What we gonna do right here is go back…Way back. Back into time.
I’ve been in the mix since 1988 when I put together my first pause button mixtape. I’d always been into music. Mainly 80s chart stuff, Our Price import soul and a big love for UB40!
I’d been brought up on a good diet that included Ken lazarus, Jimmy Cliff and The Meters – records that my dad had brought back from working in St Lucia in the 70s which I still love and play to this day!
That pause button mixtape included Boogie Down Productions, Public Enemy and other golden hip hop.
I’d really started to get into hip hop having found it through school mates and local youth club discos at Petits Lane and The Academy at The Dolphin in Romford. We saw Sugar Bear live at The Academy!
I left school in ’89 🙂 Towards the end of the Academy sessions they had started playing some chart and underground acid house.
I wasn’t feeling it. I preferred lyrics and breakbeats… That was about to change…
Around this time my dj set up had progressed from tape dubbing to a 2 turntable system you could scratch and mix on.
This was 2 different hifi systems with their 2 sets of speakers next to each other, as one line of 4 speakers on the shelf. This meant you could mix between just by using their own volume controls. Rudimentary cueing could be done by putting your ear to the record with the volume down but mainly this system was used for planned mixes, scratches and cuts. Both hifi's had great switches for cutting the phono in and out. You could transform! Mixes were recorded 'live' in the room to another tape deck as there was no single audio out.
We hung out at 4 Star General in Carnaby Street and the Soul II Soul shop in Camden. There were some awesome afternoons spent buying funk 45s and albums at the back of the Rocket shop in Camden with the owner Horace. We had a bit of a rapport after I’d played him some mixes and he’d sold me some tunes. I remember looking after the shop for him while he bugged out around the market sorting stuff out!
A few mates had been going to clubs and raves. I ended up going to the Berwick Manor thinking I wouldn’t get in to the beats much. It’s fair to say that night changed everything. A deep love of acid house and old skool breakbeat was born 🙂
Shouts out to – Kath, Zoe, Spencer, D’arcy, Eamon, Tony, Mike, Splodge, Tony P, Grant, Chris Riot, Jens, Clive, Bill, Dan, Pickaxe, Kelly, Arron, Tel, Steve R, Pete M, Steve F, Paul L, Pat and Kelvin and all the old Spencer’s Arms, Berwick, and Cottons Park crews whose names I can’t recall right now!
Into the 90s! Around this time I had adopted the DJ Rizla moniker and had procured a couple of Citronic belt drive decks and a Phonic MRT60. Boogie Times had opened and I was spending hard 🙂
We were hitting various nights and raves…. Sin at The Astoria, Labyrinth, Mr Percy’s Warehouse Party in Dalston, Energy at Brixton Academy, Method Air and Telepathy spring to mind along with our beloved Berwick Manor.
I’d also guested on a local FM pirate radio station. I’m sure it was called Centrepoint. It was from a bedroom in South Rainham… It definitely wasn’t Centreforce 😉 I’d had no real bookings or gigs to speak of though other than mate’s parties. We had a house party (shouts out to 125 Grosvenor Drive!) in I think 1990 which ended up with people trying to get in through the bedroom windows via the porch roof and I’m sure the bouncers from the Bitter End in Romford were there 🙂 I remember a party called ‘Narnia’ at a mates place in Custom House (shouts to Kelvin!) too.
Memories are sketchy but sometime in late 1991 I became acquainted with a guy called Shak who was doing a night at Hats in Basildon. I was booked for my first set proper at a club. The manager there was impressed with what he heard from me and asked me to come back the following night to play. I duly went back the following night. No manager was there and the promoters had no idea who I was but let me play… a hardcore set to a house crowd. It was fun 🙂 Shouts out to Pickaxe Paul on the mail train journey home!
From these connections I played on some more London pirate radio. I forged further connections with a guy called Charlie who was putting Time Tunnel events on around London and at The Slammer in Gravesend. It turned out an old school mate Justin was also in this crew. I can’t be sure on exactly how it came about but after a couple of times being invited to play and going to The Slammer but not getting actually getting to play I was offered to come and ‘definitely’ play at a Time Tunnel event at The Fitness Centre in Southwark (home of Shoom?!) .
I remembered Charlie mentioning that his favourite tune was Bizarre Inc’s ‘Playing with Knives’ so I had worked out a wicked mix of Genaside II’s ‘Narra Mine’ into it. I ended up playing early in the morning and brought the house down with that mix .
I was back playing at The Slammer the following night! That first night there for proper as well as my own set I covered for a couple of no shows and stepped in for Kenny Ken as he was late. Handing over to him when he arrived after 20 mins was (and probably still is) the career highlight . Many nights and capers followed, playing weekly at The Slammer and with a big one off Warehouse Rave at Carpenters Road. I also did pirate radio across Dance FM and Destiny FM.
Shouts out to Pickaxe, Chilli, Justin, Charlie, DJ Rob Andrews, The Brain Killers, Funky Flirt, DJ Vibes and anyone else I hooked up with at The Slammer and in this era 🙂
Extra shouts to Rob Andrews as it goes….I remember some after Slammer chilling with him and his crew a few times. We also ended up playing at some other rave after The Slammer once…all I remember is going through a steel door in a wall somewhere in (South?) London and going down into a big cavern space that had underground railway arches with tracks at one end. The DJ booth was above the crowd. I remember dropping Screamer which I’ve always loved 🙂
After the Carpenters Road event, Time Tunnel at The Slammer tailed off. I’m not sure why, it was always heaving!
It was replaced by Technocore run by DJ Vibes. I did a few of these under the Reezla moniker. They were great and but the scene seemed to be heading down routes I wasn’t as into as the true old skool breakbeat…
We were still hitting other parties… I remember plenty more Labyrinth, Telepathy at The Sobel Centre…. Raves at the Tasco Warehouse. Vision was quite a wild and wet ride! Parking up on the hard shoulder, traversing fields and then as the crowd built upsteaming through the gates that were being held by police and security. All in a night’s work eh 🙂
At some point in 1992 I entered and won a DJ competition at The Brideswell Centre, playing a wicked 20 minute mash up set of old skool. The prize was a mixer with a sampler on it! The next year I was invited back as champion but went out in the first round…probably due to playing full on techno!
That mixer was taken to various mates with decks until sometime in 1993 I finally had the wedge for some 1210s on the never never from a mate who was selling some!
From 1993 I was getting more diverse and had also picked up my guitar again. Ambient, electronica, techno, Pink Floyd, The Doors and Oasis were the order of the day.
I went to see Pink Floyd in Paris at the Chateau De Chantilly in 1994 which was truly immense. The whole thing was spectacular and to this day I feel I’ve never seen anything that comes close to it spectacle wise. I swear even the smoke effects were done so awesomely they were creating images and shapes in in the smoke! Shouts out to the ‘trippiest post-gig walk through a forest in an electrical storm ever’ crew 🙂 I ended up also going to a couple of Earls Court gigs on the same Division Bell tour, after getting some tickets off a bus ticket inspector (shouts to Martin!) who was impressed with the tour tee shirt from France 🙂
DJ wise, shouts out Jenzoid and Tranceplant Productions … We made some great mixes involving decks, samplers, echo units and DATs, all lost in the mists of time 🙁
Sometime around 1995 I moved into my own gaff following a few shares and promptly disappeared into a puff of smoke for the rest of the 90s. Big up Euro ’96, Oasis at Earls Court and Knebworth, The LA Doors and some mad Chemical Brothers gigs at Brixton Academy.
Chemical beats, big beats and intelligent/bukem-esque drum and bass were the order of the day along with some early nu skool breaks rumblings.
I also ventured into some production by way of the Music programs on PlayStation 1.
I started a new job in 1999, moving into Internet based work. I knew nothing about it but saw the potential for getting mixes out there and the idea struck for getting a website up and running. Shout outs to the Web Studio Crew 🙂 I’d started using the collins303 moniker. CD burning had obliterated my mini disc very quickly for digital mixtapes. I already had a pretty decent set of mix CDs (including some old tape rips) and I was starting to knock out quite a few breaks mixes as well.
I think I had my first (Freeserve!) site up and running in late 2000. The way back machine’s first still sort of working crawl there was in May 2002. You can see some new ambient, house, and DnB mixes there! My original idea was that I could sell mix cds online. LOL. I tried to get a night on the go in 2002 too. It didn’t take off 🙂
I had also started to get involved with online radio. I can’t remember the names of the first few I did but the first proper station I got on to was Interface in 2003. They were already pretty legendary in Internet radio terms and I massively enjoyed those shows and the community! Made a lot of friends there and guested around, and still have online contact with a few from there today
Around early 2004 I ended up getting a show on Breaks FM. After posting some links up to my latest mix on various forums, Alex Yoof spotted one and got in touch to say I’d narrowly missed out on being the winner of a competition they ran to play at a big rave in Spain, and to come to the studio for a guest spot. I was gutted to have been so close to getting that competition set but was sweet to get that connection with Breaks FM. After the guest spot I got a show sharing with Grizzla on Saturday mornings. They were great times hanging out at Decksterity and the studio with the crew!
I’m not sure if this came before or after landing Breaks FM but I’d also entered another DJ competition, this time a live one… A 20 minute set at Truckers Cafe at Bar Vinyl in Camden. I was up against Wax Equestrian, Slack Granny, Mr Moneyshot and Anna B. I had no idea who these folks were, we all hung out in years to come! I won:)
Following this, I started to get really involved with the NSB forum and gigs started to fly around!
I also got involved with NSB Radio and had a right good laugh hosting the Straight Outta Romford shows with local legend Steelzawheelz – turned out we had a lot of connected history!
This was probably my busiest time in terms of gigging (and after partying – shouts out to the BSC!), playing mostly breaks and more techy/housey stuff. I was also always on hand for more warm up type music and really started to rediscover mixing hip hop, breakbeat and downtempo vibes.
Gigs of note from this era? There was a lot going on but these hold a special place in my mind:
Reliable Breaks – I was doing some nights at The Reliance in Old Street and met some still good friends and my future wife there!
Breakbeat Sushi – we had big plans to make this regular and had an awesome launch, but the venue fell through. Easy Duncan!
Armitage Skanks – the 1st homegrown night I really got involved with, shouts to Doug and Rob!
Eden Collective – so many awesome nights and NYEs not to mention gigs at Ministry of Sound and The End…and the beginnings of Rockit Science (more on that later!), Shouts to Nathan and Bonesey!
Urban Nights – Nice one Jamesy!
Shimmer – just for the fact it was at the Soundshaft. Classic venue and a wicked elevated DJ booth!
Breaks and Mortar – Some great nights at the Crypt and I think the first time I met CBW and WHD?
Flangestock – All classics! To be continued?
This is Pirate – a wicked party and weekend in Amsterdam!
Glade 2009 – a big festival gig 🙂
Sometime in 2006 I jumped aboard the digital/Serato ship and never looked back. Things started to really diversify! And Rockit Science was just around the corner….
Rockit Science had started back in the 00s in a few back and main rooms. My man DJ RYU was behind them and I’d been involved in a few. Things really kicked into gear when the night got regular at The Lockside Lounge! DJing back to back with Ryan on extended warm up sessions and peak time roller sets were really great times! Good mates always onboard and some big names too! Superb flyers as well, big ups Marco!
Rockit Science was brought to you by: DJ RYU, collins303, Country Cockney, Dellamorte, Hubie, DTism, Saffrolla, Steve Brennan, Flange, Battenberg, Cool Uncle, Boy Wonder, James Fox, Rick Grant, Andy Smith, Bill Brewster, Krafty Kuts, Big Nick D, Normski, Rejectbeats, Sir Funk, Daddy G, FC Kahuna, Mojo Filter, The101Connection, Dave Ritchie, Darryl Funk, Casual Breakin, Cut La Roc, Quaint, Steve Truckers, Mr Sushi, Push Music, Soul Edge, The Reflex, Punks Jump Up, DJ Fez, Jimi Needles, Cosmonauts, Goffrey, Napoleon Complex, Fifties, Jack The Hat, Apesound, Dean Sunshine Smith, Boogie Cartel, Mr Shiver, Magic Jase, Damo, Catch 23, Midfield General, The C90s, Mighty Mouse, Deadly Avenger, Leo Zero, P-Dub, Leftside Wobble, Uncle Ben, Roxanne Roll, Psychemagik, Anna B, Meezoid, Jetset Mikey, Shifta, Move Ya, Dave Ritchie, DJ Idle, Tomislav. Special Thanks to Marco Derienzo and Hannah Goodwin! RS x
Shouts going out to Ross, Dave, The Wycombe Massive, The North London Mafia and all RS family and after party crews!
In 2014 I moved out of London to Folkestone, and went on to have two kids and got married – as such, things are a little quieter DJing wise at the moment
I mainly concentrate on RADIO303 which started up in earnest again in 2012 then relaunched in 2015. If you like across the board blissed out electronica, check it out!
And gigs wise it’s all about the FULL FLAVA BEHAVIOUR.
We fell in love with The Chambers as soon as we moved to Folkestone and I was stoked when I got to put on a new night there. It’s been going since 2015 every 3 months and the parties are among the best I’ve done – always a great night! Come join me and the Country Cockney sometime soon!
And that’s it….for now! There should be more in the way of mixes coming out this year (2019) and I’m hoping to get back in to more gigging a bit more as these kids get a bit older, so watch this space. Famous last words? Probably 🙂