Interview: DJ Omar (10 Below, Double 99 & R.I.P)
Tell us about yourself and how you started in the industry?
I entered the music business in around 1995, acting on a lifelong passion for music from classical to jazz to hip hop. After a couple of years of ‘bedroom djing’, I thought I try my hand at making music which I wanted to hear on the radio and throughout the clubs. I was working in computers and design, but used to hang at ‘Time Is Right’ record shop in Chapel Market each and every weekend. That’s where I met Tim (Deluxe), and we hooked up with Andy who was running Boogie Beat records at the time. After pooling our finances, we bought an Apple Mac (extortionately priced at the time!) a couple of samplers, keyboards, a bit of outboard gear and a Yamaha 01 mixing desk, then we started making beats in my kitchen!
What were your initial thoughts on UKG back in the 90s and what made you want to do something new?
Initially there weren’t that many ‘UK’ club tracks around with energy and a vibe for the masses, just a few that were very underground. When Andy, Tim and I started Ice Cream Records, we really wanted to provide a sound portfolio for what we felt, even way back then, was the makings if something big.
How did RIP Groove come about and did you ever think it would be so big?
After two years of grafting and release 9 E.Ps, on Ice Cream as R.I.P, Tim and I wanted to thank our loyal supporters, by releasing a double pack vinyl e.p… hence Double 99. In true fashion we were late delivery the tracks to Andy, so we decided to make up track names and get the artwork done before the tracks had actually been made!! RipGroove was one of those ‘pre-named’ tracks, we thought to ourselves, “Yeah… we can bang up a groove that would fit the R.I.P sound”, three hours after starting it, RipGroove was DONE. It sounded like nothing else, and I knew it would literally smash it, or crash like a lead balloon!
The first play was by Dreem Teem’s Spoony at the legendary Twice As Nice. I remember crouching down hiding behind the decks, not wanting my face on show if it crashed… as soon as the bass dropped everyone went mad, and I knew that we had a hit on our hands.
What are your thoughts on UK Garage in the present time?
For the first time in many year, I can really feel a buzz that it is all coming back, with a mixture of nu skool and old skool djs, producers and tracks. I dj’d, as promotion for the Ice Cream Records, Double 99 and 10 Below forthcoming comp and material, at Hidden or Heritage in Vauxhall. The crowd was an eclectic mix of youngsters and mature clubbers, but they all knew the music… I was shocked when an 18 year old asked me 3 times of play “Obsessed”, an R.I.P classic… he must have been about 4 or 5 when it was promo’d on the label!
What advice do you have for young people in the scene?
From a creativity and fulfilment perspective, there is no better release than the producing music and djing. Even if it’s not your main career, music and technology are so closely linked that literally anyone can have a go, have fun, and express themselves…. and I think 4 hours on a rainy day making or spinning beats on your home PC is far more productive that a marathon online-gaming blood-fest. You never know what could happen, and young minds are where future hits are made.
What are your favourite UK Garage tunes, and who are your favourite UKG producers & DJs of all time?
Though not strictly UKG, I like everything from Todd Edwards, for want of an over-used term, he is a genius. MJ Cole, Steve Gurley, X-Men (Johnny J), Groove Chronicles and Wookie are all up there also.
DJs I would PAY to see are EZ (for his his hard sound… verging on house), Todd Edwards, Mikee B (aka The Headmaster!), Tim Deluxe (when he can be bothered to DJ!) and DJ Hermit… trust me, for those who don’t know, Hermit was one of the first DJs that I heard who didn’t stick to the Top 20 UKG playlist, and took a chance pushing new sounds through.
Favourite tunes… wow… that would take a long time, in terms of anthems… RipGroove (biased!), As I Am – Todd Edwards, Dreem Team Theme – The Dreem Team, Feel My Love – Matt Jam Lamont, Tumblin’ Down – Tuff Jams, Angel – X-Men, Battle-Wookie, How Deep Is Your Love – Dru Hill (Grove Chronicles Mix), Things Are Never – Baffled (Steve Gurley Mixes), Anyway – Matlock (MJ Cole), 2 Deep – Te Adoro (Gerald Elms & Joey Musaphia), Misled – Celine Dionne (MK Mixes).
When and where will people be able to get The First Sound of UKGarage
It’s available now on iTunes, Amazon, Beatport and Traxsource… it should be on all your playlists, and will give you a real feel for the Ice Cream Records early sound.
Can we expect to hear new things from you, and any other plans for the near future?
On The First Sound Of UK Garage, there are 2 exclusive, previously unreleased mixes of Double 99’s ‘Ripgroove’ and 10 Below & Kele Le Roc’s ‘My Love’. There’s plenty coming in 2012… including something HOT with Kelly Pepper… WATCH THIS SPACE!
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