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Artist Profiles :: Grooverider

GrooveriderEverything 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 d’n’b across Europe and beyond to places as far-flung as Gold and The Cave in Tokyo and Sydney’s Children Of The Vortex.

Anyone who has witnessed one of his legendary sets at London’s 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 world’s most knowledgeable drum and bass crowd. Every week he’s 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 Hancock’s ‘Rockit’ and Afrika Bambaataa’s 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 Grooverider’s 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 I’m 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 London’s 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 Beltram’s ‘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 today’s 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 Hero’s astonishing ‘Mr. Kirk’s Nightmare’ where, over breakbeats and the sharp stabs of a keyboard riff, a man is told of his son’s drug overdose by the emotionless voice of a police officer.

Want to know more? check out this CD...
FABRICLIVE.06: Grooverider
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