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Artist Profiles :: Danny Rampling

Danny RamplingDanny Rampling always wanted to be a DJ. He began collecting records as a nine year-old growing up in Streatham, south London, listening to Tony Prince (future mastermind of the DMC organisation) on Radio Luxembourg. He scored his first ‘proper’ DJ gig in 1981, where he was paid £8 to play pop and soul to a champagne-drinking bar crowd, an experience he now describes as, "good character-building stuff." The next few years were spent DJing at bars and parties around London, playing "anything except heavy metal."

Everything changed in the summer of 1986 when Danny went to Ibiza for a week’s holiday with fellow soul boys Paul Oakenfold, Johnny Walker and Nicky Holloway, and paid a visit to a club called Amnesia. They’d all been before, but this trip was different – this time they encountered two crucial new aspects of clubbing, Balearic house and ecstasy. The experience was to have a more profound effect than anything any of them could have imagined at the time.

Back in London, Danny and then girlfriend Jenni (who he married soon after) set up a club night, Shoom, aiming to recapture the Ibizan party spirit. More than any other, Shoom was the club that launched acid house in the UK and although it only lasted for a year and never held more than a couple of hundred people, it became something of a running joke that the number of people who have since claimed to have been there could easily fill Wembley Stadium. It was around this time that Danny landed his first radio gig, beginning a regular show on then-pirate Kiss FM.

As acid house mushroomed into rave, Rampling reacted against the massive, increasingly commercial parties and set up the Pure Sexy night at Nicky Holloway’s Milk Bar venue in 1990. Pure Sexy was directly inspired by another Ibizan club, Pacha, the home of the beautiful people, and attracted a glamorous, fashion-conscious mixed gay crowd - all hand-picked by Jenni, who soon became known as the toughest doorperson in London – to its soundtrack of garage and Italian piano house. Pure Sexy and its successor, Glam, proved to be almost as influential as Shoom had been, setting the tone for the wave of smaller, more fashion-conscious clubs and parties that sprang up as rave became a dirty word in the early nineties.

Rampling spent the next few years pursuing an ever more hectic DJ schedule across the UK and abroad, while his sound began to take on a harder, more European flavour. In the mid-nineties, following trips to Thailand and exposure to the free party scene, he embraced psychedelic trance. To Danny, the early trance scene’s energy and sense of unity was a welcome throwback to the Balearic and acid house days of old, but the move puzzled those to whom the name Danny Rampling was synonymous with vocals and piano-led house grooves. Not that this bothered Radio 1, who signed him up to present the weekly Lovegroove Dance Party show in 1996.

Yet the pressure of almost constant travelling coupled with years of serious partying were always bound to catch up with him and Danny suffered a breakdown in 1997, prompting him to take a few months off from playing out. While resting, Danny became disillusioned with the increasingly formulaic nature of trance, so when he did return to the decks, he also returned to the sexy, vocal-led house sound on which he’d originally built his reputation.

The latest chapter in the Danny Rampling story began last year when he accepted an invitation to take up a residency at London’s newest ‘superclub’, Home. It’s Danny’s first London residency for the best part of a decade, but it was the purpose-built, state-of-the-art sound system Home have installed which sealed the deal.

Unlike most of his contemporaries, Danny Rampling hasn’t launched his own record label, management company or similar business venture, nor does he do TV voice-overs or endorsements, although he has released a fistful of highly successful mix albums. Famously anti-cocaine, he doesn’t even hang out with music industry people in his spare time, preferring instead the relatively simple pleasures of cookery, surfing the net and TV, and he’s actively involved with the Free Tibet campaign.

Nor has he ever truly established himself as a producer. Sure, he’s made a few records along the way – most notably Sound Of Shoom’s I Hate Hate and a couple under the name of Millionaire Hippies – and done a few remixes too (D:Ream and Yello amongst them), but he freely admits that he’s still got a lot to learn in the studio, even engaging a tutor from the London School of Music Technology to help him master the fine art of knob-twiddling.

As an ever-obsessive record collector who often spends £300 a week on new vinyl, DJing remains Danny Rampling’s first love. With a DJ diary still full to bursting, one of the UK dance scene’s true pioneers is still going strong as ever.

Want to know more? check out this CD...
Turntable Symphony
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