WHERE WERE YOU IN 93?
In order to excavate the roots of this music, we’re taking you back in time to the era when jungle first started to explode out of Rage and into raves across the UK. From early tunes like ‘Jungle Techno’ by Noise Factory (on Ibiza Records) to the game changer ‘We Are I E’ by Lenny De Ice and Goldie’s pioneering ‘Terminator’, the breakbeats were kicking into action as the eighties came to an end, dominating the early nineties. By 1993 the music had truly arrived with labels like Moving Shadow, Reinforced, Suburban Base, No U Turn, Lucky Spin and countless more at the forefront of this new movement. Jungle was peaking on the underground ahead of its break into the mainstream just a year later. Here Fabio and Andy C speak about that fateful year…. Where were you in ‘93?
“In 1993 I wasn’t old enough to get into clubs! But I did release a record called ‘Valley Of The Shadows’ with Ant (Miles). I was going up to London handing out flyers with Scott (Red One) and the record was blowing up. I was doing a little bit of work in Boogie Times in Romford on Saturdays, so records would be coming in and we’d sort those out. I’d do a bit of mixing behind the counter with Winston and Danny Breaks. I was listening to a hell of a lot of pirate radio. That was the fuel for me because I couldn’t go out very much. Kool FM, Weekend Rush, those stations I tuned in to religiously. I was listening to Centreforce when I was a bit younger, as well. That station mainly played acid house and that kind of era.”
Andy C ascendance into the top tier happened pretty quickly, as the youngster from Essex found himself thrust into the limelight by his all-time classic ‘Valley Of The Shadows’. Dark, driving and deadly with a fierce bassline and that unforgettable ‘Long, dark tunnel’ sample, it smashed dance floors up and down the UK and Andy became an in-demand selector.
Still too young to go raving every weekend, his made his way into events as a DJ or, on one occasion, an award-winner - the first of countless accolades he’s picked up during his career. During this time the music was still so fresh that cuts we now know as classics were considered groundbreaking, smashing dance floors and sometimes bewildering ravers with sounds that they’d literally never heard before in their lives. This was the genesis of jungle, and it exploded through 1993.
“I did go to a few raves. I won an award for Best Newcomer at Elevation, I think it was, so I went to that. Life Utopia at Tesco Warehouse as well. That was one of the first places that I would have gone to in London,” Andy explains. “I’ll never forget going there and hearing our tune. When Ram started it wasn’t supposed to be a jungle label, ‘Valley Of The Shadows’ just happened to fit into that vibe. We got completely overwhelmed with the jungle thing. I suddenly went from playing on pirate radio in Grays, accidentally making one of the biggest tunes of the time to suddenly being in the throes of it all and having a residency at Telepathy at the Wax Club.”
Telepathy was one of the key nights for jungle music back then. A weekly Friday night affair at the legendary Wax Club in Stratford, it became a hub for jungle lovers with a stellar lineup of residents and special guests every week.
“It was like the archetypal jungle residency,” Andy tells us. “Getting to play alongside the other residents: Ron, SL, Devious D, Funky Flirt alongside Brockie and Det - who I’d always been listening to when I was driving around, blowing my mind. I’d just turn up and hang out in the box office and they’d get me to play if someone didn’t turn up, or they were late. So I’d sit there watching all the punters rolling in and sometimes get a shout at 3am, ‘So and so’s half an hour late, can you fill in for them?’.”
“I remember the night Brockie dropped ‘Terrorist’ by Renegade and seeing Det freak out,” he continues. “Or when Mickey Finn play ‘Helicopter Tune’ for the first time. I was sat in the DJ booth going, ‘Oh my God, what is this?!’. It’s so firmly cemented in jungle now, that beat and everything, but back then it was like something from another planet had landed and exploded that rave.”
Andy then tells us about being partnered with the late great Stevie Hyper D, more of which we’ll feature in our ‘Genius Of…’ series very soon.
“As the young kid, they’d experiment with me a bit,” he explains. “One night the promoter Sting came up to me and said, “On your set I’ve got this new guy coming down, I wanna test him out and see what he’s like on the mic…” and it was Stevie Hyper D. When you think back, moments like that, they become very very special and take on a different meaning.”
“1993 was a mixture of all that,” he concludes. “Starting the year messing about in the studio, not really knowing what I was doing. Handing out flyers for Elevation and doing pirate radio. By the end of the year ‘Valley Of The Shadows had come and I’m resident at Wax Club! It was insane and jungle music was unbelievable - how it blew up in that 12-month period was just unforgettable. Being part of that wave of something new was very exciting.”
“Around ‘93 jungle was so fresh and new. It had just come out really, with early tunes that could be called ‘jungle’ starting to appear around ‘91, ‘92 - the term was definitely around from the early nineties. We had a mate called Danny Jungle who came down to Rage every week, he was part of the crew. He’d shout jungle at the crowd and get them chanting it. We were playing the music at Rage alongside house dubs and early techno stuff. As time went on it was the breaks, the jungle sound, that we were gravitating towards and what the crowd wanted to hear. We were speeding up hip hop breaks like ‘Jump On It’ by Masters At Work and it turned from a house club into an urban rave. After the golden years of ‘92, 1993 definitely felt like a peak. It was that crucial time when the music exploded on the underground, all the dedicated heads were filling up the raves and the vibe was still pure. A time just before it broke into more of a mainstream kinda thing.”
Fabio and Grooverider had been cultivating a melting pot of styles and clientele at Rage since 1989. Over the years, the freedom they were given at the seminal club night led to a more breakbeat-focused style of music starting to bubble under and get the Thursday night crowds hyped. As hardcore, techno, hip hop breaks and house dubs collided and coalesced jungle slowly morphed out of the soup that had been simmering away. Tunes like ‘We Are I E’ helped to solidify the emergent genre, laying down the blueprint for what we know today.
By 1993 Rage was peaking but just a year later the night came to an end. Preferring to call it a night when the going was good, promoter Kevin Millins ensured that Rage left an untarnished legacy. 1993 was the year, as Fabio asserts.
“1993 was the glory year for jungle, by ‘94 it started to split,” he says. “There were some great tunes made in ‘94 but the scene had started to get a bit gangster. I was seeing people I grew up with in raves going, “Yeah we’re on this jungle thing now”. It just wasn’t the same anymore. That’s why Speed and Metalheadz started, we needed avenues for the music we loved and jungle ravers weren’t into what we were doing. I started Speed with LTJ Bukem because we were playing the music we loved in jungle raves, which was a bit more mellow, and people didn’t want to hear it.”