From killing dance floors worldwide as well as the odd one in Australia, SS is one of the very biggest names to emanate from the old school jungle scene to the new school drums and basses. He has shown himself adept at playing and producing virtually any style. His dubs can be riotous while hisJazz and Bass Sessions mix, a departure from his more raucous style, features more musical and jazzy sides, to drum and bass, which highlights his versatility as a DJ. As always, any time he touches the turntables the end result is a beautiful and eclectic performance that will touch on spectrums from within the genre, pleasing old and new fans of jungle, drum and bass and everything in between.
Growing up, SS found inspiration in the early sounds of urban music. “My first love is hip hop,” explains the Brit. “But whatever it is, music has to have soul. I’m into a lot of different styles of music but whatever it is, it has to have soul. There has always been talent out there. It has been a long period of evolution from jungle to drum and bass and beyond. And soulful music has been a big part of that.
“We have always stood back and tried to come up with something fresh. The talent is there; there are always young kids doing stuff that’s new and exciting. That wasn’t necessarily the way it was in the beginning but as music has become more accessible for people with the onset of the modern digital era, you see more and more people just blowing up. The young kids have always experimented and done stuff that hasn’t been done before. And when we were playing jungle back in the day, it was the most modern stuff around at the time!”
The scene has come a long way since then but remains true to its underground roots. Like those early days, the parties today are about mutual respect and having a good time. And you know you’re in good hands when you’re being taken on the journey by one of the Godfathers of the scene. No less the boss of one of the most important labels in history, SS is rather appropriately placed to give us all a history lesson. “Formation Records was and remains one of the most respected labels across the genre, always seeking out the freshest talent and showcasing the artists I respect,” he declares proudly – and justly. Indeed, some of the biggest records from early to mid 1990s were released there and for a while, it remained unstoppable. More recently, SS also spent time on re-releasing classics as well, which rather appropriately brings us to the next part of this story.
The original turntable legend is returning to our shores for a bit of an old-school jungle rave up. He speaks a few words about the transition of the genre from the early sounds of jungle to the new harder and heavier drum and bass. “It was always about a natural progression. There came a time where the industry thought it was time to change. It [doesn’t] feel like that in hindsight, but at the time we had to go with the flow. To keep the whole movement alive we had to keep it as fresh as possible and we still do that.”
So the man known for his flexibility, taste and super dope skills behind the mixer is about to get wicked with a couple of his boys. “I’ve always done all types of music because to me drum and bass has no name tag. It’s all drum and bass whether it’s hard or soft. I guess it’s all beats at the end of the day. Jungle, dub whatever – and I know drum and bass in Australia, especially Melbourne and Adelaide is active and prosperous. It was like that in the early jungle days. I was always about working hard and chasing my dreams. When I was young, I knew that anything was possible. So it’s great to be reliving that in a way with a party like this.”
So fast forward to 2012, SS has played gigs in every corner of the world – and to many thousands of people at a time. It’s quite right then that the venerable great is coming back to our shores to drop the madness with partners in crime Kenny Ken and MC Skibadee. “It should be a mad party. I can’t wait to drop a few old jungle bombs. I totally love Australia. The crowds there are always up for a good time. It’ll be a great party, no doubt!”
DJ SS [UK] takes on Kenny Ken [UK] refereed by MC Skibadee [UK] at Brown Alley on Friday August 10.