All Crews

'Journeys Through Jungle / Drum & Bass Culture'

Brian Belle-Fortune

Published by Vision Publishing

 

Photo © Tristan O'Neill Courtesy of Knowledge Magazine.

'All Crews'
Journeys Through Jungle & Drum and Bass Culture'.
Brian Belle-Fortune's spectacular personnel journey through Jungle, Drum and Bass.

'All crews' is the sequel to Brian's first best selling book 'All Muss Big Up' giving readers an insight into the evolving scene from its humble beginnings, from the mid-eighties right through to 2004. This second novel features interviews with many of the high profile artists in the Drum and Bass scene giving a unique insight into the ongoing events in the underground world.

'All Crews' takes us back to the hedonistic summer of Sept'88 when Brian attended his first outdoor illegal rave. Like so many other people back then, hearing about these raves was either through word of mouth or on your local pirate radio station. Then off you go to buy a ticket from some guy in the back of a shop. You never knew its location until the very last minute, it was during these times Brians life was changed.

The site of the raves was never disclosed right up until the last minute, for obvious reasons, which resulted in Brian following a convoy of like-minded spirits along the M1 to destination Paradise!

There are many opinions as to how, and, where Jungle began. Some say the 'Shut Up & Dance' vibe in Hackney, East London. Others say a producer by the name of Lennie De-Ice created it with one of the first ever Jungle tunes entitled 'We Are 'I.E'. In order to give a more overall perspective, Brian interviews many artists to find out their views as to how the scene started. Starting from its early roots in the acid house era, evolving thru into Hardcore, Break-Beat and of course Jungle. We even discover that International DJ Andy-C went to his first rave at just 13! Magic!

We all need beats to dance to, and who makes these beats? Producers. Brian interviews some of the leading producers in '97 from DJ Hype, along with others. He somehow manages to interview Shy FX at his mother's house. We learn that Shy FX was a talented child, but it was actually his mother who could see the potential within him at a young age and wasn't she right!

Pirate radio has always been a major influence within the scene right from the early days. It's a medium for not only promoters, but producers, so the listener becomes aware of forthcoming tunes and events. Eastman's Kool-FM pirate radio station was a launch pad for many of today's Drum and Bass DJ's and MC's, Brockie, Wildchild, Skibadee, Mampi Swift, Ron, Det just to name a few.

Pirate stations always had the DTI looking on, we learn about some of the station raids with Brian having a stint with a few radio stations in London, in the company of Ruud and also Ruud Awakening going under the name of Zy-on. We discover about how the radio stations are set up from the technician, station security, right up to the DJ's. Learning how DJ's would have to soldier on due to other DJ's running late or not even turning up, some stations even had a bed within the studio!

After Brian had graduated from Sussex University in 1994, he was heavily involved in BBC Radio One's 'One In The Jungle' show. With Radio One in a bit of state at the time they tried to do something different, trying to capture a whole new audience, consequently in come: Shy FX, Goldie, Navigator, Brockie, Kenny Ken, GQ, Moose, A Guy Called Gerald, Rap, Det Roni Size and Dynamite. The show was a real roller coaster ride with Brian's enthusiasm for Jungle and drum and bass, trying to raise its profile and awareness to a national level.

With the sets being pre recorded each of the DJ's chose which MC's that they would work alongside with. Brian includes some great stories about them, including Kenny Ken having to bring down his own mixer and decks, along with the infamous incident involving DJ Rap and Moose's show.

Out of the studios of Radio One we travel towards Soho, London as we visit Blackmarket records. This was one of the scene's influential record shops, dating back to '92. The Drum and Bass section was run by Nicky Blackmarket alongside the dark soldier Ray Keith. Brian talks to Nicky discovering how he and Ray Keith were able to set-up the Drum and Bass section of Blackmarket.

Raving for some people is their life, people work through their jobs within the week to scrape enough money to get out and party each and every weekend. A place to lose themselves through escapism, that's what really kept the scene ticking. Ravers coming from all walks of life black, white, yellow, brown, old and the young along with the rich and poor, all joining together to make up the Drum and Bass scene.

Ravers would attend certain clubs religiously such as AWOL at the Paradise club or Grooverider's and Fabio's Rage, to name a few. Brian talks to many ravers about their own experiences, he talks to one raver in particular who twisted her diaphragm and was so desperate to go back out raving she laid flat out on the floor listening to Jungle tapes solid. Now that's hardcore!!!

Behind the raves are the promoters these are the guys who put on the parties, from booking the DJ's, arranging the venue right through to sorting out the security team on the door. We find out quite a lot of what's involved from behind the scenes of Telepathy and World Dance. He interviews each of the promoters as they reminisce how they got into the scene and why they decided to put on their own parties.

DJ's and MC's are very influential within the scene as many of us have a desire to become either a DJ or MC. Brian talks to Skibadee, Hype, also Kemistry and Storm. Even Brian himself had stint at DJin' as he DJ'ed at the 'Reclaim the Streets' demo in London.

We fastrack to 2004 as Brian took a stint out of raving and returned to form the second half of the book, to find how the scene had development since he left.
The Internet has been a big change in the scene with forums such as DOA (Dog's On Acid) along with DNBA (Drum and Bass Arena) both running, were people can chat to each other and discuss the scene from home and abroad. The DJ's and Producers themselves use the Internet even having live chats with punters.

The way Jungle Drum and Bass is produced today has drastically changed over the years. Brian talks to some of today's leading producers such as BCUK, Hospital's High Contrast and Formation's SS. He visits SHY FX's new studio, which is a complete contrast from back in 97. As today it consists of a MACG5 running on software and some sleek monitor speakers.

Radio has changed with technology, though the BBC continue to play Drum and Bass with the successful Fabio and Grooverider show which has been on air for 6years, to the introduction of digital radio spawning 1Xtra with DJ's Bailey, Flight and L Double flying the Jungle Drum and Bass flag high. Brian was invited to attend one of Bailey's show whilst live on the air.

The technology revolution has also affected the way we shop especially Blackmarket Records. With competitors selling online, at cheaper prices e.g. Red eye records has a large customer base outside of the UK. The independent record stores have started to suffer. With the way the medium is distributed as well with vinyl not being the only format the way the tune is distributed now with the digital revolution of MP3.

2004 saw the first Drum and Bass weekender in Spain which Brian had the opportunity to attend. Witnessing how big the scene is with ravers travelling from all over the world, with Drum and Bass uniting them together for the weekend. Drum and Bass its self has exploded not only in the UK but also abroad with DJ's and MC's such as Andy C, IC3 playing in Eastern Europe. Places such as Russia a former communist country, now loving their freedom, a newfound sound.

Overall as you can tell this book is mind blowing and explains the underground Drum and Bass scene inside out. Talking not only to the Ravers themselves but also to leading DJ's, producers, MC's etc, there are plenty of interviews with the people involved in industry and some good stories too.

The way in which Brian has written the book you feel that you are with him every step of the way, with him travelling year by year as the scene evolves. It is a must buy for any Jungle Drum and Bass fan or anyone wanting to get into the scene and understand its cultural past.

The one thing I would say the book lacks is mainly concentrates on London. With people like the V crew based in Bristol making a huge impact on the scene, who can forget the Midlands with events like Quest hey I'm biased!

Written by Xtra-C Flashbackin' & Rewindin'

Massive shouts to Sara @ Knowledge Magazine for giving me the opportunity to do the review and also to Brian Belle Fortune.

All Crews is avaible through all good book stores.
For further information visit:

All Crew
Knowledge Mag / All Crew
Vision Publishing

April 2005

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