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The first time I heard hardcore was at school in about 1992. I was 14 I guess at the time. Some kid at school has been to an illegal rave and made a recording using a hand-held dicta-phone. He played it in the boom box during an art lesson when the teacher left the room for a few minutes. I couldn't believe the noise I was hearing.
I was hooked.
I started to listen to pirate radio in 1993. I was still at school so not out raving but was taping sets from awesome DJ's on stations like Unity FM 88.4 and Cyndicut. A local station to me in Essex, Force FM, took over the air-waves from Unity FM in 1994 which was the same year I left school. I remember staying awake into the early hours listening to Force FM from my bed, all the great tunes being rinsed, the great DJ's, and fun and games on the echo mic and so on. Times never to be repeated. Ever.
Over the next couple of years I started clubbing but it was all mainstream club music. Occasionally they'd have some commercial hardcore on, tunes like Liquid's Sweet Harmony which was great but wasn't really the real deal. It wasn't a rave.
Clubbing friends and friends at college started to buy turntables and get into DJ'ing. Some of which were doing well in the local club scene around Romford in Essex (the heart of hardcore in my opinion - Boogie Times Records for one). It was all house music though, which was great but not my passion. Hardcore.
I remember the first time I touched some turntables. A friend had some for three months and he just couldn't get his head round it. I sat and watched as he struggled mixing in some club classics. I have an engineering mind so approached it as an engineering problem and pretty much figured it out just by watching. I have a background in music (piano) so understand the construct of musical scores and tracks. Within a few attemps on his decks I was already better than he was and that was me hooked. I had to get some.
Starting off with some SoundLab belt drive decks, I quickly moved up to owning my first pair of SL-1210 Mk. 2's. By this time I was starting to play out at a couple of local venues in the mid 90's. Mainly house and club music but quietly in the background starting to build up my hardcore collection.
I remember winning a DJ competition at Fairlop Waters in Essex/East London.
I quickly became fascinated with on-line pirate radio. I managed to secure a residency on the popular interFACE station. This was back in the days when they had a proper studio in the basement in East Central London. I will never forget the first time I went down there. It had such a great atmosphere about it. A proper underground studio. Sofas, graffiti, classic PA speakers, and best of all fantastic staff, DJ's, friends and of course the listeners. This truly was an epic leap forward for me. I was able to play the hardcore I loved and had been collecting for years.
Force FM had a bit of downtime during the mid to late 90's but when it came back on I had a lucky break. An old mate of mine had ended up on the station and through this mutual friend I managed to gain an audition at one of the DJ's houses. I passed and was invited to the next monthly meeting for all DJ's. I was offered the Sunday morning slot, 8-10am. Paired up with the fantastic MC Tonik, I was soon spinning breakbeat garage on the very same radio station I used to listen to at school. It is something I never imagined would happen. I was terrified that first live radio show but I survived and went on to have hundreds of subsequent shows.
I feel privileged to have been involved with Force FM during the period of massive growth and experimentation. Going from weekends only to 7 days a week, a massive increase in DJ's, MC's and music styles. Gone was the garage-only station, now it was broadcasting all styles of music including two days taking the station back to its roots in the early 90's - hardcore, jungle and DnB.
I quickly managed to secure a Monday night slot. Finally I was able to play my hardcore out to the masses on my favourite radio station i'd been listening to since I was a kid. It was a dream come true and I will be forever grateful to the station and the opportunities it gave me. In return I tried to do what I could, I built the station a website and enabled it to have live streaming over the internet - possibly the first of its kind in the London pirate radio scene. Remember, this was in the late 90's!
I continued playing on Force FM until 2004 when I went on a hiatus from DJ'ing. Up until this point I had the pleasure of playing at some fantastic venues and events. I played primarily in local venues like Hollywoods in Romford, Essex (the first night club I ever went to), The Cellar Bar (formerly known as Charmers, and was where the Hardcore Hellraiser events were held previously) and many others.
I was still DJ'ing on interFACE, which had now moved to on-line only as far as studios were concerned. There were a few events in West London with some wicked basement sessions hosted by myself in conjunction with interFACE and Force FM DJ's. Really memorable times with a great crowd. Had a great event at the Ocean Rooms in Brighton too with the interFACE crew. Top folks.
I think one of the biggest events I played at was Battle of the MC's, where my name was alongside some of the biggest names in the Jungle game. This was great and still pretty proud of it to this day.
So yeah, had a break from 2004 - 2010. Came back into Force FM to do a few shows but had to stop due to personal reasons. Around this time I tried to get into digital DJ'ing too with a Vestax controller but just couldn't get on with it so abandoned the idea.
Six years later here we are. 2016. Finally got my home studio set-up with the intention of DJ'ing on-line and possibly making a few tracks (got plenty of un-finished ones from back in the day but i'll have to did out my Amiga to finish those!!).
I've had the fortune over the last couple of years to play some guest shows on the legendary Breakpirates, from b2b sessions with Strongforce, to a five-strong b2b session with great DJ's like SF, Euphoria, Jon-SST etc. Big up all Breakpirates crew.
And now Breakpirates have only gone and given me a weekly show. Monday nights. Same night i've always spun hardcore on every station i've played on. It was just meant to be. Thanks to those who make it all possible, you know who you are.
As they say, hardcore till I die. Thank you for listening :)
interFACE pirate radio - online/global
Force FM 106.5 FM - Essex/London
Total Underground - online/global
High on Life - Hollywoods, Romford Essex
Ocean Rooms - Brighton
Ministry of Sound - London
Various - RM1, Romford Essex
Sugar'n'Spice - Secrets, Romford Essex
Feel the Force - Cantons, Soho London
Battle of the MC's - Circus Tavern, Essex
The rest is just a blur..