The Rave Story Continues: Billy Daniel Bunter salutes the next generation of hardcore heroes

Join 1 More Thing as we link up with The Rave Story to host the panels and interviews on October 15

October 15, Electrowerkz, London: The Rave Story returns with a massive five-room celebration of all things hardcore past, present and future.

DJ sets, Live PAs, art installations, a pop-up record fair and talks, panels and interviews with key artists across all generations of the scene: The Rave Story – spearheaded by Billy Daniel Bunter, his wife Sonya and the Music Mondays team – highlights how rave is much more than cheeky dancefloor hedonism or the odd messy weekend, this is a culture, a movement, a lifestyle and expressive artform that people dedicate their entire lives to.

A culture that has empowered and enabled many of us to find a place and purpose in the world, underground dance music is how we’ve made friends, built communities and, for many of us, made careers. As a new raving generation find their feet and their voice post-covid, it’s never been stronger with a new league of hardcore headliners take the sound to new levels, countries and experimental places.

The Rave Story will celebrate this exciting new chapter across all five rooms as the likes of OG pioneers such as The Ragga Twins and Paul Ibiza rub shoulders with the more contemporary likes of Pete Cannon, Mixtress and Lavery. With all generations in between, the event is set to be the biggest and most inclusive edition of The Rave Story so far. And 1 More Thing is proud to be involved as a media partner hosting the interviews and panels.

Covering a wide range of issues and discussions surrounding the culture in 2022, guests on board for panels and interviews include Ragga Twins, Eastman Kool, Scar, Paul Ibiza, Mixtress, Richard Raindance, Grant Epidemik, Funky Flirt, Ed Jenkins Pat Scott and the man himself Billy Daniel Bunter.

1 More Thing‘s Dave Columbo Jenkins and We Are Hardcore founder (and all round legend) Jay Cunning will be hosting the interviews, many of which will be recorded and hosted over on the 1 More Thing YouTube channel.

Full details on the event plus ticket information can be found here. We caught up with Bunter for more details. With the tragic passing of one of rave culture’s foremost and consistent protagonists Stu Allen just days before we spoke, there was only one way this conversation could commence.

I don’t think we can do this interview without paying respect to Stu Allen first…

You’re right we can’t. We were very very close with him and his family. As a DJ and musical icon he’s been so influential on me. And as a friend away from the music too. The man’s stories were incredible. He was an integral part of the music from the 80s. He was one of the first radio DJs to play house music on the radio and you can see how many people he touched right now. Everyone is paying their respect online. Carl Cox, Goldie, Grooverider, Frost, Hixxy, Slipmatt, Mark EG. Everyone from the jungle scene to the techno scene to the happy hardcore scene and your hard dance scene. Literally everyone from every corner of every scene.

He was the most humble person you could ever meet and he would still get nervous before every set he played because he really gave a shit about the dancefloor and what they wanted. And you could feel that;  any time he stepped up it was like, ‘Okay Stu’s here, it’s gonna go off.’

He was an animal behind the decks and a gentlemen in every other way. What was nice about the show we did about him this week was this… I found a clip from the mid 90s where he was doing shout outs – congratulating people on weddings and having children and birthdays and that. I recognised some of the names because they come to Unity In The Sun to follow Stu. They still listen to him now! They were getting in touch during the tribute saying ‘that’s me!’

Wow that’s a proper community

Absolutely it fucking is. Stu would reply to every letter he was sent, every email he was sent, every phone call. A lot of DJs get wrapped up in their own ego, but he never did. And through that he built up this incredible community. He was always about the community and connection he had with the music and the people who loved the same music as him.

You can hear that influence on you

Yeah he was a massive influence on me. More than words I can say. Carl Cox said he was one of his heroes, that says it all. Them two were side by side along with Sasha. You couldn’t touch them three. He was on the pulse with the progression and development of the music, too. A real visionary. I found this interview with him in 1991 and they asked him where do you see the music going and he said I hope people start adding reggae into the mix and I hope they do it well.

Wow so he could see jungle developing from its earliest stages…

Totally. I found a show of his from 1993 where he’s playing Gun Talk on Suburban Base and he had Super Cat jingles saying, ‘You’re locked into the don dadda Stu Allen.’ A lot of jungle pioneers wouldn’t have had Super Cat voicing things for them at that stage. And that’s why you’re seeing the jungle guys big up his legacy so much. They know how much work he put in in the north of England. They witnessed it first hand and shared line-ups with him. You’d go up north to DJ and he was always the star of the show. We were names to fill out a flyer. So yeah a very very sad loss. This has hit home really hard.

I bet he was a full supporter of The Rave Story

He loved it. He was all about that as well. He’d share his stories with people. The history of the culture and music was so important to him. And his legacy is there for everyone – 100s of shows all out there to hear and help us piece together the history. He understood the progression of rave; where it came from, where it was heading and how we all connect. No other DJ had that type of foresight or knowledge and we will personally be keeping his legacy alive at Unity In The Sun and The Rave Story.

Tell us about The Rave Story… This one is the first in a while.  

It came about because I wrote my book, then I was doing a lot of modern press. I had this interview with some guys from FACT or a blog like that. I was with two young journalists in Dalston and were literally opposite where the 4 Aces was, which was obviously home to Labyrinth.

Now Dalston is a very gentrified place. They knocked down the 4 Aces and built a library there. It’s actually a really nice library, I’ve got to say, and they’ve built very fancy flats there. One block is even named after Labyrinth. It’s a very different place to how it used to be. 30 years ago it was ghetto. If you parked your car there it would be robbed or broken into. The security and promoters protected them and that’s the only reason you’d go there.

I was explaining this to the journalists and they could believe me. It wasn’t computing what this place was like and what the club was like so I went home and said to Sonya that I wanted to set up rave art galleries, host talks and tell that story and host pop up record stores. So we did this thing and it happened for a few years – celebrating the culture from 88 to 94. The acid scene to jungle hardcore scene and everything in between.

In July 2020 I was going to do a really big one. Previously we’d do it over five days starting Monday and finishing Friday. But this meant people out of London couldn’t get down to it. So we planned the a big one which didn’t happen because of lockdown. We’ve done a fair few events since we’ve come out of that but the Rave Story didn’t fit with them but the time is right now.

There’s this generation of amazing artists who are celebrating that rave sound – Sherelle, Coco Bryce, Lavery, Tim Reaper. An amazing hub of people who I’ve seen for the last five-to-ten years working hard and really coming into their own post-covid. Their energy captures where we are at right now. There’s a lot of crossing of genres, a lot of experimentation, a lot of really good fast music.

And these artists are joining the dots too. Sherelle added my track The Voyage to her Spotify playlist lately. That’s a pretty obscure b-side from me that’s 28 years old! I’m honoured and pretty astounded she knew about it and wanted to support that track.

The new generation of artists know their stuff

They fucking do mate. But also I would say they’re not new. They’ve been working hard for years and years. It takes decades to become an overnight success, as they say. So yeah we’re in a new era but they’re not new and up and coming, these DJs and artists have been grafting for a very long time and it’s paying off.

Whether it’s Sherelle playing happy hardcore and mixing it with juke, or Coco Bryce playing an old trancecore tune from the mid 90s then it’s exciting me in the same way Stu Allen inspired me. There’s so many of them doing it; Pete Cannon, Swankout, Club Glow, Mixstress… I could go on and on. These people are inspiring me so much and made me rethink The Rave Story. It’s not just about those foundation years between 88 and 94. It’s about what’s happening now.

And they’re joining dots for the new generation of ravers

Totally. And the energy you get from the crowds they play to. I see those crowds and that energy and I think, ‘Go on!’ You get some old ravers moaning online saying people don’t do it like we did in 94 and that’s bollocks. Some of those people can’t even get off their old arses to come and rave anyway!

All those DJs I listed are part of the next chapter of the movement. It’s their time and it’s fucking inspiring mate. I’ve had a life from this. From being kicked out of school at 14, being made a resident at Labyrinth at the age of 15 and going on to play a role in all these sounds – acid house, hardcore, jungle hardcore, happy hardcore, hard dance, jungle, 120 bpm to 180 bpm this thing has been good to me. So The Rave Story doesn’t just celebrate that first era, it celebrates this generation and this new post covid era. It’s just as much for them as it is The Ragga Twins or Paul Ibiza or Richard Raindance or Eastman.

They’re taking this music to countries we’ve never been able to take it to and that’s amazing. So how can we help them? How can we work together? What can they learn from our mistakes and take it to the next level? I love DJing, I’ve overdosed on it since I was 14, if I’m on line-ups with this amazing generation, I’m grateful. If I’m not, the reward is seeing them do what we’ve been pushing for over 30 years, and carrying the tourch into the future…

Whatever me and my friends can do to combine our knowledge of heritage and our spirit to keep this going then let’s do it.

We’re at a great point where generations meet. Rave has reached a new stage of maturity in that way. It’s about the timelessness of it all.

The timelessness! You’re right. I remember when magazines took the piss out of our music. There was a ridicule of the hardcore and jungle sounds. I remember Mixmag took the piss out of my DJ name and Jumping Jack Frost’s name, for instance.

The faster and more ravey or energetic we got, the more piss they took. But look how strong we are now. It’s never been stronger. We never fit in with the trendy sounds, the progressive house or the minimal techno or electrohouse or tech house or any of that, but we’re still here and have always been no matter how much the media poo-pooed us.

Whether that’s my age group or anyone who’s come through since. No one is fucking around. No one is posing. They’re fucking in there, sleeves rolled up, no fucking about. That’s what it’s all about – the vibe and the spirit. Like them old records said… Hardcore will never die!

Join Billy Daniel Bunter, 1 More Thing and many of rave pioneers across the generations on October 15 at Electrowerkz, London. Full details.

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