Sunday 22 August 2010

Byte presents B-Mix 004:
Vinyl Junkie
(Byte, 2010)

OK, so it's been a little while since the last update on this blog, but with B365 it's all about the exclusive content - so good things come to those who wait....and for our 100th post have we got something good for you! Over a year ago we contacted local legend VINYL JUNKIE (John to his mum) with an eye to doing an old skool mix for the blog. Few DJs are better placed to construct such a mix than this man, one of the key players in popularising early rave music in Bristol.

What began as a small project quickly expanded out into a mammoth undertaking, with John painstakingly compiling hundreds of classic tunes that might merit a place on the mix. He wanted to piece together a mix that best represented the amazing music that was being produced in that first big bang of rave music circa 1988 to 1992, music that he loved and defined who he was at that time; and after a lot of hard work he has created something truly extraordinary.

Across two mixes he takes you on an incredible journey through a period of time that will never be repeated but irrevocably changed the course of underground music in the UK forever. From early house and Belgian techno through to breakbeat hardcore and proto-jungle, these mixes showcase just how truly dynamic the scene was back then, and how quickly it's evolution took place to create the amazingly diverse scene we enjoy today.

Of course a Byte mix isn't complete without an all-terrain interview, and so we sat down with John to talk about the golden years of rave culture, Bristol's musical transformation during that time, his highlights (and lowlights) in the scene and his plans for the future. Read on!

B: Good evening to you Vinyl Junkie! Thank you for contributing to this very special edition of Lifetracks for Byte! How are you and where are you?

VJ: I am pretty good as it happens. I am sat in front of my Macbook Pro, I spend most of my life sat here, right now I am trying to finish a remix of a BACKDRAFT tune called “We do what we wanna”.

B: Backdraft as in the breaks producer?

VJ: Yeah.

B: Let's start things by taking it all the way back to the early days, before the summer of love, before the big bang of rave. Growing up in Bristol, what were your first musical influences and experiences back then?

VJ: Well I lived in Australia for 8 years as a kid. We emigrated there when I was 2 years old. Then returned when I was 10 and moved into the flats in Shirehampton. It was 1977, punk rock was in full swing and I was fascinated by these dudes with green spiky hair and bondage trousers. My cousin played me some SEX PISTOLS tracks and I loved them. I can remember cycling from Shirehampton, all the way along the Portway and into town to buy “Never Mind the Bollocks” and then cycling all the way home again only to find the record was warped, so the following day I had to do the whole trip again.

Then I got into THE CLASH, THE RUTS, COCKNEY REJECTS and UK SUBS and lots of others. I went to my first gig when I was about 14 at a place called The Granary ,which was down on Welsh Back. It was an Irish punk band called THE OUTCASTS and afterwards I ended up sleeping on the floor of some dodgy squat on Zetland Rd with loads of mad punk rockers. It was quite scary actually.

B: What was it about Punk that appealed so much to you?

VJ: In the beginning I just loved the way the music sounded, I didn’t have much of an opinion, I just knew I liked it. I was only a young boy at the time and very impressionable so when I eventually got to see these guys on the TV, I was mesmerized. They just didn’t care; they did and said what they wanted. As I got older and wiser I become hooked on the whole Punk ethos, the spirit of Rebellion and the fact that the guys who were in these bands were just kids from the street. They had no money, not like all the megastar rock groups who preceded them with their flash cars and their mansions with guitar shaped swimming pools. These guys were the real deal.

That’s probably why the travelers party scene appealed to me so much in 1991. These guys, convoy hippies, new age travelers call them what you want; they were really just punk rockers man. The music was different but the attitude was the same. Fuck the establishment, we just want to have a party and listen to our music very loud and if we want to take drugs then we will.

B: In the initial segment of the first mix, THE CLASH looms large. They seemed to have been a really big impact on a lot of people round these parts...

VJ: Yeah, I don’t think it was just round here though… It was all over man. JOE STRUMMER was the voice of a generation. Most of the streetwise kids of that era will tell you now that they love THE CLASH. I don’t really know what I can say about them that has not already been said. In my eyes they are the only band that matters. My biggest regret is that I never got to see them play, as the sheer energy and enthusiasm of seeing them live is said to have been unforgettable.

B: What was the Bristol music scene like before rave kicked things into gear?

VJ: To be honest, after the punk thing fizzled out I was not really involved in any scene. I was more into going out and getting drunk and didn’t really care what music was being played. Of course I always loved music, but I could listen to that at home with a spliff later on, so it didn’t really matter. I was still going to the odd gig every now and then as well. I saw BIG AUDIO DYNAMITE a few times and also the BEASTIE BOYS at Brixton Academy on their License to ill tour. In 1987 I did start going to some reggae dances: Sound Systems like RAIDERS 32 and also some COXSONE dances in St Pauls at a place called the Inkworks. Then in September of that year I went back to Australia to see my dad and I returned to the UK in March 1989, just as the Rave scene was about to go BOOM.

B: Australia was a bit slow on the uptake regarding rave music then?

VJ: Yeah, I don’t think they caught on for a few years after us. 1992 I think it started to kick off over there. I had a friend called Joe Kennard aka DJ ABSOLUTE who moved out to Australia at the end of 91. Apparently he became quite successful as a DJ out there in 1992.

B: So it's now 1989 and you've gone on a jolly to Ibiza! How did all that come about and how was that first taste of the rave culture? What are your favorite memories from that trip?

VJ: When I got back from Australia I found out that a big group of my mates we’re booked to go on a Club 18-30 holiday to Ibiza. Obviously I wanted to go with them as I hadn’t seen any of them for a year and a half, but wasn’t really into the Club 18-30 thing, so me and a good friend of mine, Dave Antill, went to the travel agents and got a last minute cancellation and flew out, booked into some cheap hostel which worked out to about £5 a night each.

The first two weeks was just a pretty normal holiday. Fourteen of us on the piss… Then on the night before we were going home Dave got 2 tickets for the Ku Club (now called Privilege). The rest of the lads were pretty skint by now and so they didn’t come. Me and Dave took our first E and had the time of our lives, The atmosphere was awesome, everyone was your best mate, the music was incredible, I was just totally blown away by the whole experience and didn’t want to go back to England after that. So I didn’t!

I stayed out in Spain the whole summer. We also went to Tenerife for 2 months and then back to Ibiza for the closing. Had some great times in Tenerife too. There was this warehouse party that used to happen every few weeks called EL MOLINO which was wicked. We were knocking about with these East London boys who really knew how to party.

I’ll tell you a funny story that sticks out in my mind… we were in this club in Playa de Las Americas and we were tripping our bollocks off on purple ohms. We had a hire car parked out front. We were on our way to an EL MOLINO party but when we came out of the club we found that our red Golf was blocked in with about an inch to spare at the front and back. We were all scratching our heads trying to figure out how we were going to get it out… We could try and push the other cars out the way… or if we got enough people we could lift it out. Other passers by joined in trying to solve our problem, until some random guy said, “give us the key, I reckon I can get that out of there”. He tried to unlock the car and looked at us and said, “This is the wrong key… are you sure this is your car?” That’s when we noticed the other red Golf, not more than 3 cars away… which was actually our car. HA! We were falling over with laughter as we hastily got in the car and drove off.

B: Ha ha! Do you recall any of the DJs you saw that first time in Ibiza? Any special tunes that stuck out from then?

VJ: The only DJ I really remember was ALFREDO who was the resident DJ at Amnesia. I didn’t really take much notice of who the DJ was back then. Tunes that really stand out from Ibiza for me are Strings of Life and Salsa House, which are both, included on the mix. Some others would be:

SILVER BULLET - Bring Forth The Guillotine
STAKKER - Stakker Humanoid
KARIYA – Baby Let Me Love You For Tonight

B: What was it about the early rave sound that really got you? When you got back, was Bristol really starting to buzz with the same feeling you had about this new sound? Or was it still pretty much 100% low-key and underground?

VJ: I had been hearing this music for the last 2 weeks in the clubs of San Antonio but I was just not really taking any notice. Then that night in the Ku Club something happened (MDMA) and the music just blew me away. That night changed my whole perception of music. It wasn’t the same for my mate Dave though… The music was just something to dance to for him; he just wanted to get out of his face. But for me, I became obsessed with the music overnight and would pester the young DJs in the bars of San Antonio for tapes!

But it wasn’t just the music that ‘got me’. It was a combination of the music, the drugs, the people, the atmosphere and the setting that night in the Ku Club that would ultimately change my life forever. I remember that the roof opened up so you were dancing under the stars and out the back there was this balcony that looked out over the nearby landscape. The sky was orange as the sunrise broke over the distant hills. It was amazing; I’ve got goose pimples thinking about it.

When I eventually came back to Bristol there was not a lot happening party wise. There was illegal warehouse parties happening or so I was told but nothing like the scale of what was happening in London. So I used to go up there every weekend, sometimes I would go on my own… I would hitch hike up to South Harrow to a mate’s house that I had met in Ibiza and I would tag along with him and his mates.

Eventually I started to get some of my mates interested and we would drive up. First it was one carload, and then two… We went to SUNRISE parties… and ENERGY... BIOLOGY… We also used to go to YIKES at Slough Center quite a lot and we went to the first ever RAINDANCE at Jenkins Lane. For me the Bristol scene really kicked off just before Xmas 1989 when TRIBAL DANCE put on an event at the exhibition center with FABIO playing, that was awesome and a lot of Bristollians discovered Ecstasy and Rave Culture that night. Not long after there was two PERCEPTION events at the Brunel sheds down by Temple Meads and there was also VISION at Busby’s (better known to you as CREATION) on Baldwin Street. That was every Wednesday night and they would feature top London DJ’s as well as people like FRANKIE BONES and 808 STATE. I used to go there every week without fail… The Bristol scene was taking off in a big way.

B: Frankie Bones and 808 State on a Wednesday night, unbelievable! How did the atmosphere at these parties compare to the events you’d been attending in London?

VJ: Yeah mate, that was just 2 examples, they used to have a wicked DJ there every week, others I can remember off the top of my head are Pete Tong, Trevor Fung, Steve Bicknell, Kid Bachelor, Mike Pickering and Guru Josh. The atmosphere there just like any London Club night, better in a way because it was full of people you knew. The Perception and Tribal Dance parties were amazing as well.

B: Looking at the start of the Nineties, Bristol was becoming a real hub for the whole southwest in terms of free parties, club nights and producers like Orca and Sub Love. By late 1991 you were playing Vibes Alive and gigs all over the shop, what are your recollections of that time?

VJ: 1991 was all about the traveler’s parties really. Crews like CIRCUS WARP, SWEAT SOUND SYSTEM and FREE PARTY PEOPLE were putting on free parties all over the southwest… they were basically following the convoy round and where ever they would set up camp, that’s where the party would be that weekend. My mates old man had a pub called The Seahorse, and later he moved to the Queen Shilling and on Fridays and Saturdays we used to DJ in there. They became the meeting place for the parties; it was a real wicked little scene. We used to go to all the big paying events too, but would always end up at the traveler’s party at some point.

So most weekends that’s where you would find me, at a free party in the middle of a field somewhere, stood up by the decks with my tunes, patiently waiting for my turn, praying that EASY GROOVE would not turn up before I got to play because if he did you might as well forget it, because he would basically kick whoever was playing off the decks, tell us all to fuck off and play for about 4 hours himself. I played at VIBES ALIVE just before Xmas in 1991. That was mad because the flyer was already out and I rang the info line and spoke to a guy called Hugo who said that they needed a warm up DJ and if I wanted it, I could have first set. That was it for me, the first big paying event I had played at and he made me resident after that and I played at every one.

B: Did you think of Easy Groove as the top local DJ round then? Who else was making a name for themselves on the circuit locally? Was it competitive between you all or a bit more unified?

VJ: Well you are opening a big can of worms there. Yes, Dennis (Easy Groove) was the top boy in Bristol back then, of course he was, and rightly so. That guy was one of the most talented and versatile DJ’s in the UK and if he had played his cards right, he was set to be the next Carl Cox. But things just didn’t turn out that way.

The other DJ’s who I saw as my main competition in Bristol back then we’re DIE, JODY and ABSOLUTE who were all fantastic DJ’s. And then there was also guys like GIZMO, CRIDGE, BUNJY, SUV, MASH, FLYNN, BUDGE, LUGE ‘n’ PERKZ and TECHNODREAD (I‘m not talking about Easy Groove, I am talking about the original Technodread. A guy called Kenneth Morne) who were all good DJs as well.

Obviously there was a friendly rivalry between us all, but we were all mates at the end of the day, there was the occasional bit of nastiness and backstabbing between certain people but I won’t mention any names. Then of course there is my main man THE DJ PRODUCER from just down the road in Bath, who was back then, and still is today, one extremely talented DJ. That guy is like a robot; I have never seen him make a mistake. I didn’t really know him back then but we are good mates now.

The only person who I didn’t get on with back then was Dennis. It was weird because before I started DJing we got on well. I used to go to his house for a spliff and he would do me tapes and shit like that. When I started mixing he would listen to mixes I had done and give me advice, but when I started to get a bit of recognition he totally changed his attitude towards me, like he saw me as competition or something. He had a lot of clout back then and he was in a position to be able to help some of the local DJ’s, but he wasn’t interested. Instead he chose to hold us back; well he did with me anyway.

Check this out; I was booked to play at FANTAZIA’s Second Sight at Westpoint Exhibition Center in Exeter. That was a very big deal to me… 10,000 people. One of the FANTAZIA promoters, a guy called Gideon, had seen me play at loads of the Travelers parties so he knew I was up for it. When the flyer came out I wasn’t on there. I was wounded. Next time I saw Dennis he said… “I told them to take you off the event, you’re not ready for an event that big yet”. This was 1992. I was ready! So thanks for that Dennis HAHA. We’re OK now though. I saw him the other night and he was actually quite friendly.

B: How did the call up for Tribal Gathering in 1993 come about? This is a pivotal point in the history of rave music and there you are, slap bang in the middle of it!

VJ: I really missed the boat with the UNIVERSE crew because they done an illegal party in Bath called BRAINSTORM before UNIVERSE started and I would have played there as it was a lot of the same crowd that were playing at the Travelers raves at the time. People like DIE, JODY, and PRODUCER etc. I didn’t go because of some stupid bird I was with who wasn’t feeling well so I stayed at home with her.

Then the first UNIVERSE happened not long after and the local DJ’s that were picked to play were chosen from those who had played at BRAINSTORM, so I kicked myself for that. I knew Paul Shurey and Rob Bryant from meeting them at a few travelers’ raves and continued to pester them for bookings but nothing ever came and I was about to give up hope. Then Paul Shurey saw me play at VIBES ALIVE one night and I got a phone call a few days later from Hugo and he said that Paul wanted me to ring him. That’s when he booked me for the TRIBAL GATHERING.

B: What was it like playing that event? You’ve got a huge rig at your disposal and thousands upon thousands of ravers bang up for it...

VJ: It was mind-blowing. 100k Rig in a marquee tent that held 18,000 people. I played first but do you think I was complaining? The tent was half full by the time I finished my set and now I am honored to be able to say, I played first Tribal Gathering, main arena. There aren’t many people who can say that.

B: By 1993 the scene as a whole was already splintering; you had hardcore going off in one direction, house and jungle in originally would play quite a bit of jungle in your sets, but started to edge toward more of the hardcore sound. Was that a conscious decision in that everybody else was rinsing the emerging D&B sounds?

VJ: Playing the more jungle-oriented sound was really a natural progression from the 92 hardcore sound. I was lucky, in that I was on the mailing list for 4 of the main labels at the time which were MOVING SHADOW, SUBURBAN BASE, FORMATION and REINFORCED so I just followed the direction that they were going in and when I went to the record shop I would buy similar stuff.

Sometime around the end of 93, beginning of 94 I became aware of a happier element that was starting to filter through and I did like it, but just carried on with what I was doing regardless. I am not sure exactly when it was but there came a point when I got pissed off with the Jungle style and wasn’t really feeling it any more, it was too moody which was really affecting the vibe at the parties. The FULL CYCLE crew were really dominating the Bristol Jungle scene anyway and if you didn’t have a big bag of Dub plates, like Roni and the boys did, then nobody wanted to book you. No disrespect to those boys by the way… What they have done for the drum and bass scene is awesome and I take my hat off to them.

Anyway… around this time a mate of mine was doing a night called SKETCH at the Pawlett Manor near Bridgewater and he invited me down to play. I played my usual jungle set but the crowd wasn’t really feeling it and most of the other DJ’s were playing Techno. He booked me to play 2 weeks later and I did actually make a conscious decision that I was going to try something different… So I scraped together as much money as I could and went and spent it all on the more happier sounding music, which was still very breakbeat driven but it had a 4/4 kick which I thought would appeal to the crowd down there. Needless to say it took the roof off and I was made resident… That place was the bollox, Week in week out, it was always packed and the atmosphere was something else.

Not long after that I got a phone call from DAZEE who said that there was a night in London called DOUBLE DIPPED and they had asked her if she wanted to play, she declined as he was looking for more of a happy vibe, but she recommended me. Soon after I met a girl at the Manor who knew Andy who ran KINETIC in Stoke. She got me playing there. The next 2 or 3 years were really busy!!

B: Did you feel the dubplate culture in D&B prevented certain DJs breaking through more? Hardcore just didn’t seem to have the same culture running it, it always seemed a bit more DIY in that respect...

VJ: Who knows man? It probably did. The thing with Drum & Bass is you have to be making good tunes if you want to get anywhere. In which case you will have dubplates of your own anyway. Its not just about being a DJ, you need to have the whole package. It’s pretty much the same across all the genres now. It wasn’t always like that and Drum & Bass was probably the first genre to go that way, but if you look at any genre, be it Electro House, Dub Step or Hardcore… Whatever. Pick up a flyer and see all the main headliners. They are the same guys who are making all the big tunes in that genre. It’s the nature of the beast now… that’s just how it is. There are obviously a few exceptions but not many.

B: As we come into the later 90s, what was your opinion on the scene at the time? Hardcore has never been a favorite with the music press even though it's massively popular, so all you'd hear about was the trip hop and D&B sounds coming out of Bristol...did you feel that was a fair representation of the scene here?

VJ: As the 90’s drew to a close I was really disheartened with the whole scene. Happy hardcore was really starting to get shit, it was just so cheesy and everyone seemed to be churning out record after record of the same old rubbish. I am actually surprised that the hardcore scene managed to survive those times. It all sounded the same and I stopped buying it. There was a time when I didn’t play out for about a year and I almost gave up DJing altogether. My girlfriend was going out with all her mates to Hard House nights and she used to bring tapes home, which I thought sounded really fresh so I started to play a bit of that. I got the job of reviewer for IMPLANT magazine, which enabled me to get on all the mailing lists and soon I was playing out regularly again.

Yes that is probably a fair representation of the scene in Bristol to be honest as there was not a lot of Hardcore that came out of Bristol really apart from BUNJY and myself. Bristol has always been more about the bassline.

B: Why do you think that is?

VJ: Woah, that’s a difficult one dude. You’re asking me to explain the psychology of the Bristol Sound… You know what, I am not even going to attempt that one. Hahaha. Bristol Loves Bass… that’s all there is to it.

B: How did Warehouse Wax come about?

VJ: Well it was 2001 or 2002, I can’t remember, and by this time I had grown bored of Hard House too as it had got stale, just as Happy Hardcore did… but it didn’t matter because I had been playing at a lot of Old Skool parties which I was enjoying much more. Around that time the Old Skool revival was kicking off big time. We had Absolute Old Skool in Bristol, which I was promoting with Mike from Lakota.

I was also playing at loads of other nights all over the country like ILLUSION in Stoke, RAINDANCE in London and loads of others. Although I totally love playing Old Skool it was getting a bit annoying not have any new tunes to play. Anyway around this time I met a guy called Simon Dark (Darkus) and we set up an online record shop called Warehouse Wax and we would buy Old Skool record collections off people and sell them online. Simon was a painter and decorator by trade and one day I was helping him out on a job in Easton and we were listening to some Old Skool on his ghetto blaster and he said “wouldn’t it be great to make an Old Skool tune”.

This sounded like a great idea to me, as it would give me something new to play. So I rang up AUSTIN who had produced a lot of the early stuff on SUBURBAN BASE and was also a good friend of mine… We booked some time in the studio with him and went up and made “All Night” which became Warehouse Wax number 1. AUSTIN thought it was hilarious to be making Old Skool hardcore again but we managed to persuade him (with pound notes) to get involved and start making some tracks for us.

B: How had you got to know Austin in the first place?

VJ: When I first got into Producing Hardcore back in 1995, I done a few tunes and sent them to this label called Tech-Step who were advertising for up and coming artists to send in demos. They rang me up and said they wanted me to come to the studio in London and re-do the tunes. When I got to this geezers house and he said we were going to Austin Reynolds studio I nearly fuckin’ fell over. I did two releases with those guys, which we’re Earth 1 and Earth 2. Austin and me have worked together on and off ever since.

B: By 2004 you'd just released "We're Not Dead" which kind of brought the original rave producers of Bristol full circle, back to their roots. At that point, rave culture was almost 15 years old...what were your feelings about how far the Bristol scene had come by then?

VJ: It was at the beginning of 2005 that the album was actually released and it did bring ORCA back out or retirement but only for one tune, they never did another one after that, not in this genre anyway. Unfortunately though the same was not the case with SUBLOVE. The tune “Rubber Band” which they had featured on the album was actually the last tune Jody produced as SUBLOVE before starting WAY OUT WEST and as it had never been released, I got it mastered and put it on the album. People just assumed it was a brand new SUBLOVE tune, but nobody actually asked me if it was or not so I didn’t say anything.

The Bristol scene was predominantly a Drum & Bass thing. The Old Skool nights were losing momentum by now but Drum & Bass was going from strength to strength.

B: And then just after this time, it all went a bit wrong...

VJ: Yeah you could say that. It was in February 2006 that I was arrested for conspiracy to supply cocaine. I got caught with a Kilo of the shit. I was never actually selling it myself… and that’s the truth, if I was I would say so, I’ve got nothing to hide and I have served the time now anyway so what have I got to lose?

Basically what happened was, a mate of mine asked me to pick this package up for him and he offered me a lot of money to do it. I was a bit skint at the time so, like the dopey twat that I am, I said yes. It all came on top and I was arrested and remanded in custody straight away. I never even made it back to my house.

It was a nightmare… as I sat in the back of that police car, everything I had worked towards came crashing down around me and I knew that I wasn’t going to get bail and that I was looking at a heavy sentence. That was the most horrible feeling. I was on remand for 10 months and then got sentenced to 7 years of which I served 3 and a half. I am still on license until 2013, which prevents me from playing abroad, which is a major annoyance.

B: Coming out of that period, what had changed for you?

VJ: To be honest, prison actually sorted me out! I was in a bit of rut before I got nicked, although I didn’t realize it at the time. I was just plodding along, smoking ridiculous amounts of weed and not really having any direction in my life. The first 3 months I was in prison it was all doom and gloom and I convinced myself that my DJ career was over.

But I stopped smoking weed and read a few books about being positive and using the power of positive thinking to turn things around in your life. I started to apply that and realized that I could actually turn this into something positive and get something good out of it. The prison service can actually help you out with certain things, but only if you are willing to help yourself. So instead of spending my time being a cleaner on the wing and taking whatever drugs I could get my hands on I decided that I would spend my time educating myself.

I ended up in an open prison in Kent and I started to go out to Canterbury College studying CCNA (Cisco Certified Networking Associate), which I completed and am now a qualified Network engineer. Whilst doing this course I found out that there was a Music Tech course at the college so I enrolled for that. I skipped the National Diploma and went straight onto the HND, which I continued on my release and have now finished. I am just about to start on the BA, which means, all being well, that in a year’s time I will have an honors degree.

So prison changed my whole outlook on life really. I am really positive now and I believe that if you focus positively on your goals and really believe in yourself, you can achieve anything.

Whether you think you can or think you can’t, either way you are right.

B: With over twenty years of experience in the game, what's your feeling about hardcore as it stands today as a big commercial enterprise? You've got all the old guard still in there at the top, but the raves are as packed as ever...

VJ: Well that is quite a complex question isn’t it? Hardcore as a commercial enterprise? Do me a favour; as far as I see it Hardcore is not a viable commercial enterprise at all these days. The digital age in which we live has had a massive Impact on the music scene as a whole and this includes Hardcore. Vinyl sales have become almost redundant with even the bigger Hardcore labels only just managing to keep their heads above water.

Digital downloads is apparently the way forward but the amount of money you actually make is miniscule and a really good hardcore release on MP3 will do about 300, which is nothing. The problem is that less than 5% of the music that gets downloaded is actually paid for, the other 95% is downloaded illegally and that is a fact that was published last year in the IFPI Digital Music Report. People are file sharing and these files are good enough to burn to a CD and play out.

There are no compilations anymore either. Warner and Ministry have stopped doing Hardcore compilations altogether. There is still the BONKERS series, which has been going for years, but even the last one of those only sold a fraction of what they have in recent years. All the events have now started to do CD packs from their events instead of tape packs. This poses a couple of problems. One is that they are a lot better value in that you get a lot more music for your money when you buy a CD pack and the sound quality is just as good as the compilations. This is great for the consumer but it has obviously hit compilation sales quite hard. Also there is no track listing on CD packs, which prevents people from being able to go and buy the tune, and no money is actually being paid to the artists whose tunes appear on them either. I could go on about it all day but I can’t be arsed… Its all politics of which I am not and don’t intend to get involved with.

So yeah, the big event are still packed, but is Hardcore, as a whole, really a commercial enterprise? I would say not, especially when compared to yesteryear… Yeah there is a lot of people who are making a decent living out of Hardcore, but the only people who are making any real money now is the promoters of the big events.

B: What's your take on the Hardcore Breaks and Jungle Tekno styles that have emerged in recent years?

VJ: Yeah, I like a lot of it, there is some really excellent tunes coming out and some really talented producers, but I just really wish there were more people into it. I had high hopes for Hardcore Breaks when it started but it didn’t really take off in the way I had hoped it would and now the same has happened with the J-Tek sound. Both genres have a lot of dedicated contributors who are passionate about what they are doing and both have a small but loyal underground following, but its really difficult to get a new genre off the ground. It’s a shame.

B: You've also recently got into the electro-house or 'crack house' sound, what is it about that style that grabs you?

VJ: Again, I was getting bored… Do you think I have attention deficit disorder or something? HAHAHA. None of the new music that was coming out was really floating my boat… I don’t understand the majority of dubstep, I love some of the sounds they are using, but really can’t figure out the beats, I think to myself, how do you dance to this?

My mate sent me a Soundcloud link to one of Zincs crack house mixes and I instantly liked it. I’m not sure why, something about it reminded me of the original House vibe from ‘89, but there was also something fresh and new about it and some of the tunes incorporated some of the better elements from dubstep. I have been buying lots of tunes and have done a few mixes, which are up on soundcloud, but I am still yet to do a gig in this genre.

B: Did you feel Zinc’s decision to drop D&B in favour of that style was a brave one?

VJ: Yeah, that was quite risky, but I think he had got to the point where he just was not interested in doing Drum & Bass anymore, he had already decided he was going to quit Drum & Bass and take a year off anyway. The guys a fuckin’ genius in the studio so I’m sure he had no doubts that he would be able to reinvent himself without too much trouble. CLIPZ did the same thing as well, quit Drum & Bass and is now producing various other styles under the guise REDLIGHT.

B: Looking to the future, what have you got in store for us and where do you want to take the sound next?

VJ: Do you know what? I’ve been asked this question before and I usually say: I am going to do this or I am going to do that, but things change over time and ideas evolve and a lot of the times things don’t pan out exactly as you intended… not always in a negative way… Sometimes you might have a better idea and decide to focus on that instead. But I look back at old interviews and think… I never did end up doing that.

So for now all I’m going to talk about is something that I know is set in stone and that is FUTURE RAVE ANTHEMS 4. It’s a compilation series that is released in digital format only, by SLIPMATT and BILLY BUNTER's label CAN YOU FEEL IT MEDIA. TWISTA done the first one, FAYDZ the second one and Volume 3, which is due for release imminently, was done by FLASHBACK. The task of sorting out Volume 4 has been entrusted to me, and I am chuffed about it, as I have never been asked to do anything like this before. So at the moment that is my main priority: compiling, producing for and eventually mixing this compilation.

As far as where do I want to take the sound next… the answer is I don’t really know? I am in a transitional period at the moment and like I said I am concentrating on making tunes that will sit comfortably under the banner of FUTURE RAVE ANTHEMS. I am listening to lots of different genres at the moment and drawing inspiration from all of them. If you go and check out my mix from this years Glastonbury Festival (available on Soundcloud) you will see what I mean. It ranges from Breaks, Ravebreaks, Jungle, Electro House and even a bit of Dubstep.

I really like what REDLIGHT is doing at the moment. I like the way he is not conforming to any one specific genre with his productions; he is doing different styles and trying to break down the boundaries between genres. Some of his stuff sounds like Electro, some sounds like House, some sounds like Dubstep and some of it is really Oldskool influenced. But it all sounds like him and that’s really cool because in the past it was kind of frowned upon. People were using lots of different pseudonyms and setting up different labels for different genres. REDLIGHT is saying, “Fuck that, I do what I want and if you don’t like it then Bollox to you”. I really like the idea of not being tied down by any genre. If you are influenced by different genres then surely you should try to express that in your music.

I think that there is a lot of crossover starting to occur between genres at the moment, some of the Dubstep is starting to include a 4/4 kick which makes it sound a bit like Electro House and there is Breaks producers starting to venture into Dubstep… some of the dubstep sounds very Jungly, Electro producers like RACKNRUIN are coming out with tracks like Soundclash which is quite obviously Jungle. PYRAMID are starting to incorporate more rolling breaks into their tunes. It’s quite an exciting time and I can’t wait to see what is going to happen next.

So that’s maybe the mindset I will try to come at it from once I have finished the album and completed my final year of Uni. Or maybe I’m talking utter bollox? Only time will tell.

B: Let's chat about some of the choices in your selections here; two huge mixes, a year in the making! It must have been a painstaking process to whittle it down to these forty-odd tracks...

VJ: Yeah it was difficult. When you originally asked me to do the mix I sat down and wrote a list of tunes and there ended up being over 100 tunes on there. That’s why I knew there was no possible way I could fit this onto 1 CD. So thanks for letting me extend it to 2, otherwise I would not have been able to do it.

B: Firstly let's talk about the awesome Radio Vinyl Junkie intro! We've got The Clash, The Ruts, B.A.D, and Beastie Boys...some raucous punk, reggae and dub influences going on! How important was that sound to you prior to rave music?

VJ: It was very important to me. It was the soundtrack of my youth. I’ve still got most of my old records and have even bought some of them again on CD recently. I still listen to some of them when the mood takes me.

B: For the first mix, you've got an earlier house and techno vibe going on, and even though this is jam-packed full of classics it never feels like you're anthem bashing! For me these tracks are all damn near perfect, that amazing combination of early house, rave and hardcore elements all sitting together in total harmony! It feels like that time period was really 'lightning in a bottle', never to be repeated...

VJ: Well the early house sound was where it all started for me all those years ago in the Ku Club and although I wasn’t a DJ back then I still managed to acquire the records. The tunes on here are all very special to me and each one reminds me of something or someone from my past, as do most of the tracks on the second mix.

For example Strings of life reminds me of sitting on the edge of the swimming pool in the Ku Club smoking a spliff, The Phantom reminds me of going to the Thunderdome in Manchester with my scouse mate “Sprout”, Energy Flash reminds me of a travelers party in a place called Forrest Hill near oxford, Space Face reminds me of a young guy called DJ Gravedigger at Hungerford mixing with no headphones, No Idea reminds of my mate Squeaky who took a trip at Hungerford called an Agent Orange, he was fucked up and later some traveler dude said he had marked the blotters out wrong so my mate had actually taken 4 trips and not one… All the tunes on these mixes mean something. That was really the defining factor of whether a tune made it onto the mix or not.

Thanks for complimenting the mix as well mate, I did spend quite a lot of time planning the running order of things so for you to say they all sit together in perfect harmony makes all the time spent on it worthwhile. I hope all your readers will agree and get as much enjoyment out of listening to them as I did mixing them. Your right, these times will never be repeated… there was something more organic about the tunes back them. It was more about the feeling than the structure or arrangement of the tune. If it felt right then it was right, regardless of whether that section was 3 bars shorter than it should be.

B: The second mix is on a tougher tip, with that early 92 sound, the incredible breakbeat hardcore styles! What is about that incredible sound that appeals to you so much?

VJ: I don’t know really, it’s hard to put your finger on it. It was probably a combination of lots of things. I think the do-it-yourself attitude of the kids that were making the music was a lot to do with it, the way they were sampling from Hip-Hop, Techno and whatever, then chucking a sped up Funk break over the top of a Reggae style bassline and it just sounded awesome.

This kind of goes back to what I was saying just now about incorporating different styles into your productions, which ultimately adds excitement to the finished track if it is done properly. Also lets not forget that there was some really talented producers who were just fine tuning their craft at this time. People like LIAM HOWLETT, ROB PLAYFORD, AUSTIN REYNOLDS, JODY WISTERNOFF and ACEN, to name a few. It really was a magical time; those who experienced it first hand will understand what I am saying.

B: Sub Love feature with three tracks, plus you've got some of the early Moving Shadow classics on here too. Would you have liked to sprinkle some more local tracks or later jungle sounds in here if you'd had room?

VJ: There were originally 5 SUBLOVE tunes, but I had to lose a few. I loved their sound; it was raw and totally different from everything else. You could always tell a new SUBLOVE tune when you heard it. Jody is also a real good mate of mine and my first ever studio experience was with him… I was hooked after that… So I blame him for everything HAHAHA. I also wanted to use some ORCA tunes but they all got dropped by process of elimination… Sorry Dave and Darren!!

Moving Shadow was, and probably still are, my favorite label ever. They were the first label to put me on their mailing list as well. I only bought Shadow 1 and all the rest were sent to me. Rob Playford was, in my opinion, one of the most innovative producers around, second only to Liam Howlett. I can’t believe he doesn’t do tunes anymore… Or maybe he does and I just don’t know about it.

As for later jungle… No not really… there was never going to be anything post 1993 on here. This obviously excludes the 2 tracks from my own label Warehouse Wax. For me 1989-1993 are the years that were really special.

B: Well thanks to you for providing one of the best set of mixes I’ve ever heard! Before we wrap this up, have you got any words of wisdom for those people out there just starting out in DJing or production?

VJ: My pleasure mate… Glad you like them.

Advice to people starting out would be… Be dedicated, be passionate about the music, be positive and try your best to be as original as you can without alienating yourself. And don’t ever give up… You are going to get knockbacks… just pick yourself up and keep on pushing.

Most importantly, believe in yourself 110%.

And if there are any budding producers out there who want to submit a track for consideration for the forthcoming FUTURE RAVE ANTHEMS 4, please get in touch.


A massive thank you to John for contributing this mix and interview, a true legend if ever there was one!!

'We're Not Dead' and 'We're Still Not Dead' are available in strictly limited edition quantities by emailing Vinyl Junkie direct : HERE. Both albums can be purchased together for £15, but get your orders in quick because there's only a handful left!!

Byte presents B-Mix 004:
Vinyl Junkie
(Byte, 2010)

Mix One

02. RHYTHIM IS RHYTHIM – Strings Of Life
03. RICHIE RICH – Salsa House
05. HOUSE SYNDICATE – Jam The Mace
06. THE MCKENZIE – Party People
07. D-SHAKE – Techno Trance
08. LIASONS D – Future FJP
09. GTO – Pure
10. LEFTFIELD – Not Forgotten
11. S.I.L – Windows
12. EON – Spice
13. TOXIC – Original Style
14. ZERO ZERO – The Sanity Clause
15. SUB SUB – Space Face
16. PROJECT ONE – A Great Day
17. NEW SCENE – Out Of Control
19. BELTRAM – Energy Flash
20. ECCENTRIC – Its Brutal
22. SET UP SYSTEM – Fairy Dust
23. LFO – Brainstorm
24. ALTERN 8 – Infiltrate 202
25. ASMO – Jam The Dance
26. RHYTHM SECTION – I Can Take You Higher
27. 808 State – Cubik


Includes excerpts from:

1. The Clash – I Fought The Law
2. The Ruts – Jah War
3. Sex Pistols – Interview On Bill Grundy Show
4. The Clash – White Man In Hammersmith Palais
5. Big Audio Dynamite – Sightsee MC
6. Joe Strummer – Unknown Interview
7. Beastie Boys – Fight For Your Right To Party
8. New Order – Blue Monday
9. Moby – Glastonbury Festival 2000

Mix Two

02. THE PRODIGY – Android
03. KROMOZONE – The Rush
04. THE PRODIGY – Pandemonium
05. 2 BAD MICE – Waremouse
06. G DOUBLE E – Fire When Ready
07. RAGGA TWINS – Shine Eye
08. GENASIDE 2 – Narra Mine
09. PLASTIC JAM – One Love
10. DSKF – Feel The Power
11. SUB LOVE – Maniac Music
12. ACEN – Close Your Eyes (Remix)
14. SUB LOVE – One By One
15. SUB LOVE – Always In My Mind
16. NEBULA 2 – X Plore H Core
17. KROME & TIME – Manic Stampede
18. PHUTURE ASSASSIN – Ganja Madness
19. HOUSE CREW – Maniac (Remix)
20. OAYSIS – Incredible Bass
21. DJ MAYHEM – Stormtrooper
22. FAST FLOOR – Plight Of The Innovator
24. MAD RAGGA JON – Original Bad Boy
25. PHUTURE ASSASSIN – Unbrake My Hardcore

DOWNLOAD : Vinyl Junkie - Lifetracks Mix 1 (320 Direct Link)
DOWNLOAD : Vinyl Junkie - Lifetracks Mix 2 (320 Direct Link)
DOWNLOAD : Vinyl Junkie - Lifetracks Mix 1 (192 Zip File)
DOWNLOAD : Vinyl Junkie - Lifetracks Mix 2 (192 Zip File)
DOWNLOAD : Vinyl Junkie - Lifetracks (Artwork)

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FFI: Vinyl Junkie Facebook
FFI: Vinyl Junkie Soundcloud
FFI: Warehouse Wax Website
FFI: Warehouse Wax Myspace

FFI on Vinyl Junkie check : YouTube, Discogs, ReverbNation, Mixcloud and Twitter.


MK2k said...

What an interesting read, thanks for the interview and thanks for the mixes :)

Dan said...

One of the best interviews I've read in years.