Tags Posts tagged with "jungle"

jungle

by -
Audio tapes from my extensive collection
Audio tapes from my extensive collection

When I first started listening to music in a serious way, it was via my old two-deck, vinyl-playing, cheap-as-chips stereo. I borrowed my mum’s ‘House Hits ’88’ album on vinyl and played it to death – I’m sure I attempted to scratch with it a few times and ended up damaging the record. The memories from that era are solidified in my mind and feel way more tangible than some of my more recent memories. After a brief dalliance with vinyl I became more of a tape fiend, ‘Rave 92’, Michael Jackson’s ‘Dangerous’ album, Kris Kross’ ‘Totally Krossed Out’, Snow’s album ’12 Inches Of Snow’ (bought from someone selling knocked off tapes door-to-door on my estate) and several other albums and singles, most of which were gifts. Within a few years I’d amassed a huge collection of audio tapes, mostly recorded from the radio. Here I look back over that decade-long period when tapes were a big part of my life… and every day for the next month I’ll be posting a tape from my collection, so keep checking back for each new upload!

My mum had tonnes of tapes, she was always ‘taping’ in the front room with my aunties – or, later, in her bedroom and sometimes round at one of my aunties’ places, it was a social occasion where they would gossip and chat about music, too. When I was really young it was strictly reggae, but as time went on that developed into acid house, jungle, then hip hop and RnB, which is what they all listen to mostly these days. the stereo was the centrepiece of our front room, on the second shelf of a large shelved unit. I have to admit, I didn’t like loud music back then, and I found the basslines particularly annoying. My grandad was also a big music lover, massively into reggae, too and he also had a collection of tapes, as well as several 7s and 12s. He’d take us to the record shop in Croydon, on Church Street and we’d flick through all the records trying to find the reggae artist with the silliest name.

In the mid-nineties I discovered pirate radio and ‘Junglism’, as it was first known to me. General Levy and M-Beat’s ‘Incredible’ took me away from listening to dancehall and hip hop on Kiss FM, and I moved over to Rush FM (92.3) and, eventually, Kool FM (94.5) – both of which became my main sources of jungle music. I was absolutely hooked. DJs like Redant, Funky Flirt and co on Rush and the Supreme Team; 5ive-O, Ron and SL, Navigator and Swift, Footloose, DJ Ash, Trace and Ryme Tyme, Younghead, The Ragga Twins, Pressure X and Times Two, Teka, Co-Gee, Remadee and many others on Kool. I wasn’t much of a Dett and Brockie fan, but they undoubtedly had one of the biggest shows on Kool.

A small selection of my many tapes
A small selection of my many tapes

In the midst of this pirate radio fascination, I began to record the shows I loved – initially dubbing over tapes I already had, since I couldn’t afford to buy blank ones. So it was goodbye ‘Dangerous’, goodbye ’12 Inches Of Snow’, goodbye ‘Totally Krossed Out’, goodbye ‘Rave 92’… and hello Kool FM. It was tunnel vision for me, I rarely listened to any other music, my best friend at the time wanted to be a jungle DJ, so at school we’d constantly be talking about the music, trainspotting new tracks, taping shows and so on. When I discovered Fabio and Grooverider’s show on Kiss FM I got into it even more and finally began saving up my pocket money to buy packs of blank tapes in order to keep up with all the music I was hearing. Every Christmas and birthday I asked for a few packs of TDK D90s, chrome position, ‘CDing’… only the best quality.

Recording shows became a ritual, whereas before I’d hit record impulsively, when a show really took my liking, now I could plan out when to record. I went through so many tapes, and soon became an expert at fixing them when things went awry and they got chewed up by the stereo or by my Walkman. I’d use my mum’s mini-screwdriver kit to undo it, open it up like a mechanic and survey the damage. I pride myself on never having to throw a tape away, no matter how messed up it was – some would end up like Frankenstein’s monster, methodically stitched together using tiny strips of Sellotape, sometimes Blu-Tac was used to keep the spools in place. Some needed fixing time and time again, but I never gave up on them, keeping the music was too important to me.

My Sony stereo, which lasted over 15 years
My Sony stereo, which lasted over 15 years

Fab and Groove were on Kiss at 12midnight to 2am every Friday. In the two-bed council flat I grew up in, I shared my room with my little sister. As she’s nine years younger than me, she’d go to bed way before I did so I’d have to sneak into the room and slip into bed so as not to wake her. I’d put the stereo on, whack in my earphones and hit record – my aerial was broken, so I replaced it with a metal hanger and, to make sure the recording wasn’t affected by interference I’d spend the whole two hours holding on to the aerial until the show was finished.

Listening to the radio was not only an exercise in enjoying the music I loved, but it was also a great way to learn about who was behind it; the DJs, the producers, the labels – where people were from, where they played, which clubs were hot for DnB and much more. I wasn’t content with just listening to the music, like an avid record collector I geeked out over all the info I could find; who was behind Dope Dragon? Surely it was the Bristol crew? Dillinja’s alias has to be Trinity? I never went to any record shops, I rarely ventured out beyond my estate and my school for quite a while, and I certainly didn’t hit any clubs, so despite all this knowledge, I had no idea what any of the people I was listening to looked like. No internet, no social media – but this all helped to create a mystique that is sorely lacking in today’s society.

I made sure every tape was diligently labeled with the name of the DJ, radio station and date. I’m a perfectionist and, since I had all the time in the world in my teens, I would make sure that every one of them had its label attached as neatly as humanly possible, they were all organised in date order in the storage units I bought for them. Everywhere I went, I traveled with my Walkman, it was pretty much glued to my head. I dread to think to think how much money I spent on batteries and replacement earphones. I had a few different Walkmen too, starting off with a chunky bastard and progressing to one that was slightly thinner and lighter, but still pretty big compared to most of the portable devices we use to listen to music now. I’d also carry at least three tapes with me. In today’s age of tiny mobile phones and other such technology, it makes me laugh to think that I was perfectly content to lug all that stuff around in my pockets.

By the late nineties I’d all but stopped taping Kool FM and moved over to Kiss – where Andy C, DJ Hype, Jumpin’ Jack Frost, LTJ Bukem, Randall and Kenny Ken also hosted shows during the week – and Radio 1, with its One In The Jungle shows, followed by the station’s acquisition of Fabio and Grooverider in 1998. I invested in a brand spanking new stereo in 1999, soon after starting my first job – it had a timer function, so I didn’t have to stay up and wait for the show to air, which was quite nice. I enjoyed waking up the following morning and listening back to the previous night’s show. By the time I eventually knocked my tap recording habit on the head I had over 300 tapes, all contained in three black drawer units produced especially for audio tape storage (I think they’re defunct now). I shipped them all down to Bristol and back to London, when I went to uni, and up to Manchester and back again when I worked up there – all in all they’ve traveled with me to at least eight or nine different places. I carried on recording religiously until the mid-2000s, when I started to slow right down – I was too busy to stay on top of it and, in all honesty, I wasn’t feeling the music as much anymore.

With hindsight I wish I’d taped more Kool FM shows and not let anyone borrow any of the tapes I had, since a few never came back. That said, the ones I do have are total classics. This was of course a formative time for me, personally and musically. I’ve spoken to so many artists who credit the radio with being their main source of musical education, and this was definitely the case for me. I loved all the different styles in drum’n’bass, jump up, liquid, experimental, jazzy… everything. I feel deeply satisfied to still be in possession of so many memories, so many shifts and changes in music – these tapes not only have value in an historical context, from 5ive-O and Navigator talking about former police chief Paul Condon, to Fabio and Grooverider discussing EastEnders, but they also take me back through my own history; from being agoraphobic in my early teens, to venturing out to go and take photos of graffiti all over London, to eventually painting graffiti on trains and walls myself, to starting uni and experiencing drum’n’bass raving for the first time, growing up, becoming an adult… all the while nodding my head to the rhythms of DnB – my heartbeat. Listening back reminds me of how much the music meant to me, it was an escape, an education, my sanctuary, liberation from my anxieties, inspiration behind my creativity and the catalyst behind my first steps into the world of music, which I am now very much a part of.

by -
Roberto main - Don't Lose The Magic: Then and now feature
Roberto main - Don't Lose The Magic: Then and now feature

As a father of two, husband and full-time acoustics engineer, Roberto probably doesn’t fit the techno artist stereotype. The man behind Fossil Archive, a label that he uses to release groovy yet uncompromising techno produced by himself and other equally talented artists, he is enjoying a successful career as a DJ, producer and label owner parallel to his every day life. If we rewind the clock and go back to the early 2000s, Rob’s life was very different – he was in his teens, and just getting into music via school friends who introduced him to jungle. Those early days are where we begin with this feature – a time when his first encounters with music and personal self-discovery were intertwined. The roots. Here DLTM takes a look at Roberto then and Roberto now… and he has kindly provided us with a mix featuring some of the drum’n’bass tracks he was playing back in the early 2000s

Then:

Roberto in his early days as a DJ
Roberto in his early days as a DJ

“When I first discovered that type of music it was friends from school giving me tapes from the jungle times,” says Roberto, who, at 31, has been into electronic music for over 16 years now. “They were from around ‘95/’96 and I loved it. But I didn’t discover the music until 99/2000. Friend told me they’d got tapes from a shop in Leicester called 5HQ, which was affiliated with Formation Records because DJ SS owned both.”

Young Roberto naively went to 5HQ in search of the jungle sounds he’d fallen head over heels with via the tapes lent to him by friends. But the music had progressed by the end of the nineties. In what some attribute to a media whitewash, the name had been changed from jungle to drum’n’bass and the style had evolved. Whatever the reason, or reasons, the music became divided into two distinct styles and, by 1999, the ragga-influenced jungle was quickly fading away as drum’n’bass rose to prominence.

At 5HQ Roberto was confronted with D’n’B, which initially he found difficult to digest. It was a lot more futuristic and minimal than jungle which took a while to adjust to. “I found it a bit weird. But then I realised that the stuff I was listening to was from the bygone jungle era. There was no eBay or Discogs back then, so I didn’t know where to buy that older stuff from. I started to get tape packs from the DnB era, 2000 onwards, and grew to love that stuff as well,” he explains. “It was frustrating at first but I was 15, at that age you don’t analyse things too much.”

Another shot from Roberto's photo album circa 2004/5
Another shot from Roberto’s photo album circa 2004/5

The music became an integral part of his life, the soundtrack to his teens. “I used to do a paper round, and I’d always have my Walkman on playing these tapes,” Rob recalls. “It was an escape from doing this boring job. None of my mates were into it, they didn’t get it. There were a couple of people at school, but I wasn’t really that tight with them. It stayed like that until I went to college.”

Rob then fondly recounts his first experience of drum’n’bass in a club environment, chuckling to himself he explains that one of the staff members at 5HQ handed him a flyer for a Formation night and told him to come along. That invite was all he needed to team up with a couple of guys at school and organise his very first night club adventure, which took place in the Student Union at Leicester University where Randall was headlining. “We got our friend’s dad to drop us off, I don’t know how we got away with it!” he laughs. “We got there really early because it said doors opened at 9pm on the flyer. I think we got there at half eight so there were still students milling around at the bar and security were like, ‘It’s not open yet, you’re best off heading down to the shop, getting a bottle of cider and coming back later’.

Rob in full flow, 10 years ago
Rob in full flow, 10 years ago

“We ran around the university grounds for a bit, then came back just as the doors opened. I’ll never forget walking in there, it was like nothing I’d experienced before because I was hearing the music on a big soundsystem for the very first time,” he grins. “That first time was incredible. I thought it was the best thing ever.”

If Roberto was obsessed with the music before that first night out, afterwards it became pretty much everything. Though his mates also had a good time, they faded away after a few more nights out and Rob resided to hitting a few parties on his own before finding a like-minded crew at college.

As can be typical with teenagers, he was a bit of an introvert in those days, much more so than now. As an only child he ended up spending a lot of time alone and was quite content to do so. “My parents were a bit worried when I was younger because I’d just be on my own a lot. I had friends but I was happy being on my own at home,” he says. “I was quiet. Quite shy and introverted. I’d listen to the radio a lot, play computer games though it wasn’t a negative thing at all.”

Going to college to do a Music Technology course, which was an hour away from where he lived, pushed Rob to come out of his shell and, by the time he went to study at Salford University in Manchester any teen awkwardness had all but vanished.

A flyer for Platoon, where Roberto played regularly in the mid-2000s
A flyer for Platoon, where Roberto played regularly in the mid-2000s

Leicester too, was very different in those days. Formation was the dominant force when it came to drum’n’bass, but the small Midlands city had little to offer teenage Roberto outside of a few clubs and shops. “I lived in a village called Broughton Astley, which is actually quite far away from the city. Initially it was cool heading into Leicester, which was half an hour drive from me, because there was quite a lot to explore. But then it got a bit frustrating because there wasn’t much going on,” he explains. “There were places to buy the music I liked, and other quite decent cultural spots, but it was all quite limited.

“I remember hanging out with my uncle, who’d lived in London for a while before moving back to Leicester. We’d go on nights out and get so so drunk because there wasn’t really much else to do!” he laughs. “Most of my friends are still there, I’m the one of the few who broke away from it.”

But what drove him to leave Leicester, when so many of his friends stayed? “Even though I’d got a bit involved with the Formation crew, I felt like there was more to the world than being in Leicester. My college had quite a close relationship with De Montfort University, and the idea was to study there. The college was also aligned with Salford, but our tutors tried to put us off going to study acoustics by saying it was all maths-based. I decided to give it a chance and went to an open day with my dad,” he says. At Salford’s open day Rob was told that the acoustics course had a 100% post-uni employment rate. “I had to decide whether to stay in Leicester and carry on stuck in the same routine, or move to Manchester were there was much more happening.”

Manchester also happened to be home to one of the drum’n’bass producers he was most fond of – “Marcus Intalex had just started putting out stuff on his Soul:r label and I was really into that sound, I was thinking I could get involved with it. The decision was made there and then and I moved up within a few months,” he says. In 2002 he moved to Manchester and revelled in the delights the city had to offer, hitting club nights and DJing on a regular basis, solidifying his love for DnB and eventually graduating from university…

Now:

The techno producer now plays regularly at clubs such as Berghain and fabric
The techno producer now plays regularly at clubs such as Berghain and fabric

“The first few years after uni were very difficult. The job required you to work to a very high level and it was so hard because there were so many things you had to be good at; not just maths and acoustics but writing reports, talking to people and lots of things I’d not considered,” he candidly explains. After a while though, Rob figured out his strengths and weaknesses and learned to live with them. He travels around the UK as an acoustic consultant putting together noise impact assessments for industrial installations like oil refineries.

Since leaving uni Rob’s musical allegiances have moved from drum’n’bass to techno, though he is still allied to many of the things he loved about D’n’B; Detroit pads, minimalism, groove… these core elements lie at the foundation of the music he makes and has led to relationships with highly-regarded labels like Fachwerk and gigs at fabric and Berghain, a world away from his early gigs for events like Platoon and Gutter Funk.

“I remember being at a night called Sonic Boom at The Charlotte, a rock club opposite De Montfort uni watching the resident DJ up on the stage in front of us and thinking, ‘I could never get up in front of everyone and play’ – Even though he had an MC in front of him, I didn’t think I had the balls to do it,” he grins. “I think if you’d have said to 15-year-old me that I’d be playing at Berghain in front of all those people on a Sunday afternoon, I wouldn’t have believed you!”

Roberto in action during a six-hour set at Tresor in Berlin, 2016
Roberto in action during a six-hour set at Tresor in Berlin, 2016

15-year-old probably wouldn’t have believed he’d one day be father to two children either, yet here he is managing to maintain that delicate balance between fatherhood, being a dutiful husband, working full-time and somehow feeding his obsession with music. Though he admits to it being tough at times, Rob is clearly enjoying the challenges presented to him by his lifestyle choices, and the lessons he’s learning, “The family thing has been really amazing, it’s hard work and we’ve got a new arrival to join the one we already have, but it’s so rewarding spending time with your kids. There’s nothing better.”

One of the key lessons he’s learned from becoming a father is to be more selfless, something the young Rob would most likely have struggled with. “I’m still learning and will be for a few years to come. Something will happen with the kids and you get through it, then another thing pops up the very next day. Or the routine you’ve established gets turned upside down,” he says. “You have to be prepared to adapt a bit. The first few months were intense, but our first son started sleeping through the night from around 7 or 8 months onwards, which made things a little easier. It’s a daily challenge though, you’re always learning something new about yourself as well as your child.”

Artwork from Roberto's label, Fossil Archive
Artwork from Roberto’s label, Fossil Archive

On the flipside, Rob’s DJ career has challenged his parents’ views on life. While his mum has been onside from day one, even suggesting she pops in to one of his fabric gigs, his dad has been a little harder to convince. “It’s hard for my dad in particular to take my music stuff seriously. But I think he’s starting to realise it’s not just a silly hobby of mine. They’re both very supportive though,” he says. “It sounds like a bit of a cliché but every time I play something to my mum she really likes it. She’s always had quite eclectic taste in my music, she’d play Jean Michel-Jarre to me when I was really young, lots of electronica. My dad thought it was the weirdest thing ever.”

Having your parents behind you isn’t always necessary, but a supportive spouse is essential to a DJ’s career. The late nights, touring at weekends, days on end spent in the studio and much more can put a strain on a relationship, especially if the said spouse lacks understanding about the ins and outs of the DJ lifestyle. Rob counts his wife as a key support for his musical endeavours, “My wife is really, really supportive. It can’t be fun for her when I’m off traveling somewhere for the weekend, back Sunday night and then back to work Monday. I’m very very lucky”, he smiles. Although his wife not quite up to speed on “Who’s on at Berghain this weekend”, Rob prefers to be with someone whose interest in music is not as strong as his, “If I was with somebody who was completely obsessed with music, too it would be quite boring because all we’d talk about is the same thing all the time.”

Looking to the future, and with the recent arrival of his second son, Roberto is modest in respect of his career ambitions. “I think it’s going to be a mad few months, now our second child is here. I’ve been building up a lot of music over the past few months to prepare for his arrival,” he says. “I guess in years to come I’d like to carry on with my acoustics job, I get a massive buzz out of it. Maybe if I was a bit more successful with the music I’d like to spend more time on that and maintain a balance between the two. I launched my label Fossil Archive last year and that’s going great… I’d like to just to play more, I think everyone wants to do that don’t they?”

RANDOM POSTS

Steffie Timanti looks back over a year of growth

Steffie Timanti embodies the notion of independence, stepping away from the music industry and its norms to create her own small, but perfectly formed movement...