tracks out themselves and nobody gets to own them. Of course, it’s their music and 100% their call if they want to do anything with the tracks, but it is frustrating when this happens, especially when you have a proven track record and know you could have done a first rate job releasing them and made a lot of people happy. But everyone who has done stuff on my label has been brilliant, I’ve made some really good friends, heard some amazing stories and learned a lot just from the privilege of working with them. And hopefully made a lot of old skool vinyl buyers / DJs / collectors happy in the process. With the previously unreleased stuff in particular, it’s a great feeling to enable it to see the light of day finally.

I guess I got back into it because after a while not releasing anything on Sublogic, I just missed the whole process and the satisfaction (and the smell!) of opening boxes of freshly pressed vinyl! I decided to start doing the KVA releases because they were so small, and entirely pre-order funded, that there was just no stress involved in doing them. It’s all the fun of digging for a rare tune and releasing it, without the pressure of trying to make any money from it.

With the new releases being labelled KVA / “Keep Vinyl Alive”, you seem to be targeting a much more white-label look and feel, versus the early releases which had nice professionally designed art etc.  Are there any other differences between the two labels, how you run them, etc?  What do you think has changed about releasing records like this now versus 2006 when you and Dave were first starting sublogic + 92retro?

As above really, the KVA stuff is just about the music. You don’t need professionally designed art when you’re selling 100 copies to genuine enthusiasts, it’s like the market has shrunk in size from the Sublogic / 92 Retro days when you could sell several hundred, and with that smaller market comes the real dedicated buyers who just love this music. Also it’s just fun to do white label style releases, with the rubber stamps done by hand. It’s not trying to pass them off as old records at all, if anything it’s just a bit of a nod of the head to the bedroom release days of the early 90’s. You can’t sell as many copies of a new release these days, but what you can sell will sell (and usually even sell as preorders) like wildfire – I’m sure you’ve seen how many tiny releases are popping up on forums, and how well they are doing… it’s healthier than it’s ever been, even if it is smaller. The pressing plants are struggling to keep up with demand, and from my conversations with them, a huge amount of their work is small scene releases. Someone I was speaking to the other day called them “microlabels”, which is a term I really like.


Specifically with this Supertouch release, how did you first get in contact with Klute and find out about the unreleased tracks / ask him about releasing them?

Klute, as with almost all the other artists I’ve had dealings with, was incredibly helpful, just a very nice guy and a pleasure to chat to. I owned a copy of the original Deep Red Recordings pressing of “Alive”, and as well as being a superb tune and a big personal favourite, I was aware of how rare it was and how in demand the original pressing was too. I just messaged him on Facebook and got chatting about my label, and just asked if he would be interested in letting me re-issue “Alive”, and of course if he had any remixes or unreleased tracks from that era. He had a load of unreleased stuff archived away – the other tracks we put on the KVA002 pressing, so we just got on with it and got it pressed. Klute is a big old skool enthusiast, and is really into the whole ethos of the white label home made hardcore of the early nineties, so he was very receptive to doing a release with me. Klute’s also one of my favourite DNB DJs and producers of all time, so having an opportunity to put out some of his unreleased music was a real privilege. His production is just on a completely different level to so many other producers, it still seems almost impossible that “Alive” and the other tracks on the EP are from ’93 and ’94!

Any upcoming releases you care to spill the beans on (or at least drop subtle hints about)?

There’s something very special in the pipeline that I’ll be doing soon, alongside Dave from 92 Retro – there’s been some details on the Back To The Old Skool forums but for anyone who hasn’t heard about it, it’ll be a nice surprise.
One last thing I wanted to say is that if there is anyone who reads this who is either a producer from back in the day, or knows any of those artists – please get in touch if you think they would be interested in releasing any old rarities or unreleased stuff! I’m really enjoying putting out vinyl again with the KVA series, so any ideas or suggestions are always gladly received! Oh, and thank you very, very much to everyone who has let me release their music, and of course to all the vinyl diehards who have bought it!

Thanks to Will for the interview, be sure to nab a copy of The Dreams EP on Discogs or try your luck at winning one of three copies in a soon-to-come competition post. Also, you can grab one of his officially licensed LEGEND RECORDS shirts here: https://sublogicrecordings.bandcamp.com

Tango Interview

(Droid sez): Despite my outrageous truancy, Pete has given me another chance and generously allowed me back in to post this interview I did with Tango when he was in Dublin a couple of years ago. Big ups to the indomitable Ricky Force who allowed me to crash a production session in his mountaintop mansion for a couple of hours to harass the man himself, and obvious thanks to Tango, stalwart of Formation records from it’s inception, and one of the most prolific and successful remixers of jungle/hardcore.

So without further ado…

Tango
Tango, © Lette Moloney 2013

So, are you originally from Leicester?

No, originally from Kent.  Born in Bromley, brought up in South East London, Lewishsam; then moved to Berkshire and then Kent. I’ve been living in the midlands since 1985.

How did you get involved in the Hardcore and Rave scene?

I was already producing Hip Hop type stuff anyway.  Then a mate of mine took me out to Shelly’s in Stoke-on-Trent.  And that was that basically.

When was that?

1991 or ’92 I think.

So you were producing music before you were raving?

Yeah, yeah.  I’ve been messing around with stuff since about ‘88 or ’89.

What inspired you to get into production in the first place?

Into production?  My Dad’s a musician.  He was an acoustic guitarist.  He had stuff like a keyboard and sequencer and I kind of got into it from there.

So no background in Soundsystems in London then?

No, I was a DJ even before that anyway, I just used to play Hip Hop. But with my Dad still having all that musical equipment around, I wanted to have a go with it and went from there really.

Can you give us a quick run down of that production setup – when you first started out?

A Roland MC500 Sequencer, the very first sequencer I had was the Yamaha QX7 that my Dad gave me.  When he stopped using his MC500 I got that off him.  I had a Yamaha DX11 keyboard, I think it was. A Yamaha RK1 Rackmount synth and then after that I bought my first sampler, a S9XX, that was early, it was one unit rackmount sampler, 12bit mono and the sound you got out of it was just so like grungy and dirty!

And this was in the very early 1990’s?

Yeah, ’91, ’92.

So you were probably the best equipped Hardcore producer at the time?

Well I don’t know about that.  That was what I could get for the money at the end of the day.  The S900’s and all the rest of them – the 950‘s were already around then, and then I moved up to a 950.

And then your studio got robbed?

Yeah, basically I had my equipment a unit in Coventry, and some lads broke in and nicked some stuff basically.  So I got insurance money and with the insurance money I bought an Atari ST.

Did you have a preference back then?  Was Cubase and the Atari better for writing tunes, for that sound?

It was just a visual thing really. With a desktop sequencer there was no screen or anything as such.  You just had to remember what you were putting here.

So it would have made writing tunes a lot easier?

Oh yeah!  A hell of a lot easier, massively, and the old Atari as well was rock solid.  Didn’t used to crash really at all, not like your PC’s now, these days they crash every five minutes.  That just didn’t, very rarely crashed.

So what was your first release?  Was it Double Vision?

No.  The first release was Impact EP on Formation.  I was the first artist after SS to put things out on Formation.

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Double Vision was your label though?

Yeah. Double Vision is the one off white label, basically, with a chap – Dom. Dom was originally part of the band that did, remember Rhubarb Custard, he originally produced that with. . .

That was sampled for a few Hardcore tunes. . .

Yeah.  He originally produced that with a couple of other guys.

So you were in on Formation from the beginning basically?

Yeah, basically.

And how did hook up with (DJ) SS?

A friend of mine.  Funnily enough it was the same guy who got me into the Rave scene.  He was going out with a girl who knew SS and she passed him a tape of my stuff and he liked it and got in contact kind of thing.

Can you tell us any stories of what is was like working in Formation?

[Laughs] What kind of stories?  I mean I have a lot [Laughs again]

[Laughs] Well maybe the general kind of experience of working on the label, being part of it?

It was good, because obviously instantly my music was being given out to all DJ’s, so it was because of that that I got a chance to be played the likes of Grooverider and god knows who else.  I might not have had that chance otherwise.

You were a big part of making the label a success.

Thanks very much!

Formation, apart from Basement, they were quite Techno, even when they used breakbeats there was a very Techno buzz.

Very much so, I think a lot of labels were doing that at the time.

There wasn’t much reggae, or dancehall influence in Formation back catalogue then, certainly not for the first 50 releases or so?

Yeah, not very much. I did the F-project thing that had a big reggae loop in, but apart from that – but saying that, some of SS’s early stuff – jungle house crew had a few reggae samples, but they were definitely more hardcore than jungle.

And was that a reflection of your audience in Leicester?

Yeah, I think so in Leicester and probably a lot of the Midlands.  There was a lot of that kind of stuff around. It was Basement who led that way with that style.  But you do have to think of the likes of Simon Bassline Smith, he was a major pioneer of Jungle Techno, massively –  and Nookie as well.  Those two guys, especially, I credit with creating the whole Jungle Techno sound. Although Top Buzz likes to credit himself a little however – but those two…

And what about Ibiza, having their version of Jungle Tekno? But it was very different

Yeah, yeah.  It was slightly different.  I think Nookie and Bassline Smith, obviously in the Basement stuff they really perfected that sound and really made it their own.

Was the whole bleep and bass thing a big deal?  It’s not an influence that a lot of people talk about – Sheffield.

It was bit before, but I didnt take that as an influence personally.  From my point of view I think the midlands had its own sort of sound really.  I think so really, if you think of the clubs that were there at the time, Quest, The Edge, The Eclipse, places like Shelly’s as well and Kinetic in Stoke.  Having said that Birmingham was one of the early places that the Jungle sound came through as well, the real kinda ragga jungle sound, after London, there was Birmingham.

With Formation, there there was a very consistent production sound to the label.  Did you send stuff off the SS and he then mastered it, was there a Formation studio somewhere?

Yeah there was a studio at Formation Records, just above the shop.  I did produce some stuff there, do bits and pieces, but for the most part I just did my own thing.

A quick question about the artwork in Formation. . .  [Laughs]  Uhm, why was it so bad? [More Laughter]  It doesn’t even manage to have any weird charm about it, it’s very consistently brutal.

(Checks out Formation 12” merchandising sheet) You’d have to ask SS about that and you could ask him why the mastering is so bad as well.  Some of the pressings are awful!  Like really bad [Chuckles]

Did he have money behind the label or was it mainly SS funding it?

I’m not sure.  There was him and another guy, his business partner who ran the label.  There wasn’t too much backing. It wasnt fantastically well funded

In some ways that sort of suited the Sound though? It wasn’t great, but it gets the job done.

It does, it did.  But when you look at some of the stuff other labels at the time, the likes of Reinforced, the quality of production and music was a different altogether class really.

You think?

Yeah, Basement as well, so smooth, Basement had a fantastic talent in Wax Doctor.

[Editors note: It is worth noting that Ron Wells aka Jack Smooth, was the producer of Basement Records at the time and was really responsible for the aforementioned ‘Basement Sound’. Wax Doctor was of course one of the artists who worked with him on the label].

Speaking of Wax doctor – was ‘A new direction’ a big influence on you?

Massive, a massive influence. All his stuff on Basement. His production was amazing and he was a master of those big riffs.

I think you might be being a bit hard on yourself and the label. (laughs) So, ‘93 was the year you first broke through. Future Followers…

Yeah, that was the one that really got me the most attention.  Quite a lot of the DJ’s were playing the first EP to be fair, but future followers was the one that got everyone interested. People who never talked to me all of a sudden wanted to speak to me – it was all good.

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How many did you sell do you know?

I dont know – I think about 3000. The best selling thing I did was one I put out myself -mine and Ratty’s thing – final conflict. That did about 4000 and the remix did about 4 and a half, and we pressed it up again and that did about 2000

You did the Foul Play remix, Hyper On E, Johnny Jungle, an Anthill Mob thing, as well; so you went from being a producer on one label to someone who was remixing all of the biggest producers...

I probably did a little bit too much remixing I think, that was my downfall really to be honest.  I should have been making new stuff.  Although it was good to do all that stuff, there was quite a few decent artists that I did work for.

You just mentioned Final Conflict  – Was the idea of releasing your own stuff to make more money, or gain more control of the process?

Yeah, thats the reason I wanted to put my own records out, so I could push my own stuff.  I enjoy doing it, it’s creative and I like to do something creative.  When I was younger I was always into artwork and stuff like that and producing is another way of being creative.

So, your own work took more of a step towards the Basement Sound, even more techno.  What drove you in that direction?

Partly natural progression, but also the Basement Sound was influenced by that.

And I presume you were DJing a lot?

That was my job basically.  I packed in my normal job and just did that basically because I could afford to.

In 1994 you did that On Remand tune. Which is a killer tune.

I heard that out recently and it sounded alright actually.  I was quite shocked.

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And then did a few more remixes here and there, you did that 2 in 1 on Shadow.

Not my best work that one, I did much better stuff for Shadow I think.

Do you think as the sound changed – more Junglistic and more Ragga, it seemed you kept up with it but how did you feel about the way the music was progressing?

I kept up to it with to a point, but when you’ve done a lot of music you reach a point where you start to run out of ideas to be honest.  By that time Id probably done over a hundred releases at that point, and you find yourself repeating the same stuff over and over again and it becomes harder and harder to do new things,  that was part of the reason I started to slow down. And the music was changing – people were starting to use distorted drums and distorted basslines and distorted this and distorted that…

This was like 1996 or so?

Yeah, moving forward from there and I couldnt really get my head around all this really, it wasnt really what I was used to doing So I just kind of backed away from it all, in 97/98 and came back in ’02 and did a few bits

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So you weren’t too enamoured of the whole shift into jump up and then techstep?

It wasn’t that I wasn’t enamoured to it and I kind of liked some of the music.  I just couldn’t really produce it myself and there was a break with production around 1997.

And was there some kind of break with Formation at that stage – I suppose around ’95?

Yeah, about then if not sooner. It wasn’t like an official break I just didnt do any more stuff with them. Id obviously been working with other labels at that stage so I just carried on. I never had any long term contract with formation or anything,it was just on a single by single basis

So there was no drama or anything?

No, no. Not at all. I still see Leroy occasionally, Id shake his hand and have a chat. Perhaps I would have done things differently looking back, but it’s all a big learning curve, and it got my music out there at the end of the day.

Who were your favourite producers and labels from that period -’94 / ’95?

Ronnie Size, Pascal is definitely up there, Wax Doctor – massively, Groove Rider as well, obviously Goldie, Doc Scott, 4 Hero, all the Reinforced stuff…

And you went on to find a niche with Creative Wax. . .

Yeah, around ’95, I did understanding, frequency remix, dub war remix.

Yeah, the dub war remix was great.

Thats one of my favourite tracks Ive done to be honest with you – in terms of edits and production.

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Were you at all tempted by 2-step and Garage?

I did do a couple of 2-step tracks actually for Jason Kayes’ label – social circles in 2001/2002.  Just two tracks.  Not really obvious garage tracks – quite musical stuff. They didnt sell massively, but they went down quite well.

You didnt vanish into the scene like Steve Gurley?

Nah I didnt go that far – just a couple of tracks

So, I hear you’re a professional chef  – is that true?

I was about 10 years ago.  Before I was a DJ I worked in a hotel basically.  But when I started DJing I’d have to go out and do a set on a Saturday night, stay out all night and do the breakfast shift on a Sunday morning.  So that became an issue, basically.  When I started getting paid for DJing I thought that was enough of the hotel.  When the Rave scene started to fall down I went back to chefing again as a fallback position.  I finally got out of that completely in 2001 and I have retrained and I’m actually an electrician now.  I didn’t want to go back to chefing.

You could write an interesting article on what happened to Jungle artists after the scene died down. Bay B Kane went into IT, Crystl is a personal trainer, you’re an electrician [Laughs]

[Laughs] .I know, it’s bizarre, Ratty was an electrician before he got into music, he runs a maintenance firm now. The problem is unless you’re playing out every weekend – and not many people are these days – you cant make a living out of it.

The whole J-Tek thing, you were in on the ground floor with that?

Yeah, pretty much.  The whole thing back again was obviously down to Andrew Outrage and Modular, it was their idea originally, Andrew phoned me up out of the blue and said were doing stuff at 145/150 again, and he sent me a load of stuff and it was wicked, an me and Ratty started doing a few bits and pieces.  But it just kind of amounted to nothing to be honest.

It just kind of faded out didn’t it?

Although there is some of that music still around.  I think now it’s slowed down, now it’s about 140 and the Bass DJ’s are playing it, Rennie Pilgrim. . .

He’s like a bad penny that guy, he never goes away.

I did a load of breaks stuff as well, in 2002, 2003.  Me and Ashely Pulse (DJ Pulse) did a load of breaks stuff back then ,we did a track with a remix for Freddie Pilgrim, TCR. Adam Freeland as well. Stanton Warriors were playing a load of our stuff, absolutely smashing it. So I think some of them lot are still playing that stuff.

There’s this kind of weird end of dub-step that are putting out tunes at 150 now.

There’s a lot of kind of like fusion stuff and amalgamations going on at the moment, I think. A lot of the dub-step producers are starting to adhere to these breaks now.  Which is basically what they were doing with J-Tek.

It’s not a million miles away.  It’s weird the way, you know 138, the tyranny of 138, but people break out occasionally and it seems to be going back up again, I’m hoping it hits 160 and that’s ideal.

[Laughs] It’s gonna go round in a big circle again?!

So there isn’t much going on with J-Tek for you at the moment?

I haven’t done anything myself personally, Ratty and myself have a track that we did a while back that’s still got to be released.  I still put stuff out on the label that myself and Ratty started, Steel Fingers.  Basically, started putting stuff out on there again, I’ve got the next release lined up for that one.  Putting Drum ‘n’ Bass out, as well as 140 stuff.  The J-Tek stuff I had, had slowed down to 140.  I’ve still got some really good stuff waiting to come out.

Do you think it died down because… well it looked to me like they lost distribution, or something happened after their second release?

The reason it’s kind of not happened was because there was quite a few artists making stuff that the thought was J-Tek, but it wasn’t really, they were just kind of making old skool again and that was not what the idea was.  The idea was to take the type of music forward and kind of move it forward using a newer sound. And there were a handful of producers who were doing it, obviously, Outrage and Modular, Society, also Subfusion which was Vapour and a guy called Skink.  The label wasn’t really moving forward to be fair. But they just were steps ahead of everyone else, that was the problem, nobody else was in touch with them if you know what I mean?

Do you think there was something almost inevitable about it veering off into, I mean we have the same thing with Ruff Revival You want to get the vibes of ’94 / ’95 and try and pretend all those other years never happened and take it in a direction that isn’t just an old school pastiche.

I don’t think you can do old skool stuff anymore and just make it old skool, like it sounded back then.  To me it doesn’t sound right, you have to put a newer twist on it otherwise it just hasn’t progressed at all. Back in the day, when people were making that stuff, people weren’t looking to make stuff that sounded old.  They were looking to make something that sounded current. You’ve got to take that angle on it today as well I think.  I think you’ve got to incorporate some kind of current mindset into it, even if it is based on old stuff.

With distribution the way it is, you really do have to question ‘what are we doing here’?

You just do it for love, don’t you?  I just do it because I enjoy it.  I couldn’t go back to doing it full time, it’d drive me up the wall to be honest. Besides, there’s no money in it.

So you’re not doing that many gigs these days in general?

Whenever I get them I do them.  I do a few here and there.  I get a few bookings coming up.  It’s not on a regular basis, not enough to pay the mortgage.

Are you interested in any of the stuff coming out of the UK, like UK Funky or Dubstep?

I don’t really listen to any Dubstep stuff at all.  Although having said that, I’ve got a track coming out on the Steel Fingers label that’s basically dubstep but it’s not, if you know what I mean?  The beat’s the same as dubstep, but the bass isn’t dubstep at all.  It’s a wicked piece of music, really nice.  But I don’t listen to dubstep otherwise, I’m not interested in it in the slightest.  I still listen to Drum ‘n’ Bass all the time.  There’s still some wicked Drum ‘n’ Bass around.  There’s some really good labels, it’s come in a big circle over the last 20 years or so.

Are you into the whole minimal d+b sound at all?

Bits of it.  I’m into bits of lots of different styles to be honest.  I’m into a lot of the more jungly sounding stuff now.  There’s a whole group of new producers who are making Jungle stuff and a new generation of people who enjoy that music. There’s a few guys, the likes of Bladerunner, that are pretty up there as well.  I like a bit of everything really.

I won’t ask if you have any stories from the raving days. . .

[LAUGHS] NO! [LAUGHS]  I don’t remember them!

But if you look back at those years, ’91 to ’94 say, when Rave was everything.  How do you feel about your part in that scene?  It was kind of like a major social revolution almost in the UK and you were part of that.  So, how do you view your place in that history?

I feel I was in the right place at the right time.  [LAUGHS]  First and foremost you need to be in the right place at the right time, it’s about timing.  I suppose you need some talent as well but, I enjoyed doing it and did it and didn’t think about it too much.  I was in with the right people, I had access to the right people.

Do you think those years are romanticised a bit?

Maybe, yeah maybe a bit.  The way people react on Facebook and everything, I get some mad comments sometimes.  Which is very flattering and nice, it’s nice don’t get me wrong, but I think sometimes people are trying to cling onto it a bit.  It’s never gonna happen again, you know, it’s been and gone.

Yeah, I was like 12 or something at the time.

It’s a bit naïve to think it could be the same again.

That mix of music and drugs…

It was great to be a part of that, at that time; to be a part of that era.  I wouldn’t change that for the World.

Last question, any secret artist names or tunes that have never been revealed?

Yeah, but Im not going to tell you about them [LAUGHS] that’s why they’re obscure…

 

If you want to book Tango, catch him DJ’ng or listen to his new productions, you could do worse than checking out Steel Fingers or his facebook page.

DJ Mayhem Interview


DJ Mayhem aka Martin Ikin is, without a doubt, one of my favorite “unsung heroes” of hardcore / jungle. First releasing through Basement, his tunes there were some of the most memorable on a label already chock full of top notch tracks. His later tunes through Face and Precious Materials are no slouches either… still catchy and easily identifiable, which is why you’re so likely to find Ray Keith’s remix of his track “Inesse” on quite a number of random oldskool compilations around 94-95 Since that time, Martin has been producing some very successful soulful garage house as well, under the name Soul Purpose. Definitely check those out, and be sure to check out as many old DJ Mayhem tunes as you can get your hands on, as they’re ALL must-haves!!!


When & how did you first meet up with the Basement crew? (Basement Phil,Ron Wells, etc)? Were you a regular at their record shop?
Well back in 1990 I hired a local studio for a couple of days and produced my first demo track (don’t even think I have a copy anymore). I took this into Basement Records one day when record shopping and played it to Phil Wells and the guys who I’d got to know quite well from spending all my money in there, LOL…. They liked what they heard and signed me up to become a Basement Records Artist.
A little while later they booked me in at the “14B” studio (Ron’s House) with the genius Ron Wells. I had all the ideas and samples ready, so that first “Damage” EP was done pretty quickly… Just a couple of days i think.



What was the process like working with Ron Wells initially engineering the tunes? Did you bring samples to the session, already have parts recorded in some format, or how did you go about working on tunes with him?
Back then when I used to go to Ron’s studio, I was a complete engineering novice. So Ron took care of all the engineering, while I would come in with the ideas already set: bring all the samples and take care of playing all the parts. It was always a kind of mixdown as we go vibe, so when the track was finished it was pretty much mixed too. But any level tweaks would be done at the end.
It wasn’t too long after this i started buying and collecting my own studio gear, bit by bit…. Think the first thing i bought was an AKAI S950 Sampler… Loved that thing, even with its 8 seconds sample time fully loaded ! 🙂

Of those early tunes you did, is there any one you still like the best? Any funny memories or interesting stories about working on any of those early tunes?
They’ve all got a special place in my mind those tunes, that era was just so exciting and new, it was a great time. Being 20 years ago now, I cant remember any specific funny things.. But i can remember that Ron, Myself & Alex Reece Always had pure jokes when we worked together, very fun times!

Did all your tunes from the 92-95 era see the light of day, or are there any unreleased 92-95 DJ Mayhem tracks kicking around on DAT somewhere? Any pre-Basement recs demo tunes?
Errrrm, yeah I think there are probably a few DAT’s lurking somewhere, don’t ask me where though LOL. There might even be an unreleased dubplate or two tucked away in my collection.

Along with the records under your DJ Mayhem alias, you also released a blinder of a tune in the form of Two Dark Troopers’ “I want to be your lover” / Darkcore”. That EP said it was by you and “Chemical Reaction” – who was Chemical Reaction? did you two work on any other tunes together?
Wow.. I’d almost forgotten about that one! Yes that was my good pal David (DJ Madup) Sarson. We used to dj together at loads of early raves, mainly the MadUp parties as Mayhem & Chemical Reaction. But that was the only track we did together.





Which tunes or producers from that era do you rate the most? Any lesser known favorites which you really liked, found influential or just think didn’t got the recognition they deserved?
Ooh thats a tough one…. But I would have to say Mark Bell (LFO) was a massive inspiration for me at that time, his sounds and productions were absolutely sublime, genius of that time.

In addition to the singles on Basement/Precious Materials, you also did two EPs on Pascal’s label FACE records. Why the switch for those 2 records?

No special reason really. Pascal and I were good friends at the time, so he invited me to do a tune for his label, and that was that.

On the Face Records EP, one track was produced at Sound Entity (the Basement Records studio) by Alex Reece, one by Pascal at a different studio. Listening to these, it almost sounds like the tune produced at Sound Entity has a bit more of a “Basement Records”-ish sound to it. It could just be coincidence, but it makes me wonder: how did those studios and engineers vary? were they pretty similar setup wise?
Yes the Sound Entity studio was the new Basement Records studio, as it had recently moved from Ron’s house “14B”. The gear in each studio was completely different, the Basement set up used keyboards, sound modules and most notably still used a Roland hardware sequencer, MC50 i think (No Computer)! Whereas Pascal’s studio was basically an Akai S1000 Sampler, an Atari ST running Cubase and an Alesis Quadraverb (think that was it!)
So you can see just by the gear list that each studio would have a completely different sound and different production methods, i.e arranging without a computer… seems unbelievable now.





At what point did you start producing on a home studio setup?

Cant remember the year now,they have all blended into one, But I had started building up my gear list quite early on. I might be wrong but i think the first release done on my own setup was the Precious Material release. For me its always been a massive plus being self sufficient in the studio.


Following the 91-95 records you seemed to take a break from releasing music for a number of years – is that accurate? If so, care to tell us why? If not, what releases were you working on during this time?
Yeah it wasn’t really a conscious break but I had started studying Jazz Piano pretty full on, I had my own little Jazz Funk band and I was really concentrating on that side of things for a while, and enjoying it actually. Playing has always been one of my first loves.
As well as that, the scene had begun to change and I was definitely moving in a different direction (musically).
I did actually produce quite a few undercover bits in that time though, including some UK Garage stuff, some of which was on Basement’s Allstars Label. I produced some bits with another good friend Dave Jones (Zed Bias) which came out under various names too.
I think it was 97/98 when i made my last visit to the D&B scene with my “Blue Notez/Nasty Funk” EP. That came out on my own label “Nu-Note” through Basement which by then was called Vinyl Distribution. Even though it was a D&B EP I really wanted to do this record, as it featured all the guys from my band, live drums, bass, guitar and of course keys, so it was a nice project to get my teeth into.


Did jungle/hardcore’s constant push to faster tempos and more extreme sounds help nudge you in a more soulful house direction, or was that already where your heart was?
I was always into House from day one, so it was just a natural progression for me to move “Back to House” where i started. ’95-’99 was all about the bumpy US Garage/House for me… So many monster classics from that era that I still play out now.


Back in 2002, you did several dnb release with two other massive dnb/jungle notables (DJ Phantasy & Steve Gurley). Was meeting up with those two / producing those DNB records one of the things which got you back into producing tunes on your own, or had you been producing that whole time?
No not really, I was still putting stuff out, just under different names. Though mainly engineering for people at that point. Steve “Phantasy” was and still is a really good friend from back in the early Basement days so we always spoke or saw each other from time to time anyway. It was his idea for us all to do a tune together as i had been engineering some other projects for him too.


You mention on your site that those aforementioned DNB tracks show you’ve still got love for jungle/dnb – does that extend to oldskool jungle/hardcore as well? With you crossing paths with Grant Nelson (aka Wishdokta), any chance of you two collabing on some hardcore/jungle influenced tunes in the future? Or are the days of that crazy fast choppy ‘ardcore done for good for you guys?
Haha… That would be a laugh. I know Grant and I would have an absolute blast doing some old “ardcore bangers! But Im afraid it aint gonna happen, not at the moment anyway. The pair of us are so busy, we cant even get it together to get the next MI:grant release done. Would be fun though 🙂


Since then, you’ve been putting out quite a number of really big tunes through your artist/label SOUL PURPOSE – a project which, while not oldskool hardcore, seems to give a heavy nod to oldskool of a different kind (classic soulful garage/house). What releases do you have in the works for SOUL PURPOSE? Any touring plans?
Yes that bumpy beats vibe has always been a favourite of mine and its nice to see its coming back on the scene, with the beats stinging like they used too!!
Lots and lots to come from SP. Next up I think will be Key Issues Volume 4 coming very very soon…


Anything else I missed which you’d like to mention?
Errm, just keep your eyes and ears out for the new SP releases comin’ v soon On Soul Purpose Records! 😉

Spatts (The Criminal Minds) Interview

If you think you’re into oldskool but don’t know who The Criminal Minds are, you’re doing it wrong! These guys put out some of the best tunes to be released in oldschool’s heyday. Starting off as a hiphop act whose early releases now fetch princely sums of cash, The Criminal Minds transitioned into the rave scene and put out release after release of top-shelf b-boy influenced hardcore/jungle on labels like Whitehouse and Labello Blanco.
Thanks to Leo/DSP for collaborating on this interview, and to Spatts for doing it. Look out for future collaboration tunes between DSP and DJ Spatts!





How did Criminal Minds start? what were your primary hiphop influences?
Criminal Minds got together when most of the guys met at college. I was the exception as I’d dropped out of my A-levels and was already experimenting with tape deck mixes in the ubiquitous bedroom. I think I can speak for us all, when I say that we were strongly influenced by the “Bridge Wars”, BDP versus the Cold Chillin’ crew. That, more than anything made us get our shit together. It was the start of the golden age of hip hop. We got quite tight with Overlord X and his X-Posse, but other than that we were pretty isolated from the scene back then. This was probably a major factor in our unique sound.



The Criminal Minds – The Criminal


How did you find the rave scene?
We were introduced to the rave scene through our local record store. I heard some white labels and thought, that’s pretty cool, but it would sound better if I injected it with a major dose of hip hop fever. All the guys were involved in the metamorphosis. Halo and myself tackled the production duties and the rappers became mc’s to front the shit live. We never lost our roots and in fact we have just reformed to play a few Britcore festivals in Europe. Not just updates of the old material, but new hip hop too. Hamburg Aug 7th, watch out.

Were the hardcore/jungle Criminal Minds tracks always just you and DJ Halo, or were any other members involved in some tracks? What was your studio setup like?
It was just me and Halo on the production. The boys fronted the whole thing when we played out. Back then Halo and myself were a two-headed monster in the studio, but he did execute all of the scratching, apart from “hip hop tactician” on Urban Warfare. That was me.

All the early hip hop was put together on an Atari 1040, with an AVR 16 Sampling package, down onto a 4 track (cassette) where the cuts were added and then mixed down onto DAT. Primitive, but effective. Much later the Atari was running Cubase and we had an Akai S3000, Juno 160, EPS 16, Korg Wavestation. It was only when I was in Environmental Science that my kit list ballooned. It ended up looking like the inside of the TARDIS.

Unlike a lot of oldskool artists who used pretty standard breaks (amen and/or think break), CM seemed to have a lot more variety in your beats…any favorite under-appreciated (i.e. non-amen) breakbeats or break sources?
It was hip hop that introduced me to soul, funk and disco. Before that I was into post-punk (The Clash/Gang Of Four etc.) and a lot of synth stuff (Gary Numan/CAN/Brian Eno). These became our alternative sample sources. My favorite breaks are “Films” by Gary Numan, “Shack up” by Banbarra and “Mushroom” by CAN. Back then our naivety was our strongest weapon.


The Criminal Minds – Baptised By Dub

“Baptised By Dub” was such a massive track, any idea how many copies it sold in total between both the whitehouse and World Beat pressings? Why the release on whitehouse records in addition to the World Beat pressing? Regarding the matrix on that record… who was “John Brett” and why was he a wanker? 🙂
I don’t know how many it shifted between World Beat, Whitehouse and the numerous bootlegs. Plenty enough to keep me in sneakers, though. Whitehouse licensed the tune to give it a bigger distribution.

John Brett was a local music journalist who didn’t “get” us. He now works a police press officer and special constable. Nuff said.

How did the D’Cruze remix get hooked up? Did you ever talk to Suburban Base about releasing a full EP?
Halo was a big D’Cruze fan, so we swapped mixes. We almost went with Suburban Base, but in the end they must have not thought much to our tunes. So it didn’t happen.

“Mind Bombing” is probably my favorite Criminal Minds release.. there’s just a seemingly endless set of great samples, hooks and changeups which make the tunes a total joy to listen to. Did anything special go into production of this release, or was it written the same manner as all the EPs?
There was a lot of love in that record. Me and Halo were growing up production-wise. It was an album and I’m glad you like it. “One Way System” was my personal favorite.

The Criminal Minds – Joyrider 2
The Criminal Minds – One Way System

Was “Outlan UK” your and/or Halo’s label? I noticed the only two releases on there were by you.
It was my label. I set it up when no one else was interested (or allowed) to release my stuff. It bridged the gap until I set up Environmental Science and got involved with the so called legitimate side of the music business.

Now that it’s 15-18 years later, do you still rate much of the hardcore/jungle done back then, or do you see it as just a product of the times? What artist did you rate most back then?
For all of us back then, it was training for later times. It was just the same as when punk or hip hop first drew breath. Exciting, chaotic and not all of it worked, but to be part of it was priceless. 4 Hero’s talent stood out to me during those early years and history has proved me to be right. I really dig all of their stuff.

When did Criminal Minds officially stop working on tunes together, and what were the reasons?
In ’96, my love affair with jungle died (mostly). Like I said, We got Environmental Science together, which allowed me to get back to my roots, exploring the possibilities of beats, through trip hop, breaks and electro. Working with a new bunch of people, each with their own musical tastes and histories, gave me new life. It was the start of a golden period for me, musically and in life. I still miss the bedroom sessions with Halo, though.

After Criminal minds, you did quite a few other releases, mainly breaks and big beat. Any favorites of these? At what point did you stop producing altogether (or did you?) Are you still producing tunes? Any chance of more tunes done by you and Halo?
I’m really proud of the things on Skint and all the remixes (especially the remix of Megadeth). Also, all of the Dub Marines stuff and One Dead Jedi. I retired from the game in 2004. But now, it’s 2010 and I’m back with The Criminal Minds doing hip hop. My special project though, is Blood Sweat and Fears. It is album pulling together all of my influences, hip hop , breaks, punk, 70’s electronica, hardcore and dub. I’m working with a whole bunch of hero’s, including DSP, TCM, and a gang of live players. You should check us out on Sound Cloud:
Blood Sweat And Fears



I heard that you’re collecting classic arcade games now – any favorites you care to mention?
Yes, I was a collector. I had a Pac-man table, Strider, Scramble and Galaxians. They are long gone now, though.

Did you play any part in the post-2000 Criminal Minds hiphop EPs released on UK Rap and Vinylstore? Any idea if more of those will be done?
I wasn’t involved in that, but I’m back baby!

Vince Robson (DMC / Out of Orda / Bribe ) Interview

If you read this blog regularly, you’ve heard a number of great tracks by Vince Robson under various aliases: the Out of Orda EPs, the Bribe EP, and the Suburban Base Megamix he did for DMC. I’ve reposted all of these tracks below, as well as a track from another of his EPs (the Power Struggle EP from 1993), and several other tracks of his including a never-released live PA… enjoy!!

The Beginning

I started going to underground raves in 1989 and it soon became my favourite thing to do, like it did for so many others. We spent hours on motorways and service stations waiting on the word from the secret mobile numbers directing everyone to the venues, a great time for raves that was. At the time I was part of a ‘pop group’ that was trying different avenues of breaking into the music business, unsuccessfully, and I’d hooked up with Les Spaine who was a great guy (he was one of the big movers with Island records and Motown, he’d handled 5-Star and at the time was managing Aswad and a host of others), and as a favour to me he had gotten one of Aswad’s Akai S900 samplers for me to work with. Essentially this is what got me started because I would come back from raves with the beats and breaks pounding in my head and it wasn’t long before I started to experiment with the same kinds of breaks and loops and hardcore noises that I danced the nights away to.

Out of Orda – “Overdose” EP

“Overdose” on the OutOfOrda e.p . is quite literally my first ever rave track and it was never actually intended for a release, hell it was made in my bedroom with a Tascam 4track cassette tape mixer and an Akai s900! The second track on the ep was ‘Talking Head’ and an old friend of mine Jake Horton and his partner in ‘the lyric factory’ Ian Campbell spent an afternoon with me smoking and drinking whiskey and laying a vocal track on top which became ‘Tekin Callie’. Les Spaine heard the tracks, and although he knew absolutely nothing of the rave scene, he took the demo and got me publishing on it with Polygram (which I still find frankly shocking to this day) and got it pressed for release. It’s a funny old ep, full of bad production and inexperience, but it got me started and I still love to hear it. I had to distribute it myself too, which I was a bit unprepared for, driving all over London and the south with boxes and boxes of tracks.


Out Of Orda – Overdose EP

Overdose
Zone 7

Renegade EP

We only sold a few thousand [of the “Overdose EP”], but it generated a meeting between myself and a producer called Brian Butler who was working for DMC doing remixes and megamixes, and he was looking for a partner for his record labelSir Spence ep, and wanted to do something harder, ravier. So we went into it together. He provided the studio time, the equipment and his production expertise and I created the tracks. I put the second Out Of Orda EP together in a week and Brain polished it and fairy-dusted it and mixed it down. The production on the ep was much better than my first ep, and this is down to Brain and the studio. The EP has an unusual feel to it. I had wanted it to be a lot more dark and hardcore, but Brian was happier to keep it more shiny, more melodic. We got a distributor involved and moved about 4000 copies.

Out of Orda – Renegade EP:
Plimpy Ed
Zone 8

Working for DMC

Because Brian Butler was working for DMC too, producing remixes and megamixes each month to deadline he asked me to get involved. There was some good stuff that we did, but a lot of that work was mainly pop music, and I always had trouble dealing with pop music! We also worked on other stuff through DMC, including a bunch of Village people remixes that PWL never honoured the royalty payments on, and a Thunderbirds track we were commissioned by Arista to make but was never released due to sample copyright issues.

v/a – Suburban Base: Sound of the Future (Megamix by the Berzerker)

The Bribe EP

The Bribe ep and XTC ep were darker, they were more reflective of what I wanted to release, and the Bribe ep especially is my favourite of the four releases. ‘MD’s in a playpen’ is Brian, I never found out why exactly he wanted to call himself this on the ep, maybe it was because I’d changed the release name from out of orda to bribe. (…and the illegal stash was hoarded by Mystery!)

Bribe – Goldseal

The Power Struggle EP

The power struggle ep was also quite dark, and the name power struggle reflects the difference in opinion, that being I wanted to do dark and fast hardcore, and Brian like more melodic pop style dance tracks. We released this ep under a different label name and artist/production names purely because Brain was very worried about getting sued for the use of the “I can see clearly now” samples. He had taken legal advice from a source at PPL and was convinced we would get sued if we released as ourselves, so we pressed as XTC and covered our tracks!


Power Struggle – Thai Reed

Playing live

I did three live PA’s at raves during the releases, and at one point I distinctly recall Easygroove (or maybe it was Loftgroover? Not sure now!) asking me on stage whether I would like to work with him on producing a couple of the tracks I had performed in the PA, but I was off it at the time on some particularly heady pink-new-yorkers and didn’t take him up on the offer. I recall thinking that if a top DJ wanted to produce the choon, then it must be good and I should release it myself. Retrospectively that was a bad move, and I should have worked with him on the track.
BlimBurn – Live PA 1991
An Out Of Orda live p.a. played at the limelight club (now rhythm station) in 1991

Post-rave day tunage

I carried on making dance and other music right up until 2000, doing various trip-hop and dance material including a bunch of tracks I released on a cd called “Attack of the Killer Brains”. After that however, I changed direction a bit, and since 2000 I’ve been writing books and doing other creative stuff, but not so much of the rave choons, although I did make an awesome oldskool 80minute megamix not too long ago.
Dopefreak – Invasion
from Attack of the Killer Brains CD 2002

Smiles EP 1 – Tease Me
This is from 1997, a trancier tip, but listen through because it has a beautiful oldskool hardcore-esque riff for the last few mins of the track i love.

Favorite rave tunes

I really liked New Decade “Get the Message” on Out of Romford and “dreamfinder” by Sound Corp, but back in the early 90’s there were just too many good tracks to wave a stick at. The whole hardcore scene back then inspired me, and to be honest, it still does.

New music is always a mixed bag, but I think the rave scene changed too much for me, I didn’t like happy hardcore at all, but I like the drum and bass scene of the late 90’s, in particular Aphrodite and similar.

Thanks to Vince for doing the interview, any questions for him can be left below in the comments

Shut Up And dance Interview

This is the extended version of an interview I did with PJ from Shut Up And Dance. which originally appeared in the excellent Woofah magazine in spring 2008. Thanks to Woofah ed John Eden for correcting my notoriously bad spelling and grammar,

Straddling the lines between hip-hop, acid house and rave, Shut Up and Dance were true pioneers of UK dance music. Starting as a soundsystem, and predating hardcore’s use of sped up breakbeats with their releases in the late 80’s and early 90’s, the label is regularly name dropped as one of the pillars of what later became known as Jungle. Vanishing from view in ’93 after a string of hits from The Ragga Twins, Peter Bouncer and SUAD, label founders, PJ and Smiley, reinvented themselves with the ragga jump up Label ‘Redlight’ and went on to put out a series of some of the ruffest jungle tunes ever pressed to wax in 94 and 95.

In the first of an occasional series of interviews investigating the roots and offshoots of bass culture, The Droid speaks to head honcho PJ about S.U.A.D’s 20 year reign. From breakdancing and stringing up sounds, to raving, sampling, and chart success…



Your place in the history of jungle/hardcore was acknowledged in Soul Jazz’s recent Rumble in the Jungle compilation – Considering how influential you were as a label, it seems like this was well overdue – How did that come about?

Yeah, They approached us initially, I think it was just for a couple of tracks, there was a Shut Up and Dance track and a Ragga Twins track, and then they came back and asked for some more –  it sort of came about that way. They were obviously well aware of us, they came down, did an interview with us, to add to the cover notes and that. But yeah, there’s like a good mutual respect going on there…

And you were happy with the results?

Yeah definitely.

Have you ever considered putting out represses or compilations yourselves?

We get asked that all the time. But to be honest we view it like we’re trying to concentrate on the future. We’ve been going a long time now, 18 years or whatever and a lot of people in our situation, they’ve sort of stopped – so it’s not a problem for them to go back and press up all the old classics. But we’re still making music now, so we’d rather people focused on what we’re doing now. We appreciate what we’ve done in the past and that there’s people still into it and that, but we’d rather personally, look forward. We sort of see it like – there’s more to come.

So you haven’t been tempted to cash in?

(Laughs) Nah – trust me. We’ve been asked literally since we started till now. ”Ain’t you gonna press ‘em up? Ain’t you gonna press ‘em up?” And we’ve resisted all the way. But y’know, I never say never to anything – you never know what the future will hold.

And you’re not bothered by seeing your releases go for silly money on Ebay?

At the end of the day – it’s an open market innit. People are free to do what they’re gonna do. There’s not an awful lot you can do about that – if they bought the tune legitimately back in the day, then good luck to them.

We’re not going to see any High Contrast remixes of old Shut up and Dance tunes then?

Nope! (Laughs)

To go back to your roots – you started out in the mid 80s by forming the Heatwave soundsystem, but you guys were hip hop heads, what was the story with that sound?

Well basically, me and Smiley went to school together, also Daddy Earl and Hype [DJ Hype of Ganja Records fame], we all went to the same secondary school – in fact them three guys went to the same primary school as well. So we all knew each other from then.

This is about 84/85, I left school in what, 84 – so yeah, I was about 16 in 84. This was a time when rap was massive in the UK, it was fresh, it was new. But back then it was people like LL Cool J, The Beastie boys, Public Enemy, it was all slower stuff, and there was breakdancing and all that stuff. And I was well into that – every lunchtime we used to have breakdance battles, and body popping battles.

Just by chance I bumped into Smiley about a year after leaving school, and it turned out we were both still into hip hop, still into rapping and that, and we just got together and basically started dancing together. We entered competitions – we even won a few. We were just generally into rap and the whole hip hop culture, we loved it all, the dancing, the music, the writing. We were doing all parts of it, and basically that’s where our love came from; it came from hip-hop and rap.

So would it be fair to say you were more inspired by hip-hop than reggae?

Definitely, definitely.

I assume you were aware of the big UK reggae sounds of the day?

What happened there was, back at school we was going to all the soundclashes and that, we were going to all the Saxon, Unity and Coxsone dances. That was like what we did at the weekend sorta thing. And we had a soundsystem, we bought a little soundsystem, y’know, young, not really knowing much, but it was a good soundsystem. We used to go round the roads, kick off doors, string up the set, put on a little blues, people used to come to our dances and that.

So the whole soundsystem culture, is like, we grew up on that as part of everything else. Which is why when we had the soundsystem, me and Smiley were rappers on it. But we also had the reggae side of it which was Daddy Earl, who’s Smiley’s brother, and Hype, back then he was our DJ, but he was a wicked hip hop DJ, he use to cut and scratch in the mix an that. So you’d have these two mad guys rapping over this guy cutting up – this was when no other soundsystem was doing it back then, that was like “what they hell are these guys doing?”… Basically, you were either a reggae sound or a soul sound. You wasn’t rapping and scratching and have some reggae MC also doing his thing over this guy cutting up tunes, it was like “what the hell is this?”… (Laughs)

So from a vocal end of things, UK Reggae MC’s like Tippa Irie and Smiley Culture didn’t have much influence on you as MCs?

Just a general influence from the whole soundsystem vibe, the whole thing, the whole y’know, MC on the mic, chatting really good lyrics, smashing up the place, the whole soundsystem vibe to this day we still carry it with us. The whole energy of that vibe. You can’t beat it. You just can’t beat it.

After acid house and the rave scene kicked up, did you see any parallels between what you were doing, what soundsystems did, and what rave was?

Well, funnily enough, when we eventually started our label – I don’t know if you know how we actually decided to start our label… Me and Smiley were basically making music with Hype, but the direction we wanted to go in, Hype wanted to try his own thing. So we said fair enough, we stayed friends and everything, and he just sort of went off and did his thing and me and Smiley were trying to get a deal. So we were rappers making what we thought was British rap, but because we had the dance background, we wanted to make music that you could dance to, so our rap music was a lot faster than rap.

We were going round trying to get a deal with this demo with all of these mad rap tunes (Laughs). It turned out we didn’t get a deal, and that’s how eventually we started our own label. We sat down one day and said “y’know what, lets just try and do it ourselves” So we set ourselves a date and we said, right, we’re both going leave our nine to fives, and we’re going to take what money we have and put out a record. And that’s what we did.

So it was like the whole DIY thing of rave a few years beforehand?

Yeah that’s right.

I think you’ve said before in interviews that you didn’t go to any of the early raves in the late 80’s like Sunrise or Genesis…

No we didn’t, cos what happened was, the music we was making, like the first 3/4 singles we put out, we thought it was British rap, but as I said, it was faster than everything else. What we used to do is put a rap single on one side, and then we’d just do an interesting instrumental where we’d get a break, speed it up. Which again, back then, no one was doing this, which is why people say now, that we were the creators of drum n bass or whatever.

We used to get hip hop beats, cos that’s what we knew, and get a little part of the break and then just speed it up and rap over it. Smiley had a younger brother, and he was a raver, he used to go to all the big nights and he used to come home and say “you guys gotta come out and hear this stuff, their killin’ your stuff, their playing it everywhere” and we’re like “What? What’re you talking about?” And he’s like “Yeah, it’s this rave, you gotta come to this rave”, we’re like – “what the hell are you on about?”

So eventually we went, and we walked in, and just to see these people kicking off to your tune, it was like “what the hell is this?” It just opened our eyes to it, and then when we saw the love out there for the stuff we were doing it obviously encouraged us, and that was it really. We sorta got thrown into this rave scene – but really we saw ourselves as UK rap. We sorta complemented the both.

I guess it was pretty lucky… almost a fluke that you were making 130bpm breakbeat when all this house and techno was coming through at the same speed?

Definitely… Exactly, yeah, exactly.

Did you ever feel like you were really part of the rave scene? After a couple of years, I suppose in ‘91 or so, when you were, I assume, selling a lot of records?

We always embraced it, but at the same time, the true rave scene was a lot of that piano stuff, y’know “Plink, Plink Plink, Plink, Plink” stuff, and we never any made stuff like that. All our stuff was just like raw beats, fat basslines, either one of us on it, or the Ragga Twins on it. So we didn’t really see ourselves as rave, but it fitted obviously, to the whole rave thing. Cos I see rave as glowsticks, hands in the air, “Plink, Plink Plink, Plink, Plink”, which is all fine, but that’s not what we were making, we were making a lot rawer sound than that, a lot rawer – keeping it with the soundsystem vibe.

Just out of curiosity, how many 12”s of each release were you pressing back then?

I can’t remember to be honest, but trust me sales were good back then. (Laughs). Our first single ‘5,6,7,8’, we were literally selling it out of the back of my boot, I had a little orange Ford Escort… and trust me, sales were good back then – even a shit tune would do 2 and a half, 3000.

So you were probably talking 10,000 at least for the big tunes?

Yeah, you were going from between say three up to 10 upwards depending on the track. And you were always guaranteed a repress to come back and press more and more…

Things have changed a lot haven’t they?

(Laughs) Definitely.

Now – There’s been a few anti-drug tunes on Shut up and Dance stuff like Ragga Trip/The Killing and even Raving Im raving, though not explicitly anti drug, kinda had a dark side to it with the ‘Do I feel the way I feel’ vocal. The only other producer I can think of from the same period who did anything like that was L Double, who did that tune ‘leave it alone’ … maybe some of the anti-crack tunes from ’93 How did you reconcile this with the fact that there were loads of people going out and dancing to your tunes on E?

Well, we didn’t really see it as a conflict, ‘cos we’ve always from day one, just did what we do. We don’t preach to people but we’ve always tried to have a message. Like if it was a rap tune we would have a message in the rap, like “A change soon come”, or “this town needs a sheriff”. We was always on about things. And if it was an instrumental there was a message in the title. Like ‘The Green Man‘ – people think that’s just a title, but The Green Man was actually the local pub where all the people used to go to get their crack. We always had a message to put out.

So you never actually went out to a rave and dropped E’s and danced around?

We went to all of these places, cos you had to see what was making the people… obviously if you go out and you see the environment and people reacting to it helps you make better music. So we took part on that side of things, but on the other side of things, we were never really into that, we’re drinkers (Laughs) we grew up on that.

Just to go back to Hype for a sec. You were obviously doing really well in the early 90s, and Hype was producing stuff at the same time, and he had a hit with ‘The Exorcist’. How come he never put out anything on Shut Up and Dance?

That’s’ a very good question! It took till about three years ago before we did anything together – I dunno if you know the track ‘Reclaim the Streets’? We were all still friends and everything, but he was doing his thing, we were doing our thing, and it was all great – it just didn’t come about…

Were you close to any other producers or labels? Rebel MC for example? Or Paul Ibiza, or people who were pushing similar sounds?

We knew of everyone, because most of the people making music in that scene came from our area anyway. Hackney is responsible for a lot of music people – not even just in the rave scene, but everyone, from Soul 2 Soul, Trevor Mad Hatter, now known as Trevor Nelson, Rebel MC – all came from Hackney. Ragga Twins, Tenor Fly – everyone was all in the same zone.

Along with XL, you were probably the most commercially successful hardcore label. I know the ragga twins made it into the charts a few times, but how many times did you make it into the top 40 in total? 5/6 times?

Quite a few times. Most of our stuff used to hit guaranteed top 60. A few of it made top 40. The Ragga Twins were always bubbling around just outside the top 40. We were always floating around in that zone really.

It was around the same time you did the LP for Nicolette as well. Did you have ambitions to be a mainstream label – taking the majors on at their own game?

Not really. As I said we were sort of forced into it. We started out own thing, and luckily from day one it was successful, and it built and built, just roller-coasted really. Next minute we had management, and then we were signing artists, and it was like “bloody hell we have to get organized – we have to do an album for these people now”… it just naturally rolled along.

Just to move onto 92. In the 2 years before that, you put out some of the most influential tunes in breakbeat history – and then you had that ‘trouble’ in mid 92 – which was a real shame, cos that’s when the jungle sound was really starting to come out. Can you give any more details about the ‘I’m Raving I’m Raving‘ episode?

Not really – I don’t even like talking about it to be honest (laughs). It’s history y’know. We made a track. The writer of the track wasn’t happy with the similarities or whatever, we tried to do a deal, we said: “let’s give all the money to charity”, he said no. End of. That was it. We were only allowed to sell what we’d already pressed.

And you were hit by a bunch of other claims by the MCPS for more uncleared samples… Did you feel like you had been scapegoated?

When I look back know with hindsight – we were just ahead of our time. It’s not like trying to get sample clearance is now. Back then, they didn’t even know what a sample was, they were like “Who? What?” even trying to speak with the publishers, no one knew what anything was. Now you’ve got whole departments set up just to sit down and deal with it – whether it’s a sample or you’ve replayed it or whatever, now you’ve got sections that can deal with it. Back then they didn’t know what the hell you were on about. So we were just sort of 10 years too early (laughs).

It just seems strange – I can’t think of another big label that was burned as badly as you were.

Yeah, this is true. But y’know, out of these things, there’s usually someone who ‘gets it’ (laughs). At the end of the day – I’m still here. I can’t complain. Things could be worse.

You never thought about giving up then?

Nah, definitely not – that’s not my mentality

How did it affect your approach to sampling? you went on to sample Tracy Chapman in ‘The Burial‘ (on Redlight) – obviously a much smaller pressing, but were you worried at all about getting into trouble again?

Not really. It’s how you do things. You just have to be clever with things, and obviously be careful – but y’know, you must express yourself.

You obviously had trouble from the mainstream with sampling, what about from the dancehall end of things? You sampled a lot of ragga and reggae on Redlight, and I’ve heard that DJ Ron and Frost were both approached by rudeboys looking for cash for samples – did anything like that ever happen to you?

(Laughs) No it didn’t. But we always spoke to most of the people that we dealt with anyway. We spoke to them and sorted out some sort of deal or whatever. That’s how it came about, us signing the Ragga Twins, they were known from the Unity soundsystem, and we sampled a bit of their voice from a soundsystem tape, and we went to them and asked them for permission to use their voice on ‘Lamborghini’ (which also sample the Eurythmics! – d)and that’s how it started. So we always tried to deal with people.

I’d like to ask a few questions about Redlight. As far as I’m aware it’s a relatively unknown label – and the 12”s are quite rare, so obviously you weren’t pressing too many…

It was a very limited thing anyway. Everything was like limited edition sorta thing.

So how did you get sucked back into the scene? Were you just waiting for the dust to settle after the court case?

Well after that happened, we just took a little bit of time out. We were just writing in the studio, like everyone thought we’d given up or packed it in, but we were just in the studio – regrouping, writing some new stuff, changing our sound a bit, cos by then everyone was sounding like us, but we were just keeping it fresh in the studio, probably for a year, two years.

There’s wasn’t really much else that sounded like the stuff you were releasing on Redlight at the time – Maybe early Philly Blunt and Ganja and people like Remarc – were you influenced by any other producers or labels?

We were just being influenced by ourselves really (laughs) and our love of the whole soundsystem thing. We were just so into it, and we thought it worked well, the hardcore soundsystem vibe – bringing it on a piece of plastic in a format that works, that people can dance to.

It was quite a departure from what you were doing before – no live vocals, and a much more full-on dancefloor vibe. If you were writing those tunes in 93, I would have thought they’d have been well ahead of their time.

Yeah… (laughs) They were, definitely. You get the odd person now when we’re out DJing, and they’ll come up and mention a track off the label, and I’ll be like “Bloody Hell”, Cos I haven’t heard half of these tunes in so long myself. I haven’t even got copies of every one… people come round and y’know, borrow it and this and that, and before you know it you can’t find them.

One thing that strikes you when listening to the Redlight catalogue is the rawness of the sound and the way you use samples. When most jungle labels were becoming more sophisticated you seemed to be hanging on the rave aesthetic – simple song structures, being led by the samples… was that a reaction to they way the scene was going?

Not at all. We were just doing our own thing, doing it our own way with our own flavour. Because you have to be yourself in the studio or you just get lost – you don’t know who you are musically. You’re following people instead of doing what you wanna do. But obviously don’t run away with yourself.

Something else that’s obvious in your approach to using samples in general is your sense of humor. From ‘£20 To Get In’ to ‘Bastards’ – you never seemed to take things too seriously…

That’s right yeah.  As I said, there’s always a message in our songs, whether it be a little one or a big one, but we don’t do it in a way that we preach. So it’s either gonna be funny, or something obscure… y’know, we’re gonna do it in a clever way basically, not just an obvious way, cos we don’t want to preach to people. To me that’s not what music is about.

Who is the MC featured on Bastards?

That’s me. (Laughs)

That’s a pretty good disguise you’ve got there, I thought you’d gotten some nerdy white guy to do it

(Laughs) Yeah that’s me…

You were obviously listening to a lot of 90s dancehall and reggae when you were making those tunes judging by the artists you sampled – Simpleton and Garnett Silk, amongst others – were you heavily into dancehall at the time?

Erm.. Just kinda of a broad stretch of it. There’s so much music out there that from most artists you’re gonna hear something you like. I don’t like it all – definitely no way, but like Garnett Silk, I was well into him. Just so many, I could be here all day if I started namedropping…

What did you think of the more reggae influenced stuff that labels like Suburban Base, Tearin Vinyl, SOUR, Proper Talent etc were putting out around the same time?

I thought it was fine, cos we sort of view competition as healthy. It drives you on, so I was fine with all of that.

And when you played out as DJ’s would you play out stuff from other jungle labels?

Nah, cos when we DJ, we play breakbeats full stop. We’re into breaks when we play out and that’s what we’ve always played.

Even back when you were producing jungle?

Yeah, cos we started DJing late, back then we weren’t DJing. We didn’t start DJing til 95 possibly – maybe 96. We started quite late. We were always in the studio. We always saw ourselves as producers, but then we had to get into the DJing thing, because that’s the way things were going, even more so now. You have to be a DJ to do anything in this game now.

And DJ’s have to get into production to get DJing gigs…

That’s right yeah – you have to do both now…

What about the UK reggae labels like Greensleeves, Fashion and Jetstar moving into the jungle scene – did you see much friction between the reggae crowd and the more established labels and artists?

I didn’t, but I did hear the rumors as well. I did hear about lots of things going down, but I didn’t personally see none of it.

There’s a lot of talk these days about the Jungle ‘Council’ and the campaign against ragga jungle – DJ Rap allegedly received death threats warning her not to play ‘Incredible’ at Jungle Soundclash in Edmonton, and S.O.U.R.’s Dave Stone cut General Levy out of the BBC’s ‘Jungle Fever’ – did scene politics affect you in any way?

Ri-iight. Yeah I did hear at the time about all that politics, but y’know, as a label and as people, me and Smiley don’t get involved in all of that. No politics, we just wanna make music, and that’s all we wanna do. Get people dancing and that’s it.

And what about all the negative press attention that jungle got in 94 and 95?

Y’know it was one of those things, when a scenes getting too big, or people are making too much money, the media or whatever always kicks in and snuff it out, the same thing happened later on to garage. I don’t know what it is…

That’s happened to Grime as well recently…

Yeah, exactly, exactly

Do you think there was an element of racism about the whole thing?

It’s definitely politics… I don’t know if I’d use that word, I don’t know if it’s that strong, but there’s definitely politics involved.

Redlight finished up in 95 – had it run its course?

I think the scene had just changed or whatever. It was always going to be a limited thing since we started. We didn’t press up a lot and it was going to be very limited, and it just ran its course and we stopped it. Same with the Ruff Quality label, same thing. We ran it for a bit and just stopped it.

Your 1995 LP ‘Black Men United’ on Pulse 8 is like a summary of all the different sounds you’d explored since 89 – breakbeat/house/rave/jump up – was it intended as a swan-song to your rave and jungle days?

That was just a collection of the stuff we’d been writing from say, when we disappeared a bit, stopped putting out stuff – It was like a collection of all the stuff we’d been putting together, cos we were still working with artists, you can hear that on the drum n bass tracks with Richie Davis and Peter Bouncer singing. We were always still writing and still busy, and that was just a compilation of everything we’d been up to. It wasn’t anything deeper than that really. We’ve still been busy, we’ve still been working with artists, this is what we’ve been up to, check it out.

And you actually got back in the charts with a single from that LP as well (‘Save it till the mourning after’)…

That’s right yeah, with me in that dodgy video. Me rapping and everything. That wasn’t for me to rap that song, I wrote it for someone else to do it, but we couldn’t find someone else to do it, so I had to do it (laughs) and I didn’t even want to do it…

Did you make many videos? I think I’ve only seen ‘Derek went mad’

Nah, we’ve got quite a few, we’ve got videos for ‘Take it Easy’, ‘Art of Moving Butts’, ‘Derek went mad’, ‘Save it till the mourning after’, ‘The weekends here’, the Ragga Twins have got ‘Wipe the Needle’ and ‘Hooligan 69’ . We’ve got quite a few. We are thinking about putting a collection together and getting it up on Myspace, so we’re going to be looking into that

Have you being keeping up to date with the drum and bass scene over the last few years? What do you think of the whole clownstep thing?

Of the what? Sorry?

Have you heard of clownstep?

(Laughs) I haven’t heard that name no…

It’s kind of a derogatory term to describe people like Pendulum, swing beats, 180-bpm techno style D+B…

(Laughs) No, not by that name, I’ve heard the music but I haven’t heard it called that. We still keep up with it. We’re good friends with Hype, and whenever we’re not out working we go out with him, so we’re still on the scene and we’re still locked onto the radio. We’re on a pirate radio station in London called ‘Origin FM’ Its actually a drum n bass station but we have a breakbeat show every Wednesday nights between ten and midnight, so we’re always locked onto that station as well as Kool FM. We keep our ears to the ground with all types of music.

As of that stuff you’re talking about. I haven’t got a huge problem with it, but some of its a bit noisy (Laughs).

What about grime and dubstep? Have you been keeping up?

Definitely. The whole Grime scene, I like a lot of that stuff. I like the energy, gotta lose the anger a bit (laughs), but I was like that at that age. Yeah, I like a lot of that stuff.

So you’re more into grime than the mainly instrumental dubstep side of things?

As I said, there’s good in all, but the whole Grime thing I like a lot of it, obviously not all of it. I sorta wish there were mature heads within the scene to help it grow. Cos obviously it’s a very young scene, a lot of the artists are very young, I wish there were someone in there with an older head sort of taking charge and organising things…

Yeah, there’s only Wiley who’s about 28/29…

Yeah, if there were more people like him within the scene it would bring things on a lot more… And as for the dubstep thing, I’ve been getting into that,. There’s a single from our new album that’s getting a dubstep mix by a guy called Rezo.

And do you still keep up with dancehall and reggae?

Yeah, yeah. Don’t go to many dances anymore cos there’s not many on. But yeah, still into it. The soundtapes from 15 years ago – we still pull them out and listen to them…

PJ and Smiley play breakbeat on London pirate Origin 95.2 FM on Wednesday nights 10-12pm

www.shutupanddance.co.uk
www.myspace.com/shutupanddancetunes

Josh Kay (Global, Phoenicia) Interview


The main purpose of this site isn’t to rehash info about all the well known oldschool artists out there, but to shine some light on quality lesser known artists / scenes. It’s with that in mind that I hit up Josh Kay of the Texas breakbeat hardcore act Global with some interview questions. Yes, I said Texas. It turns out there was a big rave scene there in the early 90’s, and several of the only US-based breakbeat hardcore records circa 92-93 seem to be have been released from there: NASA PROJECT, GLOBAL, all the METROPOLIS remix records, etc. Josh later went on to move to Florida and, along with his friend Romulo, found the groups Soul Oddity (Astralwerks) and Phoenecia (Warp, Schematic), plus the label Schematic Records.
If anyone reading this was a part of that scene and wants to fill us in with more info, feel free to leave a coment below

How did you meet Robert Vaughn and when did you two start doing tunes together?

We met at Oak Lawn Records, where Rob worked at the time.
I was in college in Denton, TX. and I used to frequent the few record stores that sold electronic music.
To this day I have never met as natural a DJ (all the turntablists I’ve met included) as Rob. He had the most diverse record collection and a photographic memory for records. I would borrow a crate at a time from him and sample & listen to them. I learned half of what I know about music from him. We hit it off and started making tracks right away. I had and EPS 16+ and a few other synths, but nothing crazy. The first day Rob came to my house he brought a 303, 808, 101, and a 909.
I think we had our first record done in 3 weeks. Rob was the resident DJ at every decent club in Dallas. He ruled the place. At the time I think we was spinning 5 nights a week to probably 1000-2000 people a night. It was full on rave hysteria in Dallas back then. Bands that came to Dallas would typically get the shock of their lives.

How did you first find uk hardcore/rave? How did early uk records make it to Texas?

If you went to a club in the late 80’s/early 90’s in Dallas, you were likely to hear every style of music made with a drum machine. It was really a mixed bag, and somehow it all blended together effortlessly. The record stores I mentioned were few, but very influential, and much more than stores. Oak law had their own label which specialized in re-issues. Eventually Rob and I started another label with Oak Lawn’s owner, Ray Cooper, called Space Records.
There was also Metropolis Records, besides being a record store, they released the Metropolis Remix Series.
Then there was Bills Records (great article here ). Bills was a massive store housed in an old bowling alley. I don’t know where they got their records, but they had like 4 copies of everything, and 2 of them were usually sealed. no matter how rare it was, whether it was Mayday’s Nude Photo with the banned cover, or the KLF 1987 album. Dallas was definitely the place to be for me. All the music you could ever want to hear, DJ’s with amazing taste in music, and great venues where you could play whatever you wanted.

Who started and ran Excel records? Any idea why the label only put out 2 releases?

His name was Luke, and he had a few partners. They were actually into cooler music than what they released.

Global did a remix for Psychotropic – were you directly in touch w/ them, or was this set up through the label (which was based out of Texas?) What UK acts if any were you in touch with back then?

No, it was all set up by Metropolis. They secured the rights to release and remix the song (I hope) and they asked us to do it. I think we got $200 for it. My second reality check, the first being our first royalty statement from Excel Records (really).

Psychotropic – Goodtime / Hardtime (Good and Hard Global Remix)

Who was the primary person responsible for the Metropolis Remix series?

I didn’t know the folks at Metroplis too well, though they were just down the street from Oak Lawn. I think they guy’s name was Marty? Scotty (DJ Redeye) should back me up on all of this, he was actually paying attention back then 🙂

Acen – Close Your Eyes (Metropolis Mix By Robert Vaughn)


Global – Rock Steady

I’ve heard that there was either a nightclub or at least a club night also named
Metropolis, were these two connected w/ the remix records?

I think you’re referring to Metronome, Grace Jone’s club. It was the first (and remains the coolest night club) I’d ever been to. I was 15, my big sister snuck me in. That experience changed my life forever. I’m not a nightclub person, nor have I ever been. I go to clubs for the music or to play my own. It’s always been that way. I’d much rather go into nature to bug out. These days I absolutely dread most clubs, especially the ones in Miami. They are hellish, horrible smelling places, full of dark energy. But Metronome and a hand full of other places were brilliant experiences for me. The right place at the right time with the right music and the right people can be heaven on earth.

Any idea what the reason was for all the domestic edits (instead of, say, direct track reissues or megamixes)? Were the remixes / edits licensed, or was this a way for them to get around having to license the tracks?

Not too sure. It was very popular back then, (Razormaid remix service was also huge back then).
DJ’s really loved them, I mean if you loved a track and were almost playing it to death and then you found an extended version with all these crazy edits and you busted it out first, well then it was worth the money, and they were pricey.
I think they were licensed, but I think it was way cheaper to do it that way, and you could essentially re-sell the song with a cheap remix by some nobodies. If the song is good, you can’t really ruin it doing a remix of the stereo master (we never got parts, stems or samples).

Some of these records don’t list the individual artist, are there any ones that you helped with which you weren’t credited for?

Yep plenty.
There was a guy named Wayne we knew who had his own remix service (don’t remember the name). He had the first ProTools system (called Sound Tools back then) I’d ever seen. I used a computer then but only a tracker for sequencing (I used Voyetra Sequencer Plus Gold). Anyway, we (Rob and myself as Global, and Scotty and Arnold as N.A.S.A. Project) would do remixes for him, and in exchange he would help us with our song order, minor mastering, and on a few occasions he put together backup live show DATS with all of our songs nicely mixed together, but you know, only for backup :). Hey, Altern-8 got away with it.

I heard a GLOBAL release was supposed to come out on Moving Shadow at one point,
is that true? If so, how come it never saw the light of day? Is that the EP which eventually
came out on Excel, or was it a different release?

Interesting. We met the Moving Shadow guys (who recorded as 2 Bad Mice) in New York at the New Music Seminar in ’92. They were well into what we were doing but we never had any dealings with them. Rob and I almost signed with Suburban Bass, they were the hottest shit back then and we were completely floored that they wanted to work with us.Their recording contract was just too exclusive and binding, we felt we wanted a bit more freedom. I suppose we took a bit too long dwelling on the legal issues that they felt dissed and lost interest. The single they wanted to release never came out but it was a classic in Dallas. When we played it out people knew and loved it so well, it practically started riots.
Looking back, we definitely should have done it but I never lost too much sleep over it.

What were the most influential records you ever heard/bought/stumbled upon?
Aphex Twin – Analogue Bubble Bath 3 and Selected Ambient Works 85-92
Aphex taught so many of us that there was more we could do with music than we ever thought. There is something new under the sun. He is the supreme musical genius of our generation.

Morton Subotnik – Sidewinder
I bought it by accident, it was inside the record jacket of a Dennis Coffey and the Detroit Guitar Band record (they were amazing in their own right). One of many happy accidents. I never heard music so unapologetically electronic and so formless, so unconcerned with the laws of music. Techno was the exact opposite, everything was so tied to the beat. It taught me alot.

KLF Chill Out
I was going to college in Texas at the time, way out in the country. Chillout was based on a roadtrip though Texas and to most of my friends it was just too close to home, and a bit boring. They all wanted more KLF techno, for me it was revolutionary. It changed my approach to music forever.

Space – Space
I bought a rare pressing of this at Bills. What a gorgeous record. Find it, steal it, pawn your turntable for it. It’s still a masterpiece.

808 State – Newbuild, Ninety & Utd State 90
They taught me everything good I learned about music at the time. Music was so original back then, as it usually is before an era or a style has a name, but they were flying miles above making real, original, complex, and beautiful music.

Various – Relics – A Transmat Compilation
An amazing collection of otherworldly Detroit classics. This album is proof that they did it first and did it best. No ego or pretense, just beautiful & forward-thinking music.

There are so many more but I’ll stop there, this is just a small list of records that kept me mystified by music.
15 years later and I’m still trying to figure out how they did it.

Pete Parsons Interview, pt 2

I’m away in London so no tune postings for a couple more days, in the meantime though here’s pt 2 of the Pete Parsons interview. Don’t forget to check his myspace page at www.myspace.com/petevoyager, drop him a line and let him know if you liked the interview.
As much of this as you remember/ care to mention, what was your setup back then, especially in the 92-95 range? Any particular hardware synths, what sequencer / sampler, etc? Favorite gear at the time?
Back in 90/91 I was using Steinberg’s Pro24 sequencer which was a bit of a nightmare with the GUI, it wasn’t very intuitive at all, and relied on you specifying looped bar lengths and stuff, plus we had the Akai S900/S950, a Korg M1 and a Roland U220, and that was about it for making sounds. But when Cubase 1 arrived it was like a god send, so easy to use, much more user and client friendly, and I think I was still using the Atari 1040 with the Akai’s right up until I stopped working at the studio in 97. PC’s were still very much in their infancy, and at that time stupidly expensive for what you were getting. So I didn’t get to play with all the plugins and softsynths on any of the tunes I did at Monroe at all. In the main studio were I worked though we had a big 24 – 12 – 2 Soundtrac analogue desk, some Yamaha NS10s and a huge pair of custom built studio monitors that I used to batter the hell out of, only blew them once though! We had various bits of outboard, Multifx, Eqs, Gates and Comps, nothing top top end, but it all did the job. One of the mains bits I used though was a beaten up old compressor that I’d run some of the beats through just to really crunch them up. If you listen to some of Crystl’s stuff from 92 onwards you can hear the beats being mangled through it quiet heavily. Though I didn’t tend to use too much compression overall on most of the tracks, as they were always being mixed and eq’d as they would be written, so you got a much better vibe from the track, and also, so it didn’t sound totally dynamically different from when it got a final mixdown. I always prefer to work that way, to try and get everything working and sounding as it should from the conception, especially for the vibe and feel of a track.

Which jungle artists got the most involved in putting their tracks together? And, if you don’t mind saying…. which ones basically left it all to you?
Pretty much everyone was hands on, and was getting involved, some would trust me more than others to do all the programming, and we would vibe it out, and I’d be getting ideas from them. Some would still be learning the craft and were quite happy to sit and take it all in, and some would just need the sampling and mixdowns done and they did all the rest. But they would all come in with a pretty solid idea of what they wanted to do. I’d been working with a lot of the DnB dj’s/artists for a while and I’d know the vibe they were on, and I think they trusted me to know that as well. From time to time though I’d get some regular clients in who didn’t really know what they were doing, only that they fancied making a tune, had seen a track with my name on it, and had booked the studio. I had a few who turned up with nothing at all, a few with some seriously cheesy samples, and some who wanted to sample tunes that I’d worked on and use the licks in their tracks!

Do you have a favorite style or series of styles to engineer? A favorite artist/artists to work with?
Pretty much right from the start I was always into the more melodic side of jungle/DnB, which to begin with was almost all of it till the first wave of dark tracks started coming out. It was at that point that rave and jungle kinda split from each other, with the rave scene staying on the happier side of things, and DnB being a bit more experimental. I never did many of darker tracks as my heart wasn’t really in it, I found the soaring strings and “cathedral of sound” vibes a lot more appealing. In fact one of the main reasons I loved making DnB so much was the scope you had to be as experimental as you wanted to be, you could, and still can, take your influences and vibes from any genre you wanted to

What are your best and worst memories from the old days regards to your studio time?
I’ve got so many amazing memories and experiences of working in the studio with all those guys, it was definitely the best job I ever had, but a few of the stand out moments were writing the “Intelligence” Lp with Dj Rap, writing the tracks with Crystl was wicked as we were on such a roll at the time, pretty much every time he came in the studio we knocked out a kikass tune in the same day, also working on a lot of the DeeJay stuff was awesome, but one of the top moments was recording the vocals with Conrad for Promised Land 1, I’d not heard the mix that Danny (Bukem) had done so it was all fresh to my ears, and hearing the mix with so many of my tunes on it loud in the studio with Conrad vibing live over the top of it was pretty epic!

Any funny stories related to engineering sessions?
There were quite a few people that would leave me hurting from laughing so much in the studio, but one of the maddest was the first session I did with Fabio. I’ve known him from 19longtime after being a regular at the club night “Speed” he used to do with Bukem, and we’d always chat and I’d tell him I’m ready for whenever he wanted to go in the studio and get a tune together. So we finally hooked it, but by this time I wasn’t working at Monroe any more, and I had a studio in my basement at home which was still running Atari1040 and Akai 3200. The tune we were doing was a remix of the Carlito track “Heaven” So we got all the parts together, looped everything up and was vibing out some beats, and everything was coming together really well. I was dead chuffed, as Fabio hadn’t been in the studio too many times before, so we were both really pleased with how the track was sounding, and worked solidly for about 5/6 hours straight and by the end of it had something really wicked, with the best part of the arrangement done and dusted. So its gets to about midnight, and I’m saving up the tune, and the Atari freezes! Basically wiping the whole tune off the floppy disk, there was no Cntl+Alt+Del on the Atari, no backup saves, so we’re both sitting staring at the screen in disbelief, and there’s only one thing I can do, and that’s turn it off, and loose the whole thing! So after apologising to Fabio and trying not to reach for a hammer to smash the 1040 into tiny little pieces, we decided to do the whole thing again from scratch in the same night. We still had all the loops and samples all timed up in the sampler, so it was just about recreating the vibe and all the parts, arrangements, beats, edits, mix……you know, no pressure!
So after 2 hours or so we got the whole thing pretty much back to exactly where it was before, and it sounded wicked! I heard him drop it loads of times at Swerve and it always went down well, and sounded wicked on the system in there.

Probably one of the biggest trademarks of your sound was your cut up and layered breakbeats. How did you first get started with this beat chopping? Were you influenced by something or someone in particular (or, say, a background in drumming)?
When I was a kid I’d sit and listen to the radio and play along to the music using my mums wooden spoons and pots and cushions and stuff, so I’ve always been drawn to beats and rhythms. So dance music was always going to pull me in at some point, purely because of its beats. I’d played in a lot of bands from an early age before working at the studio so I had a lot of live experience with drumming to bring to a sequencer and sampler setup. So working with beat loops and doing all the edits seemed to come pretty naturally. It’s all about getting a groove, if you’ve got a solid one, and a wicked bass line as well, then at least 75% of your tune is done.

Where did you source breakbeats from back then? Vinyl comps, sample Cds? Other jungle records?
A lot of the samples came from sample CDs, some from the DJ Tools Lps. We’d get some from old rave and acid house Lps. I had so many different samples of the Amen break and the Bobby Bird break as well, and those 2 used to get absolutely battered, they work so well together or separately, and you can put anything with them and it will just work.

That whole style of intricate beat chopping has gotten much more popular over the years, with an entire sub-scene of left field dnb now dedicated to intricate beatwork. Is there anything else you’re willing to tell these newer break-nerds reading your “beat chopping” back then, your theory behind it etc?
It’s all about the flow, even if your changing up your patterns and rhythms on the 4th 3rd or 2nd beats its gotta roll, you gotta get the head nodding, and not the chin scratching.

How do you perceive the production scene to have changed since the dawn of the internet and the surge in software piracy?
I think the internet and piracy, for any dance music genre has had a massive effect. It’s made it totally accessible to anyone, whether you’re musical or not. The software now is making it easier and easier to be creative, and I think that can only be a good thing. A lot of people can now use music to express themselves, or be creative in many different ways. So in turn what that has done is made a lot of artists have to up their game, simply because of the amount of people now making music. We did have a period where there was a flood of new music into a lot of existing styles, with the best for me being Grime. Here was a style of music that was as original as the early Jungle/DnB stuff for me, and a lot of it was made on PC’s in small or bedroom studios, with a bunch of guys all vibing it out, and to some extent the availability of any bit of software you needed, plus a PC, some speakers, a mic and the internet maybe helped that along.

Since you’re still producing now, any thoughts on the wealth of new software / hardware out there? Anything software packages in particular you like or don’t like?
I saw the promo video for the new version of Cubase the other week and it looks pretty tasty, it’s got a lot of new stuff to it which is about time because they’ve not really added much to it for ages. It will take a powerful machine to cope with all the processing but it looks worth it.

Any favorite current electronic producers in terms of production quality?
To be honest, I listen to so many different styles of music, and I’m useless at remembering peoples names that I couldn’t tell you anyone at the moment. But I’m feeling the whole “fidget house” thing, there’s such a wicked groove in a lot of the tunes I’m hearing, and the fact that Vlad makes some kikass fidget tunes as well now means I get to here a lot of it.

What do you think of new “neurofunk” / production centric DNB stuff like Noisia and Phace?
Trace sent me an MP3 over msn one night, and told me to play it, and tell him what I thought of it, the tune was Noisia’s “The Tide” and I was f**kin blown away. I listened to it god knows how many times, and thought it was one of the most sickest DnB tunes I’d ever heard, in both production and sound quality, it was from a whole new level. It manages to be really intricate in the edits but still has a wicked balance with the groove, and all the twisted sounds on top of it make it a seriously awesome piece of music.

Pete Parsons Interview part 1


If ever there was a “behind the scenes” icon who never got his due for involvement in classic jungle/hardcore, it’s Pete Parsons. If you’ve ever heard tracks on labels like Dee Jay, Lucky Spin, Soapbar or Impact, you’ve heard his work – Parsons was the engineer behind the bulk of the tunes on those labels, among others. Aside from mixing and engineering duties, he also did some absolutely classic singles on his own, under the monikers Voyager, Static Substance and more.

The first section of this interview is focused on his Engineering background – future sections will delve into this a bit more, plus his own music. Anyone who wants to contact Pete can do so on his myspace account: www.myspace.com/petevoyager

How and when did you get started with engineering? Did you apprentice at any studios before Monroe Studios and were you involved in any music prior to this (bands etc)?
I’ve been involved in making music and playing drums ever since I can remember.
I was in a couple of punk bands when I was at school, and joined an 80’s stadium rock wannabe band after that, with very limited success. I had a lot of friends who were making music at that time and a couple of them used to use Monroe to record their stuff at. So I used to go up there and hang out with them, and check out how the equipment was being used, Samplers, Drum machines, Atari’s etc. One of my mates at the time was a guy called Danny Langsman, who would later go on to be one half of “Shanks and Bigfoot”. They had a big tune in 1999 called “Sweet like chocolate”
I would hang out with him a few times and watch how he was putting stuff together, as well as hanging out with bands and seeing how they would record.
I knew this was going to be the career for me, I mean who wouldn’t want to work in recording studio and make music all day??? So I asked my dad if he could help me out and send me on a short engineering course, which he thankfully agreed to, I spent a couple of weeks in a studio and learnt how to use a big ass console, and pretty much the basics of recording, outboard processing and midi sequencing, and then hassled the hell out of the owners of Monroe for a job for a couple of months, and landed it in Jan 1990. I finished my job before Christmas as a carpenter, and started the New Year as an in-house producer engineer working 24/7 for £2.50 an hour, I hardly had any money and my girlfriend at the time was seriously pissed off with me, but gotta live the dream innit! I’ll never forget the interview I had, as I told them straight up front that I didn’t really like dance music, I was a bit of a rock dude, and didn’t really understand it, so he told me I’d better learn to love it because that was what I was going to be doing, and gave me a compilation of dance stuff the studio had been doing to listen too over the weekend, and that was my intro into UK underground dance music.

Did you have any engineering mentors?
My main mentor was one of the co-owners of the studio, a guy called Roger Benu, he was an awesome engineer, right across the board. I remember the first week when he showed me in about 10 minutes how to use the Akai S900, the Atari 1040, the 8 track recorder and an M1 keyboard and then left me with my first client. Roger was a top bloke, who worked on a lot of high profile tunes later on.

Were you aware of / a fan of hardcore stuff before you started engineering it, or even while engineering it? Did you ever go to any raves / own records? Any favorite artists?
Back then, around 90/91 I wasn’t really aware of the rave scene at all apart from the guys who I was working with. I had already begun to work with Seduction on some of his really early stuff, as well as Eric Dial from Raze (Break for Love) who was making some Hip-House and Bleep House/Acid House stuff, and was also engineering for UK Rap crew “The Brotherhood” which was where I first hooked up with Dj Crystl who was doing all their turntable work. I’d hear stories from them about this new Rave and Jungle style of music that was like nothing anybody had heard before, and about how the atmosphere inside the clubs was amazing, but I was sooooo busy working that I never managed to get out to any of them! I missed the whole “dancing in a field off my tits with 5000 other people going mental” and had to try and pick up on the vibes of what these guys were telling me and try to put that energy into their music.
In fact the first rave tune I worked on properly (engineering and mixdown) was a tune called “ Must be the Music” by T.A.S which was released on Profile in 1990, but I don’t think I got a shout on that, still got the white label in the back of a crate somewhere.

One of your earliest engineering credits was for DJ Seductions “Hardcore Heaven” – how did this come about?
Seduction used to come into Monroe and make beats from 1990 I think, he’d come in with a bunch of records and a lot of ideas on how it would all fit together, and I’d sample everything and map it all out on the keyboard for him, and he’d jam with the samples till we got a groove going. It was always a bit of a joint thing as I’d know what he was trying to achieve, and would offer up suggestions and stuff, but the main vibe and melodies would always come from him. He was always very precise in what he was doing, and I knew he was onto something as a lot of the time he’d come back the next time and tell me how it dropped and how the floor reacted to it, and it was always wicked. We worked really well together, I’d know from his sample selection the vibe of the track he was looking for, and would loop up the samples and do a bit of pre-production for him, and gradually over time the process would get quicker and easier.

DJ Seduction – Hardcore Heaven

Soon after this you also started engineering for Lucky Spin, Dee Jay and Soap Bar – what were the circumstances leading up to engineering for each of these labels?
I did a tune called “Burn 2 spiff” with a guy called Ollie Red Eye who was a friend of Dj Crystl’s, and who also knew the 2 guys who ran Lucky Spin and DeeJay (Justin + Sacha) it all started from there really, I did another tune with Ollie and was already beginning to make tunes with Crystl as well, and it all just fell into place from there.
The Soap Bar connection was from the main people who ran the label (Joe, Nicky + Sky) as they also had a record shop in East London called Total Records who were stocking the Lucky Spin stuff as well as some of the other bits I was doing then as well, and I think they liked what they were hearing in terms of the production and quality of the releases, and tracked me down at Monroe. I started working with a couple of the guys from the shop at first, and then with Joe and Nicky on few other things.

Rufstuff – Burn To the Spliff

Were there any differences in engineering for each of these labels? (different budgets or studios, etc) or did it all come down to differences between individual artists?
To begin with everyone used the same studio and was on the same hourly rates, but there were always slight differences in the way the tracks were put together. The basics were always the same; sampling, beat mapping, loops etc But each artist had a very good idea of what they wanted their track to sound like, even if they said they wanted it to sound like somebody else’s track at the time. My main thing was to try and get some emotion into the music, if you listen to quite a lot of the stuff I was doing at the time with those guys, there were a lot of big string and pad breakdowns, or dreamy arpeggio’s and stuff. I was finding that pretty much everyone I was working with wanted that, as well as the beat programming and edits.

A lot of younger people don’t know what it was like in the days of studio-produced jungle done with a proper engineer. For the uninitiated, can you briefly say how that used to work? Would people bring you partially finished tracks to fix up, just a disc with some samples, or just an idea? Or was it all of these depending on the person? Were you able to build up a sample library using stuff from individual sessions, or were you not allowed to “reuse” stuff from a session someone else paid for?

You had to be ready for anything depending on who you had the session with. Some people didn’t have access to any studio equipment or anything back then, remember we’re talking about early 90’s Atari 1040’s and Akai Samplers, so they would come in with a bunch or records or CD’s and sample CD’s, and we’d sample everything up, or search through sample CD’s for sounds. I think I must have wasted so many hours just sitting and listening to endless sample CD’s, that I knew a few of them off by heart in the end. I used to have a big metal flight case that was jammed packed full of floppy disks with everyone’s samples and Cubase songs in it, as well as my own personal primo library of all the beats and samples that were commonly used back then. With most people using the same beats it wasn’t a problem reusing them, however I had to be careful not to duplicate the patterns, or edits tricks too much. The patterns that Crystl and I came up with on “Let it Roll” were pretty unique, and I couldn’t then start putting the same licks into everyone else’s tunes as well. I did get into a little trouble a couple of times for reusing some string pads or an effect sound or something, but there was no way I could reuse a dominant or instantly recognisable sample from someone else’s tune though, so I had to keep my shit together, or separate, depending on how you look at it.