The Story Of Launch – the first ever drum & bass movie

Have you heard the news?

One small step for man, one giant leap for the mandem…

Crissy Criss and Josh Perrett have spent the last four years creating a sincerely interesting and authentic piece of drum & bass art that transcends the music itself. Launch – the first ever drum & bass film.

Starring Inja as the astronaut boldly going where no MC has gone before, Crissy himself as ground control and a whole raft of junglist major Toms, Launch is a remarkable spectacle and benchmark project from all perspectives…

Visually it hits hard with seriously high production levels. Culturally it features an impressive slew of jungle D&B pioneers and figureheads: Randall, Roni Size, DJ Rap, Kenny Ken, Ray Keith, Brockie, The Ragga Twins, Nicky Blackmarket, Jumping Jack Frost, Inja, Harry Shotta, Logan D, Heist, Erb N Dub, Carasel and TC all star in the movie alongside Crissy and Inja.

Narratively it holds its own, too, with a great sense of energy and series of dry lines and in-jokes weaved throughout the film, often aided and abetted by viral YouTube comedian Aaran Crascall and world champion tea drinker Nicky Blackmarket (and his 100+ mug collection).

For two creative individuals who are not only making their short movie debut, but also financed and built the entire set themselves, Launch is an incredibly impressive, high spec, highly-produced project. In the words of co-star Brockie, “it should be on Netflix.”

And the best thing? This project was only ever meant to be a music video, three minutes at the most.

How it became the 28 minute epic it is today, though, is the most deliciously and inspiringly drum & bass thing ever. Ready for takeoff?

10, 9, 8, 7, 6…

“I guess it all began when I was a bit low on gigs and I was ringing up some promoters to drum up a bit of work,” recalls Crissy as we trace his creative partnership with Josh back to its roots. Co-producer / co-director, Josh’s roots in D&B go back to the mid 2000s when he ran events Beat Bristol and Concrete Beat.

“He said he wasn’t doing nights anymore but I asked what he was up to anyway and he told me he was up to photography,” Criss continues. “I’d always been into photography myself so we started working together in that type of way.”

This was 10 years ago. By this stage Josh was a premiership travel photographer with well over 100,000 followers on Instagram and had long since left D&B. Crissy’s call struck a new creative chord that gradually brought him back into the music.

“It was a nice way to keep my interest in the music alive,” explains Josh. “I was building up my own thing we worked well alongside each other. Whenever Criss needed an event filmed I could be there. We filmed a lot of Nass festivals and loads of other things.”

Several years, many festivals and quite a few smashed drones later, the pair had found an exciting creative dialogue between them and had content for a number of events and brands, bringing D&B to cool brands such as Porsche and Mooseknuckles. Yet even at this stage ‘make a movie’ was nowhere near their shared to-do list.

“It was all just a massive accident!” Crissy laughs. “When I made my album War On Silence, I did the track Launch with Inja. It came out in 2019 and that’s when we started filming the video for it. It was going to be a straight forward music video. We went to London to link with Inja. We filmed under The Barbican and went to Wales to a beach to film the space part. A quick music video. That was a wrap. When we got back, I looked at the footage and felt it needed some rockets in there. Neither of us were up for editing at that stage, or putting effects into the video, then lockdown came and it got pushed to the side…”

A little gift from the ‘rona fairies… While the footage was left to collect dust on a hard drive for several years, life went on and Crissy planned a remix album, including one of Launch so they could eventually return to the video. Brazilian guitar-chomping dervish Urbandawn was a no-brainer.

“His tunes are fire,” Crissy confirms. “Of course he delivered the goods in a such a massive way… So we knew we had to go big with the video. It was looking cool but needed a few extra shots.”

“So I said, ‘Why don’t we build a spaceship in my basement?’” adds Josh with a smirk. Unbeknown to him at the time, he’d opened up a whole new creative fixation and series of DIY set constructions that would try the patience of his partner Ellie and the builders who were still constructing the actual basement under his one bed flat at the time!


“I took some time to research this and of course someone out there was crazy enough to put a YouTube video up on how to create a spaceship,” Crissy explains. “And it was all with things he’d found around the house, shooting under a table and using a few old monitors. I thought ‘There’s no way this is going to look good.’ But it did. It looked spectacular. So I sent it to Josh and said ‘When are we going to do this?’ And it started from there…”

What followed was several intense weekends of trips to B&Q and Hobbycraft grabbing wires, tubes, shiny stuff and “anything that could be even remotely spaceship-like.” No planning, designing, or blueprints; they just got to work in a Macguyver/A-Team style tools-out, sleeves-rolled resourceful creative way.

Another, more appropriate, comparison could be the early days of jungle and D&B; no rules or formulas, the blueprints were being drawn up in the creative process, just pure experimentation in a bid to XXXL their half-complete music video.

“There was literally no plan at all, and definitely no idea for a full movie, we just wanted to make something that looked really sick.”

Sickness levels achieved, Inja came to Bristol to film more shots. “I’d kinda forgot about the project if I’m honest,” grins the world’s smiliest MC. “But when Crissy called and I came down I thought, ‘Wow, man’s been busy!’ There’d been huge changes between the first time I’d filmed with them and the second time. It galvanised a certain energy in me which felt really good.”

The feeling was mutual for Crissy as they set to work filming more content. At this stage it’s still a very much a music video in his and Josh’s minds, but hindsight hints that it was eventually going to develop into something bigger by this stage.

“I wanted something that would make it look cinematically cool,” says Crissy. “So we agreed that Inja would say some things while at the controls of the spaceship and I would script in my responses.”

As loose ideas turned into rough scripts, this was the very moment the music video started to mutate into the short film it is today. Even if Crissy and Josh didn’t know it at the time.

“We didn’t know where this scripted bit would be, whether it would be in the middle or the end of the video,” Crissy explains. “We couldn’t quite work that out, we just knew we needed it and to do it, we need to build a control centre so I called up Josh and said, ‘We need to build ground control.’”

“At that point my girlfriend almost left me,” Josh grimaces. (Spoiler – she didn’t, but you get the impression Josh was pushing his luck with this project and how much it had taken over his life and his home!)

And so the trips to B&Q, Hobbycraft and anywhere else they could get the screens, lights and materials to make the awesome looking ground control you see in the film continued. “We shot it, I edited it into the shots we’d done with Inja and it made sense,” says Crissy. “So then I was like, ‘Right, what can we shoot next?’”

That same weekend they started calling up old friends. First they hit local heads who they could grab in real time like Randall and Roni Size, then gradually they began to enlist more and more pioneers. But even at this stage, in both their minds and creative vision, this was still very much a music video.

“Even when we started calling up people, we didn’t quite know how it was going to go down,” laughs Crissy.

“We just knew it would be sick,” chimes in Josh, finishing Crissy’s sentence.

More and more calls were made. From Roni to Kenny to Rap to Ray Keith to Ragga Twins who open the whole movie in a hilarious café sequence, bickering over a copy of the Daily Bassline. More and more artists responded to Crissy’s request.

“I’ll never forget it!” Brockie can remember when he got the call… “I was like, ‘Fuck me! I ain’t missing that! I’ll have some of that. To be part of the artists he picked to be in the film was an honour before the cameras were even rolling.”

The star of the show, when it comes to junglist pioneers, though, is Nicky Blackmarket who appears throughout the film with more and more empty tea mugs amassing on his coffee table as the day progresses. “I love a cuppa as everyone knows,” laughs Nicky whose love for tea is so strong he genuinely buys teabags by the palette load. “So I was more than happy to be part of it in this way. I mean, what an honour to be asked in the first place!”

For Crissy, the tea gag wrote itself. His only concern was that Nicky might not have enough mugs to create the joke. “I was looking into ordering a load and getting them sent to his house,” recalls Crissy. “Turns out he had more than enough so that saved the budget a little bit!”

“Course I got enough mugs!” laughs Nicky who calculates that on a good day, when his house is full of family and guests, he can easily make upwards of 70 cups a day. “I collect mugs anyway, but I got every single cup out of the cupboard for this.”

A crockery-cluttered Blackmarket is one of the many iconic sequences of the film as the cameos build up and up and up. All of them asking each other whether they’d heard the news about Inja in space. But even at this pretty developed stage, they were still making a music video.

“We just kept on shooting,” Josh explains. “Before you know it it’s 8 minutes long. Then it’s 15 minutes…”

“And the more we shot, the more we had to shoot for the story to make sense,” laughs Crissy. “It ended up a short film because we’d shot so much.”

Finally we reach the moment where they realise they’ve been living a music video lie and accept the fact they’re neck deep in a space movie.


Here’s where things get brilliantly complex. The final film includes Inja going missing and eventually being discovered unconscious on a lunar-like surface they’d filmed on the very first shoot back in 2019. These scenes, however, were only thought of later, past the last shoot with Inja. Instead they were shot with Crissy, disguised by the spacesuit. And to make that work, they had to return to the precise point on a beach in north Wales where they’d previously filmed it.

“The shot where we discover Inja on the floor is also me in a space suit, so I’m on the floor and I’m walking towards myself,” Crissy laughs. “We had to make sure it matched up with the shot we’d done four years before so had to get the right type of light and weather.”

It’s this level of attention to detail that gives Launch its polish and weight and makes it even more remarkable… Crissy and Josh have, in effect, reverse engineered and entire film not just from a music video but from one single shot on an empty Welsh beach. Once again, the parallel with the core characteristic of drum & bass is apparent (especially in terms of its famously high production levels)… There’s a space to explore and a level to be pushed? Let’s push it as far and high as possible.

“That’s what our music has done,” Nicky Blackmarket considers. “From being in the shop all those years ago. I never had a plan or anything. None of us had plans. We just set out to see what we could do and how far we could take the music and the culture. No plan. Let’s see how we go.”

This is where we’ve got to so far. Another D&B parallel can be found on the flip side of this. For all its well produced execution, there’s a still a rawness and a realness. Some of this is down to Crissy and Josh’s minds being open to seat-of-pants script changes, rebuilding and rewriting elements even in the very last few weeks of production (Aaran Crascall, for instance, joined the cast in the very last few days meaning they had to rebuild elements of the space craft for his finale closing shot)

This creative flexibility gives the film a real energy but when it comes to rawness, we can thank the many drum & bass and jungle cameos.

“None of us are actors, we’re all DJs and MCs!” Brockie exclaims. “But we’re all trying and you can feel that, you know? Crissy took a risk and involved us to show the rawness of this.”

“Again, it was a happy accident to end up with so many legends in the movie,” explains Crissy who focused on the pioneer peers as a nod of respect to the foundations and also a wry nod to the olden times of Music House gossip. “But it was nice to highlight those people who represent that time in jungle and are all still connected and friends and have guys like Brockie and Nicky in a cinematic setting.”

It’s a guarantee that none of them, back in those foundation days, would have ever, ever dreamt they’d all be making a drum & bass sci-fi movie 30 years.

In fact, let’s be honest, as recently as last month most D&B heads would never would have dreamt that a sizeable chunk of the scene’s pioneers would be starring in the genre’s first sci-fi which is written and produced by a prominent artist who’s literally lived and breathed the genre since childhood.

This has never happened before. It’s a unique moment of the genre’s maturity; creative levels are so high, people are so well connected with other disciplines and the global awareness (and acceptance) of the music has led to a situation where artists from within the scene can make their own entertainment that celebrates and references itself but could still be watched by anyone.

“Whether you know about my man Nicky and his love for cups or tea or not bro, that is jokes!” laughs Inja. “You’re right, this is a moment where the whole scene and take stock and realise how things have levelled.”

No other genre is doing this. Not even slightly. And excitingly, Launch isn’t even a one-off example.

A few months back we reported on the first ever drum & bass comedy Mr Happy which is also written by and features figures from the drum & bass scene (and is highly recommended). We’ve also spoken to Billain in the past who has won an award winning amount of awards for his short animation Fugitive which also carries many (much more subtle) drum & bass references.

These are just three examples. As this exciting new chapter continues many will following, all translating the genre to entirely different spaces, audiences and disciplines.

Forget about big US artists who – prior to a year or two ago had zero interest in drum & bass – tweeting about how 2024 will be the genre’s year. Don’t worry about the mainstream charts or daytime radio lite D&B or big EDM DJs biting on the genre in pretty crude ways… This is where exciting, creative and artistic progress is being made.

“Sitting in the studio and making tunes and doing gigs is amazing, I’m blessed we can do that shit, but why can’t we do more?” Crissy considers. “It’s good to show that D&B can connect in so many different ways. Not just with films, but with everything. We’re not segregated. We don’t just have to make our own t-shirts. I mean look at Goldie with Louis Vuitton!”

From deep space to high fashion, the potential for creative fusion and exciting collaborations is endless and something we hope to see a lot more of. As for Crissy and Josh’s space adventures, it seems we might see more of them, too.

“Mate I’ve never felt so inspired,” grins Crissy. “I’m already writing a new script!”

To be continued…

Crissy Criss – War On Silence remixes are out now




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