DJ Rap is an icon who continues to evolve through her interactive music, DJ sets and club nights. You only need to look at her latest digital release ‘U Don’t Know Me‘
to see her dedication to future-focused sound and tech. She goes even further with NFT releases – check it out here – which is a collection of Remixed ‘Re-Imagined‘ tracks that embrace gamification and NFTs offering fans the opportunity to ride the wave through an immersive experience of bass heavy dance music. In her words:
“I don’t like to live in the past. I’m a person who focuses very much on the future and in the present. While I appreciate the jungle heritage, I still play it and I still produce it I’m always moving forward with my sound and re-discovering constantly. My new music is always a combination of brand new and those melodic elements of jungle that I’m known for. I’m not interested in making records that sound 30 years old. I’ve always been interested in what is cutting-edge in sound design and solid songwriting as a combination. Just good music that stands the test of time.”
Living in the present and the future is part of Rap’s zen outlook, her contagious positivity and dedication to evolution is part of her life and career mantra. With nigh on 40 years in the game as a DJ, producer, label owner and curator it’s a full circle moment as we dodge cow pats to discuss the finer elements of shooting at former 90s rave spot at Happy Valley, now a serene (and muddy) field in Kent and home to an assortment of livestock.
“It’s funny seeing [Happy Valley] with a cow and bull in it. Before I was a DJ I was a raver. My girlfriends and I were relentless in our pursuit of the rave. I had this battered [Triumph] TR-7 car and we drove over every single corner of England. My car got stuck in more muddy fields than I care to remember and there’s probably not a field in England I haven’t raved in.”
“My girlfriends and I were relentless in our pursuit of the rave.”
As well as being both a scene advocate and a name that rolls off the lips of bass music lovers past, present and future; Rap is also an ardent collector and archivist of her rave escapades both on the dancefloor and behind the decks. She arrived at the shoot with a collection of laminated 90s rave flyers and a box of hardcore and jungle vinyl.
“Every one of these flyers transports me back to a special snapshot in time that I will be forever grateful for. I’m so lucky to have experienced it… I remember the first time I went to an ‘Energy’ rave and I walked in and there were 50,000 people in the field. I felt like I’d found my religion: I was home. It didn’t matter where you came from – black, white, rich or poor or whatever… The key was the music, you unlocked that door and you started dancing… I kept the flyer for each one and kept them laminated and now I’ve got 100s and 100s of flyers, pictures/DAT tapes. You name it, I kept it.”
“I felt like I’d found my religion: I was home. It didn’t matter where you came from…”
“Every one of these flyers transports me back to a special snapshot in time that I will be forever grateful for. I’m so lucky to have experienced it..”
The happy days of 50,000 people in a field for free feels like a distant memory. For many, the period from 1988 – 1994 is iconic and represents both the launch of rave culture and the underground subcultures (like drum and bass) it incubated and gave birth to. As raves moved away from fields after the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, DJs and ravers had to change tact and get used to skanking on concrete rather than straw. As Rap explains, “Nowadays I prefer clubs because sound systems tend to be better, it’s more intimate. I’m not really a fan of a massive gig where you’re so far away from the crowd that it’s difficult to connect with them.I love festivals. I think they’re great, but I’m happier when I can be more connected to a crowd and closer and really share my energy with them.”
As we look over Rap’s extensive collection of flyers, she selects one that’s particularly special,
“Raindance were giant promoters back in the day and the first promoters to book me, to this day we still work together. Their shows were amazing and huge! The vibe was incredible, sometimes you couldn’t hear the music because people blew their horns and whistles so loud, the atmosphere was electric, and you could feel the buzz in your hair.
When you got up on that stage to play in front of a Raindance crowd you were like a racehorse in the stall, I couldn’t wait to be unleashed! Every time you dropped a record you would hear that stadium-like roar explode from the crowd, it was like being a gladiator of music. I remember how friendly these raves were, all love and peace and unity. a sense of family, no colour/race/income mattered. Just your soul on show and love to whomever you found yourself raving next to.
Magic times indeed.”
Discover more about DJ Rap here.