Jungle Unity sat down with Junglist Selector Uncle Dugs to chat Ribena Jungle, managing Dizzee Rascal’s radio show to playing vinyl and bringing back Alex Reece…
We all know you for the being the original Junglist selector on Rinse & Kool London but we wanna go back, way back! How did it all start for you as a raver?
I went to my first rave just after my 16th birthday, Raindance ‘The Egg’ at Jenkins Lane, Easter 1991. My 2 older cousins Jamie and Daniel took me, I wouldn’t have been allowed to go on my own but they were both trusted by my parents (foolishly haha). I knew absolutely nothing about rave at the time, I had heard of Raindance as it was my local party and we all used to talk about it at school but I actually knew nothing. After that first night my whole life changed, from then till now rave music and culture has been a massive part of my life..
Moving on, when did it all begin for you on radio? How did this story unfold?
I was a massive Kool FM fan from the day they switched on, I could prob go on mastermind and win with a specialist subject of Kool FM related stuff 1991-1996 lol, I always wanted to be on Kool but it wasn’t as easy as that so I got myself on a local station called Conflict FM. My first show was Jan 7th 1995, I have never been off radio since. As big as the whole rave thing has been in my life I would say that radio has been as big if not a bigger part of my life than the rave side of things. I eventually ended up on Kool many years later so it all turned out well eventually. After Kool I landed on legal radio at Rinse FM, I never saw that one coming when I started out believe me.
Let talk about gig’s, when did this really start to kick off for you?
My first ever proper gig (outside of house parties / local promotions) was for Planet Earth at Oscars in the Summer of 1995, I was on the line up with DJ SS and Warren G which at the time was a big deal for me. I got paid £10 expenses, driving from Dagenham to Clacton this didn’t even cover my petrol but to be honest I probably would have paid them £10 to do it. I played out here and there over the following years but things didn’t really start to pick up properly until I got on Kool much further down the line. From 99-end 2005 I was managing Rinse so even though I was still djing it took a bit of a back seat while I managed the station. I was the boss there when the whole Grime scene kicked off and when the Dubstep scene kicked off to, I gave shows or managed shows from people like Dizzee Rascal, Wiley, Tinchy Stryder, Roll Deep, Target, Logan Sama, Skream, Hatcha, Plastician, Caspa etc etc, the list really does go on and on. Getting onto Kool in Jan 2006 saw me take the DJing thing much more serious and in turn bookings started to pick up to but when I started back on Rinse in 2011 that was when my DJ career went through the roof. From then till now I have played for most of the big promoters and traveled many places in the world doing it; festivals, club nights etc I really have had a great few years and loved every second of it.
Being a champion of the original sound do you prefer to play on vinyl or have you moved on to newer technologies?
I was playing vinyl right up till last year, on radio I still do like to play some vinyl still now but I recently made the switch to USB / Rekordbox. Originally it was because I was going to so many clubs that had sub standard turntables, it was like I was reluctantly forced to switch but I must admit (and I never thought I would hear myself say this) I love using the USB’s, its completely revolutionized the way I DJ. I have my whole collection with me all the time and I now get to play so much quicker than I did before, cue points and loops have changed my sets for the better, I can play so much more music in an hour now because everything is literally at my fingertips instead of searching through bags of vinyl then trying to find my mixing cue point, matching the beat then finding the cue point again, nowadays I could prob play 3 or 4 tunes in the time it took me to get a record out and find my mixing point lol.. I still love my vinyl and play it on request and at my own Ribena nights but outside of that I am USB / Rekordbox..
Jungle is certainly have a welcome return but did it ever go away?
Not for me, I have religiously played Jungle through the popular and not so popular times and it has always been my main music of choice. It has had a resurgence lately which of course I am double happy to see but there has always been a Jungle scene which at times just hasn’t been as visible as it is again now. I started a night called Revival around 2007 because there was absolutely no decent 100% Jungle parties around at the time, I was booking Ron and SL, Younghead, Brockie etc to all play authentic 90’s flavours, off the back of this parties like Roast etc made comebacks which in turn got the snowball rolling again which grew momentum like wildfire cos people love Jungle music. Fast forward to now and you have a really healthy mixture of oldskool Jungle parties and DJs as well as a new breed of Junglists. New Jungle music is being made by loads of great producers so it’s really and deservedly had a massive comeback over the last few years and I for one couldn’t be happier with the current state of play.
Who do you rate on the current Jungle scene?
Someone I always have to put near the top is Rebel Congo Natty cos he is a man that like myself never let go, when people turned there nose up at Jungle he and a few others didn’t give a shit and made and played it whatever others thought. As for the new breed of Jungle bods I gotta say Serial Killaz, Serum, Bladerunner, Jacky Murda, King Yoof, Aries, Gold Dubs, Liondub, Marcus Visionary, Jinx In Dub are really out there flying the flag for the music. Labels like Asbo are shouting it from the rooftops as well, also I gotta give Billy Bunter a shout to cos he is another person that has in the last few years jumped on board and helped to give the music a platform and a voice. There is bundles more of course and its nice that everyone is pushing it in the right direction as a team, I think everyone is a bit older and wiser than the first time round which is helping better collabs and work with live artists to happen more than it did in the 90’s.. MC wise,, gotta big up Navi, Ragga Twins, Tenor Fly , Mr Williamz, Top cat etc,, these guys have been top of the game for 20 years + for a reason,,, they are still some of the best MC’s in the world,, we are very lucky to have such great talents on our doorsteps!
Are there any producers from back in the day that you’d like to see back in the studio?
The first person that springs to mind is Alex Reece, I know technically he probably isn’t a Jungle producer but he made Pulp Fiction, Basic Principles and a bag of other massive tunes that I love, I’d really like to see him back in the game again. Dextrous is another one, he has dipped his toe in the studio waters a few times recently but I would love to see him fully go back in again, he to me is a top 10 Jungle producer of all time,, Dex,,,,, if you are reading this pull ya f*****g finger out and get back in the studio mate..!!
You cut your teeth on the DJ circuit but you’ve had a few productions with the latest being with King Yoof & The legendary Ragga Twins ‘Mi A Raver’, is production something you see yourself doing more of?
I have never been or ever pretended to be a producer, I am slowly finding my way into production bit by bit so who knows what the future holds, the Mi A Raver project with Yoof and The Twins was wicked and the tune has had great feedback, gotta shout the guys and of course Jay and all the Sub Slayers gang to. I have actually just finished another tune recently with Slipmatt and Bunter called Know About Jack, a refix for a house act called Jungle 70, not a Jungle tune but trust me this will be a really big Festival anthem this Summer, you heard it here first….. So yeah tunes are coming thicker and faster than ever before in my life, maybe we will be doing this interview in a few years time after I release my first album, never say never…
The Rinse show you have every Friday is now seen as the central place to showcase the origins of Jungle and you’ve had a slew of guest from Goldie to Fabio & Grooverider, Randall to Basement Phil – who’s out there that you’ve got you eye on for future shows?
Its been mad because when I started the show I had never actually interviewed anyone in my life, in at the deep end and all that… Its gone 1000 times better than I could have ever have dreamed and like you say I have interviewed a couple of hundred artists from Zinc – Guy Called Gerald – Fab and Groove – Goldie – 4Hero – Chase and Status and bundles more. But, there is always people in my sights lol, my direct visions are set on Andy C & Shy FX amongst others, I got a list of about 200 names on my compute,, these range from well known to unsung heroes but yeah Andy and Shy are at the top of that list!
You’ve been running your own Ribena Jungle parties for a while now that have had great public success, any plans to take this further?
Errrrrrrrm, in terms of growing the night probably not to be honest, the night was actually my girlfriends idea, I was talking about doing a sort of live radio show where I had more than an hour and could play whatever I wanted to play, from that she came up with the concept which ended up being Ribena Jungle. I wasn’t even sure it would attract people if I’m honest but I really couldn’t have been further away from the truth. Its literally my younger brother Jono D warming up then I play the rest of the night with a couple of guest MCS, Navi and Shabba have become residents so I just pick around them 2. Its only a small night for 100-ish people in a sweaty little basement in Shoreditch, 1st event sold out in 4 hours, its ended up getting crazier and crazier with the last event selling out in 3 minutes. We tried a boat party just recently which doubled the capacity to 200 people, this sold out in 10 minutes which is amazing. So to answer your question (sorry I do get sidetracked) no I don’t have plans to change it / make it bigger because I think if I did that it would lose what is so special about it, 100 like minded proper Jungle heads giving me the freedom to play whatever tunes I want and go mad to them all, I get to play for 4 hours or more and I can play some of the vinyls that I never get the chance to play anywhere else.. If it aint broke, don’t fix it.. These parties are the best parties I have played at in terms of crowd response and energy levels, The tickets are now known as golden tickets cos they are so exclusive and hard to get hold of, watch out for the next party, date and details to be announced very soon >>>>>>>>>
Whats next for Uncle Dugs?
Well I’m proper flat out busy with all kinda stuff at the minute and I wouldn’t want it any other way, the show is doing very well, the parties I promote are also doing very well selling out as soon as I launch them, I’m in the studio more than ever as well as traveling the country / world playing music, the festival season is on us now so that takes up a big chunk of summer, I’m actually hosting my first festival stage this year at Nozstock festival up in Hereford ‘#RCFF Uncle Dugs and Friends’ with Rat Pack, Kenny Ken, Slipmatt and Bunter as well as playing Boomtown, Bestival, United and loads more festivals. I just got back from SOS Ibiza where amongst other things we had a #RCFF boat party which was next level so I’m definitely keeping busy.. I have been writing a book for flipping ages, it hit a brick wall a while ago but in the last few days someone else has stepped in to help me with it so it looks like this will now become a reality in the not to distant future. I have never been a big one for making loads of plans and setting goals, I have learned over the years to just follow my heart, its taken me years to trust my instinct but now I do I seem to just find myself in great places so who knows whats round the corner. I stay positive and I love everything life throws at me, even the shit stuff cos without that you wouldn’t appreciate the good bits. Its been a flipping wicked ride so far and I’m far from done yet, in fact its only just started…!!
Shout to my missus Sarah cos she is a massive reason why things are doing so well for me now, behind every great man is a better woman, this is most definitely true in my case. Shout to all the #RCFF family around the world, I don’t wanna start naming names cos there is far too many to mention and I don’t wanna leave anyone out so if you have been a part of my journey in any way then this shout is for you..
Gotta big up Jono, Nat, Navi, Shabba and all my Ribena fam, Bunter, Sonya, Matt, Rachel, Geeneus, Sarah and all the gang at Rinse as well as all the other people I work with day in day out,, love to all of you…
Last but not least I gotta big up all my Junglists worldwide, whether I know you or I don’t it really doesn’t matter,, we all share the worldwide language of positive vibes that Jungle music gives us so that is all we need..
Peace and love… Uncle Dugs.