“Each single step upon the streets, accompanied by a rapid beat, A soundtrack played out everyday, it influences how I play, It infiltrates the words I say, It picks me up takes me away I really can’t believe that I, without the sound could once get by. I’ve been infected by the vibe, for this break I live and die, its in my blood its in my heart, can be no end without a start. At first its just a wicked tune rolled out by the DJ – But then the other elements come into play”
(Tali – ‘Lyric On My Lip’ Full Cycle Records)
Im trying to remember how I really felt that night. I know inside my stomach it was as if a flock of birds were beating their wings against my ribs as I struggled to breathe with the excitement. I was with my best friend Misi, the year was 2001, and it was the first time either of us had ever been to the infamous club that was Fabric.
Situated in the heart of Farringdon, London, our first glimpse of the place was standing in the huge queue that snaked from around the block up to the front door. I shivered though it was warm out, I couldn’t hide my anxiety that we may not make it inside the double doors in time. Through that entrance lay one of the biggest opportunities I had ever been given in my music career, and my mind was awash with emotion. Was this really happening? Could I actually even do this?!
Earlier in the day my mobile had rung, and on the other end in a deep quiet voice, DJ Krust had unexpectedly called and asked me if I would like to come to Fabric to MC for him and Die. It was the break I was hoping would come, my first chance to MC since I had arrived in London a couple of months previously. Not since I had joined them on their tour bus after their show a few weeks ago, had I spit any lyrics in front of either of them. My eyes fell on the ground in front of me. I couldn’t mess this up, I wouldn’t. If I wanted to prove to anyone who had ever doubted my abilities and my decision to up sticks from New Zealand to try and make it in the UK; Now was the opportunity.
“Tali we’re almost at the door babe!” Misi gripped my hand and my head jerked up. There in front of us stood the doorman and a woman with a clipboard who was checking off the names on the guest list.
“MC Tali plus one, I’m on Krust and Die’s list” I craned my neck as she turned over the pages lined with all those lucky enough to make the guest list that night, trying to catch a glimpse of my name.
“Ok you plus one, through you go”.
I don’t recall if at that moment she slipped a wrist band on either of us or not, or how we knew in which direction to go, but what I do remember is the adrenaline that started pushing at my veins as it coursed through my body, each step we took down the darkened, ever deepening staircase.
When we pushed through the double doors that led onto the dance floor of room 2, We had entered through the doors to the far left. The DJ booth was ahead of us across the floor and immediately in front of us a mass of moving bodies appeared through the dry ice. In the air, the smell of sweat and cigarettes stung my nose. But it was the sound of the Bass that practically sucked the breath from my throat… Ohh the Bass. It was funky and deep and louder than I had expected, and it rumbled beneath my feet and shook me from the root of my hairs to the very ends.
The DJ had just dropped Shimon and Andy C’s huge dance floor banger “Bodyrock” a tune we were all too familiar with. Misi and I both shouted exclamations of amazement as we pushed our way through the dance floor towards the DJ booth, trying to get there while there was a breakdown in the tune. “Wow!” “Oh my God!” “Its so packed in here!”
Finally we made it, and though It was 10.50 p.m. and there was no sign of Krust or Die up in the booth, or around me, I didn’t dare move from our spot. While I was glad I wasn’t late and I knew I was in the right room, I didn’t want to attempt going to the bar to get a drink or even begin to look for the bathrooms. I couldn’t risk the guys turning up and me not being there right in front of them when they did.
I had said I would come MC and I meant it. I wanted to show them that I was serious, that I wasn’t afraid, lazy or just full of shit, and that I really was the discovery in Drum n Bass they thought they’re made.
“There they are!” I practically leapt at Die as he came through the crowd carrying his record box with Krust close behind.
“Heyyy you made it” HIs grin was big as he hugged me, and then Misi, and signaled for us to follow them up into the booth. The security guard was hesitant to let us up at first, but Krust pointed out we were with them, and feeling both immense pride and a surge of confidence, we climbed up the steps into the small and crowded booth.
I think there was another MC on before me, and it was either Mampi Swift or Ray Keith on the decks I can’t recall. To be honest all I could focus on was the fact that any minute now I would be stepping up to the plate and trying to hold court on mic duties in one of the most well known super clubs in not just London, but the world.
Next thing the mic was in my hand and I swallowed hard as I began. It was hard to hear, (as it always has been in there!) and I knew my over cautiousness meant that I wasn’t flowing as well as I could, but I just tried to vibe off the crowd and go with it. I was intently aware that there were many faces looking up at me screw facing – wondering who the hell I was, but I was also aware that there were also many faces watching my Fabric debut with excited smiles.
Misi was now bobbing around on the dance floor and smiling up at me, and when I yelled ‘Make some noise!” or “D.J Dieeee” The crowd response relaxed me a little. The lights flashed blue in my eyes and I felt my body tense every time I tripped over a syllable. My knuckles ached from gripping the mic and I concentrated hard on the mix so I didn’t run all over it. I wanted to impress so much that by the time their set was over, I felt like I had just had a work out at the gym. The crowd was admittedly one of the hardest I’d ever played to, they didn’t seem overly impressed by this unknown girl on the mic.
“Was that okay?” I asked Die anxiously, looking up into his steely blue eyes. Straight away Die got to the point, letting me know what I had done right and done wrong.
“A couple of things you have got to remember right, firstly you didn’t give shout outs to the DJ on before you, you always have to show your respect before you start yeah”
“Oh God yeah of course, I so should have done that” I shook my head in annoyance with myself.
“Secondly watch the mix yeah, yes you want to let the tune breathe but you also have to fill the gaps as well, keep the crowd hyped d’ya know what I mean?”
“yip, yes, okay, sorry yea I know… ah huh” I nodded enthusiastically soaking up every last word he was saying to me. and feeling my stomach sink a little. Yes I had been OK, and yes I had done it, I didn’t suck completely – but I hadn’t been great either.
The boys said they would speak to me soon but had to get going back to Bristol for another gig and with a few handshakes to those still in the booth and the quick packing up of records, they were gone.
I jumped down onto the dance-floor where Misi immediately threw her arms around me. “You were amazing baby, I can’t believe it!” She jumped up and down as she looked into my eyes trying to find some of the previous excitement. “How was it?!”
“Die said I did a few things wrong… I dunno if they liked me ya know..” I ducked my head and grabbed her by the hand, pulling her through the crowd into the corridor where it was quieter and I could breathe. I needed a drink, it was all too much.
I relayed what Die had said to me, and that it was a lot harder than I had ever expected. Misi being the star she always is acknowledged the reality of the situation while not letting me forget what I had just achieved.
“Babe, of course it was going to be hard, but shit, you did it!, and lots of people were saying who is that? who is that girl? No one from our side of the world has ever done what you just did! The guys set you a challenge and so what if it wasn’t perfect, the fact is, you got up there and you did it!”
I exhaled deeply and took a sip from my glass.. slowly it dawned on me what had just happened.
“Yeah… yeah you’re right, fuck it man, I did all I could do with what experience I have, it was hard but at least this way I can only go up right?”
“Right” Misi took my hand again and gave me a huge grin. “Now lets check this place out and have a boogie!”
There you have it.. My first night ever performing at Fabric, a place that many a DJ and MC dream of playing at. It would not be my last time playing there – and I never got over the thrill of seeing my name on a Fabric flyer. One day I hope to be invited back. 🙂
I start with this story because I want to begin my first ‘official’ blog post with a memory that gives an indication of the the immense pressure I felt to be good and not let my Full Cycle heroes down. How the excitement and anticipation of many of my experiences as an MC were often overshadowed by these feelings of anxiety and wanting to prove I belonged and deserved to be there. Everyone has these feelings and they are completely normal… it’s just that sometimes we experience these feelings in situations that aren’t ‘the norm’!
Ego is a huge driving force in how we react during these times. Our ego wants us to feel that anxiety and anticipation and all the drama that goes along with it. Despite the fact we may want balance and control deep in our hearts, too often we succumb to the voice in our head that overthinks, over feels and over reacts. It would take me many years and many more roller coaster rides of emotions and experiences before I truly understood this and learned to dispel that voice in my head.