Over the last 20 years, one DJ has been consistently repping dark DnB to the fullest.
He has played at every decent event, on almost every pirate radio station, released on a wide variety of respectable labels and has collaborated with some of the best the scene has to offer.
One look at his AIM folder is enough to make most DJ’s green with envy, literally everyone sends this guy tunes, if its unreleased and worth playing its almost certain that it’ll make its way onto his playlist.
His skills as a DJ are unrivaled, he is just as comfortable on vinyl as he is with CD’s and his selection, structure, experience and intimate knowledge of the music all combine during a set to produce some truly amazing results.
In addition to all this, he is also one of the longest running pirate radio DJ’s in the country, he has been broadcasting filth over London’s airwaves on a weekly basis for well over a decade.
The fact is, this guy has continuously made massive contributions to dark dnb and has put in way more than he’s ever taken out, he’s also one of the nicest guys you’re ever likely to meet in DnB. So without further delay, it is my absolute honour to introduce the legendary … DJ-E.
GCB … Firstly, thanks a lot for taking the time to talk to me today fella, lets get straight to it.
For those who have been living under a rock for the last decade or so, can you give us a bit of info about yourself and tell us how you got started ?
DJ-E … It’s my pleasure, and thank you for asking me. Ok, well it started around 1989 when I got my first job in a record shop. The manager was a hip hop dj, and brought his turntables into the shop one day. He started to show me how to Dj and from then I bought my own set of decks and started having a mix in my bedroom.
I started off with hip hop, as that was what I was first introduced too and I loved the breaks in it. My collection steadily increased, even the english hip hop was very good. Because I had access to music through the shop, I started to listen to the early commercial electro music such as Erasure, Pet Shop Boys, Depeche Mode etc, I even loved a bit of Prince lol.
Also around this time, pirate radio started to impact the airwaves, and I started listening to pirates such as Pulse Fm, Defection, Weekend Rush and Kool. Listening to these pirate stations introduced me to acid house, old school,hardcore, jungle, drum and bass. After about 4 years of mixing in my bedroom , about 1993, and listening to music through the shop and radio, I decided to send a demo to a station called Raw FM, I got a set with a friend which was a very late on a Saturday evening/Sunday morning, but after a while I decided to leave and moved to Rinse Fm, but that was a short stay of 6 months, as East London was a long journey for me back then lol. I decided to go back to Raw which by this time had renamed themselves Rude FM. From that moment on I was hooked.
Through Rude I got to know Dylan, Facs and Bkey. Dylan worked in a shop called Parliament Records, which was in Hertford. Every Friday I would finish work at 4pm and dash up to Hertford to collect the weekly promos that came in for my show on the next Saturday. Well these weekly visits and building up a friendly relationship with Dylan, I started getting into the darkerside of dnb and going to Blue Note on a Sunday with him as well as The End for Renegade Hardware and True Playaz and Ram. Going to these parties and hanging with Dylan introduced me to some of the scenes other artists and over the years get to know them and get even deeper into drum and bass.
Around 1998, Bkey invited me around to make a tune, it ended up being my first release with him on Dylan & Facs label XXX called Default. This gave me the taste for production and had to invest in my own studio. So later that year I bought myself a second hand studio. It consisted of an Akai 1000, Atari St and a mixing desk, which cost just under £1000 from a hardcore producer in High Wycombe lol. As soon as I got it home, I set it up and spent many days and nights learning the equipment inside and out.
About a year later, I had made a couple of tunes which I thought were ok, so I played them to Dylan, who by this time was working for Alpha Magic and was label manager for a few labels. He liked the tracks and asked me to go to the studios so we can work on the tracks for release. N13, and Routeen were born and was released on Spektrum Audio, in 1999, and sold around 800 copies!
From then, I had releases on Barcode with Donny, as well as Freak, Obscene, Revolution, Renegade Hardware, Barcode, M-Atome and Vampire to name but a few.
GCB … Throughout your career, you’ve always had a radio show. What is it about the radio that has kept you hooked for so long ?
DJ-E … Yep, 20 years of pirate radio, wow! If it wasn’t for pirate radio I dont think I will be where I am today. Back in the day I use to love the rush of playing music over the airwaves bringing good music to the masses, and the fact it was illegal. It’s what got me into this music in the first place and has always been my first love within the scene.
Also Im so used to doing radio now, I think I would be lost if I stopped and would leave a massive hole in my life! I still enjoy the buzz and playing/introducing new music to the listeners. Ive also met some wonderful and amazing people through radio, and music.
GCB … I’ve mentioned earlier that you’re very comfortable on both vinyl and CD format. Which you prefer and why ?
DJ-E … Hmmmm thats a good question. If you had asked me about a decade ago it would be vinyl, hands down. But nowadays it has to be CD. Theres two basic reasons really. Firstly tunes are so much readily available nowadays as mp3, wav format, as artists are always sending me music over aim and also quicker to play as if I had to wait till vinyl release ,I might be waiting a while!!! And secondly is for djing, cdj’s are tighter than turntables, in my opinion, and for me djing has always been the tighest of mixes and holding the mix for as long as needed, which cdj’s do perfectly. I’ve never really understood mixing from a computer tbh, but I guess i’m old fashioned.
GCB … Whats the best event you’ve played at in the UK and can you tell us why this event stands out for you personally ?
DJ-E … The best event Ive ever played in the UK? Hmmm, It would have to be Therapy Sessions, starting from the early days at Herbal to the Bristol events at the Black Swan as well as the London events. It just comes down to enoying the music I play to the ravers and seeing them go absolutley mad which always brings a smile to my face.
GCB … A lot of people may not know this, but you played a massive part in bringing Therapy Sessions back to the UK. In fact, you pretty much led the team on the ground for the first couple of events, sorting the venue, organizing and distributing flyers, promoting etc. The first couple of events were huge, complete roadblocks, then shortly after that your involvement ceased and the events seemed to dwindle in numbers.
I set up GCB to ask the difficult questions, so, with that in mind. Can you tell us a bit about what was happening at the time and why your involvement stopped so suddenly ?
DJ-E … Since the last weekly Therapy Sessions in 2009, almost everytime I was out clubbing in London someone would appraoch me and ask when was Therapy coming back, I would answer I dont know. Deep down I was missing Therapy too and knew it was what London was missing. One night in 2010, I was at Intent to Supply at a club called Rhythm Factory. When I saw this venue I thought it would be perfect to bring back Therapy. Of course I just couldnt go ahead and do it as I needed Dylan and Robyns permission.
Well to cut a long story short, I organised a small team and we got Therapy Sessions the Resurrection organised, which was an absolute success, the night was packed and everyone came out of there looking forward to the next one. So along came the October event and again that was another succesful night. However things changed after that, Robyn felt that my personal issues were interferring with the running of Therapy, which in her own words, she could not afford to do, and wanted to keep business and friendship seperate from each other.
Tbh it just felt as if I was just pushed out, with no reasonable explanation. What could I do about it? Nothing. I just bit my tongue and moved on. Me and Robyn are still good friends to this day, Im not one to hold grudges and Im sooo happy to see Therapy still going strong to do this day.
GCB … Name your top 3 DnB tracks of all time and tell us why you rate them ?
DJ-E … I think I need a top 100 tbh, otherwise we’ll be here all day lol. The best way to answer this is by choosing 3 tunes in my record bag/cd wallet which I’ve ben playing the longest.
- Johnny L – Wish U had Something XL Records … A track well before its time, rolling basslines, sick beats and a dirty stinking roller, just the way I like em!
- Optical & Rhyne Tyme – We Enter – No U Turn … This tracks hurts me everytime, Well made, sick vocal, and again just rolls, such a dj friendly tune as well, can drop with almost verything.
- Boom Boom Satellites – Drive Me Crazy – R&S Records … Again another track before its time, and another Optical track (I love an Ed Rush and Optical tune lol) Again another sick roller, and one that gives me goosebumps to this very day.
GCB … You’ve released on a wide variety of labels in your time, which label has treated you the best, business wise ?
DJ-E … It has to Spektrum Audio, which was part of Alpha Magic. They are the only label that have given me a contract, advance, and payment for the release.
GCB … You’re well known and widely respected for your varied selection and technical ability behind the decks. Personally, I’ve never seen or heard you play a bad set, although I’m sure there must’ve been times over the years when things have gone wrong. Can you give us an example of when things have gone tits up behind the decks and tell us how you managed to rescue it ?
DJ-E … I cant actually think of any gigs where the set has gone tits up. Ive had a few gigs where I never even got to play, they are annoying, but from the top of my head it’s just been things like no monitor speakers, or the bass cutting out on the monitor, or the turnable not being Technics, or cdj’s not being Pioneer! I suppose the worse would be the studios ive played in when doing radio, some of the equipment and studios we’ve been in havent always been the best and having the levels very low, makes things very hard! But the show must go on.
GCB … Who is your favourite DnB MC and can you tell us a bit about why they stand out for you personally ?
DJ-E … It has to be 2 Shy. I’ve known him since he started on Rude. We did a few sets together on Rude and he just knew how to smash it.The guy just knows how to be the perfect mc, will draw lyrics, but not too much, knows how to hype the crowd and is an all round good guy. I’ve kept in touch with him over the years and its soooo good to see him at the top of his game to this very day.
GCB … What are your thoughts on Crossbreed ?
DJ-E … Pants. The producers are awesome, its just the music can get a bit too much!
GCB … You previously had a long standing residency on RudeFM, a couple of years ago you switched over to KoolFM. Can you tell us the reasons behind the move and tell us which station you prefer working with ?
DJ-E … The reason I moved from Rude to Kool was that I needed a change. I had been doing Rude for 17 years and felt that it was time to move on. I spoke to DJ Chef, and he said he was looking for dj’s who played my style on Kool. It made perfect sense, to play the beats I love on the worlds largest and number one dnb radio station. Can’t believe its almost 3 years already. Rude was such a large part of my life and I will never forget those days.
Rude is like a family station, from the dj’s to the listeners, however Kool is definitely more professional, and has a wider range for opportunities. Since being on Kool, the highlight has to be playing at The Royal Academy of Arts in London, I dont think you’ll ever see Rude do that!
GCB … You have a lot of contacts in DnB and its clear from your previous involvement in Therapy Sessions that you know how to fill a venue. Have you ever thought about starting your own event/label and if so, what venue would you go for and what would be your ideal line up for your first event ?
DJ-E … In the back of my mind I have always wanted to start an event or label, but I always doubt myself, and theres always the problem of finances, and family, having 3 kids makes things a little trcickier lol.
If I was to start an event? Hmmm, I would like to start one at a small to medium size club, maybe in North London, but trying to find these clubs nowadays is hard as they are vanishing quickly, which is a shame. As for the line up, Technical Itch, Bkey, The Sect, Audio, 2 Shy, definitely, and maybe me!
GCB … Name your top 3 tracks that you have produced and give us a bit of info as to why these tracks are your favourites ?
DJ-E … Have I made that many? Lol.
- N13/Routeen – DJ E – Spektrum Audio … My one and only solo release, and the name N13 is the postcode I live in.
- Amputation VIP – Donny & DJ E – Barcode … This was my first release since the above, only took 8 years lol, but working with Donny was a lot of fun
- Archive – Bkey & DJ E … Our first collab since 1998, and this was the time I moved to Cubase and Reason, which took me on a new journey into production.
GCB … Name 3 things you hate about DnB and tell us a bit about why these issues concern you personally ?
DJ-E … Can only go by my own experiences
- Labels promising to release tracks, and never keeping to their promises.
- Politics, thats why I dont get involved!
- People who have been in the scene for 2 mins and think they know everything about dnb. I just let them get on with it lol.
GCB … Do you think you have reached your full potential as an artist ?
DJ-E … Nope, I’m not releasing enough music or getting enough gigs, and nowadays these two go hand in hand. Ive recently moved DAW’s to Presonus Studio one, so thats a step backwards, but until I’ve sussed that out and releasing again I wont be happy. However as a pirate radio dj, yes fully lol.
GCB … Finally, what are your plans for 2014 and where do you see yourself in 2015 ?
DJ-E … My main focus at the moment is definitely trying to release more tracks on different labels, in fact I do have 2 tracks forthcoming, so Im very excited about those. I might start a label next year, but Im still in two minds about that, but who knows what the future holds. I’ve always been one to take each day as it comes, and do my thing, I guess that why I still love dnb to this day.
GCB … Thanks for taking the time to talk to me today fella, I wish you all the best for the future.
Until next time … Peace.