Easychord eating a lollipop at a nightclub in Sheffield!
The boy dem came and shut the rave down at 4 AM like they do every week. Photos by Heather Corcoran
Fucking check it out! A record shop in Sheffield!
Since bassline isn’t coming to London anytime soon, when a film Easychord shot got accepted into the Sheffield Film Festival late last year, we decided to head up to South Yorkshire the weekend of the festival to check out a bassline rave first hand. Stepping off the coach the first thing you notice about Sheffield is how run down everything is. Entire streets are made up of dilapidated, abandoned buildings. Indeed, we could wax eloquent for pages about the heart-aching beauty of England’s post-industrial north, but we’ll leave that to bassline’s biggest new fans—the broadsheets. Our first mission in Sheffield was to find a record shop. We headed down to Reflex Records where we had a chat with the guy who runs it. He was mostly interested in talking about how the police were always fucking with raves around town, “because they don’t like the music, innit”. There are actually people in the north who don’t like bassline? How strange. He also told us about how CD packs are selling like crazy. We bought one called North vs. Midlands: Dirty Bass, which according to the sparse liner notes was recorded at the Mint Club in Leeds a couple of months ago. Despite the appalling artwork, the CDs were really good—6 discs with sets from DJ Q, Mr. V, TS7, JTJ, TRC etc. There was one particularly amazing new track by Mr V that, aside from the snaking bassline, was comprised almost solely and gun clicks and gun shots. We wonder what it would be like to see that getting dropped at a rave. Later on we went to sample some of the local cuisine Chez Wetherspoon, where we took full advantage of the two-for-£6 meal deal. Don’t say we don’t know how to ball. After a couple of the £3 double spirit and mixer specials, we then decided to check out a club night. We headed to Club Vibe, where you can hear bassline every Friday and Saturday night—week in, week out. After the usual rigmarole of airport style metal detectors, incomprehensible bouncers and a £15, cover we were in. The DJs—Jamie Ferguson and a couple of others—churned out nothing but bassline for the six hours we were there, all off CDs, with no MCs or rewinds. They tended to favour more of the R’n’B-sampling, girly side of things rather than the dark end, although the tunes that got the biggest response were MC tracks like “You Wot” by DJ Q & MC Bonez. The ravers were definitely on a ghetto fabulous tip—shitloads of fake Evisu, people drinking Möet out of plastic cups, girls taking style cues from Cheryl Tweedy and Coleen Mcloughlin, that kind of thing. We know some journalists go on about how tough and grimey the bassline crowd is meant to be, but to be honest everyone was kind of nice. We got randomly high-fived by no less than three dudes on E. The rudest character of the night was the toilet attendant, who after realising Easychord had no worthwhile change to give him, instead demanded he empty out his pockets and give him all of seven pence in copper coins. Times are tough, I guess, though he still made it out with a complementary lollipop. Basically, the North of England has quietly built a juggernaut of a scene. Everyone is going on about “will bassline blow?” which actually means “will bassline blow in London?” Most of the DJs and producers in the scene couldn’t give a fuck. Why worry about cracking London when you can clear hundreds of pounds a night playing every other town in England? The thing that really made people take note of bassline this year was Ayia Napa. It was a big melting pot of sun, sand, STDs, three quarter length shorts, mopeds and music, and showed people from all over the UK how fun bassline could be. It’s surprising just how relevant Ayia Napa still is. It’s like a downmarket UK version of the Miami Winter Music Conference, but without the excessive bling, self-importance and closet homosexuality. Two of the biggest tunes in Ayia Napa this year were T2’s “Heartbroken” and Benga and Coki’s “Night”. If you’ve turned on your radio in the last month you’ll know how well “Heartbroken” has done. When we were predicting it would go Top 10 months ago, we never imagined it would get anywhere near as popular as it now is. We hear “Night” has now also been signed to a major. Dizzee Rascal is rumoured to have vocalled it but even if his version was released it’s hard to see how it could do well commercially. Maybe we’re wrong, though. Jo Whiley played it on her show a while back so it’s obviously not too underground for people who take bands like Keane seriously. As well as “Night” and “Heartbroken”, DJ NG’s “Tell Me” was also massive in Napa this year. NG is from the new school of producers who grew up listening to grime on pirate stations but now makes funky house that’s dark and grimey but still catchy. It’s totally different from all of that Friday night at Yates’ Wine Lodge funky house shit that girls in offices listen to while downing pints of cheap wine and “letting off steam”. The fan base is comprised mainly of people who used to go to grime nights when they were still allowed to take place in London and then grew out of listening to it in favour of having fun. Now you can see them at nights like Freaky Fridays at the Stratford Rex drinking champagne and giving gun fingers to the biggest funky house tunes. Like many of the big tunes in Ayia Napa this year, “Tell Me” is being played by DJs from lots of different scenes. We’ve heard grime DJs dropping it and current reggae World Clash champions Mighty Crown have even requested their own dub of the track. If it doesn’t get signed to a major label we’re going to put down our pens and never write again. Or maybe we’ll just be a bit surprised. PRANCEHALL & EASYCHORD