DJ Raps 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 dnb spectrum - but it was interspersed with a choice
selection of other musics, like the awesome, bass-heavy house of
Carl Craigs The Wonders Of Wishing, the breakbeat
rave of Future Sound Of Londons Papua New Guinea
and the synthesised washes of Peter Lazonbys Sacred
Looking back, its 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 years 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 shes
a woman of eclectic tastes and wide-ranging ambition - not just
a pioneering jungle DJ, as if that werent enough. In fact,
though she made her name for herself on the British rave circuit,
Raps 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,
Raps itinerant upbringing was governed by her stepfathers
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 youll 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
But Charissa wasnt 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 FSOLs Papua New Guinea
- it was an instant winner on the scene. Its success led to promotional
slots on various pirate stations, including East Londons Rave
FM, where Rap met Coolhand Flex, the man who taught her to mix.
Soon, as anyone whos been obsessed by the mixing bug well
knows, she was a vinyl junkie, honing her deck skills. And, with
the connections shed already begun to build up, it wasnt
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 youd have Shut Up & Dance coming
along with £10 To Get In and it was frustrating
because there wasnt enough of it.