The Ruffneck Ting 25th anniversary party RNTY25 is only hours away now, we hope you’re as excited as we are about this special event. Tickets are almost sold out now, so don’t miss out on the chance to experience Ruffneck Ting at Trinity again. So what better time for a trip down memory lane with original resident DJ and label manager Dazee…
Tell us about your part in how Ruffneck Ting was conceived…
It began around 1991 with a house in Montpelier we called The Ledge. Markee (Ledge/Substance) and I were the first tenants. We flyered Lakota to find like-minded house mates and were joined by Rachel and Colin (who went on to create Knowledge magazine) and became The Ledge Crew. We used to hunt for free parties and raves every weekend and, after getting some 1210s, I became the crew DJ. I used to queue up for hours for sets at these parties to play the tunes we loved.
Then the Criminal Justice Act kicked in and we had to travel further afield (mostly to AWOL at the Paradise Club in London) to hear our precious jungle techno. By then we’d put on a couple of house parties and the seed to start our own night was sown.
Soon afterwards we moved to Stokes Croft (due to eviction for said house parties) and one afternoon Mark and I were sat at the bar in The Bank Pub recovering from an AWOL trip.He was playing with this keyring that we’d acquired at a service station that had a startling resemblance to a certain dog, saying “Ruff! Ruff!” The cans of Ting behind the bar caught our eye and suddenly it was “Ruff… ruff… Ruffneck Ting!’ So we asked then and there if we could start a night in that pub and they said yes. I immediately got to work designing the flyer with a biro (pure class, check it out below) lol! and the rest, as they say is “ledge”ndary…
Can you explain what Bristol was like back then club wise, it’s changed a lot hasn’t it?!
There were far fewer venues and opportunities to hear jungle. About that time The Moon Club evolved into Lakota and it was considered a “super club” and there was Tropic Club around the corner. In town, Papillions had a rave night Xtactic for a while, although that might have been a few years before we started RNT.
The Thekla was a cool venue but I only really remember funk / hip hop nights there at that time. Other than that, it was mostly community centers or social clubs like Easton Community Centre, Trinity, The Depot and uni venues like UWE. It was rare to get a decent night every week – nowadays it’s rare not to get twenty.
Tell us about Ruffneck Ting’s first home, The Bank…
It’s now the Love Inn but then it was more of a regular St Pauls bar catering for the locals. From what I remember, everyone was made to feel welcome, albeit in a slightly moody Jamaican way. They were happy for us to start a jungle night there on a Wednesday night – so they obviously had good music taste or tolerance of cocky youngsters!
After that, it moved to its first proper club, The Depot, what was that like?
That was a swift transition from weekday bar hours to weekend all-nighter and instrumental to Ruffneck Ting becoming a very popular and well-loved night. We had a proper jungle rave going on with lovely ravey décor and Froggy’s famous Excaliber reggae sound system every weekend and started booking some big-name DJs. It grew rapidly in popularity and we even did a house floor upstairs called Club Believe for our friends who preferred that side of the party scene.
After the Depot it moved to the Malcolm X Centre, what do you remember about those sessions?
We started in the Crypt which is a series of tunnels under the Malcolm X Centre that must be hundreds of years old. We continued using Froggy’s Excaliber system and booked DJs we admired like Kemistry & Storm. In the words of my mum when she visited, “the bass atomised you”.
I think we kept Club Believe upstairs and made beautiful décor including a Greek temple and clouds. At the same time, I was painting backdrops of strange statues for the Crypt inspired by that environment. You can still see those backdrops over 20 years on, decorating the stage at The Attic!
Ruffneck Ting was held in many different venues but most people consider Trinity to be its true home, why is that and what do you remember the most?
Well, after a slightly disappointing first night due to a competitor trying to do us over, people soon realized where the real party was at and RNT at Trinity swiftly became massively popular. We had bigger and better production all the time, big line-ups, quality residents and we had started the record label by then.
Eventually we were asked to broadcast live on BBC Radio1, an epic night! But even more than that I remember making the visuals (that’s when the famous castle appeared – bespoke for Trinity’s stage) and spending hours putting them up for every gig with Rachel.
We also put up green scaffolding netting to cover the horrible office style roof it had, which was a feat of engineering in itself!! I remember all the lighter “flame throwing” going on in the dance (it was a sign of respect!) that burned holes in the netting but miraculously never burnt the church down. Good job or we wouldn’t be there on Saturday.
Can you explain the Ruffneck Ting vibe? Jungle / drum & bass in the 90s was often considered moody but Ruffneck Ting never seemed to take itself too seriously…
Judging by the amount of people who tell me they used get in aged 14 (this was the days before ID) it was obviously partly a very young crowd. We also had loyal regulars from really diverse backgrounds, not just young ravers, but crews who’d travel from places like Gloucester and further afield every time.
No matter your age or background, it was one love for the jungle. We also had our friendly mascot Ruffers getting up to all sorts of mischief on our flyers and grinning (or grimacing?) at everyone from his backdrop behind the decks, encouraging good vibes.
What are your three favourite Ruffneck Ting flyers?
Oooh, that’s tricky…can I have four?
1. Must give love to the first Depot flyer, a comic strip hand drawn by yours truly that shows Ruffers with his dreads and junglist waistcoat searching for “a ruffneck bizness and ting’.
2. The One in the Jungle flyer where Ruffers is driving a robot.
3. The Bandito one and all of the Ruffers on his adventures series. Must big up graphic artist Danny Jenkins for his Photoshop skills back then and creating that iconic imagery for us.
4. I also really like Y25 flyer too by our current artists Tomm Camm and Ste Wright: Ruffers in the Reloader – a deliberate nod to the One in the Jungle flyer.
Who are your three favourite guest DJs?
Kemistry & Storm, Randall and Kenny Ken at original Ruffnecks. But since then at the Attic I think Coda, Hybrid and Bou have smashed the roof off. They have all done tearing mixes for The XLJ2 album too.
What are your three favourite events?
Can I have four again? One in the Jungle, UWE and Escape club… and more recently the first XLJ launch at the Attic.
Tell us about the some of the classic tunes you released as Substance on Ruffneck Ting Records…
Rude Girls I remember as being my first co-writing experience. Mark had been producing for a while and had recently bought an Akai S2000 and was starting to produce wicked sounds and ideas. It turned out I had a natural skill for sequencing and arranging and rolling out Mark’s ideas.
In my memory the transition from tunes to vinyl seemed fairly painless back then too. After testing on Music House dubplates, we went to see Phil at Vinyl Distribution in Reading, got a deal and suddenly had ourselves a record label.
Damn Right was released soon after and it was a pretty phenomenal moment for me to hear the rewind at World Dance by Micky Finn. I gradually got more involved with the production and initiating ideas like for The Prisoner and remember being really chuffed hearing Brockie play it.
Tell us about why your brought the Ruffneck Ting label back in 2013…
Well, it was actually our 20th year Anniversary. Mark and Colin wanted to do a Ruffneck Ting classics LP and we decided to do a night at Lakota to celebrate. At that time, I’d started working in Birmingham with Jinx and K Jah and had some productions ready for release. So the digital label was launched with the classics album and was swiftly followed by an EP featuring a selection from myself and our new Birmingham Ruffnecks.
The label has gone from strength to strength since, what do you put that down to?
Definitely the music and support from Jinx, Kjah and Vytol and our ever-growing crew of superb producers. It makes a difference when you have a crew of like-minded people to bounce ideas off and help through the trials and tribulations of the music industry. Also, producers like Serum came forward to release on the label early on due to respect for its foundations in the jungle scene.
The roster of producers has built up to include The Force, Verdikt, Saxxon, Flat T, Dawn Raid, Coda, Bassface Sascha, Habitat and Genetix to name a few. Also, we are very lucky to have an amazing artist Ste Wright who has created a completely unique look for the label with characters for all the DJs. Last year for the first XLJ EP we did a comic as well as vinyl and CD and the artwork is just stunning!
On top of that we’ve done regular nights at the Attic Bar that are always tearing and we have huge support from a massive demographic of junglists. Our followers have always appreciated our upbeat, friendly (but don’t mess with us) vibe. We are a fam and anyone with good vibes can join our fam.
Can we expect any Dazee tunes this year?
I have a couple of collabs on the forthoming XLJ2 album, I’ve done a remix for a female producer called Terminatrix which is coming soon on Opus 1 Vinyl plus a remix for Dawn Raid that should be out this year and about five million tunes on my computer and other peoples waiting to be finished!
Tell us about the regular Ruffneck Ting sessions you do at The Attic…
They are vibesssssss! We do them about four times a year and it’s a unique venue with its huge courtyard, pub and club area. It’s a showcase for Ruffneck Ting producers and even our headliners have either produced for the label or have a foundation connection. It’s super cheap to get in but with the Attic’s help we make it a top production in terms of sound and visuals and we have a brilliant cross section of original ravers and new school junglists who bring the noise!
What else are you up to these days?
I’m a tutor at Bimm for first year Music Production degree students, so that takes up a lot of my time. Also, the XLJ2 Album is now fully complied and ready to release soon including a one hour mix by yours truly. It’s a lot later than planned but I am now really happy with the content and flow and excited to release. So many wicked producers are on there and it reps a lot of different styles – very colourful dnb as well as colourful art.
What are you most looking forward to about Ruffneck Ting at Trinity on June 9?
Well, obviously my set with Jinx plus Trafic and Y Dott on hosting duty. Also hearing all the RNT DJs , seeing the regular faces, the old school faces and hopefully some new faces. Especially looking forward to Ray Keith at the end cos I’m off duty then and can have a proper rave up.
Where can people see you play in the near future?
I’m at Hospitality barbeque at Motion in the day time on Saturday, Perle festival Switzerland next week, St Pauls after parties at Motion and Lakota, the Black Swan and Field trip festival in July and Another World festival early August.
Anything else you want to tell us about?
Watch out for the XLJ2 album in download stores this summer plus RNT EPs from Flat T, Verdikt, Vytol, Jinx, K Jah and more coming soon! We’re hoping to do a few Ruffneck Ting takeovers outside Bristol soon so hopefully we can take the Ruffneck ting vibe to a few more cities! We have some penciled in but any promoters interested please get in touch!