Everything needs a sun, a source, a centre... as far back as I can
remember Grooverider and Fabio were as deep underground as you could
ever find anybody and have always been that sun, source and centre
for the cutting edge of British Dance Music. - Goldie.
In twenty years time, we will look back and see Grooverider
as one of the Greats of modern music. To call him a legend is an
understatement. - Fabio.
Perhaps no one DJ in any dance music genre has attained the living-legend
status accorded to Grooverider. To DJs, producers and drum and bass
aficionados, he is simply the godfather, the undisputed champion
of the scene, a critical catalyst in breaking drum and bass to the
world. The last couple of years has seen drum and bass reach a new
global audience and The Rider has been to the fore,
taking his brand of dark and hard dnb across Europe
and beyond to places as far-flung as Gold and The Cave in Tokyo
and Sydneys Children Of The Vortex.
Anyone who has witnessed one of his legendary sets at Londons
Metalheadz knows just why Grooverider has this unparalleled status.
Through all its incarnations, from its early days at the old Blue
Note in Hoxton Square to its Sunday slot today at Dingwalls in Camden,
Grooverider has presided imperiously over the worlds most
knowledgeable drum and bass crowd. Every week hes there, armed
with his latest batch of dubplates - the freshly cut acetates of
the very latest tunes, only given to the select DJs and not on general
release for months or even years - mixing up a flawless audio-assault
of brutal bass and beats.
But where did it all begin? What forces shaped the drum and bass
don? In many ways he remains a mystery, an infamously difficult
interviewee who trusts no one and jealously guards his private life.
Born and bred in South London, he was a teenage convert to the rap
sound emanating from the US, in particular the electro scene that
spawned classics such as Herbie Hancocks Rockit
and Afrika Bambaataas awesome Planet Rock. Along
with an eclectic selection of soul, disco and rare groove classics,
this was the music he played for London pirate radio station Phase
One and the Global Rhythm sound system in the late 80s.
It was through Phase One that he met other influential DJs. Colin
Dale, Dave Angel and Booker T were all part of the roster, as was
the man who became Grooveriders long-term friend and DJ partner
- Fabio. It was on hearing Mr. Fingers Mysteries Of
Love and the first stirrings of American house that the pair
underwent a musical conversion. From that moment on they became
devoted to the new sound and the trajectory on which the music would
set them. Together - along with Paul Oakenfold, Jazzy M, Colin Faver
and Mr. C - they would form the vanguard of the British acid house
scene and the boom it created in British club culture.
Determined to develop an audience for new house music they started
DJing together at Mendoza's - an after hours haunt in Brixton full
of the Shoom crowd, running well into the afternoon the next day.
It was a DIY effort in the pioneer spirit of British clubbing, the
DJs doing shifts on the door and taking the money, dashing back
to the decks to play the latest dark techno. The early tunes by
now-famous producers like Kevin Saunderson and the output of the
Strictly Rhythm label were all played, garnering more converts to
the scene, before the pair moved on to a location in Barrington
Rd, Brixton. As far as Im concerned, Grooverider
reminisces today, That place was simply the home of techno.
It was in 91 however, that the duo really made a name for
themselves. They had been playing in the upstairs room (The
Star Bar) at Rage every Thursday at Londons infamous
Heaven club when a one-off chance came to DJ in the main room. In
they stepped, playing their unique brand of techno - including dark
dancefloor classics like Joey Beltrams Rave Signal
and Energy Flash. The response was so great that they
were given the main room from then on, a licence to push their sound
even further and further, adding the latest breakbeat productions
to the mix.
By this time - early in 91 - the British rave scene was beginning
to fragment, splitting into two paths, one of which led to todays
mainstream house, the other to the underground and jungle. With
the blueprint they laid down at Rage, Grooverider and Fabio chose
the latter, developing their speeded-up darkcore sound, with classic
homegrown tunes by Shut Up & Dance mixed in with pitched-up
house loops and the new bleep techno sounds of LFO, Nightmares On
Wax and The Forgemasters. Most memorable of all was 4 Heros
astonishing Mr. Kirks Nightmare where, over breakbeats
and the sharp stabs of a keyboard riff, a man is told of his sons
drug overdose by the emotionless voice of a police officer.