After our adventures to the UK and Paris, upon arriving back to New Zealand, Joe and I had a catch up with James Pylon to discuss our travels and to decide upon a date on which to do our first international DnB party. The guys were set on having Bailey over, (who was incredibly keen and in turn, wanted Flux as his MC), but firstly we had to make sure he was available at the time we wanted him, and that The Ministry was also available to hire for the gig.
Both Joe and I were jet lagged for the first time in our lives, and Joe was also still recovering from his Glandular Fever, but the decided June date wasn’t that far away, and there was a lot to organise. As I had the best skills at composing and writing, Joe set me the task of creating an artist contract that would protect Scientific’s interest, and Joe was to liaise with Baileys agent directly by phone regarding date and price. James was keen to get his teeth into the flyer/poster design alongside Dan Motive – they wanted something that would stand out, and be a visual representation of our brand.
I don’t even know how I knew how to write a contract. I must have gotten a template from somewhere online, or maybe James and Joe wrote down a list of things they wanted included, perhaps I asked someone for advice.. But I do remember finding out what ‘Force Majeur’ meant for the first time, and feeling hopeful and somewhat nervous that it would be sufficient and professional sounding enough for Bailey’s agent. We were so determined to put this gig on and rep the Christchurch scene!
In the meantime, I continued my university studies to finish off my degree, and sang here and there around town on my keyboard. I recognised that I was becoming less enthused about singing in this way – as the seed of wanting to become a DnB MC continued to grow slowly in my mind, but I was still unsure of what to do about it.
Around this time I had started getting breakdancing lessons down at the YCD. We had some real solid Breakers in Christchurch, not to mention some dope DJs and MCs, and of course Graffiti artists – of which Joe was one. As a lot of the different musical genres mixed and supported each other, it was quite normal to see DnB heads at Hip Hop events and vice versa. We loved the music as much as the people that were a part of it, people like Richie Broke, Daneja, Ali, Kaboom and Antsman not to mention the all Female – Sheelaroc Crew! Not only was Breakdancing great fitness, and fulfilled my love of dancing in general, It was fun to go down there because of the awesome crew of people running the show.
One particular afternoon when I was down there learning how to crazy legs, one of the guys told me there was a Hip Hop party happening that night at The Licker Lounge with an open mic cypher and that we should come check it out. Open mic? The words rang in my ears. One of my girlfriends nudged me.. you should get on the mic tonight!! I smiled at her and whispered back.. I’m keen! Joe can’t know though.. He would never approve!
It wasn’t that I didn’t think Joe wouldn’t necessarily support the idea of me wanting to be an MC, it was just that he cared very much about what people thought about him (and that extended to what they thought about me, his girlfriend) and he would be mortified if I made a fool of myself in front of the Hip Hop crowd. Because of this, I had never really bothered to share my dream of being an MC with him. I figured he would shoot down the idea anyway. Still, I had been writing lyrics and raps for years and I was determined to try out some of my lyrics in a live setting. At least with Hip Hop – it wasn’t Drum n Bass.. so even if I fell at the first hurdle I wouldn’t be sacrificing myself in front of the very crowd I one day hoped to MC for.
When we arrived that night there was a reasonable crowd gathered, with a few people on the dance floor bopping to Antsman on the decks. It wasn’t long before a circle developed on the floor and the mic was bought out. The cypher had begun! I edged my way into the circle with my friends behind me, my heart fluttering slightly as one by one the people in the circle freestyled lyrics, or dropped some pre rehearsed rhymes for a minute or two before passing the mic on.
As it came towards me I took a deep breath and reached out my hand, my opportunity within reach. But I pretty much gripped thin air. I had been passed over. The mic had gone to the guy next to me. I glanced back at my friends who hovered at my shoulder. “Make sure you grab it next time” one of them insisted in my ear. I nodded and stepped slightly further into the circle. This time as the mic approached me, I made it much clearer than I intended to take it. I grabbed it, and once it was in my hand I waited for a count of four, took a deep breath and began to rap.
I was surprised by how the tone of my voice cut through the music.. I naturally rapped in a lower voice, as my speaking voice is quite husky – and I think this sounded effective riding on the music clearly and authoritatively, despite my nerves. My friends all cheered and whooped behind me. I only had the mic for a couple of minutes, but it was enough time to say what I wanted to say and make the impression I felt I needed to. It wasn’t a freestyle, but some of my pre written rhymes that I had been working on and practicing all evening leading up to going out, and they seemed to go down well with everyone in the room.
I stayed in the circle for another round, but the second time I had the mic – instead of rapping I sang. I found this much easier, and just freestyled some lyrics off of what the previous person had said. Again the reaction from the crowd was positive, and afterwards a couple of people grabbed me as I was walking past to tell me that they thought I’d done a great job.
Needless to say I was pretty stoked. We stayed for a couple more drinks before bouncing out of the club and down the street, all my friend chattering excitedly in support of my first ever go MCing on the mic. I had the biggest smile on my face, and though I was sure this was what I wanted to pursue, I still made sure that I didn’t say anything to Joe about it.
Turns out I didn’t need to, as someone else told him. Later in the week he hit me up. “I hear you had a go on the mic down at Licker Lounge last weekend” “Oh yeah, yeah I did” I tried to act nonchalant, like it was no big deal.
“Yeah Ants said… He also said you were pretty good” I breathed an inward sigh of relief. Even though Ants had told him, at least he thought I had done OK. “Why didn’t you tell me?” Joe asked. I explained that I thought he wouldn’t be into the idea, and maybe try and talk me out of it before I could even have a go, in doing so, I finally told him of my ambitions to become New Zealand’s first Female DnB MC.
“It’s not that I don’t think you can do it Tali” he explained. “But if you want to do this, it can’t be something that you do halfheartedly. People are naturally gonna want to criticise you and bring you down. Mainly cos there’s so many bro’s in the scene and you’re a girl. If you want to do this – it’s not gonna be enough to just be good. You need to be the best. And not just the best Female, but the best in general”
I digested what he said, both relieved that he wasn’t disapproving, and somewhat surprised by how on point everything he said was. “I will support you” he continued, “but you have to practice and practice and write rhymes and then practice some more” I gave him a huge hug and smiled up at him. “I won’t let you down. I don’t wanna let myself down. This is something I really wanna do!” Joe smiled back at me. “Then do it then” From that moment on, my focus was set. I wanted to become the best MC in Drum n Bass in New Zealand and just as Joe suggested, I began to write rhymes and practice as much as I could. Joe would play tunes for me on the turntables in the lounge, and with the mic plugged into the mixer I would recite the lyrics I had written. Joe would give me feedback and remind me of certain things, like to big up the crowd, say the DJs name and not MC over the mix.
As well as this I started studying Drum n Bass like I was going for a degree in it. Even though I had a pretty good knowledge of who was who and the names of tunes, I wanted to know as much as possible. I did this so not only could people not doubt my abilities as an MC, but they couldn’t doubt my knowledge or passion for the scene. I listened to mix tape after mix tape, studying the styles of different MC’s, and read every Knowledge and ATM magazine cover to cover, even digesting the commercials and lineups for UK events. I wanted to be considered credible in every aspect, especially because I was aware that I was less likely to be taken seriously due to there being very little Women in Drum n Bass in general.
Saturday March 27th Scientific threw another Amen party at Heaven, but this time Joe and James decided to add an extra headliner to the bill calling it ‘Amen Special’ with 48 Sonic, and add an extra date down in Dunedin at Bath Street on the Friday. Sonic was, and still is, a legend in the New Zealand DnB scene, especially as an integral part of the Auckland DnB community in the 90’s. He was well known for his impeccable tune selection, as well as being a super nice guy to work with. With support from Joe, Wizard, Solid state, Pylon b2b with Mr Steel b2b with Halcyon at Heaven in Christchurch, it was certainly a heavyweight lineup and the whole night went off.
Two weeks later on a Friday afternoon when the sun was shining and I was leaving my house to run an errand, as I opened the door, a little black and white cat with bright green eyes and a pink nose was sat on my doorstep. Being a lover of all animals but in particular cats, I was most excited to meet this playful little cat who waltzed into our house like she owned it. She was super playful and cuddly. I immediately wanted to keep her, but I knew we had to put her outside at the end of the day in case she belonged to someone.
on Saturday it was another sunny April day, and I had the door open when the little black and white cat appeared at the door crying loudly. Again she walked into our house and promptly made herself at home on the sofa in a pool of sunlight. “Hey there little one” I cuddled and patted her and she stayed there for most of the afternoon. However Grooverider was in town that night and so I had to get ready to go out. Some of my friends came over for pre drinks. The little cat was still hanging around, although neither Joe nor I had given her anything other than cuddles. “Aww you should keep her!” exclaimed my friends as we put her outside, locked the door and went off to rave at The Ministry. That night Grooverider smashed out another brilliant set, with the most memorable track of the night for me being Grooverider’s remix of Jonny L’s “Piper”, the deep progressive Bass line embedding itself into my soul.
When we got home in the early hours of the morning, who should be sleeping on our doorstep but the little Black and white cat again! Despite Joe insisting we should leave her outside, I managed to convince him that it was cold and she obviously wanted to stay and we should let her in. So in the little cat came and this time went to sleep on our bed. Despite checking if anyone in the area owned her over the following days, and putting the call out to local vets and the SPCA – no one claimed the cat. So within a few days we had named her after my new favourite tune – ‘Piper’, and she was happily bounding around the wild flowers in our back yard during the day, and sleeping curled up under the covers at night.
The next Scientific shows were all within two to three weeks of each other, firstly with ‘Funktion’ at Base featuring Auckland DJ’s – Aaron (who played Breaks) DJ Motion, and Pots. This was James and Joe’s way of extending a hand to Auckland DJ’s to show them that they were welcome to come and play for our Christchurch based promotions company.
This was followed up with another local lineup back at Amen for ‘SIN’ and a combined Techno and DnB lineup for our tenth show ‘Bacteria’ – at a new location ‘Daegar Bar’.
For this one we tested out a few stickers to put around town, and play on the ‘viral’ tagline, with the intention to do the same for the Bailey gig.
Again I was on writing duties for all three shows, creating the blurbs that went on the back of the flyers. I would pour over my thesaurus trying to come up with new ways to describe the beats and bass. Reading back over them now cracks me up! So much hype in so few words! All these show set the bar for us as we continually built our local reputation while working on the upcoming DJ Bailey and MC Flux show.
In between ‘Sin’ and ‘Bacteria’ – Subtronix brought back the ever popular Doc Scott to New Zealand, on his ’31 Records’ tour. This was another massive night at Ministry with Scotty being a staple favourite amongst us DnB heads. This time he brought MC Justyce with him who perfectly complemented the soulful, yet progressive beats Doc Scott provided. With this night being so successful it only added to us the pressure, that our first international for Scientific be one to equal, if not better – this particular night.