More than not, when someone’s introducing Andy C, Goldie, or Grooverider they’ll probably refer to them as “The Godfather of DnB”. And while that’s not wrong, it might appear as we’ve got more than one. So I’ve searched far and wide, and came up with a list that explores the creators and shapers of this thing we like to call Drum & Bass, from producers to Dj’s and MC’s. In no particular order, here are the fourth 4.
Check Part 1 here where we covered Rebel MC, Fabio & Grooverider, Goldie, and LTJ Bukem, Part 2 here where we covered Doc Scott, Shy FX, DJ SS, and Stevie Hyper D, and Part 3 here where we covered Andy C, Bad Company UK, London Elektricity, and Marcus Intalex.
13. Rob Playford
This Thump article starts off with the words “For those who don’t know, it’s hard to explain how important Rob Playford is.” and I couldn’t agree more. It’s easy to understate the importance to the scene of someone whose name is unknown to probably more than 50% of the people in it. yet we all know his labor of love and passion: his label “Moving Shadow”, probably most widely known for the MSX FM radio station in the game GTA III.
Starting out as an Acid House DJ (like most people on this list) during the late 1980’s, he found himself amidst the turbulence of the UK rave scene in the early 1990’s with the police crackdown on illegal raves in full effect. He decided to stop DJ’ing and acquired an S950 sampler, a Yamaha DX7 keyboard, and an Atari Computer and started to record his own tracks while waiting for the ruckus to cool down. He pressed his first track “Orbital Madness” under the moniker “The Orbital Project” selling 1500 copies. His subsequent releases gotten more and more known with DJ’s and producers alike, who asked him to help with their projects. Busy with his day-job as a software engineer and his family, he decided his talent could be more used in the releasing part of the tracks, so he released those songs on his own “Moving Shadow” imprint, from which the money he made was directly put into his own studio.
In 1992 the aforementioned studio was used to produce the now classic and essential “Timeless” by Goldie. being credited by artists like David Bowie and Nine Inch Nails, as the inspiration for the tracks linked. Producers around the world tried to imitate the song’s sonic effects and sparse ambience.
2007 saw the official end of Moving Shadow, but Playford wasn’t done yet, he continued to work his engineering magic on albums by The Cut Up Boys, Joris Voorn, Paul Oakenfold and soundtracks for Hot Fuzz and Casino Royale to name but few.
14. Ed Rush & Optical
The kings of Neurofunk partnered up around 1995, when Ed Rush (born Ben Settle) and Optical (born Matt Quin) met at “The Music House” in Islington London where they used to cut their dubplates to use in their sets, naturally a place where lots of DJ’s hung out sharing the music they’ve come to eternalise on wax.
The first couple of years consisted mostly of them playing gigs, with Ed Rush Producing on himself, releasing tracks like “Gangsta Hardstep” and “What’s Up“, both on No U-Turn records. Moving Shadow’s Rob Playford (see entry 13, above) gave the duo some space in his office building in Soho, London, to allow them to build a studio for producing. This led to their debut single “Funktion” (V Recordings) in 1997, followed by the critically acclaimed “Wormhole” (Virus Recordings) in 1998, weirdly enough both not on Playford’s Moving Shadow imprint.
“Wormhole” not also defined a new genre (it’s regarded as the first Neurofunk album ever), it was also the first big release on their newly created label “Virus Recordings” (after releasing 3 of their own singles prior that year).
Virus recordings are at more than 20 years in the game a frontrunner in the Neurofunk genre, with releases by Audio, Cause 4 Concern, and many more, but mostly still Ed Rush and Optical.
Fun Fact: Even though they’re known for their dark and brooding style of DnB, Optical also produced lots of other stuff in the early to mid-90’s under different monikers, like this track here, Billy ‘Daniel’ Bunter & J.D.S – “Let It Lift You”. Hey, everybody needs to make a living, right?
15. DJ Hype
When you have to follow just one DnB artist on social media, you should make it DJ Hype (born Kevin Ford). His jokes and banter are always a welcoming sight, and he’s really just a well-meaning and funny guy.
Hype started out as a DJ, spinning mostly Reggae and Hip Hop on a London pirate station. He started producing as early as 1988 under names as Doctor K (the same name he took as a radio-DJ) , The Warrior, and M Double A. When a new House radio station called “Fantasy” started up he managed to get a show on it in August 1989. He needed a new DJ name to call himself as he had used Doctor K on the other station. He was wearing a T-Shirt with HYPE printed on it, so he decided to call himself DJ Hype.
Later he lost his Day job, and luckily enough for him around that time Kickin’ records was looking for an A&E person, and through some mutual friends, they decided on giving the job to Hype. There he came in contact with a Techno producer called Scientist and thought it to be a good idea to mix his love for breakbeat and Scientist’s passion for Techno, which resulted in the track “The Exorcist” to critical acclaim. Unfortunately for him, all the praise went to The Scientist. Later (in 1993) he released his first record under his DJ Hype moniker called “Shot In The Dark” on Suburban Base Records, setting a blueprint for all his future work.
Later in 1993, he got a booking through his good friend Brockie to play a full on Jungle set at Jungle Fever. After this the bookings just started to flow in, skyrocketing his career as a Jungle-DJ.
In 1994 he decided to start up his own imprint “Ganja Records”, with his first releases being under the name “Dope Style“, and later releasing classics like DJ Zinc’s “Super Sharp Shooter“. In 1996 he teamed up with Pascal and Zinc to release the compilation album “Still Smokin” (featuring the excellent “We Must Unite“) and later form the “True Playaz” label.
1996 saw Hype aiding in the creation of the semi-legal dubplate containing the remix of The Fugees “Ready or Not“. Even though it’s officially been released as a “DJ Zinc remix”, Zinc himself later confirmed everybody’s suspicion that Hype helped him out with the bassline, which had that signature Hype-feel to it.
16. Kemistry † and Storm
Kemistry and Storm are not only the first (and only) female entries in this list, they’re both regarded as being the first female Drum and Bass DJ’s, paving the way for women in a male-dominated industry.
Kemistry (born Kemi Olusanya) and Storm (born Jayne Conneely) met at the college they both attended in Northampton. Starting out in various bands together, Storm ended up in a cover band, while Kemi discovered raves. Being somewhat weary of Kemi’s new-found pass-time, Storm and a third friend decided to go along to a rave in Cambridge for Kemi’s birthday, an event that changed their lives for the better. They later borrowed some money (from Goldie), bought some decks and started spinning records themselves, taking turns between them, Goldie and some other friends. Kemistry brought Goldie along to a rave, and after returning home, Goldie stated “Right, I want to make this music, you’ll be the DJs, we’ll have a label and a club, we’ll make some t-shirts”, which later became Metalheadz.
Kemistry and Storm helped Goldie out at the beginning of the Metalheadz era. Summer 1995 saw the start of landmark drum ‘n’ bass night Metalheadz at Blue Note, with Grooverider and Kemistry & Storm as residents in the basement sweatbox. They had arrived as DJs – and the vision forged in the crucible of Rage’s dancefloor had been realized. Touring the world the duo finally ended up doing a mix for the renowned “DJ Kicks”-series. Their LP on !K7 came out in January 1999, three months before Kemistry was taken from us in a car accident.
A woman DJ was killed in a freak accident when a reflective marker was flicked up from the road byanother vehicle and smashed through the windscreen of a car in which she was a passenger, an inquest heard today.
Kemi Olusanya, 35, who performed under the name Kemistry, died instantly with a fractured jaw after being struck in the face by the 4.5kg plastic and metal reflector.
The object was thrown up by a van which swung out from a slip road on the M3 at Winchester.
Ms Olusanya, of Finsbury Park, was in a VW Golf GTI driven by her friend Jane Conneely returning from a late-night gig in Southampton.
Recording a verdict of accidental death, coroner Grahame Short said he would be writing to the Highways Agency because it as clear some reflectors were not set in the road properly.
Her death sent shockwaves of grieve through not only the DnB-scene but the electronic music scene in general. “We went from the pinnacle, touring America and having the !K7 release, to me looking at coffins.” Storm said. “I always wonder what would have happened if Goldie hadn’t seen Kemi in Red Or Dead that day. Imagine if he had walked past…”
Drum and Bass would defiantly not be the same.