June 16, 2005
Sylvie and I got into London at 7:30 AM without having slept a wink on the plane. After a lackluster breakfast we managed a three or four hour snooze but I didn't feel any better when I got up. We were determined to meet up with Marc and head over to FWD>> that night but I felt like I might collapse on the way. Catching a bit of Wiley through the crackles on Rinse FM with the antenna pointed out the hotel window got my adrenaline moving though.
Sylvie with the welcome party
The night and the trip really couldn't have gotten off to a better start. As soon as we got there our hands were stuffed with drinks (unfortunately we downed a few free rounds of gin and tonic without knowing that mixed drinks over there cost about three times what a beer goes for!), Marc handed me a goldmine in ardkore and early jungle tracks burned to DVD and we were surrounded by friendly welcoming people. That pretty much set the tone for the night.
A bit after ten, with a few rounds in us, Sylvie, Marc, Lorraine, Dave, Jade and myself made the trip to Plastic People in time to catch the last half of N-Type's N-Type's FWD>> debut. I was excited about this because N-Type's been doing some of my favourite Rinse sets lately. We got there in time to hear him drop that "Marksman" dubplate that he's been caning. I love that one. Also had a chance to speak with him for a bit later on.
Cheers from Mikee and Dogzy. Marc and Lorraine cracking up on the right.
Things really kicked off when I came back from the dancefloor to discover the Rinse FM crew had taken over most of the area where we'd been sitting. I found a seat next to Dogzy and asked him if he was Slimzee (an honest mistake since I know these guys' faces mainly from the tiny pics in the Rinse web gallery). He laughed it off and I spent a long time chatting with him and his manger Mikee. Extremely friendly guys and totally welcoming. Mikee was really surprised to see me there since he'd just discovered Riddim.ca earlier that day. Turns out, a lot of the London crew are dropping by the site to see how the North American scene is coming along. They gave me a copy of some unrealeased Dogzy material and spent the rest of the night making sure I met as many people in the scene as possible (Slim - for real this time, Chef, Uncle Dugs, Essentials, Skream...) which totally made my night. Joe Nice told me FWD was like family and I really felt it.
Youngsta bringing the ruckus
The other thing I felt was the bloody bass. Sick disturbing mind crushing bass. It was gorgeous. I can't remember ever feeling sound quite like I did there. I was prepared for it but it still surprised me. The funny thing was that when we first got there we sat in the back where the sound is a little dodgy - booming and a bit unclear. Then we noticed the curtain being drawn up closer to the dancefloor and we made our way up to get a closer listen. In the near total darkness behind the curtain was a world of difference - a pressure cooker, Lorraine called it. It wasn't so much about listening anymore, but feeling and enduring the sound that seemed to animate the bodies on the floor. It made my nostrils quiver and my eardrums vibrate from the inside. I kept feeling compelled to open my mouth to let it out. It was heaviest during Youngsta's set and tracks like Loefah's "Crack Bong Remix" and Skream's "Angry" which moved in like violent pressure systems. Those infrasonic bass cycles seemed almost independent of the audible elements - like the agitated pulse the building or the night itself.
Other highlights of the night:
* Riko on the mic during Geeneus' set: If anyone can remind me what Geeneus was playing at the time I'd like to know. As it is, all I can remember is the pure intensity of the moment - Riko going off on the mic, and me being consumed by the bass and my body jerking with each shard of sound. Without a doubt, one of heaviest live music moments I've ever experienced.
* Marc and I chatting with Steve Kode 9 and Daddi Gee of the infamous Hyperdub Kolony. They arrived a little late with some of Steve's students who'd been doing something involving sound and projections across town earlier in the evening. Spoke with Daddi Gee about the global bass virus and his vocals on the "Sign of the Dub" which sold out just a month before I got to town (shouldn't have waited on that one). Word is there may be a re-release at some point in the future though given the enormous response its received. I was hoping to find it for download at Bleep/Road but for some reason only the b-side is available.
Really enjoyed talking with Steve as well. He was one of the first to make contact after the launch of Riddim.ca and I've followed his writing a bit as well, from the Ccru era onward. Looking forward to reading and hearing more from him.
* Kept running into Plasticman in the toilet for some reason. I think the last time we chatted about the forthcoming Macabre Unit release (which has a shout to Riddim.ca on the label by the way) and the move to mp3 downloads at Bleep/Road while he tried to clean someone's vomit from his record bag. Hope that worked out ;)
* Meeting the Guvna - Uncle Dugs of Rinse FM who was also really interested in the scene over here. Hoping to keep in touch.
* Had the pleasure of being introduced to Skream while his "Request Line" track was booming over the system. I've been loving this track since dowloading an N-Type Rinse set in May. Good news via Nick that it's slated for release on Tempa in the near future.
N-Type Rinse FM April 05
* Meeting a man named Keith who found out from Lorraine that there were Canadians in the room and asked if the guy from Riddim.ca was there. Mental! We had a good chat and got in touch by email afterwards.
* Got shouts from Skepta or Jammer (not sure) on the mic. Unfortunately I completely missed that bit and only read about it on the Rinse forum after the fact.
Bassnation and Autonomic after a few pints
Just before leaving I got introduced to Bossman who was really interested in North Americans digging the grime scene. Everyone I was with had left a moment before thinking I was right behind them but I stayed in the basement for a few minutes chatting. They were a little confused when I left the club with Bossman saying "hold on, I'm just going down this alley for a bit with this guy I just met." He took me to his car and loaded me up with promos which was amazing. Really appreciated that. Then I tried to get him to tell me what his first name was, but he wasn't having it.
By this point it was late and we were wrecked. Caught a cab back to the flat and tried to sleep. Except my mind was buzzing and I could turn it off until about 8 AM.
Can't sleep. The BT Tower at sunrise.
What other people had to say about the night:
Rinse Fm forum
The next day I ran down to Blackmarket and Uptown and broke the bank on all the dubstep and grime vinyl I'd been craving. Picked up loads of good stuff including Skream's "Angry"/"Traitor," Burial on Hyperdub, DMZ 004, some Hotflush, some Tempa, Macabre Unit, a one-sided Eski mashup and loads of other stuff. The next day in Notting Hill, I went in a little different direction and splurged on some old Bleep and Darkside tunes and the Music and Video Exchange.
Tuesday, we met up again with Marc and Lorraine. Marc's interest was piqued by FWD>> so we planned a trip to Blackmarket. This was dangerous for me. I'd already hit my limit, but then Marc started asking for tracks that weren't on the shelves and whole new world of vinyl below the counter opened up. We each left with an armload. The four of us spent the rest of the night getting drunk and laughing while slurping down Japanese noodles.
We met up with Marc once after that for lunch on the most brutally hot day of our trip (we didn't appreciate the irony of leaving Ottawa at the start of a rare summer cool spell only to be in London for the exact duration of an uncharacteristic heatwave, returning on the day it cooled down there and was 35C here - haha very funny weather) and he gave us a mini-tour of the Elephant and Castle area (which was only slightly less magical than its name would imply). Lunch was really good.
Once again, huge thanks to Marc and Lorraine for showing us such a good time and being such generous hosts. It's nice to leave the place you're visiting knowing that you've got friends there the next time 'round.
The other person I would really liked to have met up with is Nick, but with no time to get down to Bristol it didn't seem too likely. Hopefully next time we're over (which may not be too long from now) we can work something out. Until then, this one's for you Nick...
(I actually thought I'd bought Tests One through Three and only discovered that I had Four to Six after I got home. Anyway, enjoy.)
Expanded version of my write up for Riddim.ca