‘To Shape The Future’ Optical, Metalheadz 1998 (To Shape The Future Remix)
1997 in Christchurch started off with a bang with some top international Breaks and Drum n Bass acts coming through New Zealand, with the first three months hosting DJ Trace, Doc Scott and Dom & Roland. While I missed Trace due to being out of town, I was however, there for the Subtronix ‘Nasty Habits’ gig with Doc Scott at The Ministry, who had support from Subtronix’s own Presha and D-Rave from Auckland and local boys Pots, Silencer, Phantom and MC Green.
Doc Scott was responsible for one of the biggest Drum n Bass tracks of 1996 ‘Shadow Boxing‘ and as I was familiar with the track, I was excited to see the man who had produced it – playing it in the flesh.
Off I went assuming it would be just another regular rave at The Ministry, getting high, dancing til dawn and spending time climbing onto the roof of the club via the back ally, to look at the stars and smoke some weed as the bass filtered up through our feet.
Little did I know that the night was to change things massively for me in a music sense.
I remember that I enjoyed Doc Scott’s set, and I remember the bottles rattling off the table and onto the floor when he played ‘Shadowboxing’. At that time we never thought the bass could get any deeper.
When his set finished, there was a definite change in atmosphere for me. Maybe my acid wore off, or maybe it kicked in, perhaps it was to do with the fact the next DJ played a set that embodied a different vibe within DnB – but for me, around 3 – 4am I fell in love with Drum n Bass honestly and truly for the first time.
Sometimes, that’s all it takes to get a person’s attention. A single track, or a specific DJ’s set.
In the twelve months since I had been in Christchurch, ‘Breaks’ had started to switch up, and ‘Drum n Bass’ had started to emerge in the scene as a more ‘pure form’ of music. As well as this, the all genre raves I had first attended were now being streamlined into parties aimed at one particular genre, and each had begun to grow throughout New Zealand of its own accord, all with a very loyal following.
No longer did DnB have to sit next to other genres in order to work in a club environment, its fan base was growing fast and this was proven with raves like Trace, Dom & Roland and of course Doc Scott, and the crowds they pulled. Suddenly we were hearing nothing but pure, unadulterated DnB all night, and new and different forms of Drum n Bass began to emerge within the genre itself also, so that everyone’s appetite could be satisfied.
This was also the chance for local DnB DJ’s to really come through and make a name for themselves. Again, no longer having to fight for a slot next to House, Techno and Trance DJs, those who loved DnB and longed to mix only to a DnB crowd could begin to build their own brand and style within the scene.
And so it was on this night that a local DJ by the name of ‘Silencer’ got on the decks and dropped his first record, a brand new tune which I was to later discover was Krust’s remix of his own track ‘Maintain‘.
Dry ice filled the room and a swirling wind sound coursed out of the bass speakers. Then a haunting voice cut through the darkness.
“In this world of minnnne… we must earn our chance to shine…. do what we think is best.. through our courage we will pass the test. Maintain… I know what it is and I got to Maintain…. I know what it is and I got to Maintaaaaaain”
Then the beat kicked in and I felt my mind stand to attention. The beat was minimal, punctuated with laser like sounds, and these husky Feminine vocals that sounded slightly off key, cut across the track – loud, understated and raw. The message her lyrics contained spread throughout the room like a beautiful virus. Everyone had their hands in the air and smiles alighting on their faces.
I immediately felt my body react. Dancing to this form of music was different to how I had ever moved to Breaks or even to Hip Hop. I dropped low in the hips, and pulsing back and forth at the waist to the bubbling beats, I barely stopped moving for the next three hours. The set was full of DnB infused with funk and soul influences and several vocal tracks, all flowing seamlessly into the other. On we danced until the night finished at around 6.a.m.
As the lights flickered on I looked at the shiny, sweaty, happy faces of people around me stretching out their dance weary limbs. We were all clapping and cheering and in that moment I realised I had found it. My niche, my place, my passion. The kind of music that was to follow me and which I would follow for the next ten years. The music that would ultimately shape my future.
My girlfriends and I drifted down the foggy streets arm in arm, laughing and shouting out to those heading off to their after parties or to their homes. I recall falling into bed exhausted from dancing, but with a smile on my face and a new determination to know as much as I could about Drum n Bass music.