GOLDIE B2B LTJ BUKEM FT. ARMANNI REIGN
MONDAY | MAY 30
“In my music,” says Goldie, “is everything I’ve learned, everyone I’ve met, everything I’ve experienced.” And it’s been an incredible trip. The maverick innovator – who rewrote the future of the jungle scene with landmark releases that still sound like they were kidnapped from tomorrow – has a unique story to tell. From children’s homes in the West Midlands through stints in New York and Miami as one of the UK’s most celebrated exponents of graffiti art to rubbing shoulders with an exceptional list of musical collaborators including David Bowie, Noel Gallagher and KRS-¬One, Goldie has defiantly, definitively, done it his own way.
“I’m an alchemist,” he likes to insist. “I practice the dark arts of messing with the form of something solid.”
Though marriage and his passion for bikram yoga have, he says, proved a calming influence, these days he’s just as full of inspired, out-¬there ideas as he was back in 1993 when he did his first cover interview for the rave magazine Generator. “My music is about fallout,” he said then, “about the damage that has been done to the system.” Today, in the office of one of his London-¬based contacts, the ideas are still sparking. “Drum‘n’bass has done to electronic music what graffiti has done to the art world,” he muses, before launching into a rapid-¬fire synthesis of art history, dancefloor evolution and his own hyperactive brand of self-¬actualization, which loosely translates as: “Why do something ordinary when you can do something extraordinary?”
It sums up the reason why, in 1994, music critic Simon Reynolds famously observed: "Goldie revolutionised jungle not once but three times. First there was Terminator (pioneering the use of time stretching), then Angel (fusing Diane Charlemagne's live vocal with David Byrne/Brian Eno samples to prove that hardcore could be more conventionally musical), now there's Timeless, a 22--minute hardcore symphony.” Each of these were moments that shaped the musical fabric of the decade and beyond, presaging Goldie’s transition from the underground rave scene into the world of bona fide A-list superstars.
But it didn’t start out like that. The boy who would become Goldie was born Clifford Price on 19 September 1965, just as The Rolling Stones hit the top of the charts with Satisfaction. His dad Clement, originally from Jamaica, had been plying his trade as a foundryman in Leeds. His mum Margaret, who had been born in Glasgow, was a popular singer in the pubs and clubs of the West Midlands. Barely more than a toddler, Goldie was just three when she placed him into care (though she kept his younger brother Melvin). He still remembers, he says, the day the social workers came to take him away.
Over the next 15 years, he bounced between a series of foster homes and local government institutions, such as the Lew Joseph Children’s Home in Walsall. His eclectic musical taste was forged, he reckons, in those same local authority homes listening to the sonic tangle of other teenagers’ record collections. “In one room,” he says, “a kid would be playing Steel Pulse while through the wall someone else had a Japan record on and another guy would be spinning Human League.” On rare visits to see his dad, he’d lie sprawled over the living room couch, listening to Jazz FM, marvelling at the lavishly-¬tooled ‘80s productions of Miles Davis, Pat Metheny, David Sanborn and Michael Franks, adding further layers to his complex musicography.
Already developing the irresistible urge to excel that has marked his inimitable musical career, Goldie’s first love was roller-¬hockey. He earned a place as goalkeeper in England’s national squad before the lure of music overtook the lure of sport. After discovering electro and hip hop, he grew his hair – the “goldilocks” that won him his nickname – and joined a breakdance crew called the B--Boys in nearby Wolverhampton. He also discovered graffiti. “They called me ‘the spraycan king of the Midlands’,” he says proudly. His talent was undeniable, bringing him to the attention not only of Britain’s Arts Council but to Dick Fontaine, producer of a Channel 4 TV documentary on graffiti. Fontaine’s 1987 film Bombin’ captured a visit to the UK by New York artist Brim Fuentes. Brim met Goldie and his B-¬Boys crew in Wolverhampton’s Heathtown before heading a dozen miles away to Birmingham’s Handsworth, where the producer filmed the aftermath of rioting that had left four dead, 35 injured and dozens of stores burned out. Several months later, Fontaine reversed the process and took Goldie to New York, introducing him to hip hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa. For Goldie, on his first trip abroad, never mind his first trip over the Atlantic, the Big Apple was love at first sight. Back in Britain, he begged, borrowed and saved until he had enough to fund a return trip to the Bronx.
“I started painting the trains and getting involved on the streets,” he says, remembering his total immersion in what was still, at that point, an emerging culture. Art and music as symbiotic technologies. Rubbing shoulders with the Big Apple’s best graffiti artists, his own distinctive style was accelerated and enriched. A move to Miami followed. He worked in the flea markets, he says, painting trucks for drug dealers” and developing a sideline in gold jewellery that included the distinctive grills that became a trademark on his return to the UK. The magical properties of shaping, working and bending precious metals to his will – as close to alchemy as the modern world gets – became an analogue for the way he prefers to operate in the studio, chasing quicksilver dreams, mercury-¬fast rivulets of imagination into impossibly lush, breakbeat concertos.
Back in Britain, Goldie found himself seduced by the sweet heart of the rave. At London’s Rage in 1991 he marvelled at the alternate sonic worlds being forged by Fabio and Grooverider behind the decks. “It really flipped me out,” he remembers. Soon he found himself in the orbit of Dego McFarlane and Mark Clair. Their label Reinforced was in the vanguard of breakbeat, issuing astonishing records that stripped out boundaries and limits while setting the tone for the scene’s sense of adventure. At first he helped out doing artwork and a bit of A&R. But soon he was in Reinforced’s Internal Affairs studio watching intently as Mark and Dego recorded tracks like Cookin’ Up Ya Brain and Journey From The Light. “I was watching what they could do,” says Goldie, “trying to gauge the possibilities of the technology.”
Soon he was getting involved. “I remember one session we did that lasted over three days,” he says, “just experimenting, pushing the technology to its limits. We’d come up with mad ideas and then try to create them. We were sampling from ourselves and then resampling, twisting sounds around and pushing them into all sorts of places.”
What followed was a series of inspired break-¬driven releases such as Killa Muffin, Darkrider and Menace. Then Terminator, with its writhing drum loop, dropped and suddenly Goldie’s name was on everyone’s lips. He followed up with the equally revolutionary Angel, tilting the axis towards the lush, trippy textures that made 1995’s debut album Timeless the drum‘n’bass scene’s first platinum album. Incredibly, given what was happening elsewhere in the scene at the time, the recording of the album’s epic title track began as far back as 1993, when most other producers were still focused on the original sonic tropes of hardcore rave.
Timeless was a masterpiece – of production, of songwriting, of sonic perfection and breakbeat futurism. Even today, it still sounds as astonishingly new and inspired as it did back on those early pre-¬release cassettes circulated by London Records in the early months of 1995, when Goldie was still living on the 18th floor of a North London tower block.
By then, Goldie had already set up his own record label – Metalheadz – with his friends the DJ duo Kemistry and Storm. Along with studio collaborator Rob Playford’s Moving Shadow and LTJ Bukem’s Looking Good imprint, Metalheadz helped to define drum‘n’bass as a distinct musical format with singles by J Majik, Asylum and Goldie himself. Still bursting with energy, he then launched a legendary club night, Metalheadz Sunday Sessions, at London’s Blue Note. The scene’s best producers – among them revolutionary artists like Photek, Source Direct, Peshay and Dillinja – would compete to have their latest recordings debuted at the club and the scene’s faithful came from far and wide to hear the best tunes before anyone else. “Those nights at the Blue Note were magical,” he recalls. “It was an underground phenomenon that became an institution.” David Bowie, who was making the drum‘n’bass-¬influenced album Earthling at the time, fell in love with the place. “I remember popping out to take a break from all the madness inside the club,” says Goldie. “He was outside having a cigarette, a bit of a breather. We chatted for a bit, looked at each other, grinned and then plunged back into it all. It was just that kind of place.”
Goldie is one of only a handful of artists ever to co-¬write with Bowie – on the track Truth from the drum‘n’bass pioneer’s second album Saturnz Return. Released in 1998, the album also saw his vision become more expansive (the opening track, Mother, clocked in at just over an hour). The album’s collaborative approach included guest spots from rap legend KRS-¬One, Sex Pistols manager and all-¬
Just who is LTJ Bukem? Ground breaking DJ? Inspirational musician? Record label entrepreneur? Club visionary, perhaps? The man who took the drum and bass concept from a small venue off London's Charing Cross Road to the nation's superclubs and then onto the international stage….The geezer whose records launched breakbeat into a brand new galaxy of sound…. In truth, he is all of the above: a Renaissance man for a digital age. Although he wouldn't like to admit it, LTJ Bukem is the living embodiment of the post-acid house entrepreneurial creative spirit. He is a mild mannered energy flash whose panoramic musical vision has found success in every area he has explored. From running sound systems to cutting up breaks at raves, from relocating the heart of breakbeat culture to redefining the spirit of drum and bass, the man known to his friends as Danny has sat at the forefront of breakbeat evolution, lighting the way with little more than a zest for life and a love of the music.
Like many, Bukem's first introduction to music was initially through piano lessons as a child. The young pianist turned out to possess a natural talent, effortlessly picking up the basics, soon to be sight reading the music of Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky which rubbed off on him. However, thanks to his progressively minded teacher—Nigel Crouch—he was also introduced to the world of jazz fusion and developed his first true musical love - a style which has informed his work ever since. In the early eighties, (at the age of seventeen), Bukem discovered the joys of clubbing. The teenager regularly checked out the local soul venues, and legendary rare groove all dayers. As a keen record buyer, he soon became interested in the idea of mixing his own version of a club soundtrack, and in 1984 started a sound system of his own named Sunshine. During this time, he also dabbled with a jazz funk band for fun. DJing became his main focus, and by 1988, he gained a reputation for his unique sets. It was in 1989 that Bukem first realized that DJing could maybe offer a full-on career.
In 1990, LTJ Bukem got his first big break at 'Raindance'. Booked to play between 1 & 2am in front of 10,000 people, it was the first true test of his fledgling DJ's skills. At the time it may have taken all of his mates to push him onto the stage, but it proved to be a set he’d never forget. That night LTJ Bukem — a world class DJ — was truly born.
Naturally Bukem then ventured into the studio to record a track which would become one of the most influential records of the era. The 12" titled 'Logical Progression' surfaced on the newly formed Vinyl Mania imprint. At once anthemic and relaxing, it offered the first true blueprint to Bukem's sonic vision. By the time of his follow up to 'Logical Progression' Bukem had set up his own imprint. Run from a small office in Harlesden, London, the label was christened 'goodlooking' and its debut offering came in the shape of 'Demon's Theme'. Finished in late 1990 and pressed to dub-plate, Bukem dropped it into his sets for a full year to test the reaction before he finally released the track officially in July '92. 'Demon's Theme' immediately caught the imagination of many people, its soulful combination of rushing breaks, lush ambience and mellow vibes. Bukem's next release was 'Apollo' Return to Atlantis in '92, however his biggest breakthrough came with 'Music' in 1993. In 1994, Bukem unleashed '19.5' while the release of the similarly epic 'Horizons' coincided with the opening of the legendary 'Speed' at the Mars Bar in London. The label was gaining ground with its growing catalogue of must-have tunes and Bukem's own in-demand DJing. The launch of 'Speed' was intended to run hand in hand with the growth of goodlooking while also offering a focal point for the growing drum and bass scene. After a shaky start, which almost forced the night into closure, 'Speed' quite literally took off one night in the summer of '94.
Using media attention to highlight goodlooking Records and its label roster, the label licensed a compilation to London Records in 1995. Titled 'Logical Progression,’ it featured exclusive cuts from the roster alongside older tracks (and is still one of the highest selling drum & bass compilations to have been released). While focused on the label, Bukem stretched out in many directions. Various remixes and collaborations included the critically acclaimed reworks of Jodeci's 'Feenin' and Michelle Gayle's 'Sweetness’, as well as an epic project with David Arnold on the infamous James Bond theme to 'Thunderball’.
Goodlooking was established as a leader in the industry. In the midst of all the activity, Bukem also released the 'Mystical Realms EP' in March '98. The EP featured 'Twilight Voyage' with sombre flute refrains, chopping keys and an outer world ambience. The vocal and instrumental versions of 'Orchestral Jam', with its urgent breaks, echo dropped sonar, and dissonant violins, along with the reflective Herbie Hancock-esque last track 'Journey Inwards;’ represented a deeper development of the Bukem sound—further underlining Bukem's position as a sonic leader of post rave breakbeat culture.
Bukem continued to produce and mix some of the World's best drum & bass and cross-over music compilations that have ever been released. Titles such as 'Progression Sessions', the 'Earth' volumes and further installments of the 'Logical Progression' series have become notorious for the new and exciting directions that Bukem has always strived to take, but without losing sight of his original musical roots and all the things that inspired him in the beginning.
The start of the 21st century saw LTJ Bukem continuing on his extraordinary musical odyssey with his long awaited solo album 'Journey Inwards'; A diverse and multi directional album of drum 'n' bass, soul, downbeat and house tracks that opened the eyes of those that had no faith and warmed the souls and inner belief of those that did. He also added to his impressive remixing portfolio with his interpretation of 'The Essence' by jazz legend Herbie Hancock. During this time, Bukem continued the 'Progression Sessions' series of live mixes captured on CD, featuring epic performances recorded live in The USA, Tokyo, London and Germany. Bukem also compiled the highly acclaimed 'Soulfood' and 'Soul Addiction' compilations, and released two 'Producer' series CDs. Later on he spearheaded a number of new releases including the much anticipated 'Switch', while 2015 saw him remix the house anthem Yohoo by the London electronic music duo Dusky released on their own 17 Steps imprint.
Keeping a keen eye on music and business climate has directed Bukem toward new challenges. Jumping forward, Bukem has been developing his own brand, pursuing new collaborative projects, and extensive travel to share his unique sounds and visuals with new audiences. In a constant pursuit to reinvent himself and his work within the industry, Bukem is on to solo projects as a producer and continuing to bring the sounds of soulful drum and bass to heads through stunning performances worldwide.
“Few drum & bass DJs have attained the cult status LTJ Bukem has reached. His productions have proved to be truly timeless and it’s a testament to his tireless workrate and talent that he’s remained relevant whilst staying true to his dedication to real music. With an unparalleled selection packed full of exclusives, his sets are a joy for heads and newcomers alike.”
From the lunchroom tables to street corner cyphas... from battle rap competitions to hosting some of the biggest festivals in the world... the MC Armanni Reign has become one of the most versatile multi-genre MC's on the planet.
Since 2004, MC Armanni Reign has become a go to recording voice regardless of genre from hosting stages with some of the world's most elite DJ's and other music acts to music recordings creating performance memories and chart topping smashers like Ray Volpe's "Purpose", Spag Heddy's "Strayed UP", Barely Alive's "Hackers", Riot's "LSAR”, Zomboy's "Outbreak", Virtual Riot's “Running from the Cops" to Hybrid Trap like Stereolize's "Paper Chaser", A Boy and a Girl's "Stampede", Mark Instinct's "The Show”, "Suicide Pill”, and "Pour It Out". From STS9’s "Balancing" to 12th Planet and The Trickaz's floor killer "Bless That” or smoother vibes like AC Slater x TS7’s "Step Back”, Kastle's "Timeless” to Mayhem and Logam's DnB roller "We Will", he has proven versatility is an asset.
Armanni Reign has DnB releases currently on RAM, ProgRAM, Gasm, Freak, Intasound, Westbay Music Group, TekDbz accompanied by Dubstep/EDM Trap releases on Monstercat, Disciple, Circus, Play Me, Never Say Die, Rotton, Uplink Audio, Buygore and Firepower as well as Hip Hop projects on SKRONG and Division.
His affinity for movies and video games has translated over to the sync world. His music can be heard on AAA television and internet advertising campaigns such as “Fast and Furious 9", Square Enix's “Just Cause 4", Gearbox's “Borderlands 3”, Ubisoft's "Ghost Recon: Breakpoint” and more as a solo artist or collaborative act known as Artizan with a music catalog that stretches across everything from Netflix to MTV.
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