Now this is an interview all about how one young lad from south London made it to the heart of BBC's 1Xtra, via dabbles with hip hop, dances at his grandma's party and getting deep, down and dirty with the mad house raves!
So, how did you get into DJing?
In the early 80s, when hip hop culture came to the UK from America, everyone was a graffiti artist or a breakdancer, but I was the guy collecting records. In the late 80s, a friend took me to a house rave in Oxford and I just found the people friendlier and the music more hyped-up. I bought my first proper turntables around that time, mixing mainly house stuff. Hip hop lost its edge for me and imports were costly, so I stuck to house.
How did you decide upon DnB?
Jungle and drum & bass originates from Chicago house and Detroit techno: the 1989 UK house Summer of Love, which was four to the floor mixed with breakbeats, later sped up and this eventually became jungle. I was listening to the typical House tracks like Debbie Malone, Shut Up & Dance etc. I was doing bits and pieces DJ-wise but nothing serious until 1995 and the start of Metalheadz. My friend, MC Flux, had been working alongside Grooverider and introduced me to Kemistry and Storm and we started chatting - I ran a pirate radio station at the time. They got in touch and asked if I'd like to be part of a new club night. Little did I know that this would become the legendary Metalheadz Sunday Sessions.
Did you stumble into production?
It started by accident. I'd asked Roni Size for a track he'd made and instead he sent me parts for another track he'd made for me to remix. I called him to tell him I wasn't confident enough yet, but he said "just give it a go" and then he put it out on his label [Full Cycle]. Then I bumped into A Guy Called Gerald at a gig and suggested a remix of one of my favourites tracks he'd done. I remixed his 1991 tune, Anything. It was the tune that made me want to leave hip hop behind.
How did you find your way on to 1Xtra?
The same guy that took me to the rave in the late 80s had a close circle of friends that I got to know and one of them was the boyfriend of someone working on the station prior to the launch. He recommended me and they invited me down to do some pilots. It was strange, pretending I was doing a show. Then they asked me if I'd like a real show... nine years later and I'm still there! A lot of the time I play things that I think the people need to hear rather than what I think they want to hear - working after ten gives you so much more freedom!
Annie Nightingale said the same – what do you think of the recent changes?
Fabio & Grooverider are leaving in April. It's a sad time, but I hear Grooverider is thinking of doing another album. Time on the radio is time away from the studio. Friction is a good replacement; he plays a good mixture of music. He was on 1Xtra before but had to leave because he was too busy.
What new sounds are you watching this year?
Difficult one. Youngman is going to be big this year, he's working with Benga on an album. Tough question. If I had to back anyone else - in fact, they are just my favourite producers and they are so good at what they do - S.P.Y and Break! I don't think they know how to make average tunes! S.P.Y has just signed to Hospital Records - he had been working with Marcus Intalex and Marky from Brazil. He's signing up at the same time as the likes of Fred V & Grafix. Break is from Bristol and has his own label, Symmetry – solid production, really nice vibe.
What about the old timers?
Hmmm. It's always exciting to hear people's first albums, though John B has a new one. Very avant garde, on the electro tip - that should be interesting! I'd like to see Shy FX do another album. He has been doing a lot of other tempos but he is a junglist at heart... no one does it better them him. I hear that jungle is making a comeback this year! There is no mistaking that ragga vibe and those dub basslines. I did a one-off daytime show on 1Xtra with Robbo Ranks and we did a shout out to see if anyone wanted to hear any Jungle tunes. There was like text on top of text, people saying yes!
Do any labels deserve a 'Takeover' on your show?
This is a really big deal for us; getting a whole record label's artists in and streaming it LIVE for three hours. It's hard to say who has things locked down as tight as Hospital and RAM, artist-wise. Other labels tend to have a sporadic artist output. Maybe Metalheadz will be next.
Plans for the rest of the year?
More production and more remixes... I'm really getting into it! More festivals and touring. Sun & Bass festival in Sardinia, Innovation in the Sun in Spain, WMC in Miami in March and hopefully going back to Japan and Russia.
Words: Kim Wilson
You can listen to Bailey, every Wednesday between the hours of 10pm and 1am here.
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