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Artist Profiles :: DJ Rap

DJ RapDJ Rap’s Journey By DJ mix CD, released back in 1995, remains a classic of the genre. Where one might have expected a trademark drum and bass set, Rap relished the opportunity to deliver something out of the ordinary. Yes, the drum and bass was there - old school classics, jump-up jungle and the more ‘ambient’ side of the d’n’b spectrum - but it was interspersed with a choice selection of other musics, like the awesome, bass-heavy house of Carl Craig’s ‘The Wonders Of Wishing’, the breakbeat rave of Future Sound Of London’s ‘Papua New Guinea’ and the synthesised washes of Peter Lazonby’s ‘Sacred Cycles’.

Looking back, it’s clear that that Journey gave us a critical insight into the DJ Rap mentality. It displayed her broad tastes. It showed us her desire to break out of the narrow parameters of drum and bass in order to pursue her own, staunchly individual career path. It gave us the first clue that Rap was never going to be an easy woman to pigeon-hole. Who, for instance, could possibly have predicted last year’s Learning Curve LP - the so-called ‘pop’ album which saw Rap debut her talents as a songwriter and vocalist?

But a closer look at her life-story might show us just why she’s a woman of eclectic tastes and wide-ranging ambition - not just a pioneering jungle DJ, as if that weren’t enough. In fact, though she made her name for herself on the British rave circuit, Rap’s story begins in another corner of the globe...

Indeed, Charissa Saverio was brought up all over the world. Indonesia, Malta, Africa - all at one time were the country of her childhood. Born to an Italian father and Irish-Malaysian mother in Singapore, Rap’s itinerant upbringing was governed by her stepfather’s hotel management career for the Raffles empire. The one constant in this wandering life however was music. In fact, during her childhood, Rap fostered an ambition to make it in the classical music world as a concert pianist, practising at one time for up to six hours a day. But when the family finally settled in the less glamorous surroundings of Southampton, England, Charissa too settled down to a relatively normal life. She went through school, made money in glamour modelling for a while, backpacked across Europe. In 1988, she even returned to England to train as a solicitor!

But, as with most of the DJs you’ll see on these pages, there came a turning point, a veritable conversion experience:
‘I was going out with some guy and he was giving me grief. So the flatmates that I had said, "Come with us to this rave, it's wicked."’ And it was. She jacked in her job, kicked out her difficult boyfriend and embraced the raving lifestyle. ‘It completely saved my life,’ she recalls enthusiastically, ‘I was in heaven every single day. For three or four years, it was complete bliss!

But Charissa wasn’t content to remain a spectator. The seeds of something else were there. ‘I started buying records and thought about DJing, but it was just a dream, nothing serious.’ However, her devotion to the rave scene led to meeting other like-minded DJs and producers. Soon, in fact, she was in the studio, laying down the tune with which she first made her name: ‘Ambiance - The Adored’. With its, synths and breakbeats, melody and lyrics - not wholly unlike FSOL’s ‘Papua New Guinea’ - it was an instant winner on the scene. Its success led to promotional slots on various pirate stations, including East London’s Rave FM, where Rap met Coolhand Flex, the man who taught her to mix. Soon, as anyone who’s been obsessed by the mixing bug well knows, she was a vinyl junkie, honing her deck skills. And, with the connections she’d already begun to build up, it wasn’t long before she started to play out at smaller pubs and clubs.

Around this time she was also seduced by the new homegrown breakbeat sounds that were emanating from the scene. ‘The moment I heard a breakbeat tune I was like "This is it! This is me - I could live and die right here in this space." For a long time it was a real problem though, because most records were four-to-the-floor, Euro stuff, and then you’d have Shut Up & Dance coming along with ‘£10 To Get In’ and it was frustrating because there wasn’t enough of it.’

Want to know more? check out this CD...
Touching Bass
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