interviewed and transcribed by edward luna (email@example.com)
[Apologies for the delay in transcription, the original was lost. Some of Dego's comments are now dated, but much of what we discussed remains pretty relevant even as jungle enters a new commercial phase in the late '90s.]
e-when we talked before (in Cleveland, along with Charles Noel/Monochrome and Stephen
Hindman/KingSize), Charles and I were trying to explain how we thought
"Darkside" and "Internal Affairs" were kinda like watersheds...or turning
points or something like that. I would also count "Golden Age."
e-how true is this? Would you say those are the peaks?
d-for those in the know that's true. But for the average...and I mean
"for those in the know" I'm talking like, a very small amount of people.
Even big-name people you might think that'd be in the know aren't in the
know. People don't understand that.
e-we came upon this realization purely by the way they sounded. They
seemed like "manifestos" of some kind...just like: "Here it is. This is IT."
d-yah I know, it's like...I'll tell you what a lot of people say...stuff
like that, it's like us making the manual...you get wot I'm sayin? And
then everybody else reads it, and makes their crap from it.
e-ha ha ha!!! So, I bet you feel kind of bitter about the fact that people--
d-no. Cuz I know I was the first. So that's that. (laughs, talks
aside) I was the FIRST, Wink...don't you ever forget that! (laughs)
e-ha ha...for a while there you seemed kind of bitter--
d-no, no...as long as some people understand, that's all, know wot I
mean? Ain't gonna beat your head in on concrete trying to show people
what really is...and you can't tell people what's good and what ain't good.
It's meant to be a matter of taste, but I know what I know, and certain
people out there know what they know, and that's it.
e-would you say there's a watershed this year (1994) that we don't know
about? On the way, or that's already come out...or a "manual," as you
would put it...
d-there's one thing that Goldie's done that's something different again.
And then there's us using live instruments and shit.
e-how about anything that's come out already this year? like a high
point...like the album ("Parallel Universe")...
d-that could be, because we use a lot of live instruments on that, so
I'm talking about that, yeah.
e-what songs use live instruments on that?
d-"Sunspots" and "Universal Love."
e-well that's obvious...heh, the saxophone. Along those lines, where do
you think Reinforced is going in the future? Same direction?
d-I dunno. We'll always do things to satisfy the, you know...the masses
out there, you get wot I'm saying? If you hear the [first] Cold Mission, we
got us using some live trumpet player and all that shit, and playing
keyboards and live and all that shit, right?
e-so it's coming full circle--
d-on the other side you got all the normal run-of-the-mill stuff as well.
e-so you're pretty much improvising...as you go along.
e-so the crowd is important to you, then? The "masses."
d-yeah, we gotta sell the records still, ain't we? Still a business.
It's not like I'm sitting down on some big deal and we can get all
artsy-fartsy about it...if I could do that, then bloody hell yes...there'd
be a lot of things i want to do still, but such is. Still got to sell
records. You do something really different and shit, the attitude of
a lot of people, they ain't got no open mind. They're like, "urowww, i
don't understand what's going on." Know wot I mean?
d-if it ain't...I dunno, I can't explain. Them people just don't...
e-my town (columbus ohio) is still stuck still stuck in guitar/drum/bass whatever...
d-wot? Drum & bass?
e-no, real drum & bass. (laughs) Guitar crap bands.
e-yeah...and hip-hop. They can't even accept electronic music whatsoever.
d-yeah? Well, such is. Like Wink said, "Open Your Miiiind." (laughs)
"Take people on a journey."
e-he he he.
d-no, but it's true, tho...know wot I mean? People should open their
minds. the way people will hear a record and say "uuuuuwww" coz it ain't up
to the normal formula, it's just slightly different: "uwww, i don't want
to know." Oh yeah, see them 4 Hero remixes...okay, you know the house
remixes and all of that?
d-they never came out, you know that. We didn't release them [in the UK]. Why?
Because people are like, "Why dey doin' house? Uuow, I don't like house."
e-ha ha ha ha...
d-d'you understand? When I did them Tek-9 hip-hop tracks, right?
sometimes it's a waste of time, I dunno why I bother. I do 'em for
myself, know wot I mean? "Why'd he put hip-hop on there?" Cuz they just
listen to "hardcore," goin' 160 bpm's, night and day.
e-ha ha ha!
d-they're just fuckin'...dumbos, you understand?
e-so you got a bad reaction when you had that "Points Proven" stuff...
d-when I do the things with the hip-hop on there, and you do things like
house mixes, which we've been doing from a long time ago, you get a bad
reaction! Or you get people saying, "Oh, they think they can make
house." You get some guy who reviews records saying "Oh, now they're
jumping on the bandwagon," when from Rivet 1205 we had a house bloody
track on it...so how can we be jumping on the bandwagon when in 1990 we
had a house cut...had a house label out since then as well.
e-oh yeah? What was the name of that?
e-wow, that's news to me. Shit.
d-but you know wot I mean? That's what I'm saying. We just do them
fings to say "We were the first, we done that, yeah right right." And we'll
just move on. But someone else does that kind of thing and they go "yeah
yeah yeah," coz they expect it of Reinforced. Like say someone does the
same thing that's like you done, they don't expect that person to be that
good or whatever, they go bloody mad about it. Serious, man.
e-yeah i think variety is necessary. Like you say, if you're just
somebody who sits and listens to hardcore day and night, what kind of
person are you?
d-dunno...they're just weirdos.
e-he he he.
d-I'm amazed when I hear people talking about things like "Golden Age"
and "Students of the Future" and all that over here (the US). Because them
idiots don't understand...
e-well I think "Golden Age" is one of the most amazing things I've ever
e-becasue it totally breaks shit down...
e-I mean if I wasn't convinced already [about the artistic merit of jungle], that record changed my mind entirely.
d-oh yeah, see? I wish every release could be like that.
e-so that's the kind of thing you would like to do.
d-I'd like it to be like that...
e-"Wrinkles in Time" kinda fits in that category... So, in general then...looking at this objectively, how do you see hardcore...do you think it's changing music at all, is it opening up new doors, or--
d-all it's done is open up a crowd that should have been opened up to
from the beginning anyway: the reggae crowd. They're really involved
with it. At the moment, in England, they are...
e-well how about in terms of the history of music, in a more general sense...
d-how's it going to carry on?
e-yeah, well...do you see it as an important moment in music history,
e-not along the lines of Bebop, or--
d-nah nah nah, no way!
d-no, no. Nothing like that.
e-hm. Because in a way...
d-we are babies from techno...if anything, you can say that about it.
e-well on the other hand, if you think of it in terms of the unlimited
potential of sampling, cutting up the beats and all that...it becomes
almost like improvisation.
d-yah, that's true...but--
e-i think that has long-ranging implications that people haven't really
soaked in yet.
d-potentially, it could...
e-like "Golden Age"...my intention here is to call attention to the fact
that "Golden Age" is one of the most amazing things that's come out, and
that 50 years from now I'd like people to remember that record.
d-nah, they won't, mate. The hardcore people can't remember what came
out a month ago, how'd you expect anyone to remember that shit?
(chuckles) Know wot I mean? Records have a very short existence in this
e-how do you feel about that?
d-djs are arseholes, really...
e-the disposability factor...
d-can't sit on a track for ages...there's some djs that do, but you
know...what's that mean?
e-so that's just a function of the scene...
e-do you think that's good or bad? Do you want your stuff to last?
d-some fings, yes...some particular things, yes...some no (laughs).
e-because I think one thing techno's done is force people to let go of
notions of idolatry...
e-because everything moves so fast, you can barely grab on to
anything...but I dunno if that's good or bad yet.
e-how do you feel about this "jungle hoopla," as far as the British media.
d-aanh, it's just them finding out we're still alive. That's all.
"Don't believe the hype," and that's it. You get a lot of people in the
scene believing it, people who are already involved in it...goin' on
like...but their record sales ain't increased, so what the hell are they
fuckin jumpin' up and down about?
e-Danny Breaks said something along the lines that when "Smart-e's" came
out and all that crap, people in the mainstream and non-hardcore heads
basically rejected hardcore...which was good because only the people who
cared stuck around...is that true?
d-yeah but I don't think much of the people that "care"...who stuck
around. Arright, just because it's "underground" don't mean hardcore
ain't got a pop scene still. And i'm not even talking nuttin' like
"Smart-e's" and stuff...we've had our piano tracks as well...that crossed
over. We've all done that...drum & bass, everybody, we've all had our
big tracks that were big poppy kind of crossovers. I'm talking about
now, still in the underground. There's still a pop kind of thing.
there's certain things that will appeal more than others. Like, you put
a reggae hook in it, an shit, people jump up and down like they've gone
bonkers! That pop mentality is still there...it's not like the techno
scene. That's why I like about the techno scene when i come here
(US)...I don't know many people in the techno scene in England, so when I
come here, when I see these djs and people like Josh [Wink] and everyone...they
listen to all different kinds of techno, and then they build up their set
out of the whole different array of stuff...
d-yeah, you see? you get wot I'm sayin'?
e-speaking of jungle...I found out some interesting stuff about the fact
that they used to call Duke Ellington's hot jazz in the `20s "jungle."
d-yeah...my friend's got some of that stuff, I know what you're talking
about...the first I know of them names was "pinchers"? Had jungle and
all that shit on their stuff...you know those dub things? That's where I
knew it first...and then I found out later when they, like you said, all
that Duke Ellington stuff.
e-do you think that's kind of ironic that you've got the name "jungle"
that seems to be sticking, unfortunately, and it's a typical stereotype
of blacks; "savages" and everything...
d-yeah that's what Shut Up and Dance said the first time they heard it
e-how do you feel about that?
d-oh, I dunno...I understand what they meant at first...when Shut Up and
Dance heard that said, they went mad about that, know wot I mean? But
then so many black people seemed to be saying it, that--
e-so it makes it "ok."
d-but, I dunno...I don't really give a shit. They'll call it whatever
they want to anyway, I can't stop 'em.
e-he he...so give us a list of labels you appreciate within hardcore.
d-Shut Up and Dance.
e-what about like Associated, couple other ones, I forget...what do you
like to hear?
d-(talking aside, laughing) could you turn that page over, please?
Sorry, he just keeps on showing me this interview...(laughs)...uh, other
labels that I like? Uh, Flex records...
e-ever heard of No U-turn?
d-No U-turn? yeah, I know dem guys...they're ok. There's a lot of them
I don't know, because I don't buy it, I don't...you know...I just hear
the odd tracks people give me...
e-what kind of stuff do you buy, then?
d-hip-hop and jazz.
e-what kind of hip-hop have you bought lately? What's the best hip-hop
you've heard lately?
d-lately? oh shit...O.C....that's the baddest thing i've heard lately.
"Time is Up"?
e-what about the mainstream guys, like Quest--
d-yah, Quest is bad as well.
e-how do you feel about their "Low End Theory"? is that any kind of an
influence on you?
d-on yer hip-hop stuff, yeah...but not on hardcore.
e-my friend Charles (Monochrome) wanted to ask: what influence, if any, did
Altern-8 have on you guys? (chuckle)
e-how do you feel about them?
d-nothing...I don't feel anything about them, to tell you the truth. I
spoke to the guy a coupla times, he was cool...he liked some of the stuff
we done and all that...there was one mix on one record, the techno mix...on
one of their records, that was ok, that was bad, but otherwise I didn't
really like much of their stuff.
e-who does your covers and designs? Is that one person, or...
d-there's a few people...mainly this guy called Lamb...
e-yeah, I noticed he did "Parallel Universe."
d-that's my boy.
e-so who did the logo?
e-oh wow, interesting...now, who does Tom & Jerry?
d-me and Mark...and Ian.
e-what else has Ian done?
d-the early Tek-9 and 4 Hero stuff he was involved in, and now he's done
quite a few on the latest Tom & Jerry [presumably #10 or #11--ed. note].
e-and what about Gus...
d-uh, he just finished some track with Goldie...and we used to all do the
early 4 Hero together...back in the beginning.
e-so how close are you guys?
d-group of friends...
e-are you all pretty much from lower-class background?
d-same kinda background, Mark's parents are from Jamaica, the other lot,
their parents are from...uh, Dominica? I can't remember...one of them
e-ha ha ha! So you guys have a lot of shared experience, then...
d-yeah yeah, we have...we been around together for a long time. They
used to go to college together...I met them when we started doing radio.
e-here's an obscure question: is Africa any kind of influence on you?
as far as like spiritually, or anything like that?
e-rhythmically...anything like that.
d-uuuuh...no, not really. Not at the forefront of my mind. When it's
in my blood it comes out.
e-in America at least, it seems that some sections of the hip-hop community have taken Africa as being "the Homeland," and sort of grabbed on to that
concept..."the Motherland," and all that...
d-yeah yeah, that's true...yeah. it is. That's why that Tek-9 symbol is
the way it is. You've seen the symbol for the Tek-9?
d-but musically, i'm not thinking about them "Nigerian beats" I heard last
week or nothin'...
e-(laughs) so did you hear any of those before you started doing hardcore?
d-I heard some all the time...
e-do you think that kinda made your sense of rhythm...uh, come out more,
or just made you more aware of something?
d-dunno, man...(laughs)...you're a bit too deep now...
e-(laughs) well, everything's connected. That's how I see it...
d-yeah yeah, that's true. Basically, only thing you could say is: yeah,
the way you talk about Africa, yeah I know, that's where we were originally
from and all that shit, but the way I live stems from Jamaica, you know
wot I mean? Then you get all those who chat about Marcus Garvey and all
that, about Africa and all that...but...it's not really at the forefront
of my mind, speaking musically and shit.