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I went over to CKMS 100.3 AKA Sound FM radio station in Kitchener to check out the Souljah Sessions crew in action. I sat down with DJ Phodee6, Woody Wood, and Mark Furious while Uncle Doobie was dropping some excellent beats live on air in the background. We talked about the history of the long standing collective as well as a couple things about the DnB scene.
Check out our full interview below in video form.
History Of Souljah Sessions
Souljah Sessions was founded by Phodee6 when he started spinning on the University of Waterloo campus radio station. He used this as a home base for putting out groovy beats and happy vibes, later attracting more DJs to the show. The Souljah Sessions family grew and grew, with an increasing number of artists coming through on the show either as hosts or guests.
Drum and bass isn’t just about the music, it’s about the social side of things as well, it’s a movement. The project is about creating an open platform for expression just as much as it is about spinning auditory amazingness. That’s why Souljah Sessions has always made a point to offer a stage or a broadcast tower to anyone looking for that opportunity of expression. It’s a key value of what the genre is about.
Over time, these souljahs have become quite the veterans. Putting on shows in the area for years upon years, they’re part of the people who are keeping the scene alive. They’ve also seen some things to say the least, having brushed shoulders with the likes of Demolition Man, DJ Souljah, and Mickey Finn.
A Quick History Of Drum And Bass Music
So what is this drum and bass thing all about? It all started from an experiment from the 70s by Frankie Bones. Frankie played two copies of the same record at the same time, but slightly out of synch. The records were at different speeds and also offset from each other, which created a crazy new sound that got a wild response from the audience.
Here is “Bass Kickin’ Beats”, a track by Frankie Bones that defined a generation by its extremely bumpin’ 808 kick sound.
Frankie Bones’ new sound set off a chain reaction, and this officially created irregular breakbeats. It was a huge development at the time, however it mostly remained rather obscure as house was growing ever popular in the 80s.
That is until the 90s hit and labels and producers started messing around with breakbeats. Artists were mashing together a variety of genres like reggae, house, hip-hop, techno, and the notorious breakbeat sound. This lead to the formation of the basics of the drum and bass vibe we know and love today.
Paralleled in it’s infancy by hardcore, which is based on a more steady 4/4 beat rather than the out-of-whack breakbeat, this candy bag of genre mixtures fuelled the UK underground scene throughout the 90s. Eventually hardcore grew enough to break off into it’s own niche, along with similar variations such as happy hardcore, leaving drum and bass to further refine its own identity.
1994 came and the Jungle movement was at it’s peak, marked by clubs like AWOL, Jungle Rush and Jungle Fever busting at the seams with ecstatic ravers and pounding bass. It was a year of intense raving and unbelievable musical growth. It brought about names like DJ Pugwash, DJ Zinc, DJ Hype and Bizzy B. The scene was absolutely vibrant, full of emotion from the crowd and full of new sounds from the artists coming out from everywhere.
Even pirate radio stations dedicated to the genre known as Jungle started popping up all around. Most notable was Kool FM, which was a staple of drum and bass goodness. Despite being raided multiple times by the authorities, it kept going strong as ever. The most intriguing part of it all, is the fact that this movement in all its colour and excitement was initially exclusive to the UK.
Commercialization Of Jungle Music
Later on, the jungle scene grew and grew until 1995 marked a year of commercialization. Goldie had released the famous track “Timeless” which hit massive sales in the UK (approaching 150000 copies) and also started gaining the genre some international attention.
Goldie proceeded to form his own label, Metalheadz, along with names such as Doc Scott, Dillinja, Photek, Peshay, J Majik, and Lemon D. They continued to push drum and bass tracks into the world and introducing as many people as possible to the genre.
In terms of the scene, however, it seemed to be dispersing by the end of 1995. Depending on who you ask, you might get the feeling that the underground communities started breaking off into new niches at that point.
Fast forward to today, you can see drum and bass present in the mainstream musical circuit. SO WAIT….IS THIS THE END? No, not at all, silly. The genre’s massive expansion reached a tipping point where it naturally started flowing into the mainstream charts, which can be a bummer for the underground flag wavers out there.
However, it’s an important step because it allowed it to infiltrate other countries and create new communities. Looking at the scene in North America, for example, you can see a strong non-mainstream following. It’s actually quite an interesting layout because the movement seems to have formed pockets and grassroots-level strongholds all across the continent, promoting the old school rave values that initially made the scene what it was back in the early 90s.
While the music has touched the mainstream, artists in the field didn’t stop to mourn as they actually kept producing new music and pushing new boundaries. At the end of the day, that’s what dnb was from the beginning, a sound that thrusted dance music into new territory. While a lot of people may complain about the mainstream, we suggest looking a bit deeper into the indie scene because it’s actually there….still brewing new groovers….and still abuzz with dedicated audiophiles and party people now more than ever.
Take it from the guys at Souljah Sessions, who have been putting on shows for well over a decade in the area. If you put on a show with good vibes and good tunes, people will come out of the woodwork. In fact, these types of shows are also what bring in new converts. We’ve all dragged that one friend with us to a show they had no idea about….or, conversely, a lot of us have been that friend that has been dragged out to some random show. This is how you catch the bug.
That’s how the folks at Souljah Sessions got into it. Well before anything, they each ended up at some random rave and saw it for themselves. One thing always leads to another and before you know it your heart is stuck with this movement of high-tempo, bass-pounding groovy deliciousness.
Souljah Sessions works passionately. It’s about a love for the music and a love for the vibes of the parties. Aside from dropping the sickest beats, they want to promote a P.L.U.R. attitude and inclusiveness in the scene because that’s what keeps the community together and keeps the fun times rolling. That’s why if a friend offers to drive you to some obscure warehouse for a weird party with artists you have never heard about and people you don’t know….do it….seriously, do it.