Tag Archives: drum n bass

Grammy award-winner Flowdan headlines Bongo for Uplands Roast

20 May 2024 -

Flowdan headlines Bongo for Uplands Roast this Thursday night, the first time a Grammy award-winner will have played the club in more than a few years and it’s set to be a road-block.

If you’re not familiar with the former grime MC and founder-member of east London’s legendary Roll Deep crew, this recent interview he did with Ammar Kalia for The Guardian is not a bad place to start at all…

He helped create grime and his baritone growl causes frenzies on the dancefloor. Now that the MC is finally getting his dues, what are his plans? To conquer America – and create more mayhem.

It has been two days since Marc Veira, AKA Flowdan, woke up to a flurry of messages and missed calls congratulating him on becoming the first British MC to win a Grammy. “I wasn’t expecting to win so I wasn’t waiting for the news,” he says by video-call from his east London home. “I still haven’t even celebrated. I guess it means I’m a newcomer in the US, even though I’ve been doing this for 20 years.”

At 43, Veira has spent the past two decades applying his baritone growl to tracks guaranteed to cause a frenzy on British dancefloors. As a founding member of the UK rap collective Roll Deep, Veira played a key role in the birth of grime, alongside fellow members Wiley and Dizzee Rascal, while a long-running collaboration with producer the Bug created classics like the bass-heavy dubstep staple Skeng. Towering over 6ft, his beard peppered with grey hairs and his gold tooth glinting when he delivers his patois-inflected bars, Veira is an experienced marshal of unruly crowds, finally experiencing mainstream recognition.

His best dance/electronic recording Grammy award, for the track Rumble, caps a momentous year. It takes EDM pioneer Skrillex’s knack for gut-churning bass frequencies and UK co-producer Fred Again’s skill with a sample, and adds a skittering drum beat that interweaves with Veira’s high-tempo yet somehow languorous flow. Teased in DJ sets throughout 2022, the menacing track soon became a staple of arena shows, reaching its greatest power when dropped to a crowd of more than 100,000 people at Skrillex and Fred Again’s Coachella headline set in 2023.

Ever since, Veira has noticed a different energy among the crowds he performs to. “In the UK and Europe,” he says, “people know who I am but now they are responding to me with more intensity. It feels as if I’m getting more respect, like I’m the people’s champ.”

It is a response, no doubt, helped by another dancefloor smash Flowdan has had a guiding hand in over the past 12 months: Chase & Status’s Baddadan. Moving away from the crawling dubstep influences of Rumble into thundering drum’n’bass, Baddadan has become an emblem of the genre’s recent revival and reached No 5 in the UK charts. A Boiler Room recording of Veira performing the track in October captures the crowd erupting through four wheel-ups. It has since been viewed more than 6m times. “It was instinctive to put that one down,” Veira says. “Saul [one half of Chase & Status] sent it through and I just followed, since it’s music I’ve known my whole life.”

Indeed, Veira’s entry into MCing came through the 90s birth of drum’n’bass. After discovering a knack for rhyming and storytelling at 13, thanks to a homework assignment to write a poem, Veira began picking up on the style of formative drum’n’bass MCs such as Skibadee and MC Det. He realised that they were giving the sound system culture of his heritage a new form of bass-weight. “Listening to them on the radio awoke something in me,” he says. “They were English and Caribbean like me, so I began to emulate their lyrics. I was too young to go to the raves but I kept hearing how sick they were. It was a world I wanted to be a part of.”

It wasn’t until he met Wiley at college as a 16-year-old that Veira started finding his own voice. By 2001, the pair had formed Roll Deep and planted the seeds of grime. Now he was old enough to go to raves, Veira was the one on stage performing and creating the chaos. “There would be times,” he says with a smile, “when you’d get to a performance and the promoter would say, ‘Try not to get them too rowdy’ – which is not down to us. I remember some clubs had a ban on Pow! (Forward) [a 2004 grime release that Veira features on] because of how mad people would get when the song came on.”

While members of Roll Deep went on to achieve solo success, Veira kept seeking out unusual collaborations that were focused on keeping that sense of dancefloor madness alive. Producer Kevin Martin, AKA the Bug, was drawn to Veira’s vocal tone and their work has produced some of the loudest, most aggressively vibrational music you can hear at a club. “Sound system culture isn’t something I got to experience because of my age,” Veira says, “but when I started working with Kevin, he showed me what it’s like to create a sound so big it moves people. When you are the front guy, it’s a powerful machine to control. I’m proud to command the bass, vibrations and people.”

Their most lauded track is 2008’s Skeng, which emerged from only their third recording session together. “I was just about to leave the studio when Kevin convinced me to stay and work on the track,” Veira says. “I didn’t really want to be there, so I was being a spoiled brat and only using a minimal style, trying to get away with one word a line.” Ironically, that laid-back feel is what gives Skeng its raw, menacing power. “Kevin basically gave me an opportunity to be myself,” he says. “His audience might be from a different world to what I was used to, but we were all trying to channel the same energy.”

Ultimately, it’s this flair for crowd mayhem that has given Veira longevity in a young person’s game. He no longer sees himself as a grime artist, a rapper or a drum’n’bass MC. “I am the ultimate UK vocalist,” he says, with only a hint of mischievousness. Now the US is calling, with tour plans in motion, Veira will be taking his distinctly British brand of vocals global. “The UK scene has always been exciting, whether we’re winning awards or not,” he says. “I’ll keep doing what I’ve always done – and I’m celebrating every time I’m on stage.”

You can still grab a ticket for the event here but don’t sleep, as these will definitely sell out.

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FRESHERS’ WEEK AT BONGO

05 September 2023 -

Bongo will be open every night (bar Sunday) for this year’s Freshers’ Week, featuring no shortage of special guests, big events throughout and the action effectively kicking off a few days early….

THURSDAY 7TH SEPT: CANDYFLIP – ‘RAVETOPIA’

If you’ve arrived extra early, come check out Candy Flip from regular Bongo promoters Alien Disko.  This night flips the script/s of their regular playlist/s, championing some of the less well-known corners, the more niche genres, of the dance music scene, on this occasion shining a light on Donk, Makina, Bassline, Jersey Club, alongside a helping of less niche Drum and Bass.  The  line features “underground legends and rising stars who are masters of their craft”: Seaurchin, Amhailt.xox, Rodent b2b F:N and trap6mafia.   RA TICKETS

FRIDAY 8TH SEPT: OVERGROUND – ‘BACK 2 BONGO’

Bongo regulars for some years now, the Overground crew know how to throw a party, consistently hosting packed out events at the club  (and you can get a taste of previous nights via their photo album).   Following a slew of dates at Mash House and Sneaky Pete’s throughout August (when Bongo is always closed, due to the Underbelly), hence ‘Back 2 Bongo’, they advise as follows: “Expect hardcore, techno, garage, jungle and razor sharp cuts from the outer limits of club innovations. Limited FREE B4 MIDNIGHT advance tickets are available for the early birds. These are very limited and will sell out.”  Don’t sleep: RA TICKETS.

SATURDAY 9TH SEPT: TAIS-TOI x RARE: SHAMPAIN B2B IMOGEN

Relative newcomers to Bongo, Tais-Toi promoted DJ Hearstring here in January and then MRD for our Summer Closing event in July, with both events selling out.  As a special Freshers treat, Rare and Tais-Toi have teamed up to bring two very special acts their debut back-to-back.   LINE UP: Shampain b2b IMOGEN, Tais-Toi, Oakley CarterRA TICKETS.

MONDAY 11TH: ORIGIN FRESHERS SPECIAL

Last seen at Bongo in November ’22, student promoters Origin host parties around town championing some of the best DJs from the local student communities.  “ORIGIN is back for Freshers Week!” they say.  “Exhibiting Edinburgh’s finest student DJs across both floors of the Bongo Club, ORIGIN will be kicking the year off with a bang.”  LINE UP: Ferb, DJ Discgrace, Archie Holmes, Gabriel Hopton, George Kemp, Felix B2B Sam B2B Felix, Freddie Dumbill.  RA TICKETS

TUESDAY 12TH: MIDNIGHT BASS

Hosting weekly parties at Bongo since late ’17 (with these consistently hitting the club’s capacity since the end of the Pandemic), Midnight Bass is the home of all things drum n bass (some would say the spiritual home of the nu skool and cream of the burgeoning Scottish scene).  If you’re looking to get your midweek groove on or just soak up the buzz, look no further.

WEDNESDAY 13TH: PARADOX RECORDS W/FUNK CARTEL & BASTIANO

Fledgling promoters & local label Paradox make their Bongo debut with UK fraternal house DJ & production Funk Cartel, who recently capped a run of dates at London’s 93 Feet East venue by releasing a collaboration with legendary house music diva Ulta Nate (house music royalty, basically!)  Ooft.  LINE UP: Funk Cartel, Bastiano. RA TICKETS

THURSDAY 14TH: DISORDER FRESHERS’ SPECIAL W/ENTA

Disorder DJ/promoter Harry Jackson is a very well-known face at Bongo, as a result of popping up behind the decks at Midnight Bass (among other local dnb nights) on a regular basis.  He launched Disorder here earlier this year, to champion some of his favourite artists from the scene.  “Disorder is back again for its third instalment at Bongo for a freshers week special!” he says.  “This time inviting London based drum & bass DJ & Producer Enta, up for his Scottish debut. With a strong line up filled with heavy hitters this is sure to go off!” LINE UP: Room 1 (Drum & Bass): Enta, Myco B2B Kosmotix (Bass Injection), Peski, Harry Jackson, Verbivore MC. Room 2 (Techno / Hard Dance):
DV60 B2B Ryan Murphy. MORE INFO & TICKETS

FRIDAY 15TH: ALIEN DISKO: GLITCHGIRL, POLLYANNA + CLUB ANYWHEN: IN THE WILD

Alien Disko have hit Bongo and the Cowgate scene hard in the last year, with a run of dates flying the flag for hard and fast dance music of all persuasions.  Their 1st Birthday with French techno-trance star Axyom was a big one here back in March and this date promises to pull just as few punches as they welcome Spanish player Glitchgirl “to unleash her unique blend of genre-bending chaos upon us!”  they say.  “She has released several albums spanning a wide variety of sounds with elements of Breakcore, Drum and Bass, Hardcore, IDM, and Donk. Her DJ sets are an explosive concotion of 174+ BPM madness, focussed in Drum and Bass but always refusing to conform to traditional genre lines. Having played all across Europe and at events like Bang Face and Tramlines Festival, she now sets her sights on Edinburgh to bring the mayhem to Alien Disko!”  LINE UP – MAIN ROOM: GLITCHGIRL, Pollyanna (Sunday Service), Teknocrat (Alien Disko), Rodent b2b F:N (Alien Disko/Candy Flip).  UPSTAIRS: Morphamish (ETC/Riot Radio Records), Laldy, Live visuals from Pencase and Bloof.  MORE INFO/TIX // CHEAP TIX VIA RA

SATURDAY 16TH: CLUB NACHT x HOBBES MUSIC W/AUSTIN ATO

Club Nacht host a monthly party at the Mash House, celebrating all things house, techno, acid, electro etc.  Hobbes Music is an Edinburgh label, currently celebrating ten years of electronic music releases for all occasions (including, naturally, all things house, techno, acid, electro etc), with many on vinyl.  Following their big party with German duo COEO back in February, they team up again to present the unstoppable force that is Austin Ato, capping this season’s Fresher’s Week celebrations at Bongo.  ROOM 1: AUSTIN ATO, HOBBES. ROOM 2: NAMELESS BROS, PARADOX RECORDS. MORE INFO/TIX // BAG CHEAP TIX VIA RA.

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UKF FEATURE ON MIDNIGHT BASS, BONGO & THE SCOTTISH DNB SCENE: ‘RAVE SCENES – EDINBURGH’

26 January 2023 -

This feature was first published by the UKF website.  Words by Becca Inglis.   

“Edinburgh’s a really good hub for connecting the whole of Scotland together,” says Anikonik, local DJ, Nook promoter and former EQ50 mentee. “You could probably fit the whole of the drum & bass scene in Scotland into Bristol.” To put the size of the Scottish scene into perspective, there are fewer people in the whole of Scotland than there are in London – London has a population of nearly nine million, while Scotland only has five million.

That means that, even with more than a hundred miles between Aberdeen and Edinburgh, Scottish heads tend to travel between cities to attend club nights. You’ll see the same faces at Midnight Bass in Edinburgh, Symbiosis in Glasgow, or the Junglism Castle Party in Dundee. There’s even the Jungle Bus, which couriers Aberdonians down to big d&b nights in the central belt.

But in spite of its committed fanbase, drum n’ bass remains an underdog genre in Scotland.  “Everywhere else in Scotland is a lot more of a techno culture, really,” says producer Refracta, who plays as a resident with Electrikal and Midnight Bass. Names like Slam, JD Twitch, Optimo, Sub Club and Pure have all helped to put Scotland’s name on the global electronic music map, with Glasgow’s nightlife especially celebrated worldwide for its bustling house and techno scene. It’s one of Scotland’s oddities that, though Glasgow’s is considered the country’s music capital, it’s in Edinburgh that breakbeat has built its strongest enclave.

“Edinburgh’s definitely the drum & bass capital of Scotland,” says Anikonik, who moved down from Dundee with the night she co-promotes, Junglism Scotland, in 2016. She’s far from the only Scottish d&b fan to have gravitated to Edinburgh. Refracta used to mission over to Bongo from North Berwick, a seaside town an hour up the road. Richard Ince and DJ Era ventured up from the Scottish Borders in 2007, before they built their now notorious rig, Electrikal Sound System.

Photo Credit: Ben Glasgow (Lights Out Collective)

Scene veteran DJ Kid thinks that the reason why drum & bass has taken off so much more in Edinburgh than elsewhere in Scotland mostly lies with its university students. “Because you’ve got that new influx every year, it’s like this revolving door of students. It means you’ll always have that support,” he says. “If it wasn’t for the amount of English students that were in Edinburgh, there wouldn’t have been a scene over the years.” Nearly a quarter of students admitted to the University of Edinburgh in 2021 were English, and they bring their music tastes with them each year when they come up to study. That’s as true today as it was in the 90s, when DJ Kid was a resident at the one-time Edinburgh institution, Manga.

Scotland didn’t take easily to breakbeat at first, DJ Kid remembers. Unlike the nights that were booking him down south, where he played teeming jungle and hardcore raves, he and Manga founder G-Mac struggled to fill the floor at La Belle Angele. More than once, DJ Kid played to a room of 30 people in a 500 capacity venue. “You just couldn’t get breakbeat and jungle accepted in Scotland,” he says. “The majority of music that was always heard up here was a 4/4 beat.”

But there came a turning point in 1997, when Manga booked Ed Rush to play their first birthday. “We had never had a sellout, and it completely sold out in advance,” says DJ Kid. “The line from La Belle was down the vennel and away up the road on the Cowgate. I remember thinking, ‘This is mad, this is it. This is when it’s finally gonna happen.’ From then on, Manga became a bit of a monster.” Manga was the go-to drum & bass night for the next decade, selling out monthly and bringing up jungle and d&b stalwarts, like Roni Size, Fabio & Grooverider and DJ Marky, until its last party in 2008. “People would come to Manga even if I had my gran on the decks,” says DJ Kid. “It was a big wave that we were on.”

Edinburgh’s drum & bass scene has always tended to have one or two big brands leading the charge. After Manga came Xplicit (which was started by the same team as Edinburgh’s electronic music festival, Terminal V), and then Electrikal Sound System, which remains Scotland’s most recognisable d&b sound system today. It was Mungo’s Hi Fi who first taught founder Richard how to build and switch on the notoriously full-throated blue-horned stacks, after they gatecrashed an early Electrikal free party in Moffat.

“We had these little speakers,” Richard says. “Mungo’s turned up on the Saturday with a sound system. They have full Mungo’s overalls on. Jerome in his French accent was like, ‘Do you need some extra speakers?’ And they just opened the side of the van to half of Mungo’s Hi Fi. They set it up in this barn and absolutely kicked the arse out of it. We actually had to turn the generator off because they wouldn’t stop playing.”

Today, Electrikal can be found powering sets all over the UK, with regular sellout slots in Bristol, bookings at festivals like Boomtown, Outlook and NASS, and now a national tour. “At Boomtown, we had 10,000 people turn up to the Electrikal/Born On The Road street party,” says Richard. “I’d say we’re up there as one of the premium drum & bass sound systems, hopefully following in the footsteps of people like Valve Sound System. Obviously, Mungo’s Hi Fi were doing that for the reggae scene as well. We’re flying the flag high for Scotland with Bucky, Irn Bru and haggis-infused dubplates.”

Back in Edinburgh, they’re known for their heavyweight Wall of Bass nights, as well as for packing out Bongo with high profile acts, like Serum, Andy C and Dillinja, or artists on the cusp of breaking out, as with Hedex and Born On The Road. For more than ten years, Electrikal have been an essential conduit between Scotland and drum & bass around the UK.

That’s especially important for a scene based hundreds of miles away from the d&b heartlands in London and Bristol, where booking big names comes at a high price. Travel is automatically more expensive, and DJs need putting up in accommodation too. As costs rack up, they can get too prohibitive for smaller promoters.

“If you’ve got an act coming up from Bristol, you’re talking £200-300 return train tickets for one person,” says Anikonik. “That’s a joke. And then hotels in Edinburgh are extortionate. Unless you’ve got a really big following, you can’t afford to do that kind of stuff, which is unfortunate.”

“To be a promoter in Scotland right now, you need some serious cash behind you,” Richard adds. “Even the small to mid-sized acts have doubled or tripled their fees over lockdown, because they’re trying to make up for it, and it’s been making events harder and harder to put on.”

But, in a roundabout way, these setbacks may actually have benefited the local-led culture in Edinburgh, which can be found out in full force every Tuesday night at Midnight Bass. “Midnight Bass is the backbone, as far as I’m concerned, of the scene here,” says DJ Kid. “To have a weekly night that plays drum n’ bass in Edinburgh, it’s phenomenal.”

“There’s literally DJs I’ve never even heard of in Edinburgh that sell out the Tuesday night,” says Refracta. “Tuesday at Bongo is probably one of the busiest nights of the week, if not the busiest.”

Midnight Bass exists specifically to platform homegrown Scottish talent. Every Tuesday, the roster is made up of mostly locals, both the more established selectors and emerging DJs. Competition to play is high – browsing their past line-ups reveals the staggering number of people keen to assume position behind the decks, even in a small scene.

“There were loads of drum n’ bass crews that were doing small parties across Edinburgh. What we started doing was bringing all these parties together,” says Jamie. “A lot of these events, DJs and crews all have their own wee crowds. By bringing more people together, we can create a bit more of a cohesive community for drum & bass in Edinburgh.”

When the pandemic forced Midnight Bass to pause in 2020, they turned their attention to Scotland’s producers, releasing the Scotland VA on Bandcamp. Refracta features on the compilation, as do Torso and Mastaki, whose collab with Idylist, “Fatboi”, was named track of the week by BBC Introducing in Scotland. “It just so happened at that point in time that there were quite a few producers across Scotland all doing the same thing,” says Jamie. “We decided that we’d pull it all together for this release.”

A big part of their motivation was to showcase Scotland’s drum & bass artists to the rest of the UK, even the world. “Scotland has its own drum & bass scene. It’s insular compared to other cities and places around the UK,” Jamie says. “There’s quite a few DJs that haven’t really been picked up by promoters down south.”

Refracta agrees that being a producer in Scotland, so far away from the larger nights and labels down south, brings its challenges. “It is really difficult, I won’t lie,” he says. “It was really hard to network up here. I imagine the majority of label people and promoters have thousands of little people like me in their Instagram messages every day. Whereas if you’re in person, people will give you a lot more time of day.”

Nonetheless, Scotland’s producers have enjoyed quite a bit of attention down south of late. Refracta’s Elevate EP was picked up by DJ Hybrid’s Audio Addict label in 2021, while his funky collab with Torso, “Hollow”, went viral on Soundcloud. Blu Mar Ten put out WhyTwo’s record, Ghost, last year and imo-Lu has joined the Hospital family with the wistful liquid number “Hard Feelings”. Both imo-Lu and Anikonik are repping Scotland on the EQ50 mentoring scheme. Scotland hasn’t always been known for its prolific d&b producers, but that could be about to change.

It’s an exciting time for the DJs and promoters too. Since the pandemic, seemingly dozens of new names and nights have popped up in the city, signalling a new generation keen to make their mark. “Pre-COVID I knew all the DJs in the city off by heart,” says Prolifix, who runs Metropolis in The Mash House. “If you were new, you were on my radar like that. The other week I was headlining a night at Midnight Bass at Bongo, and I had a look at the lineup and I thought, ‘Who are you all?’”

The trick to sustaining a scene as small and as busy as Edinburgh’s is collaboration, says Prolifix. When you share the same audience not just with other club nights in your city, but the rest of the country, it’s in no one’s interests to clash. “You wouldn’t throw a drum & bass night on a Tuesday, when Midnight Bass is on. You just wouldn’t fucking do it,” he says. There’s a noticeable camaraderie between the promoters in Edinburgh. Nobody wants their own night to fall flat because another night was on, and everybody wants the scene to succeed. “At the end of the day, everyone’s out there for each other. We’ve all got each other’s backs,” says Prolifix. “It’s a small movement in terms of drum & bass scenes throughout the world, but we’re really close knit.”

One new night that has emerged since the pandemic is Sunday Service, which is spearheading the daytime party format in Edinburgh. Every first Sunday of the month, founder Pollyanna hosts an open decks session at The Dog House, where liquid tracks to accompany a chilled pint are the order of the day. Pollyanna set it up after she returned from Bristol, where she had been living for six years.

“I used to go to open decks at a place called To The Moon, which is a bar in Bristol, and I really liked the vibe,” she says. “You can bridge the gap between DJing at home and DJing in a club with DJing in a bar.” Sunday Service is the place for budding DJs to cut their teeth before they try their hand at Midnight Bass, or for more seasoned artists to get in some practice. Every month, it attracts a diverse crowd, with many of the older heads tempted out by the earlier closing time.

“I’ve been so happy to see it grow into exactly what I hoped it would – very supportive and inclusive,” says Pollyanna. “It’s to create a community vibe as well. It’s more like a DJ and producer meet up. Everyone that comes is a big lover of the scene and that type of music. It’s actually a chance for people to get to chat.”

People like Brynk and Ominous, two DJs who met at Sunday Service and are now launching their own club night, Niteshift. Brynk came to Edinburgh as a student, after fervently following the UK’s drum & bass from his home in Poland. Ominous started raving in the old Bongo – a dive venue that sat on Holyrood Road through the 00s, and is remembered fondly by many.

“In Scotland, there is much less opportunity to play, because of the timings. The finishing at 3AM, four slots,” says Brynk. “However, I believe that it’s really growing. It’s a good curve. I think you can tell by the nights that are opening. There are several new nights that happened just after the lockdown.”

“Small and strong” is the phrase that Pollyanna uses to describe the state of Edinburgh’s drum & bass scene today. Even with the challenges that it faces, it still stubbornly holds on in the Scottish capital, and has done for more than three decades now. And there are advantages to being on the petit side.

“If you were to start producing or DJing in somewhere like Bristol or London, there’s so many other people doing the same thing,” she says. “It’s hard to stand out. It’s hard to find that community vibe. But in Edinburgh, because there is a select amount of clubs that put on good electronic music, you get to know everyone. Everyone’s so passionate and everyone is really supportive.”

“I’ve seen it high and I’ve seen some lows, but it seems to be getting stronger again,” says Ominous. “It’s healthy. There’s several people trying to put on nights and it’s always good vibes. It’s a community.”

“Right now, it’s in the very early stages of becoming a culture,” says Refracta. “Whether or not it lasts is another thing, but I sure as shit hope it does.”

 

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ELECTRIKAL FINALLY WELCOMES ANDY C BACK TO THE BONGO, SUNDAY 25TH SEPT

20 September 2022 -

Originally scheduled to happen in February, when gale force winds grounded flights out of London, this date forms the final part of drum n bass legend Andy C’s X03.0 Tour, his first UK tour in 5 years.

The tour was designed to take his classic drum n bass sounds back to the intimacy of UK night clubs and smaller live music venues, after Andy C recently played a headlining show at Wembley Arena.

The DJ and producer behind the legendary Ram Records label, Andy C (better known to his mum as Andrew John Clarke) forged Origin Unknown’s stone cold classic tune, Valley Of The Shadows (originally released as a B-side, no less), when drum n bass was still in its infancy (1993).

Consequently rising through the ranks to establish a solid DJing rep at raves and clubs nationwide, by the tail end of that decade he was consistently being voted best DJ by drum n bass fans.  And he’s never looked back….

This is an absolutely essential date for dnb fansDon’t sleep.

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Jungle Magik returns, hosting dnb legend Aphrodite this Sunday 18th Sept

13 September 2022 -

Last seen in the capital almost two decades ago, original Scottish junglists Jungle Magik have returned and are hosting legendary jungle and dnb DJ/producer Aphrodite.

Aphrodite released a slew of classic party tunes, which became widely known as ‘jump up’ drum n bass, in the late Nineties and has never looked back.

Last time he played the Bongo (2017), it caused a proper road-block and was sold out.  Not to be missed.

Grab a ticket here.

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Bongo re-opening party, Friday 2nd Sept!

31 August 2022 -

Bongo’s re-opening party features Midnight Bass x Electrikal Sound System on Friday 2nd Sept!  Midnight Bass has been Bongo’s busiest night bar none for the past year, filling the club with drum n bass sounds every Tuesday night, while Electrikal has spent the summer touring their rather large sound system, dedicated to all things bass, around the UK festivals.  Details of full line-up to follow.

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Steve Stamp Q&A

26 February 2020 -

We’re buzzing to be welcoming Steve Stamp aka DJ Steves (Kurupt FM) from genius BBC comedy People Just Do Nothing to the building on Thursday 5th March, not least as he’s co-headlining with jungle legend Randall!

TICKETS (SKIDDLE)

TICKETS (RA)

Promoters 23 Degrees caught up with him for a quick chat before the gig.

How old were you when you first started learning to mix? Which DJ’s inspired you to start?

Around 15 I think. I had some basic belt drives and me and Beats would go back to back after school. We were inspired by the West London pirate radio DJs. A lot of the time I didn’t really know who they were but I remember people like Oxide were playing the darker stuff that I was most into. I also had one tape with Deekline where he was scratching over garage, that was the maddest thing I’d ever heard. Blew my tiny mind.

Your sets are on ode to the Garage sound, what are your top 3 Garage slammers?

It’s hard to pick but there’s a few that have stood the test of time. Stuff like Roy Davis Jr ft Peven Everett – Gabriel, Active Minds – Hobsons Choice, Groove Chronicles – ‘Hold On’. They always existed on the classier end of the garage spectrum, very sexy production. They’re not tracks you’ll normally hear in a rave though, what I hope I can do with my sets is introduce some of the less obvious party tunes and show people some classics that they might not have heard before.

With Garage fully back on the map right now, which of the new school producers are you feeling?

Ah there’s loads of people making good beats. Conductah, Murlo… In terms of new stuff I’m more into grime: Sir Spyro, Swifta, Rudekid, Spooky. What I love about the scene is that a lot of these guys are selectors and their music emerges out of the radio and rave culture. It’s all connected and that’s what keeps it so authentic.

You’ve played in Edinburgh before with the rest of Kurupt FM, how was it? Are you excited to return?

Scotland is always messy. Weird shit seems to happen every time I’m there. DJs ending up in ambulances, McDonalds lock-ins. I blame the Buckfast. Need to add that to my rider actually…

We had Danny Rankin aka Decoy perform back in 2019, he had some serious Jungle music up his sleeve, do you ever sneak in some Jungle/DnB into your sets?

I’ll leave that to the pros. We’ve got Randall on the lineup with me and he’s told me that I’m not allowed to go beyond 140bpm. I mean he hasn’t actually said that, but he’s a legend and I know my place.

Any dubplates/suprises up your sleeve?

At some point during the set I sometimes like to surprise the audience by going briefly into character as Steves and doing a bad mix. So if you hear that then that’s why. And you’re welcome.

Finally, taps on or taps aff?

Taps aff. Trousers down. Red Stripe in each hand. Eyes closed.

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Drum n bass rising stars Charli Brix & Bassi make Scottish debut for Midnight Bass, Tuesday 11th Feb

05 February 2020 -

Flexout Audio boss Tom Bassi (DJ/producer/A&R/label mgr) and Charli Brix (DJ/producer/vox) make a formidable duo, with a smooth, polished sound that combines deep, dark moods and techy production.  It’s a style of drum ‘n’ bass with a broad appeal just now and has unsurprisingly been peppering the sets of countless DJs in the scene.

So, we’re well pleased to be welcoming them to Scotland, as they make their combined Scottish debut for Midnight Bass, and excited to hear what they’ve gone in store for the Bongo on Tuesday 11th Feb.  The Midnight Bass crew had a wee chat with them, to see what’s what in their world…

TICKETS

How does it feel to be debuting in Scotland? Have you been before? 

Bassi: Amazing. We’ve both never been to Scotland and are so happy to be asked to perform at The Bongo Club. I’ve always loved all the Scottish people I’ve ever met so I’m sure it’s going to be wicked vibes.

Charli: I’m so excited, I’ve never been to Scotland! I have a friend studying in Edinburgh who I haven’t seen in ages so she’s gonna roll through so that’ll be lush.  I’ve had a few punters hit me up on insta telling me they’re excited to see us perform which is always lovely. I can’t wait!

What/who would you say is a key influence in getting you started with your musical journey?

Bassi: For me, it was going to Fabric nightclub for the first time when I turned 18, I knew from then on all I wanted to do was be a DJ

Charli: Watching Sister Act when I was 11 and developing a passion for singing and then again on stage at Fabric in 2015 during the ‘Rituals’ Album launch – I realised then I was never going back to a 9-5!

Best party you experienced / performed at in 2019?

Bassi: That’s a tough one for me but I’d have to say our Boat party at Outlook festival as it was so intimate and the energy was just unreal.

Charli: I agree with Tom, either the Flexout Outlook Boat Party or my Kintsugi EP Launch – both were utterly outrageous.

At the turn of a decade, what can we expect from you in the (20)20s?

Bassi: A lot of my focus is on Charli’s album at the moment but as well as that we have exciting projects from the Flexout gang including an LP from Arkaik which is going to be very special.

Charli: So I’m pretty much on lock for the album this year. I have a few releases coming with some regular collaborators, and my Kintsugi EP has been flipped so that’s coming out over the next six months or so. It’s all incredibly positive and moving fluidly which i’m happy with, I feel like 2020 is going to be supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

We’re excited to see you DJ and of course showcase your vocals with a live PA set. We’ve read that you’ve been DJing just a few years. Do you enjoy DJing as much as performing vocals?

Thank you! I’m hyped to perform. So I’ve only been DJing 18 months, which is mad when you think about it! DJing & performing give me a very different high. When I write or sing it’s for me, and it’s a bonus if the crowd is vibing and can relate, but when I DJ it’s for the crowd, and my happiness or love of a mix is secondary – does that make sense?

Charli, we’ve read that you work for Glastonbury, write for In-reach magazine, play with the female super-group KCDC, all the while laying down vocals for so many tracks AND maintaining a busy gig schedule. How do you fit it all in and manage the creative flow? Any tips for anyone working on multiple projects at once?

In all honesty, I took on too much last year. I had to step back from a few projects and commitments, but all for positive reasons. I essentially didn’t give myself enough credit or realise how much would change in 2018/19 and just assumed I’d have to do the ‘broke musician holding down 5 part time jobs’ life forever to facilitate my music.

I spent a lot of years laying good foundations, professionally and personally, and that has allowed me to work as a freelancer, and be more particular with how I spend my time and who I work for – not only in music but my other creative endeavours.

If you’re flat out all the time, just have common sense. Eat, sleep, drink water, make sure you’re looking after your mental health. Get rid of toxic people who hide under the guise of ‘supportive’ during the highs and add to the lows, and most importantly – learn to say no.

What has been your favourite project to date, with who and why?

Charli: It’s gotta be my ‘Kintgsugi’ EP 🙂 It’s such a trip being able to google it (haha) because it still doesn’t seem real. I’ve been doing collabs for so long and despite adoring all the producers i’ve worked with, it’s just different when you’re the one in control and it’s your ideas  and your vision. I couldn’t have done it without Tom and Flexout, and I honestly still don’t think he knows how happy it makes me.

Bassi, along with a solid back catalogue of releases under Flexout, we’ve seen you’ve started producing too (we’re a big fan of Reflections). Is there anything in the pipeline that we might catch a sample of at the upcoming show?

In terms of my own production, it has taken a back seat for the time being but I am actively involved in the writing process with Charli and her new album so you’ll hear some new material from that on Tuesday for sure.

Flexout Audio was founded in 2011 and has since become a highly consistent and widely respected record label. Is there a highlight moment or milestone for you in the rise of Flexout Audio?

Yes and most have happened within the last 12 months to be honest. Having Flexout at Star Warz in Belgium was huge, incredible venue and an amazing drum and bass event that has been going for 20 years. Our boat party at Outlook festival was amazing, I’d always wanted to do that and so glad that it happened before they moved away from Pula. Other than that hosting Room 3 and then more recently Room 2 at Fabric was incredibly special for me as that is the club I went to the most when I first started going clubbing.

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Jungle & drum n bass champions Serial Killaz headline Electrikal, Friday 24th Jan

24 January 2020 -

We’re excited to be welcoming jungle & drum n bass champs Serial Killaz to the Bongo this weekend.  Here’s a wee interview courtesy of the We Love Jungle website where they talk about their love for the sound.

What does Jungle mean to you?

A 20+ year-old sound that encompasses many styles of music due to the history of sampling and borrowing from other genres of music and working it into a different, faster tempo. It is the origin of what is now known as Drum & Bass. It is a vibe. It was always about the samples and vibes already captured in the music. Now all these years on, artists are writing original works with Jungle and the goal is always to capture a vibe that has soul to it, just like all the samples have.

Has your approach to DJing changed since you first started out?

Yes, when I first was DJing many moons ago now, I used to prepare all my sets and want everything to go perfectly. With more experience of different clubs and set-ups, I realized it was far better to freestyle and go with the flow of the club system and crowd. Some systems don’t produce enough bass, so certain tunes just don’t sound the same and my sets are adjusted to the sound system. I also like to be able to play the odd request, especially if it’s one of our own productions being requested, as I feel that gives a great connection to the fans. Ten or so years ago, I was playing out under my solo name, Vital Elements, a lot. When the Serial Killaz bookings came in, I would change the style I usually played, and I really saw a change in the vibe of the dance floor when incorporating more Jungle style and vocal lead tracks. This was a big influence in the sound I wanted to push more, as that certain vibe captured by Jungle really does make the dance floor a nicer place.

Where in the world do you think the best Jungle crowd is?

I’ve played to so many great crowds over the world, it would be unfair and too difficult to choose.

What’s your top Jungle tune to play out at the moment?

Our remix of ‘Professional Ganja Smoker’ has been getting a great reaction for some time, as is our yet-to-be finished collab with Jaguar Skillz (that) we’ve been testing, but I still think the most powerful track has to be Congo Natty’s “Code Red.” in any of its various forms. We’ve been lucky enough to remix it and have recently updated it too, they always go off, as does the original 20 years on.

What up-and-coming DJs and producers are impressing you?

Upgrade and his brother Limited have been very impressive. And of course our young mentees RunTingz, who have come on leaps and bounds since we took them on and got them in the studio for some vital training.

Describe your creative process in the studio?

It depends on what we are working on but it can usually be boiled down to catching that elusive vibe I keep mentioning: you gotta find the hook, be it a vocal, melody, rhythm, or groove.

How would you describe your sound at the moment?

Modern day Jungle

What’s your musical guilty pleasure?

Classical and differently tuned world music.

If DJing wasn’t your job, what would it be?

A chef, like I used to be.

Any new projects coming up?

Stacks, collaborations, remixes, original works…too many to mention. Just keep an eye out for any release with the name Serial Killaz in it – there will be plenty.

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Legendary Metalheadz co-founder DJ Storm headlines NYE at the Bongo for SSL XL

31 December 2019 -
We’re excited to be welcoming one of the founders of the legendary Metalheadz drum n bass label, DJ Storm, as she headlines SSL XL’s NYE event.  This recent feature by Becca Inglis for Dazed Digital back in January gives you the full back-story….
The story of Kemistry and Storm, the unsung pioneers of drum & bass.  20 years ago, the Metalheadz duo released their seminal DJ-Kicks mix – here, Goldie, B.Traits, Mumdance and more reflect on their legacy.

In our Under the Influence series, we trace the ideas of underground artists, designers, labels, and collectives, and the impact that they’ve had on pop culture as we know it, examining how the revolutionary aesthetics and attitudes of outsiders make their way into the mainstream – and importantly, how much that should be valued and not forgotten.

Kemistry and Storm hold an almost mythical status in the drum & bass scene. Their mid-90s sets captured their flair behind the decks, defined by an unparalleled track selection, long, carefully crafted mixes, and a potent chemistry between the two DJs that spurred the crowd on. “I knew they were bound for stardom,” says Goldie, who established the Metalheadz label with help from the two DJs and gifted them with their first set of turntables. “They would mix it, man. They were holding shit, arranging the drops, they would drop again into another double drop. They were underrated, and they were just so much darker.”

Kemistry (Valerie Olukemi A. Olusanya, or “Kemi”) and Storm (Jayne Conneely) both grew up in Kettering, a small town in the UK’s East Midlands, and would together help shape Metalheadz into one of drum & bass’s most notorious record labels. They inspired a new generation of DJs with their 1999 contribution to the DJ-Kicks series, a 17-track, one-hour mix that’s at times dark and dystopian, at others smooth and melodic. But their trajectory was tragically cut short when, just three months after DJ-Kicks came out, a freak car accident took Kemi’s life. “Kemi had always tried to find something where she could be who she was, and look like she was, and achieve something – and that was in DJing drum & bass,” says Conneely. “She’d found it and she was so content. She always said, ‘I just want to make a difference.’ And you know, that’s what we have on her plaque. ‘DJ Kemistry, she wanted to make a difference.’ And she did.”

Olusanya first introduced Conneely to rave culture in 1988, after Conneely, fresh from studying in Oxford, had qualified as a radiographer and moved to London to look for work. In need of a place to stay, Conneely took up Olusanya’s offer to split the rent on her bedroom in a Finsbury Park townhouse, where her friend proceeded to bombard her with the sounds of pirate radio stations. Conneely had so far missed the underground dance scene, but through Olusanya’s recommendations she discovered a love for the art of mixing. Together, they began practising on Olusanya’s Amstrad system, holding their thumbs over the belt drive to get their records in time. “We started getting really obsessed with raving and buying vinyl,” Conneely says. “We were kind of asking ourselves the question, how can we be with this music 24/7?”

Then Olusanya started dating Goldie, after he spotted her working in Red Or Dead on his cycle route to Camden. At the time, he was known as a graffiti artist, and had just returned home from painting and exhibiting in the US. While ravers were holding their second Summer of Love in the UK, he had been busy immersing himself in America’s burgeoning hip hop scene. Olusanya and Conneely took him to Fabio & Grooverider’s party Rage, credited as the incubator for early jungle music, at London nightclub Heaven, where he got his first taste for hardcore. “The tunes that these two were playing were the catalyst for Kemi and Storm,” Goldie says. “Kemi was the Fabio, Storm was more the Grooverider. I realised how passionate they were about these guys. I kind of related to that because of my passion for hip hop DJs.”

Goldie was quickly assimilated into this harder and faster genre of music, joining his friends every Thursday at Rage then piling back to their flat for afters. Olusanya and Conneely dragged their Binatone and Amstrad Midi-systems into one room, where they practiced mixing their huge bank of records. “That was my introduction,” says Goldie. “They introduced me to absolutely everybody that was making music in the way that I wanted to.” It was here, in the small hours, that he shared his dream for the trio: he would make the music, Kemistry and Storm would DJ, and they would all be united under one iconic drum & bass label. He paid for their first proper set of decks in 1991 off the back of his first EP, The Ajax Project, and set up Metalheadz in 1994. A year later, the Blue Note in Hoxton offered Metalheadz what would become the label’s legendary Sunday night residency, where they pushed a tougher sound to an increasingly international crowd. Goldie became busier when London Records signed him to produce his seminal album Timeless, and in 1995, he asked Kemistry and Storm to help manage the label.

“I think they were a big part of me getting on Metalheadz,” says Steve Carr, better known as Digital, who made his debut for the label in 1996 and has maintained a tight relationship with them since. “I wasn’t the obvious thing, and neither were they. I’d make one or two of the regular amen tracks, but then I’d make some quirky stuff. And they were into it, they championed me.” Kemistry and Storm helped foster a community of drum & bass devotees who were pushing the genre in new directions. They handled the promotion and A&R for classic tracks like Dillinja’s “The Angels Fell” and J Majik’s “Your Sound”, and hosted meetings where they offered advice to the label’s young producers, helping to steer the musical direction of a song or deciphering which DJs should be given the next release. “They always looked out for artists,” says Digital. “Not just in a music sense, but the people. That’s what made Metalheadz. They got that family vibe. They literally pulled people together.”

DJ Flight is best known in the drum & bass scene for her show The Next Chapter on BBC Radio 1xtra, but she hadn’t even considered DJing when she first encountered Kemistry and Storm. She was transfixed when she caught them at the SW1 Club in Victoria when she was just 17. “I was just staring at them, watching what they were doing,” Flight says. “One of the guys that I was out with came over and said, ‘That will be you in five years time.’” After that, Flight turned up to every gig she could, and with her heroes’ encouragement, created her first two mixtapes. Her big break came one night at Swerve, Fabio’s drum & bass night at The Velvet Rooms, when Kemistry and Storm asked her to make a tape they could give to Goldie. “They said, ‘We want to bring in a new girl into the camp and we think you’re ready,’” she says. But Kemi died shortly afterwards, and Flight only heard Goldie’s feedback months later when she bumped into him at a Metalheadz night in Camden. “He said, ‘Kemi and Jayne think you’re good. That means you’re good. Let’s give you a go,’” she says. By coincidence, Flight’s first set with Metalheadz was also one of Storm’s first gigs since the accident. At the end of the night, she gifted Flight with Kemistry’s decks.

“For women especially, to see somebody like you up there, it’s definitely inspirational,” says Alicia Bauer, aka Alley Cat, who started DJing in San Francisco and now manages her own label named Kokeshi. She met Olusanya and Conneely when she came to support one of their gigs in Germany, and later moved to London where she and Flight both became residents at Feline, a night promoting women in drum & bass that Conneely ran at Herbal in 2007. Alongside artists like Miss Pink, Mantra, and MC Chickaboo, they targeted the gender balance in lineups by filling both the upstairs and downstairs with women DJs and helped to create a space that prioritised women ravers in a male-dominated scene. “The great thing about it is that a lot of girls came out to our night, so it got skewed more toward the female audience,” says Alley Cat.

“Kemi had always tried to find something where she could be who she was, and look like she was, and achieve something – and that was in DJing drum & bass. She’d found it and she was so content” – DJ Storm

Kemistry and Storm’s contribution to drum & bass is crystallised in their DJ-Kicks compilation, which sits in a club culture hall of fame alongside entries into the series by Carl Craig, Four Tet, and Nina Kraviz. The series curators, the record label !K7, hunted for the duo for two years before they finally tracked them down in 1998, when a mutual acquaintance introduced them while walking the streets of Miami. “I thought they were very brave to back Kemi and myself,” says Conneely. “We were women in a male-dominated scene, even though we were doing well in our careers. It was nice to see that they had no bias and they just thought we were the best at what we do.”

Kemistry and Storm made a bold but fitting move for DJ-Kicks. Not only were they the first female duo to feature, theirs was also the first pure drum & bass and jungle entry on a predominantly house, techno, and downtempo-oriented series. “It was a Metalheadz vibe,” says Conneely. The pair seized the opportunity to showcase their favourite producers of that time. Their friendship with Goldie bestowed them a one-off version of “Hyaena”; a dubplate of DJ Die’s “Clear Skyz” illustrated the Bristol sound; and John B., J Majik, and Dillinja were some of the producers championed at Metalheadz. “It’s a good representation of that time,” says Digital, whose track “Mission Accomplished”, a collaboration with Spirit, appeared on the mix. “They covered a lot of the scene. It’s a good album to look to for a bit of proper history for the drum & bass scene and the different artists involved.”

“I’ve never rinsed a CD so hard in my entire life,” says B. Traits, the Canadian DJ who joined Shy FX’s Digital Soundboy label in 2007 and went on to host her own weekly slot on BBC Radio 1. She had just bought her first set of turntables when she listened to Kemistry and Storm’s compilation. “It wasn’t all the big tracks of that year. Every single track was excellent, and it was blended perfectly. Their skills as DJs cut through on that mix, as selectors and as master mixers. To actually see two female DJs that were successful was a game changer for me, especially when I could literally count on one hand the amount that I knew. And they were united. It was like, you can be a part of this crew and you don’t have to be a dude. You can be a part a movement.”

Kemistry and Storm styled themselves as one singular DJ, each retaining their own distinct style while sharing a box of vinyl between them – Storm was known for her deep, growling tunes, while Kemistry favoured more off-kilter sounds. Ordinarily they split their sets down the middle and they took turns to start or finish, but the DJ-Kicks album led them to create a more integrated mix. “We wanted as many artists that we cared about as possible to be on this album, so we had to break it down differently,” says Conneely. “I think that was a real true idea of how Kemistry and Storm work together.

But that union was abruptly severed just a few days after they returned from touring DJ-Kicks around America. On the drive back from a Southampton gig, a rogue cat’s eye, a reflective device used to mark out the centre of UK roads, came loose and flew through the windscreen. Olusanya was killed instantly. “We were very yin and yang, me and Kemi,” says Conneely. “We balanced each other out. So for me to lose half of myself… it was just so shocking.” When Storm returned to play a night run by V Recordings, she continued to split the set between Olusanya’s records and her own. “It was overwhelming at first,” she says, “but actually, it was the best thing I ever did, because it was the place I still felt Kemi. I’ve changed my style over the years to be more ‘Kemistry and Storm’ rather than just ‘Storm’. We were both brave, but I think Kemi was braver first to play that slightly more obscure tune.”

Conneely’s influence has now spread beyond drum & bass with the help of Mumdance, who saw Storm play with Kemistry when he snuck into Brighton’s Essential Music Festival at 13 years old. He’d never heard a DJ mix tracks live before, or experienced a sound system so loud. “That was probably the first dancefloor epiphany that I ever had. It was the first time I’d been physically hit in the face by sound,” Mumdance says. “The Metalheadz aesthetic, and that dark, dystopian dread that Storm specialises in, is probably the prime influence not only on what I do, but on what Pinch does, on what Logos does, and countless other producers.” Mumdance finally met Conneely at a Boiler Room showcase he hosted in 2014, where he invited some of the artists who’d most impacted his style over the years to perform. “She said it was quite pivotal to the next wave of her career,” he says. “A lot of kids who had never heard of her saw her come on deck and smash it. Now she’s been discovered by a whole new crowd.”

In today’s club culture, Storm gets to spread her dark and wild sound to multigenre events like Dimensions and Unsound festivals, and Mumdance’s label Different Circles’ nights. It’s an apt throwback to the genre’s origins, when Fabio and Grooverider were first mixing rave techno with breakbeat, watched by two fledgling DJs who were trying to emulate them at home. “We were like little sponges at the time,” Conneely says. “Fabio taught me how to tell a story, Grooverider taught me how to select. When Randall came along, he put the mixing into perspective. That is what we wanted to achieve, and I think we did. People started saying, ‘We love your style, it’s kind of the rough with the smooth.’ I think Kemistry and Storm took a little bit of everybody and made it into our own.”

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