Award winning Jungle DJ of 2013, Uncle Dugs gives us an exclusive interview on what’s hot, what’s not and everything in-between.
You have had music in your life since a child, where was your first rave and how did DJing start for you?
My first rave was Raindance ‘The Egg’ which was Easter 1991, from that rave I wanted to be a DJ so I borrowed some money off my parents and bought a set of Citronic belt drive decks and a MRT60 mixer, that was the start of my 25 years journey as a DJ.
How has your life changed over the last 10 years with travelling, family and an ever expanding DJ Career?
I see more of the world nowadays than ever before with the overseas bookings I get, it’s great because travelling and sampling other countries cultures broadens the mind. As things have taken off for me especially since joining Rinse in 2011 its been a big change in the amount of time I spend working. Luckily I have got the best girlfriend in the world who pushes me to reach the next level and set of goals I want to get to, we work together anyway so even though its me that everyone see’s its actually the 2 of us that make everything work, I’d be lost without her if I’m honest.
Can you remember your first decks and mixer?
Yes I mentioned them briefly above, anyone who is as old as me and DJ’d back in the late 80’s / early 90’s will know about the Citronic belt drives and the MRT60 mixers,, to say they were hard to mix on is an understatement but saying that if you can mix on them things then by the time you could afford Technics you was ready to roll.
Do you still use vinyl now or are you on CDJs?
I was a vinyl DJ up till about a year ago but now I’m pretty much 100% USB with Rekordbox. I never thought I would say it but changing to Rekordbox has changed my DJ life for the better and revolutionised how I play my music, also I don’t struggle all over the world with record bags which my chiropractor ain’t happy about because my visits are less frequent than the old days haha.
Do you think it’s important to understand the scenes roots and heritage?
Most definitely, when I joined the scene in ’91 I made sure I learned everything I could about its foundations and still to this day brush up on my knowledge whenever I can. Same way if anyone is joining now they should love it enough to want to know the whole lot.. To create the future you have to understand the past!
From 1991, it’s evolved from techno to hardcore, with jungle techno to jungle, ragga jungle and into drum and bass and ragga drum and bass. The BPM has risen, do you think DJ’s & producers need to start slowing it down?
I think music finds its own path, yeah producers can try to push things in whatever direction they choose but if it doesn’t resonate with the public and the DJ’s then that is that. The music changed so quick in the old days in terms of BPM’s, I’m sure if you tried to envisage that before it happened you wouldn’t have been able to but it was right for the times. If it hadn’t have been the ravers / DJ’s would have voted with their feet and ears I’m sure.
There is a difference between ragga drum and bass and jungle, do you think lines are blurred and does it matter?
Lines are blurred if you let them be, to me its all pretty clear. House – Techno – Hardcore – Jungle – DnB is the path that I saw the music take, there is still relevant music made for every genre mentioned, if you cant decipher one from the other refer back to the previous question and learn your roots!
You started managing Rinse FM in 1999. Did you find managing DJs and MCs easy or did it have it’s up’s and downs?
I’m quite a laid back person. I can be assertive and even angry when need be but on the whole I get on with 99% of people I come across. The way I am really helped me when it came to dealing with the running of Rinse. Around the time of Grime blowing up we were at the forefront which was great – but as you can imagine dealing with young geezers from street backgrounds aged between 16-25 had its moments. I loved the role I played in Rinse in them times, by the end of my managerial career I had had enough but that wasn’t down to just one thing it was a collection of things that forced me to quit but the experience I gained in those times was something I really couldn’t put a price on. Watching so many stars of today come through as youngsters was something I am super proud to have been involved in from Dizzee Rascal – Skream – Wiley – Logan Sama to all the other names I have watched blossom, it really was 6 years of my life well spent.
2011 you presented the only legal / jungle old skool show on Rinse FM. Known now as #RCFF – could you of ever predicted the success?
In a word NO. I still pinch myself sometimes now, the show, the exposure Rinse has given me and the bloody hard work I have put into it has changed my life for the better.
Why do you think DJ’s stray away from the term being “Old Skool”?
I think some are scared of being categorised as oldskool and past there sell by date / not relevant any more. I have never give a shit what anyone thinks of me, I do what suits me and what I enjoy, I give 100% always or I don’t bother. Funny thing is I am known for playing oldskool but I’m more relevant than half the people that don’t wanna be labelled oldskool for fear of falling off lol..
There are some wicked new skool jungle tracks being made now, how do you think that’s influencing the sound?
I like some of the new jungle stuff, I have been playing more and more new stuff in my club sets over the last year or so in fact.. At Rinse I am contracted to do a ‘history show’ so that’s is why you don’t hear me playing new stuff on the show but in the clubs I play whatever I feel will work on the night. If I’m at Roast or Moondance or my own Ribena / Vibena event then I’ll be playing oldskool cos that is what works for me / the crowd but if I’m playing Fabric or Warning or something like that I’ll mix old and new together. It surprises people when I play new stuff in clubs sometimes cos they know me from radio as the oldskool guy, keeps ‘em on there toes though eh 😉
What one track is your favourite?
That is the impossible question really isn’t it, I cant realty choose one favourite but one of the most important / personal tracks for me is The Source feat Candi Staton – You Got The Love,, this has a very deep meaning for me which I wont go into here and now but if I had to pick one record I own that means the most then this would be that tune.
Jungle has stood the test of time. Why do you think that is?
Cos it’s the bollocks and no other music has ever even come close for vibes. I’ve been involved in many scenes through the years. I love other genres and I appreciate many other styles of music but Jungle of the 90’s was something very very special that has never been replicated since..
Do you smile when you hear a car going past playing Jungle?
Yeah of course, over the years I have actually heard my own voice / sets coming out of cars, now that is a bit surreal lol.
Which tracks can you drop that without a doubt will go off?
Alex Reece – Pulp Fiction
Omni Trio – Renegade Snares
Conquering Lion – Code Red
There is loads I could list but they are the first 3 that popped into my mind
Do you miss whistles and horns in the dance?
Errrrrrrm yeah I guess so, as long as they ain’t being blown either in my bloody ear or by someone trying to mix the sound of the horn / whistle in time with the tune being played, especially when they are well out of time!
You have interviewed some big names, like Goldie and Dizzee Rascal. Who have you interviewed who surprised you the most?
Goldie didn’t surprise me in terms of his story but it was a nice pleasant surprise at how much of a nice geezer he was. I mean I didn’t think he would be an arsehole but at the time I interviewed him, my girlfriend Sarah was in hospital quite ill. Every time I spoke to G during her hospital stay and ever since he always asks after her and her health which for me and for Sarah has meant the world. Little things like that make your heroes worth meeting and rise in your expectations, shame that can’t be said for all of them lol.
You have a massive following on Soundcloud and Twitter. How important has social media been to getting music to the masses in the last 5 years?
Social media is the most important thing since the invention of the rave flyer its as simple as that for me. It’s a free tool for all of us to use to connect directly with people who have an interest in what we do. Anyone who doesn’t use this to its fullest is either mad or is big enough a star already to stay underground and elusive. If you are up and coming then it is a no brainer that social media is the way to get your music known. Years ago everyone had to pay for advertising or grab interviews in magazines, now we can do it all ourselves. I love talking to people so for me social media is the perfect outlet to keep in touch with your followers and friends.
What challenges is our music scene facing right now?
Our scene has always from the start had more than its fair share of challenges which I’m proud to say we have always batted every single one for 6. The current challenge that I can see most is the lack of venues in the UK especially in London. We have a music scene that the government should be proud of. They should be opening new venues for us to celebrate our music in and promoting us to the world not fighting against us as they always do. Makes my blood boil that the whole world looks at the UK with envy because of our underground scene, yet our own government can’t / won’t see it cos they are so corrupt and detached from us. They really need to fix up because all they will end up doing is forcing it back underground into illegal venues. People won’t stop going out and people wont stop listening to music they will always find a way… if the powers that be cant see that then they are more stupid than we already all think!
What has been your favourite place to play abroad?
I love playing anywhere outside the UK as the experience is always great but I think if I had to pick one place or gig that has been my favourite experience so far it would have to be playing for Fierce Sounds over in Tokyo, Japan. From start to finish it was amazing, great people, great party and great memories.
And at home?
The secret venues I use for my Ribena / Vibena nights are always a bit special, always hand picked to suit the event.
What are you drinking from the bar if I see you?
Usually I am a Brandy and Coke man but I have just been accepted to run next years London Marathon so from now till April I am strictly on the water. I am running for a charity called SANDS, you can sponsor me and find out more info on my just giving page here >> http://www.justgiving.com/uncledugs
Where can we buy your double mix Cd from?
You can get my double CD ‘The Annual’ from https://musicmondays.databeats.com/cd/mmcd007
Watch out for ‘The Annual Chapter 2’ being released sometime in December in time for Xmas.
What is coming up for you over the next few months?
Well like I said I’m in training for the London Marathon which I have never run before so that’s a big thing in my life, musically I got loads in the pipeline as always, new CD’s being released, the launch of my next Ribena / Vibena party (New Years Day) as well as various other promotions I’m involved in and of course gigs all over the place here and abroad and plenty of other stuff, keep your eyes on my Facebook and Twitter pages for heads up on everything I got coming up..
Rinse : http://www.rinse.fm/uncledugs
Twitter : http://www.twitter.com/uncledugs
Bookings : email@example.com
Facebook : http://www.facebook.com/uncledugsrcff
Soundcloud : http://www.soundcloud.com/uncledugs
#RCFF is the only legal daytime Oldskool / Jungle radio show in the world
Catch Uncle Dugs Every Friday from 11:00-14:00 on http://www.rinse.fm 106.8FM London UK
Interview by Missrepresent