When it comes to record labels in the golden era of Breakbeat music, Fat! is up there as one of the most consistent, original and standard setting on the global scene... Along with their legendary night 'Chew the Fat' at the End in London, the label pioneered a sound in music that will live forever in the souls of ravers all over the world.
Atomic Hooligan and Jay Cunning are revisiting the labels glory days with Fat! Breaks volume 1 a retrospective look at the labels most seminal beats. We caught up with breakbeat legend Atomic Hooligan for a chat about the release and the state of the breakbeat scene at present. There is also an exclusive old to the new mini mix that they have exclusively recorded for Juno customers - showcasing the best of the old and new that Fat! and they breakbeat scene have to offer.
Number 1 is this Fat! Breaks compilation. Fat! asked me and Jay to compile our favourite moments from the era of the label when it was releasing classic breakbeat. It was honestly quite hard to only pick 14 tracks. Me and Jay used to have bags full of Fat! records when we went out to play at gigs.
Other than that, myself and Jay have our PR company and we are really pushing our DJ School at the moment.
I'm still DJ'ing out a fair amount and running my own label Bass=Win with Rico Tubbs.
You say it was hard to pick just 14 tracks from Fat!'s back catalogue. Why is that?
The label is legendary. It helped define a sound and a time in the music’s history. Botchit (the label I was signed to), TCR, Marine Parade and Fat! were the daddys of the scene. But Fat! always had their sights set on the dance floor. They had a distinct sound that appealed to DJ's like me and the punters we played too. I think this probably had a lot to do with Chew the Fat, their night at The Bug Bar in Brixton and at The End. Jay & myself played at both these spots many, many times and there was always a synergy between the night and the music the label put out. Releases by artists like Merka, Apollo Kids, Baobinga & I.D. and so on had a sound that was perfectly suited to raving in a dark room full of like minded people. It was a magic time in dance music and to be restricted to only 14 tracks is a bit of a liberty to be honest hahahaha...
If you had to pick only one tune off the album that represents this era perfectly, which would it be?
Woof.. that’s a tough one. I would have to say Apollo Kids - The Wrath. It’s got everything a classic breaks tune needs. Big rumbling bassline, classic Hip Hop feel, big rolling drums. I would also have to say Kickflip - King Conga. People just don't make tunes like that anymore. As a DJ the structure is perfect. Nice long beat intro that drops smash, bang wallop into a dirty big bassline.
Have you got any stand-out moments from when you played at Chew the Fat?
I remember playing in Room 2 at the end about a couple before our track 'Just One More' came out as the first single from our 'You Are Here' album. So the promos had not even gone out for the track and I was still the only one with it. The room was going off, as it always did. It was a really small room with massive sound system. I played the tune into the breakdown and as the breakdown was playing this girl stood right next to the door of the DJ booth and started running on the spot in time with the drum build of the track, if you have ever heard 'Just One More' you will know it’s got a really long and drawn out breakdown. This girl just kept running on the stop and as the build got more and more intense she was stomping her feet hard and hard and I noticed she was getting really red in the face and strained. When the track finally dropped again she threw her hands in the air and did this star jump kind of thing just as her friend was bring her a plastic pint glass of water. She smashed it out of her friends hand with the star jump and didn’t even notice... the water went all over her mate and soaked her from head to waste. The star jump girl then just walked back around to the front of the DJ booth and started dancing again normally. I was in tears.
How do you think the Breakbeat around at the moment compares to the golden age of Breakbeat in the 00's?
I personally love it all. I think it was cool for people to say 'Breaks is dead' and all that rubbish. But I think there is now and always has been some great music knocking about. As with all scenes, they morph and change and sometimes there is more hype, sometimes there’s less. But, I don't think that ever really effects the quality of music being made by people in the studios or bedrooms. There is just more music around now days in general, so it can be harder for the cream to rise to the top. When a label released your music back in the early 2000's and before, it was almost like they had to take a mortgage put just to get the mastering and manufacturing done. Now, you can release a tune digitally for next to nothing. So I think the A&R process is not as stringent... But... There is still great music. There are still people out there wanting to listen to great music. It’s as simple as that. Nothing will ever re-capture the halcyon days of the late 90's and early 2000's when it comes to Breakbeat, but why should it? There always needs to be new and fresh and there always will be.
Why should people buy this album?
If you are new to Breaks and getting into the sound, it’s the perfect history lesson to find out where this music came from. If you were around for the golden era, this is the first time a few of these tunes have been available on digital, and every tune on here has been re-mastered and they all sound amazing. If you're not into breaks at all and love folk music.
Lastly, tell us about the exclusive mix you have done for us?
I tried to get a few of the tracks from the album in with some new Bass & Breaks tracks to showcase that yes they are classics, but they are very relevant now and can be played with a lot of up front stuff!
Fat! Breaks Old To The New Mixed by Atomic Hooligan
This time last year, breakbeat maverick Morlack was banging out some Rick James business, a sweet reinterpretation of the legend's most infamous moments, but right now he's up on Royal Soul with some sweet-ass, electro-swinging gear of the highest calibre. "Ripa Na Chulipa" takes the boogie beats on a Brazilian tip, before the sounds of "Farther Imagination" blast it all down to classic US levels - what a master-blaster of a tune! "It Should Have Been You" is a sweeter, more soulful West-Coast sort of number, perfect for kicking back and smokin' a number, whereas "Try My Lovin" takes the groove way down below, somewhere closer to traditional hip-hop levels. Don't mess with dat bass doe!
From the moment the smooth, slo-mo soul feels of "Push On" ease their way into your ears you know Cheshire's third album Smokescreens & Somersaults is something special. Easing back off the bangs and focusing more on the space between, the longstanding Aussie funker has really found his groove as we're massaged by horns and pepped by the final parps on "Bounce", our snakes are charmed by wah wahs on "Hypnotic" before building up to chunkier bangers like the sleazy glitch lizard "Subaquatic" and the show-stopping future glitch space anthem "Smokescreens & Somersaults". No smokescreen necessary... But somersaults are pretty much guaranteed.
Oh boy, it's Mafia Kiss back on the Stanton Warriors' Punks imprint for some voracious blends of UK house baggage! The producer lands back with the solitary "Think", a 4/4 groove which carries a heavy load of jittery electro bass filtered through something that sounds distinctly grimey. In essence, this is the sort of house that has given the UK game a name in recent years, and it is bound to unleash large amounts of rave euphoria in the dancehall. Drop it well.
Voodoo Chilli is back to his old tricks again, and back to pester the Cheap Thrills catalogue with some proper house breaks - the sort that makes you dive right back into the best of the early 90s. "My Heart" delivers a gorgeous, rhythmic groove guided by Rhia's angelic voice, which seems to get better with each new roll of those drums. What's more, this sounds like the sort of tune that anyone could dig, from the house heads to the pop lovers. Both mixes, too. Funnily enough, there are no cheap thrills here!
Qdup's recent festivities on the Fort Knox imprint is back on the servers with a fine company of remixes; "Get Up" is the particular tune to receive the treatment, and there's no one better than this lot to see it develop into new, danceable shapes. It's the All Good Funk Alliance that comes through with the first two versions, one vocal-led funk bomb and the other an instrumental lick to act as the killer DJ tool. Friskier Business' versions are equally funky, except that electro is used as the main ingredient, and the final product sounds like some future boogie step. Class!
In comes the remix! Griz's exceptional Good Will Prevail album gets the treatment from some of the best in their respective bass games. Version cruciality comes from all corners with highlights firing from Ephwurd (head-chopping bass house) Opiuo (mental vocal manipulation and a horn-bent skank to die for) Barclay Crenshaw (smoking cosmic soul) and Tisoki (rolling percussive garage-inspired lushness) but this is just scratching the remix surface. Live Good and prosper!
Given their addiction to British style bass music - not to mention rhythm patterns from around the world - the Through My Speakers crew is not your average Berlin-based DJ/producer collective. That much is clear from this all-star EP. There's much to admire throughout, from the trap-with-bells-on dancefloor madness of "Ladies & Cash" by Bukez Finezt and the high-octane, shangan shake-goes-acid brilliance of TMS Soundsystem's "160bp", to the wobbly post dubstep/revivalist jungle fusion of Radar Bird's formidable EP closer, "Execute". Perhaps most impressive of all, though, is the dancefloor-focused future dub fuzziness of vowel-hater NGHT DRPS's "Timebomb Dub".