Back in 2015, Vinyl Junkie & Rachael E C launched a new label called ‘Ghetto Dub’. From the early releases, Ghetto Dub has showcased new and emerging talent like Kazan alongside long-term veterans like Sanxion and others who have experience of every aspect of music production and a diverse history of music in a variety of styles. They have even featured bona fide hardcore techno legend The DJ Producer on the jungle tip! Vinyl Junkie himself has taken the time to help new artists fine tune their beat making skills and given them fledgeling releases on the label. When your artist roster is this strong and your label bosses are both DJs and producers themselves with decades of experience in the art of rocking the raves, clubs and festivals, its a given that the label content will be of the highest calibre. Now, Ghetto Dub prepares to set another milestone with a 30 track compilation LP ‘Ghetto Dubs Volume One’
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The album features luminaries like Aries & Nicky Blackmarket, fresh new talent like Jay Aftermath and a wide range of styles from a global collective that includes SR, Jungle Citizens, X-E-Dos, Kumarachi, Madcap, Durban, Sound Shifter, RMS, Brian Brainstorm and more. Vinyl Junkie features on a few tracks himself… Collabs with Rachael EC, Madcap & Ikon B as well as a solo track. On listening to this album you will hear everything from big room DnB bangers to dark Drumfunk and everything in between. We’re extremely excited to talk to Vinyl Junkie, Rachael EC, Madcap, Jay Aftermath and X-E-Dos who share some thoughts on this monumental new release.
After years of running the successful 140 breaks label ‘Warehouse Wax’, what inspired you to make the switch to DnB with Ghetto Dub?
It was a natural progression really. I’ve always been into Jungle / DnB anyway but in recent years I’ve found it has got really fuckin good. That inspired me to start playing it more.
I never really wanted to start another label to be honest. I was winding down Warehouse Wax as running a label can be a lot of work and I just wanted to free up some time to concentrate more on production and getting my head round producing DnB. Rachael wanted us to start a label but I didn’t want to. But she kept on until I said yes. And I’m glad I did!
Oh, and it should be noted that Ghetto Dub is not just a DnB label. We are open to all forms of bass driven music and have released some 140 stuff and have more lined up.
Has it been difficult breaking into such a saturated scene or does the phrase ‘content is king’ ring true?
It is a difficult scene to break into and I think we are still in the process of doing that. But I think the music speaks for itself. We are getting some really high profile support and things have gone mad over the last month with the build up to the album. So yeah… Content is king!
After a string of quality releases on Ghetto Dub, we now come to this huge compilation album. Was there a concept in mind when curating the tracks? Many labels theme their albums on events like the Miami Music Conference, is there any kind of central theme running through this album?
There wasn’t a theme for the album as such. I just wanted to showcase lots of different aspects of the Jungle / DnB spectrum which is basically the ethos of the label as well. Some labels just immerse themselves in one of the sub-genres. We didn’t want to do that because mine and Rachael ‘s taste in DnB is very broad and eclectic, encompassing all the styles. We wanted our label to reflect this.
Having heard the tracks on ‘Ghetto Dubs Vol One’ its clear you set the bar really high. There’s some incredible productions from the likes of Kumarachi, Durban and others. To the average listener (like me) these tracks sound amazing but technically, given your extensive knowledge of music production and sound aesthetics, what stood out to you about these tracks so much that you signed them for the album?
I don’t know man, I guess I’ve just got an ear for a good tune. All of the artists that I approached for tunes for this project were already banging out some excellent music and their production levels were already top notch, so I was onto a winner really. There is quite a lot of old skool vibes on the album as well so I think some of the artists tailored their tunes for me
With so much in the way of new music almost every day and with so much of it being genuinely good, are we experiencing a new ‘golden era?’
Quite possibly! For me, the whole Jungle / Dnb thing is the best its ever been. There’s so many cool new producers making some really fuckin’ ace music but there is also loads of the veterans that are still around and taking shit to the next level.
I’ve also noticed quite a few foundation artists that had seemed to have disappeared, come out of the woodwork lately and get their groove back on which is amazing. Its like a giant worldwide melting pot and although there is still division between the sub-genres I feel that there is a lot of crossover between them now as well, and that’s awesome.
Your roots are in the original Jungle sound of the mid 90s, how did you come to discover the sound and what was that one tune that switched you on to it?
This was such a great era! When I moved to Portsmouth in 1994 I started hanging with some like minded people, ravers, and we would chill, smoke and spin tunes in each others’ rooms in the shared houses we lived in. There were a few small nights going on in the area and there was this one high street club called 5th Avenue which had a Room 2, the Jungle Room. That’s where I first heard the sound and felt the vibe… I was drawn in and loved the heavy bass and the rolling drums; also the energy that came from the music was intoxicating. From there, we went on to the big raves like One Nation, World Dance and Helter Skelter; I saved up and bought a pair of DLP 3’s and a made to fade mixer and started teaching myself to mix, it was all about the D&B. If I had to pick one tune that stands out from the 90’s era and had the biggest impact on me and still blows my mind when I hear it now it has to be Dr. S. Gachet’s ‘Remember The Roller’ . I heard Gachet play this at The Sanctuary, Milton Keynes and it was a big moment, it is a classic, I love it so much.
From there, we went on to the big raves like One Nation, World Dance and Helter Skelter; I saved up and bought a pair of DLP 3’s and a made to fade mixer and started teaching myself to mix, it was all about the D&B. If I had to pick one tune that stands out from the 90’s era and had the biggest impact on me and still blows my mind when I hear it now it has to be Dr. S. Gachet’s ‘Remember The Roller’ . I heard Gachet play this at The Sanctuary, Milton Keynes and it was a big moment, it is a classic, I love it so much.
Perhaps a cliched question but in a male dominated world, how has it been for you as a DJ?
Its had its ups and downs and if I’m totally honest there have been some really tough times, for example having my whole set up and all my records stolen in 1999, which included a brand new pair of 1210’s I bought from Orange in Reading, my beloved Vestax mixer and a record collection spanning from 1994-1999, a brand new Denon amp and my Jamo 265 speakers. It would happen to me again in the future with two further incidents where I lost my set up and records . Why did this happen ?? I hear you ask. The answer is I got involved with the wrong people and jealousy is an ugly thing and how better to really piss me off than to take my music. I learnt from these sad situations and moved forward; now I am much more careful who I let into my life.
The positives have far outweighed the negatives though. When I think about all the great people I have met that have now become good friends and the experiences I have to hold in my memory forever; I can only be massively grateful and totally humble about being a female DJ. I operate from this viewpoint ‘ Seek and You Shall Find’ , if you want to go looking for sexism, misogynists and haters in all forms – you will find them. So I choose to ignore them and embrace the good people, and show respect and appreciation to those who have helped and supported me, of whom there are many, big up to all of these lovely people and to the music lovers and the ravers who keep the scene vibrant and positive.
Is there a particular event in your DJ career that sticks out for you and what was it about that one?
Glastonbury Festival 2016! Playing in The Temple on the Saturday night midnight set after The Freestylers and before Aphrodite was totally mind-blowing and that is no exaggeration – my mind was actually blown! The Common Crew there who run the show are fantastic people and made me feel so at ease, even though my heart and my mind was racing cos it was a big gig and I wanted to do an A Class set. The whole experience was brilliant, the sound system was booming, I loved playing, really enjoyed it and ran a live stream video during my set. This was a special set and although I loved playing there the year before in The Cave; it was topped by The Temple.
What inspired the name for Ghetto dubs?
Ghetto Dub was created from a basic idea that we both had, wanting the name of the label to encompass many genres of underground bass-driven music. We brainstormed a load of words and kept checking on Discogs and Google when we thought of something to find out it was already taken! We both liked ‘Ghetto’ then one day Junkie just came out with Ghetto Dub – and that was that. We both liked ‘Ghetto’ then one day Junkie just came out with Ghetto Dub – and that was that.
I think it was in the back of his mind though, cos back in the day he had a baseball cap with that on it.
And ultimately, what inspired Vinyl Junkie & yourself to take those steps into an incredibly competitive landscape to start up a DnB label?
Well, that was my idea! Junkie didn’t really want to start up a new label, as he already had Warehouse Wax, but I managed to persuade him it was a good move forward for us to create a new project together from scratch and with two of us; sharing the work-load would make it manageable. We were already playing out regularly and would get booked for B2B sets, and I basically visualised how we could begin something really special with the Jungle D&B. Junkie soon became enamoured with the plan and we put our heads together and our brainchild Ghetto Dub was born.
We are really enjoying working with all the artists involved, especially with the Ghetto Dubz Vol.1 Album… Its beyond what we envisaged from the start, cos we were motivated by the love of the music and what we want the Ghetto Dub sound to represent, which is no holds barred, no rules of genre, no restraints, just great quality underground Jungle D&B.
On this album you produced a track with Vinyl Junkie, can you tell us a bit about the process that went into it?
Long Dead was inspired from the film ‘Mad Max – Fury Road’. I wanted to do a track that was a heavy roller so we played around with the Serum plug-in and Junkie created that futuristic sounding bassline.
There was a lot of work done on the drums and we added the breaks and drum reversals to give it more impact on the drop and the mentasm/dominator stabs were a necessity!
We started working on this track last summer and we both put the hours in, although Junkie is the Head Honcho on engineering as I’m still learning and I have an excellent teacher, so watch out!.
The DnB/Jungle scene has become a platform for lots of online debate from purists and current fans & artists. Here at Free Breaks Blog, we believe DnB/Jungle is every bit as good now as it was in it’s formative era, what’s your take on this lively debate?
The Jungle D&B scene is so strong now. I admire the foundation artists that have been working and contributing in the scene since it fist began and stuck to their guns and stood by D&B to get it where it is today and there are many names I could mention who fit that honour.
I try to avoid online debates are I think they are fruitless and energy wasting as sometimes people just want to argue. I’d love to have a time machine and go back to my early days of raving because the memories and the emotions I have from back then are so special.. as they must be for many many other music lovers and ravers. There are so many timeless tunes from the Original Jungle days that get played today and still sound fresh, which is remarkable when you think about the level of production nowadays and the tools available to do it. Sometimes I think that there is a lack of a vibe in some new Jungle D&B I hear, and that is what this music is all about. Having said that, there is some excellent new music around and its a very inspiring time right now for artists. On a personal level, I play music that connects with me, which is why I will play any genre of D&B and I love to drop the classics in my sets too. To answer the question, I think the scene is stronger now than ever and the music has evolved.
Your sound is a pure sound system one, plenty of deep dubby baselines and layered drums. We’re guessing the 70s/80s dub reggae sound plays a big part in your production style?
Yes, I love all the old dub reggae but didn’t grow up listening to the original tracks. Like many of us, I have gone back & done my history, finding out where the samples came from, discovering great tracks along the way. Listening to early Hardcore & Jungle & hearing tracks like Noise Factory – Futuroid (The Capsule EP) or 3 Way Split feat. Easygroove – Wicked Ones both really inspired me.
What was it like winning the Movement/Technics DJ competition back in 2002? It was an amazing feeling.
I remember feeling really nervous before hand but had about 30 of friends there supporting me, which was really appreciated as I only found out 3 days before that I was in the top 5. Winning the comp got me a lot of work around London including the infamous Movement at Bar Rumba.
As well as DJ’ing and producing, you also promote events, any that you are particularly proud of? Any events in the pipeline?
I haven’t promoted any events for a few years now. It was something I did from 1994 onwards, starting local, hiring small halls, sports clubs, 150-200 capacity etc & then progressing to clubs around 1997. I was involved behind the scenes with an event called Uncertified which took place monthly on a Thursday night in Aylesbury, Bucks & we had names like Randall, Kenny Ken, Nookie, D-Bridge, Friction to name a few. A couple of highlights from these events were having Goldie because not only was there a great atmosphere but it was a big achievement. Also, Storm played a great set dropping Golden Girl by Makoto Feat. MC Conrad & he was in the crowd, so we managed to get him on the mic singing along to it.
The last things I did were on a smaller scale but we had DJ Sy & Tango doing Old Skool sets down one of local pubs which was pretty mad. I have no plans to promote any events at the moment.
You’ve worked with Vinyl Junkie on a number of occasions over the years, how did you meet up?
If my memory serves me correctly John (Vinyl Junkie) messaged me through myspace, after hearing some tracks I did back in 2008. At the time I was doing a side project experimenting with the 140bpm sounds, so our first studio sessions were at this tempo. Meeting up several times in the studio & events formed a great friendship.
You have a collab with Vinyl Junkie on Ghetto Dubs Vol one, is there any chance of some further collabs cos’ we’re loving this one!!!
Thanks man, Mind, Body & Soul started to come together last year but I recently went back in on it, changing the bassline to make it roll a little more. It’s had some positive feedback & has been supported by Donavon ‘Bad Boy’ Smith, Randall & Bukem. Yes, John & I will be back in the studio at some point but at the moment I’m working on a number of projects that I need to finish.
Your production style is rooted firmly in the deeper ‘intelligent’ jungle sound that was popular from 1993 up to the late 90s. You have worked with many of the top names within that circle. Is there any famous producer from that time period you would love to work with that you haven’t had the chance to yet?
I love that era & yes, you’re right, my sound has an old skool influence, it’s hard to shake it off haha. LTJ Bukem & Nookie are friends I speak to on a regular basis & would love to get in the studio with them in the future, they have been supporting my tracks for a long time & I have a lot of respect for them.
How did you get the music production bug?
Well, it’s such a cliche but it was through DJ’ing. I’d always been messing about with sounds and various software, throwing samples and loops together, nothing ever good enough to play out. Then through doing loads of gigs I started to realise there wasn’t really anything that would make my sets stand out from anyone else, so it just kind of started from there really. I wanted to play out stuff that was just going to be used in my sets.
You’ve got off to a good start with a previous EP on Ghetto Dub, how did it feel getting that first release?
Yeah, it was a bit surreal at first to be honest, seeing my name on iTunes etc. And hearing the good feedback from people in the scene that I’ve always looked up to, it was a good feeling overall.
I’d put off releasing anything for quite a while as it just didn’t feel right, I then got talking to John (Vinyl Junkie) and one thing lead to another and I was really impressed with what was going on with Ghetto Dub and where its going so we ended up putting out a 6 track ep!
You’re clearly influenced by a wide range of styles, where did you have to go to discover the multi-faceted world of DnB?
Just through going to all the different raves really, when I first got into it, it was all just DnB, you could go to a rave or event and the line up would have loads of different DJs repping different styles, and i just loved it all. Ended up becoming a DnB fiend.
Its also nice to always be able to find a DnB tune that reflects my mood, so I always end up listening to one of the many different sub-genres. And with the internet now it’s so easy to discover new music of all styles. I also try to listen to as many different types of music as possible from Hip Hop to even film soundtracks.
What’s on your portable music player right now?
Ghetto Dubz Vol 1 Obviously!. There’s all sorts on there from Kendrick Lamar to Groove Armada. Recently I’ve been listening to more stuff from the early to mid-90s, The Prodigy and Jungle music, that’s more to try influence my own production and bring some of them vibes into the songs I’m working on now. But next week I could be listening to Slipknot .
As someone who is breaking into the scene, what would you advise other serious aspiring producers?
Have fun without a doubt that is the most important thing, just do your own thing and try not to worry about what people think too much, not everyone is going to like what you do. Keep learning as well, I suppose we are all still aspiring producers in a sense as technology is constantly moving forward and we have to learn new techniques and ways of making sounds.
Also just keep going, there’s going to be times when you just want to give up, but it only takes one tune to make the difference.
What were you going for when putting together your track for ‘Ghetto Dubz Vol One?’
I had an idea of wanting to make just a full on jungle tune, and I had this sample from the film seven that I have been wanting to use for ages which I felt just fitted with a jungle track. Its basically a guy saying how’s this for culture, hence the name, and I wanted to use it to sort of show people that the jungle scene is a whole culture within itself. Sounds a bit deep for an idea to make a tune but it goes that way sometimes and I just went with it and John and Rachael really liked it.
Where do you hope to go on this journey as a producer?
Anywhere exotic would be a bonus I suppose! … being serious though, where ever it takes me it’s been fun so far and I’m just getting started so let’s see where I end up…
Could you offer a glimpse into those early days making beats on the Atari and attending raves back in the golden ear, if you could describe it in a few short words what would you say?
My first adventures on the Atari were super limited, never really made a track. Used a piece of software/hardware called Stereo Replay. Allowed you to play 3 samples at once, one panned left, one right and one out of both speakers…. 1 thing it did teach me was to be creative with what you had.
Which era of Jungle/DnB do you have the fondest memories of?
It has to be the early Photek & Source Direct era. These and others were bringing some really stripped back, eerie atmosphere and sharp breaks. They sort of appeared at a time when the drums had snares rolling all over the place, and brought a fuck load of soul back into the scene.
You’re rather fond of the darker side of beat making as evidenced on your awesome tunage, any particular reason for this preference?
Not really. Just what I like. I’ve always liked the heavy side of music. Back in the rave days, I went for the darker ones, and have always been a sucker for a heavy break and deep sub. I like a track to have atmosphere, something that pulls you under with interesting noises popping in and out, stuff that makes you think.
As someone who has worked with music hardware and software through out the progression from Sequencers, Amigas and Ataris to modern day DAWs do you prefer the old equipment or the new stuff?
New, without a doubt. Things you can achieve on even the most basic of setups is the stuff of dreams from when I first started out. I do miss the midi timing, the Atari and a sampler still felt tighter to me. But, with a pair of virtual scissors and a load of audio files, much fun can be had!
What did you have in mind when you switched on the studio for this track on ‘Ghetto Dubz Vol One?’
To be honest, I had already got the intro roughly penned out when John contacted me. He mentioned that he was after something a little more ‘dubby’ and I thought that it was going in the right direction. I tried to turn it differently, for me anyway, not over darken it and roll it out more.