Roni Size on ‘The Bristol Sound’, Sound System Culture, His Equipment & More – BIMM Masterclass

Roni Size on ‘The Bristol Sound’, Sound System Culture, His Equipment & More – BIMM Masterclass


– I think it’s always good
to talk about the history and to understand how we got from there to here. I used to go to a lot of youth clubs. And the youth clubs, rather than telling me what
to do, they used to ask me “What do you wanna do?” And I “Oh yeah, I wanna play basketball” So they bought basketball
nets. I’m like… “Okay, well I’m too small.
I can’t really do that” No, not for me I’m like “Yeah, but I like music” So they did a raffle, made some money, we bought some music equipment. RX-17 drum machine. So I mean…Then they went
a bought an AKAI sampler S1000 My world changed when that happened. Being from Bristol. My history. Being around some great,
great bands. Such as… Obviously, Massive Attack and
Tricky and Portishead and.. You know, there was Smith & Mighty. There was a lot of unsung
heroes in Bristol as well. There were loads of people
making music all the time but we all knew each other. You know, there’s a famous
crew called the Wild Bunch. It’s like Nelee Hooper, Miles, Grant Marshall, Mushroom, Willy Wee, 3D. This crew came back from touring all over the world and it’s brought this
culture back to Bristol and we were just obsessed with it. Suddenly the music they were bringing back when you heard them on the radio, it just sounded like you know, pop tunes. But when you heard it on a sound system, like a big reggae sound system. Wires just stuck in the back of a.. speaker. You know, I
mean you touch the wires you know, I mean you get a shock. You know what I saying?
It was that kinda.. It was that rags. ‘Know what I mean? I was
real small at the time. I used to… hide in the dance. I used to have to hide
cause I was so young..but.. The reason why I want to speak about them and that element of it is because, it was all about the bass. It was all about the kick. It was all about the snare. And that’s all we ever cared about. I was like the last to come through from that generation. So when anyone spoke about Roni Size, they always used to go “oh yeah, that kick “that snare, that bass” It was like, you know… In London you have Notting Hill Carnival. What an amazing place. You know.. You walk from system to system, it’s like the bass line changes from Soka, and then it can be House
and it can be Hip-Hop and.. You can go to someone’s front garden… In Bristol we have St Paul’s carnival. And it was a smaller version. So the sound systems were tighter. You know what I mean?
And I live on the hill. So as soon as anything started
to happen in St Paul’s, soon as you hear like a
little bass line you’re like, (snaps) know what I’m
saying? You got be down there quick. Know what I mean? like.. Down to St Paul’s and.. You hear, you can hear these
different sounds crossing over. And that had a massive influence on me. Know what I mean? Hearing
like a Soka record with these mad, kinda like.. Percussive drums. And then you have like
these reggae bass lines and then you hear like these MC’s somewhere in the middle
and some Hip-Hop breaks kind of like clanging. And…So I swear down… There’ll be a point half way down the hill you hear it all together and it sounds like a fucking tune. (group laughing) – And you’re like…somehow “How am I gonna like remember that tune?” But you just never will. It’s personal to you. It wasn’t just like the
actual carnival itself, it was the, some of the… Some of the people. You had like unsung heroes. You had sound systems, DJ’s.. Who had like.. Who worked at the bank
as well on the weekend. And, you know… These people they.. They live and breath the music but.. In Bristol, finding venues was..was easy. Derelicts… Just like Birmingham man you know, there was a lot of buildings. People just used to go in there, string up a system, you know, carry a speaker box, get a van, string up system, get amps. And some of the clubs
they are really welcoming. They liked us. We were nice guys. We had this weird kind of.. Farmer’s accent You know what I mean? (group laughing) – That’s just what we were. It’s like.. So, finding venues for us was great. But that also added to the acoustics. Nothing better to know
that your tune works when you hear the shaking of a.. of a glass window. Know what I mean? In a church. So I mean, that was like
“Okay, yeah that works” Know what I mean? So.. sound system culture had a lot to.. to play you know.. A lot to offer to us back in the day. A lot of people assume that “Oh yeah, you guys are the
inventors of Drum & Bass” Nah..It’s nothing like that. I mean it was.. many before and there’ll be many after. But to me, Drum & Bass and Jungle isn’t necessarily the music. It’s the actual era. There was a point where it was Jungle. ‘Cuz it used to be called Jungle Techno. So, but we all need these names. So I mean, like we need Neuro. We need um.. Tech Step We need all these different names so we can identify our eras and to know what school you come from. So I mean, I know what school I come from. But, it was all about
the way the music sounded on the sound systems. And we try to recreate that in the studio. Say ’91 through to about 1999, we were prolific. When I say ‘we’, there was myself, there was DJ Krust, there was DJ Die, there was DJ Suv, there was MC Dynamite, there was Flynn, there was Flora, there was Roughneck Ting Crew. You know, there was a whole
heap of people in Bristol that ‘Bristol Sound’… You know, the sky is grey. You would love a grey day. Know what I mean? That was a studio day. That was like “Yeah, that’s great. “We’re going to the studio today”. We spent.. like months in the studio. Growing beards, growing.. I didn’t grow locks on purpose. Trust me! When I was in the studio
I would come out of there Then I had a beard then I had
locks and I’m like “oh shit!” I mean they used to call me “Attic Man” (group laughs). – you know what I mean? Can’t even joke about it you know.. Didn’t even care about
the way that you smell. You didn’t even eat properly. It was just all about
the art and the craft. And we spent.. months and months in
the studio trying to.. Trying to do something
and create something. We always try to make music like it was the future. We tried to make music like it.. How is it gonna sound.. in 2020? Do you understand? And now you got people in 2020 who are trying to make music
like how it sounded in 1996! And that’s the truth. Know what I mean? Not knocking anything. But I am bitching a little bit. You know what I’m saying? Back in the day, you had to sample that kick. You had to EQ it. You had to like.. Rebounce it, EQ it again. Just to get it to sound fat. You had to.. Put it through a mixing desk. But we had some bastard
desks back in the day. You know, we didn’t have a gate. So you had all this noise.. The irony is now everyone’s trying to put that
noise back into the tune. I must’ve gotten a sample CD the other day just full of like, clicks
and grains. I’m like… Did I not just spend the last 20 years to like get that shit out of my tunes? And now I’ve got to put it back in. Know what I mean?..So.. Like I said, you know, people are trying to.. To replicate. I know I digress a bit but.. You know people say “What
was your first instrument?” Well, my first instrument was.. Two turntables and a mixer. You know, back in the day it was like.. Whatever you could use it was.. A turntable and a tape deck. You use that! You know you just get it up and just.. You know, you try.. mixing two together until they brought out a mixer then.. I was obsessed with gadgets, drum machines and keyboards and all kinds of.. What was coming out you know.. Back in the day it was just.. Just RX7 Drum Machines. Cubase was like this.. this machine which used to annoy the hell out of my girlfriend. Had this little (♪ emulating metronome) And she like “Can you just
turn that thing off?!?” Have you ever heard of
a Roland S550 Sampler? It’s a big chunky sampler, it’s big.. Had like 13.4 seconds and then once you used all those seconds, that was it! (group laughing)
– So I mean.. You had to use.. Make whatever you could
out of that 13.4 seconds. You know, using the.. Atari 1040ST which was the computer at the time had these little blocks you
picked up and just moved around. You know, I remember I had a Kawai.. Um…module which I used. A TX81Z! Which was ah.. A Yamaha which is great for subs. And a set of NS10’s for crying out loud and that was it. You know, we couldn’t afford
much. I couldn’t afford nothing My brother. He bought all the equipment. Back in like early.. 90’s it was.. expensive. It was expensive shit. And then all of a sudden,
it was free (snaps). But the equipment was really important. Yeah.. – [Man In Glasses] How did
you like embrace or like change your technology?
‘Cuz obviously its like.. changed like immensely
over the last 20 years. Did you like embrace the technology or was it like..
– absolutely “I grew up on the old stuff. “I’m gonna stick..”
– Oh, I had to embrace it. You have to embrace it. Love to.. Love to embrace it. Always make sure you’re keeping some of
your old shit there. You know what I mean so you.. That’s your signature sound. I still got like a Roland S760 Sampler. Which is a great sampler. I still use it. Still comes up on my.. You know.. I got all my samples in there
so if I ever wanna sound like 1997 I just load that
shit up and it’s there. But you have to embrace it and it’s not just the.. The technology, but the techniques. There was a time when.. Everyone was.. Had to pay for plugins. And.. There was only a certain elite
people who had the plugins. So I mean in the studio we were like “Haha we’ve got all
these expensive plugins. “Ha ha yeah yeah look at us. We’re great!” and then overnight, Waves got cracked. And then.. What happened was all these kids who knew how to use this stuff and knew they were better than us, they got hold of all the equipment and before you know it, we were wiped out with like the dinosaurs! They had these cracks and they was like using it in such a way. They were shelving, they were cutting, they were boosting they were getting bases. I’m like “Shit, I need
to get up on my game”. ‘Cause you get complacent. And once..you.. all these new artists came through Pendulum..when Pendulum came through when.. When all the early dubstep
artists came through. Know what I mean, really technically were making stuff sound so much better than what we was doing in DnB and Jungle. We got complacent. So I mean in our world ‘cuz we just thought we were gonna.. It was gonna be there forever. And it was a good lesson to learn. Never get complacent.

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