My Origin Story or How I learned to stop worrying and love raving.
[Disclaimer: I'm not condoning or condemning drug use - just telling you how it really was]
It took me some years to get into the rave/club scene. When it started, I found it quite intimidating. People at school used to go to illegal raves (this was in the early to mid-'90s) and do pills, but I never went. Instead, I spent my time playing basketball and Streetfighter 2 on the SNES. Also, I just didn't get this music which just seemed to go thump, thump, thump.
It wasn't until I went to university in 1998 and first tried ecstasy that I really 'got' it.
A friend bought some pills, and we all had a half each. We felt so good we decided to drive from our student halls in High Wycombe to Oxford in my friend's car - a red escort with lowered suspension, a banging sound system, and a weedy 1.1 engine. Matty put in a jungle tape and 'Ricky' by Remarc and Lewi Cifer came on.
The sound was dark but so atmospheric, I felt like a different person listening to it, or rather that I had entered a different world. I can't quite describe the feeling, but some of you will know what I am talking about.
From then on, I was hooked. This was in the very late '90s, and me and my friends would travel down to London to go to drum and bass nights at clubs like Fabric, The End, and Mass.
We would all go and just get totally lost in the music, letting the beats dance our bodies into the early hours. I think I was one of those people who always had a big grin on my face because quite often people would look at me and smile or say hello and share a hug.
Unfortunately, I found a lot of the drum and bass at the time to be a bit samey. To be honest, often I couldn't even distinguish between the tracks except for obvious anthems like 'Messiah' by Konflict (Still gives me goosebumps!)
But then I was to find a new sort of music that changed everything for me...
Me and my mates started going clubbing mainly in London to places like Mass, The End and Fabric.
So, one night we were in Fabric and it was fairly early on in the night. We went into Room 2, and this music was playing that just blew me away!
I'd never heard music like that before; in my mind I described it as 'jungle-y hip-hop.'
I loved it!
It had massive breakdowns and build-ups, which, combined with my heightened state, made for an amazing experience.
Things then got even better.
Out of the noise, these words started repeating 'hip hop hip hop phenomenon hip-hop...' over and over again, combined with the most amazing atmospheric sounds, beats and bass.
When the tune finally dropped with a phenomenal square wave bass sound, I knew that this was it.
This was what I had been looking for.
Something truly revolutionary, vibrant, and fresh.
The was just one massive problem.
When I got home, I had no idea how to find this music again. I didn't have a clue what it was called or where to buy it and had only vague blissful memories of what it was like created when I was absolutely nutted.
There was no Internet to speak of in those days so I had no way of finding out more about this music.
Two friends came to the rescue.
One, Matty, had managed to record onto tape Adam Freeland's Kiss FM show.
In fact the very show on which he debuted the track I had heard in Fabric - Hip-Hop Phenomenon, which he had written himself with BT and Kevin Beber. One of the great things about this was that Adam was so excited he was about it, advising, 'Turn up the bass bins for this one.'
It's still one of my absolute favourite tunes and my dream is to talk to BT about how it was made.
Soon after, my mate Paul came around with 'Elastic Breaks' - a free mix by the Plump DJs on the cover of 'Mixmag.' I still love this mix to this day, which I think has never been bettered in showcasing the breadth and potential of the breakbeat sound.
I had already started mixing drum and bass, but now my focus switched to this new sound which I now knew the name of:
Breaks (or Nu Skool Breaks)
But now I had an even bigger challenge ahead.