After revitalising the south-coast hardcore breakbeat scene in the last 18 months, Brighton club Calling The Hardcore is making its presence further felt with a limited edition DJ-friendly compilation album. Released this November, Calling The Hardcore – Volume 1 brings together luminaries from the resurgent scene. Mixing legends in with the hottest new talent, this triple-disc set packs bangers from artists like Ellis Dee to Damage Inc, and Ron Wells to Brighton’s own TRY UNITY.

To celebrate the release of the new project, we hooked up with a couple its stars, to find out where this perennial scene is going and what keeps those ravers returning.


CTHC - Ellie DeeELLIS DEE

Rocking clubs, arenas and warehouses since the start of the acid house scene in 1988. Releasing countless big tunes under the Ellis Dee Project moniker, tracks like Rock to the Max and Desire are still considered classics even now. His style and tastes have evolved with the scene. Now he’s gone almost full circle and landed back in the realm of breakbeat hardcore, unleashing phat rolling beats to an ever appreciative crowd.

How did your involvement in the new compilation come about?

Well, a mate of mine called DJ Spider who is friends with Sammy from CTH, and also plays for him put us in touch. We had a good old chat on the phone, Sammy told me about the club and the ethos of the whole of what he is doing for the scene and I was impressed with his dedication to everything. We set a date for me to play and even though it’s a small intimate crowd the night was up there with most of the events that I’d played at for the year, There were a host of local talent playing too that held the crowd in the palms of their hands as well as my old mate Vinyl Vera who took it to another level.

Apart from your own, what’s the stand-out moment on the album?

Ron’s (Wells) track on there is a work of art as always. Well produced and a bit more easier on the ear for us “oldies” on the album. Mind Elevation is a nice roller that takes me back to 92/3 in the days of the Eclipse in Coventry. It’s one of those tunes that once you’ve smashed in to your set with your first one or two that you play you put this one on to let everyone know you’re rolling your sleeves up and going in.

I was going to review the rest of the equally fine tracks on the album, but I doubt if you have enough space. They will all do damage when played at the appropriate times in club.

While the original rave scene has always had an impact on electronic music, why do you think it’s enjoying a modern authentic revival?

There’s a few reasons I think. A lot of the original crowd that probably no longer go out clubbing, due to having families and other commitments, now go to a lot of the festivals. For those people the music and times that they had will hold a lot of great memories for them and to get the chance to relive some of those moments are priceless.

For the younger crowd that are now getting in to the music it’s the first time they have experienced it, so to them it’s a whole new sound just like it was for the older generation. And so, the cycle begins again.

Has changing technology affected production styles on this reinvigorated scene?

Most definitely, it a good way and sometimes not so good. What you have to remember is that producers of my era had to learn all the equipment for themselves, so it was a steep learning curve for us all – not like it is nowadays where you can just instantly look up a million YouTube tutorials online of what your trying to achieve. My first sampler had eight seconds sampling time so we would speed up a record to 45 that was originally at 33 if we were taking samples from it then slow it down in the sampler to save space There were no “VST’s” in those days and a good sound module would set you back around £700 compared to something nowadays that would cost you £50 and would have five times as many sounds. Saying all that it did make us more creative. Nowadays, I may be looking for one more sound to finish off a track and after looking through hundreds of sounds I might say “I can’t find something that fits!!!”. When people ask me nowadays what equipment we used to make tunes with back in the day I say “hammers and chisels!”

What makes the contemporary hardcore breaks boom stand apart from the heritage circuits we’re getting with other styles?

I’m not sure if ‘stand apart’ is the right term – I just think that ‘Hardcore’ just as much as any other genre has a place in the world of music. It’s always been a scene that people know to be friendly as well as fun and for the older generation it holds lots of fond memories.

Is Hardcore’s ethos of ‘Peace, Love and Unity’ more vital than ever in these challenging and divisive times?

Yes. I think that even for someone going to a Hardcore rave today for the first time would wake up the next day and think to themselves “well that was different and friendly too” which is something you may not experience with some other genres. We do live in challenging times and I know it sounds like a cliché, but music does have the power to bring people together. Back in the day I used to be on a radio station called Sunrise, our rivals (for want of a better word) were Centreforce. The two stations never really got on but nowadays representatives from both stations sit side by side at seminars with no animosity whatsoever.

Many original recordings from the late 80s/early 90s have been lost. Do you think this iteration will be documented better?

Most definitely. With the advent of the internet, better PC’s and mobile phones that have great cameras on it is so easy to document everything good that is going on nowadays. Something we could have only dreamed of back in the late 80s.

What’s it going to take to keep this movement pushing forward?

More promoters like Sammy that have a love for putting on events that people enjoy. Slight ‘tweaks’ in the music that will grow as the crowds do so as to keep them interested and for people to remember that “life is a one-time offer. Make sure you enjoy it” 😊


Damage IncDamage Inc.

How did your involvement in the new compilation come about?

We were kindly asked if we would or could contribute to this amazing project, and of course we jumped at it.

We were told no obvious samples/bootlegs/rip-offs, authentic Old Skool style, so we came up with an original track, stayed away from any modern sounds or VSTS such as Serum,

kept it raw and went for a sort of Production House/White label sound, I think everything in it is sourced from the 70s,80s & 90s.The bass is a LFO/Nebula II style sound, an old electro style riff, a chopped up and looped (how we would have done it in the early 90s) piano which I challenge you to ID! Couple of classic breaks, FX, bleeps, vocal shots and I think it captures that sound.

Apar from your own, what’s the stand-out moment on the album?

Sorry, but I have 6! 😲 firstly sharing a release with Old Skool Dons: Ellis Dee (And the fact it’s a remix of ‘Give It To Me Baby’!) and Ron Wells, secondly sharing that release with Hardcore Breaks veterans: Systec and Nervous & Anxious, The whole release is new to me so I haven’t had time to choose a favourite yet, time will tell, but Mind Elevation sounds like a modern classic, the vocal just takes me back to the Fantazia days. And lastly, WOW! How lush it is to have a release with a cover as amazing as  Calling The Hardcore Vol 1,I’m into art as well as music so to feature on a release with art by Junior Tomlin is amazing to me .If you don’t know he was the artist behind the classic Kickin’ Records/Slammin’ Vinyl/Dream FM flyers but also games like Silk Worm and works for Marvel on Spider-Man and X-Men amongst many other things.

While the original rave scene has always had an impact on electronic music, why do you think it’s enjoying a modern authentic revival?

I think it’s a combination of things, music and fashion always goes round in circles, we’ve been seeing a resurrection of 80s culture, what started in the 80’s and came next?: Rave music and culture! When was the last time you saw neon and guys with undercuts and ponytails? Sound familiar?! Music wise things have been 80s retro,electro,808s etc, things have been having that 80s drum machine sound and reviving that sound, what came next, the fast and hardcore breakbeat sampling of Rave and Jungle, both are getting more and more popular again. Combine that with how appalling modern music has got, ‘rappers’ that can only mumble, bass music that’s lost its bass so it uses midrange so a bassline is audible on a iPhone. Pop, rap, rock all seem to have struggled to find new artists or great tunes. The clubbing age group seems to be older, we’re Generation X, we raved in the 80s and 90s and unlike our parents we still go out, maybe not as much as we did, but we seem to still embrace that lifestyle, with an older age group out, they want the older sounds. Now at a Festival like Boomtown for example. That older crowd are there for the Rave music, the youngsters too, love and know any Old Skool style tunes that are played. Original Nuttah, Out Of Space, On A Ragga Tip and Incredible sounding as big if not bigger than they did 25 years ago!

Has changing technology affected production styles on this reinvigorated scene?

Yes it has, for the better. Originally the music was created as and when new barriers were broken as new technology allowed you to push the music further. Rave music has it’s sound due to both the experimentation (samplers/time-stretching etc) of new equipment, and the limits of that technology (sample time/bitrate/project saving). Rave music has always pushed boundaries and is as much scientific as it is musical, the new tech makes everything much easier and quicker. Hardcore Breaks, as a genre, allows you to use elements from modern styles or genres which are not true to the early 90s time, such as D’n’B, Trance, Garage, Bassline etc – which they surely would have, had those sounds existed back then. Or, to make new tracks/a modern track, sound as though it authentically comes from that era, using only the sounds used in the early 90s.Either way is acceptable and keeps things exciting, both work on the dancefloor, it gives younger crowds tunes they know a harder, ravier edge, and makes older crowds wonder if this is an Old Skool track they’re not familiar with or a new production! Importantly, it gives DJ’s who play Old Skool some new material to play, rather than the same old tracks  (no matter how good they are) over and over again, which a DJ in another genre would always have new material to play.

What makes the contemporary hardcore breaks boom stand apart from the heritage circuits we’re getting with other styles?

I think the main difference is that all the other heritage circuits are about finding the old artists and reliving the old tracks of each genre, Hardcore Breaks is recreating that era’s vibe, capturing the atmosphere but with new and exciting music in that era’s style. That’s the main difference – that it’s not old, it’s new (‘old style’) music.

Is Hardcore’s ethos of ‘Peace, Love and Unity’ more vital than ever in these challenging and divisive times?

Hmmm, that is a tricky one, because I feel that PLUR is a ruse, a product that ‘businessmen’ sell to the ravers, BUT, because ravers have faith and believe in PLUR it becomes real?

The older generation, the Rave generation, they’re pretty safe really, they’re no trouble, but the younger generation, it’s a pretty good mental outlook for them to embrace really, they’re the ones most at risk of dangerous gang/knife culture than anyone else. And, it’s a better thing to party, enjoy the uplifting atmosphere of dance music, together, no matter what colour, race, language, sexuality or whatever, enjoy the music, dance how you want to, a positive attitude. whereas ‘repping your ends’, ‘dissing mans’, escalating a threatening situation, ‘carrying’ etc, this is only going to end one way – badly. If you find yourself in that situation, get out of it, don’t get involved in gang culture, do something more positive. Life is short enough without putting yourself in a stupid situation which can be life threatening.

Many original recordings from the late 80s/early 90s have been lost. Do you think this iteration will be documented better?

Hopefully it should be because technology is better/cheaper, and this is easier to do. Sadly I know a lot of Hardcore breaks music hasn’t fared any better than back in the day when artists used DAT tapes because producers have had hard drive failures and sadly no backups. I know I have lost the odd project myself due to disappearing USB sticks, hard drives failing. Weirdly too, many producers never had or kept a WAV of their track and at best a 128kb mp3 may be found, I have no idea why, but then I suppose something is better than nothing.

What’s it going to take to keep this movement pushing forward?

It takes a group of people who are passionate about this music to keep it pushing forward, keep making exciting projects and movements within the scene. Going forward you need people outside the music to give it a chance, exposure, airtime, promotion, reports, reviews etc. People love this music when they are given the opportunity to hear it, they need to be given more chances to discover it.

It’s never cleared the dancefloor whenever I have played it, in-fact the opposite, in amongst other genres, at a D’n’B night, at an Old Skool night, when they hear Hardcore Breaks they dance to it, they find it exciting and you can see they want to know more about this. It just works, it’s Old Skool beefed up, it’s just pure Rave music. As for people who are passionate about this music, the ones who come to mind are Try Unity, Glowkid, Raveskool Recordings, Nefti, Systec and our label SonicFortress.com ,if you like this music then go and check these guys out, you will surely discover more music like this that you will like 😉


 

CTHC - Ron WellsRON WELLS

Between 89 and 96 Ron Wells had a helping hand in hundreds of genre-defining records. Releasing material on his Sound Entity and Smooth Records labels, he also release a mass of his own productions under a myriad of guises. Over this time his studio became an ad-hoc hub for the most creative minds on the scene, forging its place in rave history. Now he’s back in there, and banging out some great music.

How did your involvement in the new compilation come about?

I contacted Sammy Purcell after a friend announced he was playing Calling The Hardcore at Volks Brighton. I asked who the promoter was as it looked a really good event to me. After a brief introduction we discussed the potential of me doing a set there at some point in the future. Then the conversation turned to a compilation that Sammy was planning. He asked if I had anything I could offer for it. I had 1 unreleased piano style Jungle Techno track I thought would suit, which was received well.

Apart from your own, what’s the stand-out moment on the album?

Ellis Dee’s tune samples my signature stab sound (made on a Korg O1R/W using waveshaping)… nice to see that 25 years later the only way I ever heard it properly emulated is via a sampler (it wasn’t easy to make). In addition to that there are lots of quality tunes on there from people who I respect – it’s a solid product.

While the original rave scene has always had an impact on electronic music, why do you think it’s enjoying a modern authentic revival?

LOL, mid-life crisis… People remember their golden days and want to live them again… and the general state of modern dance music is poor. Sure, there’s plenty of good quality new stuff coming out, but it generally gets drowned out with 1000’s of dumb-ass, music by numbers clown fodder a week.

Has changing technology affected production styles on this reinvigorated scene?

Not really for me, I generally work in the same way but now with significant convenience. They key benefit for me is ‘total recall’, meaning I can load up a track exactly how I left it. BITD it would be virtually impossible to recreate exactly a tune after the settings had been changed (it often meant moving on from a project before it was ‘perfected’). It’s a godsend for me which allows me to concentrate solely on the creative element (composition & production), as opposed to engineering (which is the music equivalent of admin and paperwork) – and go back and make small improvements before release.

What makes the contemporary hardcore breaks boom stand apart from the heritage circuits we’re getting with other styles?

If I understand your question correctly for me it’s the same. I started out as a House & Techno artist and moved into Hardcore. Today I probably make more Techno than Hardcore. The Old Skool revival scene is amazing but I have the same love for early House and Techno, which I usually try to make in a nostalgic manner. I remember those days first time around so it’s easy for me to inject (and trigger) those same emotions in my music. I think it shows when people try to make nostalgic tunes who weren’t there for the originals – there is often an indescribable feeling or ‘soul’ missing.

Is Hardcore’s ethos of ‘Peace, Love and Unity’ more vital than ever in these challenging and divisive times?

Yes, absolutely. I was at Riverdance London last week and it could have easily been 87-93, the feel was ‘sublime togetherness’. That vibe is precious. There seems to be a lot of disaffected people in this country today who are paying the price of casino banking bastards that got away with all of our money. It’s no surprise to me at the level of disillusionment. My biggest worry is gang culture… these people need to find noble routes to financial stability, other than ‘shooting up the streets’ and cutting each other up – they really need help and mentoring.

Many original recordings from the late 80s/early 90s have been lost. Do you think this iteration will be documented better?

Well I for one won’t be as blasé with my recordings. I only have DATs (digital masters) for 25% of my body of work. I guess we all thought our music was valueless in the wake of MP3 culture. It turns out people actually do treasure our efforts and want to preserve them for future generations. I thought I was all washed up in music. I left the industry and went into business for 2 decades and the ‘the people’ demanded I reissue my works by canvassing me constantly – after 6 years I gave in and started releasing music via MPSVinyl.co.uk – I’m so glad I kept the DATs I had! Many others have done the same via MPS and other channels, it’s a collective effort.

What’s it going to take to keep this movement pushing forward?

People need to support new music! Everything I do that is current is often outsold 2 fold by my old reissues. When we’ve all reissued everything, there will be no scene left for us to service if our new music isn’t supported. You would think people would have learned from history given that our old releases fetch crown jewels prices of the 2nd hand market – the same will (and already is) happening with the best of (collective) our new music – the term “buy now or cry later” is banded around a great deal these days in relation to buying wax.


Calling The Hardcore – Volume 1 is available on Fri 30 Nov 2018, via Rave Radio Records. For more details and pre-order discounts, head to: www.raveradiorecords.com/calling-the-hardcore-volume-1