Let it RIP
If it's thumping basslines you're after, then speed garage merchants RIP are the boys with the noise. Words: Rory Weller
‘I haven’t heard a bassline that’s heavier than “Ripgroove”,’ says Tim Liken (aka Tim Deluxe) from DJ/production duo RIP, and he’s not joking. The ‘w-a- h, w-a-h’ bass from the first crossover speed garage tune of last year is bigger than a 40-storey block of ﬂats.
RIP were the first to really throw together house, garage and drum ’n’ bass in March 97 with this track, recording as Double 99 on their own Ice Cream Records label. Since then you can’t seem to pick up a record without there being the familiar gargantuan bass rumbling through at least one track.
When it came out. copies of ‘Ripgroove’ were changing hands for £50—£60, the guys cannin deleting it just after release to pitch-up the buzz. Sure, there were tracks that preceded it - and the duo pay lip service to Armand Van Helden, who stretched out the vocals as far as they would go and bumped up the bass on his remix of Tori Amos’s ‘Professional Widow’. The RIP team used rough drum ’n’ bass lines, though, and underpinned them with a wodge of sub-frequencies to knock the china doll off the top of your speakers.
Liken, frighteningly only 20 years old, admits that it all came about by accident really. ‘We were way behind with our mastering deadline and we had to do eight tracks in four days. We just stalled and stalled and just left it to the last minute, banging out the tracks
on rnsusr 23 May — 11 Jun 1998
'The North is more geared towards the big bassline, which is appealing to kids who have been brought up on a diet of cheesy house and handbag.’
Cockney tearaways: Omar Adimora (left) and Tim Liken of RIP
really quickly, trying different ideas. We were like. “Let’s sample that drum ’n’ bass line, get these ragga vocals, and stick in a huge break down, yeah!” We were killing ourselves laughing when we finished and said, Either this is going to rock the place and people are going to go mad to it, or it’s going to clear the floor and they’ll go “what the fuck was that”._ It was crazy and a bit different, but it worked.’
Clearly so: it went to Number 14 and stayed in the charts for four weeks. Speed garage — a term the guys have no problem with - is hugely spread over the UK now. This is proved by RIP’s current double-pack mix CD, The Real Sound Of The Underground, which has one disc for the North, with dirty omnipresent basslines, and the other for the more soulful sound of the South.
‘If you go down to the clubs in London, it’s more skippy beats and mellower,’ says Liken. ‘They’re not into the pumping big bassline tracks now that a lot of the commercial DJs like Pete Tong and Judge Jules have started playing. The North isn’t more commercial, it’s just more geared towards the big bassline, which is more appealing to the kids who have been brought up on a diet of cheesy house and handbag.’
RIP aren’t biting the hand that has fed them over the last year though. and they mix up their DJ sets, dropping the in- your-face bass into their nu- disco and American set for maximum effect.
‘When you start putting the speed garage tracks down back to back, one after the other, it kind of takes the appeal away from them because they all sound the same. The big bass line just kind of gets standard and boring.’
True words, but these guys really know how to let
RIP DJ at Cream at the Tunnel. Sat 30 May. The Real Sound Of The Underground is out now on Virgin.
Edinburgh: Substance at The Honeycomb, Sat 30 May
Frankie Foncett has been DJing for 25 years. He's only 30 years old now — so how the hell did he manage it?
'I moved to Trinidad from London when I was five, and all we had in the house was my cousin's sound system. I could always recognise all the labels — Motown, Philly, Atlantic — and knew which ones had really cool tracks on them. It became my party piece, standing on boxes, putting the 7m on. From then on, I was hooked on music.‘
He's got a dance history to die for. Returning to the UK at sixteen, he got his first job in the music industry, travelling to New York to buy up record shops that had gone bankrupt and shipping their wares back home. This happened to be the time when New York was exploding with the Paradise Garage, Better Days, Larry Levan and all.
'Back in the UK, no one knew what I was on about,’ he says as he remembers the detonation of acid house, DJing at the legendary Shoom and Land Of 02 nights; helping to set up the UK’s first proper dance record shop, Black Market. Back in New York in '89, he played with David Morales at the place where Madonna had been discovered, before moving to Detroit to share an apartment with one Derrick May. The words 'right place, right time' just don't suffice.
’Kevin Saunderson lived next door, Juan Atkins stayed downstairs and Lil Louis would come round to borrow a drum machine,’ he says. Foncett and Carl Craig would do their 'homework' at May's house, learning how to edit and programme drum machines.
Taught by the masters, he came back home and remixed furiously for three years, working on around 60 releases from Lisa Stansfield to Paula Abdul as well as setting up the first UK garage club, High On Hope with Norman Jay and Paul Trouble Anderson. Now he’s resident at the Ministry of Sound, but still huger respected in the underground, especially for his Outlaw record label, which was snapped up by XL after two releases. Parents should be advised to think Technics not Fisher Price. (RW)
Frankie Foncett: with a little help from his friends