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
Etch gets chemical on this epic return to Sneaker Social Club with four unique broken grooves; "Chemotaxis" rolls with Zed Bias-style breaks before switching into a hazy steppy halftime arrangement, "What Lies Beyond" is a love letter to Reinforced at 130 BPM, "Green Park" slides and glides with a warm warped funk before mutating into a savage rave stepper, before "Prismatic" slides down the shutters on a dreamy jazz breaks finale. Reactions guaranteed.
Tampa Florida based Breakbeat Paradise are back with a new one by Mined & Forrest: who are none other than Mined from Obba Select and Forrest Funk. Inspired by classic funk, modern bass design and hip-hop sampling, they teamed up to bring their musical ideas together. Party starting/block rockin' beats with some very familiar vocals to get you singing along to on "There It Is" (original mix) while "Funk Toxic" takes you back to the '80s on this funky joint full of slap bass, a totally electric brass section and a drummer getting mighty wicked. Elsewhere, it's a family affair on the nu-skool shenanigans of "Drugs" featuring Joker, until the EP closes with a bang courtesy of the one and only Jayl Funk remix of "There It Is" which really works that vocal of a certain missy over a street level funk explosion.
Pure carnival chaos: the Stantons drop one of their biggest tunes in years in the form of "Colima". Stampy, percussive, switching with a wily sense of mischief, loaded with funk but underpinned with serious levels of bass, this is an absolute killer of a tune that began denting dances earlier this summer and will continue to for a long time to come. Warrior level: trumpet melter.
Debutant destruction: Low Pitched continue to knock seven shades of bass out of the dance with a four-piece EP from four artists we'll be hearing a lot more of in future. From the chop-slapping grunts of fast-rising Tengu's "Crimson Peak" to Genick & Strange Contents' bitter-bass barks on "Monologue" via the purring space bass and struts and tightly plucked lead tones of Slmn Ghst's "Dawgs Dem" and harmonic hair-raising of Hestia's "Baby", the message is clear: there's a new generation of bass producers about to dent the future with level upping badness. Check!
This will certainly "make her arse shake", one for the floor if ever we've heard one. We love the constant change in pace as the track moves through beat patterns. 'M.F.B.F.B' dominates the same space as its partner track, it's energetic, punching and designed to send the floor off.
From The Simpsons to Big Brother via Spongebob, Dominic Glynn has composed music for a huge array of TV shows, games and films. He also knows his way around a banger or two; as shown here on this floor-fixed repurposing of his Doctor Who scores (a show which he's been involved in for over 30 years) Ranging from the cosmic slo-mo acid-soaked drama of "Happiness Will Prevail" to the trance-tinged thrust of "I'm Happy You're Glad", Glynn translates his big screen vision to big dancefloor moments with a heady sense of theatre and narrative. Genuinely one of a kind.
Stonedwave presents the latest offering from Jochen Heym. Bridging the gap between hardcore, drill & bass and braindance on tracks like "Exit Vessel" and "Init Conversation", the artist creates Dadaistic piano arrangements that meet talking funk basslines while the tracks are still heavily rooted on the dance floor. Songs like "Winterlicht" and "Unreachable" connect the artwork taken by Icelandic Photographer Halldor Ingi to muted microtonal sounds and hypnotic piano loops. Inspired by his hiking trips to remote locations in northern Europe, Heym started to invent his own microtonal tunings which can be heard throughout the whole release and define his personal unique sound character.
Dusty funk bliss from Greece's one and only Kill Emil. Touching down in Latin America, both cuts are steeped in South American soul. "O Jogo" plays the game in style thanks to its sunset horn section, yearning vocal and precision laced percussion while "Tambo" shakes with a little more of an upbeat carnivalian energy that switches into a stunning evocative piano groove and swings on a delightful party-tickling drum arrangement.
Feel your pulse: check. Feel the love: check. Johnny and the lover troopers ride the archives and combine the ultimate 'best of' compendium having announced that this summer's album Dos Tonas will be their final long player together. Smashing the last three years and grabbing their wiliest, wittiest and funkiest jams Storm Troopin For Life is the sound of an Irish collective getting deep into the groove and creating their own unique party-smashing sound. Fused with punk-like spirit and sense of mischief, there's no filler whatsoever... Just drop the sunny-side skanks of "Dos Tonas" and watch the damage for yourselves. Essential for all modern day funk aficionados.
Fresh from the Bulabeats vaults comes Johnnypluse under his JPSTOL alias with a collection of hidden dubs, drum tracks and instrumental riddims from the last three years of releases. Strictly for your mixing pleasure; expect nothing but a rawhide clutch of stripped back grooves that are perfect for deep deck creativity or MCs to do damage on. All vibes and tempos included: from the upbeat ska wobbles of "Dos Tonas" to the classic big beat bants of "2 Tone" via the swampy, dub-splattered trip-hop beats of "Stuck To The Roof", this is the sound of the Bula crew at their most stark and straight up. Guaranteed to enhance your mix!
Noisy, squelchy jump up. It's a thing right now, and it's a thing we whole heartedly love, it's energetic, fun and really gets the floor popping. Each track of the EP follows the tried and tested formula of complex simplicity, a tongue in cheek vocal with a loud, grimy, overbearing bassline providing melody. Although fitting perfectly in the new style jump up box, the tracks are different enough to have their own identity. Our favourite track on the release in 'Funk Phenomenon' which has a Taxman 07/08 vibe, Big!
It's Pnutz butter jelly time! When we say butter, we mean 'funky', and when we say 'jelly' we mean 'banger'. Building on the two albums he's given us this year (two!!), here comes more original party jammers in the shape of "Bee Side" and "Desert Disco"... The former is all Hammond, no trousers and lavishly swung live drum breaks while the former is all about the mischievous sizzling p-funk bassline. And when we say sizzling, we mean it.
Super-duper new Booty Breaks right here, with the label's 25th edition coming through in fine form, indeed! "Shapes" is a house-driven, break-filled re-edit of a certain pop hit that's circling the charts right now, but that we couldn't possible name for legal reasons - we're pretty sure you'll recognize it from the first 2 bars! As a follow-up, there's "Dance Close" featuring the vocals of Angel in what is a dusty, old-school rave gem re-imagined for the modern floor; "What Must I Do" is another ode to the early 90s birth of rave, with some big piano stabs rocking the tune's breaks. Bangers.
Sleeve is a new imprint from the In The Machine Age family, and intends to focus on music between the 125 and 135 bpm mark. For its debut release, it sounds like Stripper took inspiration from a myriad of sources. The spectre of dreamy break beat comes into focus on the "Back 2 93" version of the title track, while there is a very different approach on Exal's version of "Proliferation". Dense, tribal drums and a break neck rhythm underpin eerie chord builds to create a dark, late 90s techno sound. "Light Curve" sees Stripper put his own stamp on this style, with rigid drums underpinning a more house-based groove, while "Panamax" concludes the release with a jacking Chicago-styled workout.