Patience is a virtue, possess it if you can. It’s a quality that’s seldom, if ever, found in a modern-day drum & bass fan. For proof of this contemporary proverb let us examine the case of Benny L. A man subject to some of the highest levels of dubplate impatience in years, he’s had to reinstall Instagram more times than Andy C’s won Best DJ trophies due to high levels of inbox pester pressure. Link me this. I beg you that. ID? ID? ID? Oi oi oi...
His brother never took his passion beyond house parties, but Benny was biding his time. First, he had to wait an age to actually experience the music in the environment it’s intended for. From age 10 to 18, he absorbed the culture through his brother’s vinyl collection (early favourites included Dillinja’s remix of Adam F & DJ Fresh’s ‘When The Sun Goes Down’ and Krome & Time’s ‘Ganja Man’), magazines, online interviews, videos and early dabbles in production. Only once did he try his luck underage.
Razat — the Portuguese bass producer, who sadly died last year — has a posthumous release coming via Alix Perez's 1985 Music.
Real name Baltazar Gallego, Razat was known for experimenting across mutiple genres, from dupstep to hip-hop and drum & bass, the latter of which saw him release on Flexout Audio and Vandal LTD.
He passed away in August 2018 following a long battle with cancer, he was just 31.
“I can’t go to my other studio ’cause I’ll get shanked,” says Mike, who proves to us that he can sing Afro-swing melodies as well as he raps drill flows, while we talk by Young Urban Arts Foundation’s multimedia bus. His friends giggle awkwardly, two of them wearing rolled-up balaclavas, but he’s not joking. “I appreciate this bus because it’s warm, let me not lie!
In the controlled YUAF space, under the patient guidance of producer and singer Mister Lees, the studio sessions functioned not only as a medium through which the teenagers could benefit from caring, meaningful interactions with our team of trained adult staff, and work towards a shared creative goal — they were also a constructive way they could spend time, away from the hostile norm of London’s increasingly unsafe roads, as youth violence continues to spiral out of control.
Harriet Jaxxon epitomises the dream of the self-made DJ. Born and raised in the small Kentish town of Whitstable, when she was just a child her jungle-loving father’s record collection led her to the sounds of DJ Ron’s ‘African Charm’ and Roni Size’s ‘Sound Advice’. “Those two tracks are the ones that for me stick out as two jungle tracks that I discovered before I knew what jungle was,” she tells DJ Mag.
Since acid house swept the UK 30 years ago and united a generation, British dance has proudly proclaimed its egalitarian credentials. Many believe that the loved up, misty-eyed utopianism that swept the country in 1988 has sustained down the decades. After all, when you’re lost in the music and blinking into the darkness, it doesn’t matter if the sweaty, smiling strangers around you are black or white; gay or straight; male, female, transgender or non-binary.
LESSONS FROM HISTORY
To understand where we are now and what can possibly be done to address it, we need to look at the roots of British dance music, how it developed, the kinds of people involved in the early years and the specifics of the era they lived in.
Despite the “get on your bike and find a job” rhetoric spouted by the governing Conservative Party, jobseekers were rarely sanctioned if they didn’t find work within a prescribed time frame. “I was unemployed for about 15 years in total,” says Lee Renacre, who released his first record as 100Hz (alongside then production partner James Chapman) in 1989. “I was blagging it, telling my dole officer I couldn’t find a job that week, but I got away with it. That help from benefits is the only reason I’ve managed to stick with music, and I thank the state for that.”
It’s true that club ticket prices have risen dramatically in the UK over the last few years. These days, it’s rare to be able to get into a venue with a top-tier line-up for less than £15. In some cases, prices are even higher, with big branded events such as Elrow often charging £30 or more for entry. Many club promoters try to keep ticket prices down, but it’s hard to do this and break even, given the increased costs for DJs and venue hire. The latter is a by-product of increased competition between promoters for a dwindling number of licensed venues.
“I just don’t see it,” he says. “It’s not so much that drum & bass has become middle-class, it’s just grown up a bit. You have drum & bass nights now that are run like corporate companies, with more expensive tickets and DJs who are paid a little bit more. But you never walk into any of these things and think, ‘It’s a bit middleclass in here’.
Priestley points out that much more could be done if available arts funding was pushed towards community electronic music projects. “In this age of austerity, one of the first things that gets cut is arts budgets, and the arts has traditionally been a great vehicle for social mobility,” he says. “This needs to be addressed. It will inevitably lead to patrimonial capitalism, where people are inheriting wealth rather than making it themselves. This goes completely against the ideals of entrepreneurialism, that have always been a part of dance music in the UK.”
Drum & bass producer Andy Skopes has died. He was diagnosed with cancer 18months ago, and lost his battle with the disease on Wednesday 23rd January.
Real name Andrew Lawrence, his work found a regular home in the Utopia Music imprint, with other output coming via labels like Secret Operations, Soothsayer and Inperspective. He was also a former employee at the legendary Wax City record shop.
Tributes have been pouring in from others in the community, including Metalheadz— which carried his acclaimed 2017 EP, 'Speechless'— LSB, Rupture and Doc Scott.
Monty is back on Alix Perez's 1985 Music label next month with his 'Spatia' EP, and we've got an exclusive premiere of smouldering halftime cut 'I Know' to get you in the mood.
The Toulouse artist has risen rapidly over the past two years, dropping via the likes of Flexout Audio and Kasra's Critical imprint. It's with 1985 that the Frenchman has become most closely associated, however, with this latest marking his third solo release for the label since debuting with his 'Hold Me Back' EP last August.
Fearful drops his debut album 'Interference' via Diffrent Music this Friday, and we've nabbed 'Recall', a rowdy halftime collab with Lakeway, for an exclusive first listen.
The alter ego of producer Chris Murray, Fearful has been a staple of the Diffrent roster since releasing his breakthrough track 'Tongues' on the label back in 2013.
Andy C quite literally made history at the weekend, becoming the first ever drum & bass DJ to headline the SSE Arena next door to Wembley stadium in London.