Grooverider is not just an ambassador for the dnb scene

One thing that’s bothered me most about the drum & bass scene is how no matter how much fun the DJs and producers within the scene seem to have behind the scenes, it’s always been so about-the-business when it comes to their personas in public. I’d assumed that all British dnb producers were skunked-out, hoodie-wearing awkward guys (like myself at one time). Imagine my astonishment at being able to hear Grooverider on BBC Radio 1 back in the 1999-2002 era!

There was something about the way Grooverider commanded the radio. Growing up on DJs like Funkmaster Flex, who became just as skilled (if not more so!) as on-air personalities as they were as DJs. Grooverider was the same thing, but in an even more Godfather-esque manner. For those who are unaware, Grooverider is one of the guys in the scene.

Fabio & Grooverider (Image via Chelone Wolf)

Alongside his long-time DJ companion Fabio, Grooverider has helped usher the scene through a number of periods, primarily more on the darker, more experimental regions (while Fabio caters more towards the soulful side of things—he’s the guy who coined the term “liquid funk,” which in turn ended up describing a large chunk of the dnb output today).

Radio made the drum & bass star

Fab and Groove are the originators, and it made sense for BBC Radio 1 to snatch them up in 1998, keeping the two in their rightful place as the pinnacle of the dnb scene. Normally, they’d trade off, and while Fabio always had the deeper, more emotional selections, Groove was on the pulse of any sound worth its weight in acetate at the time. What even brought me to this particular topic was such a moment in radio, where Grooverider invited Optical, his brother Matrix, and their homie DJ Trace to the Radio 1 studios to chat and play some beats. Immediately, things are amazing.

The show starts off with Grooverider throwing out some comments about how much the Total Science tune he was playing sounded like Photek. He soon mentions how the guys were going to be coming through, then randomly asks people to guess who produced the tune he played. If you’re not up on Todd Terry’s “Blackout,” it was interesting to see the legend who wasn’t normally making dnb make a decent dnb tune (which Groove even admits).

This is all before Matrix brings classics like “The Saint” to the set. Just hearing this neurofunk in its purest form is inspiring, to be honest.

It’s the banter, though, that cracks me up. We don’t get to hear many DJs now having laughs with dnb producers, who are normally seen as these very stoic, very reserved individuals. The laughter that starts out the second part of this recording (word to Trace for uploading these), and it reminds me of one of my favorite Groove moments of all time.

I’ve written about this before, but there was a moment during that Distorted Minds “T-10” / Twisted Individual “Bandwagon Blues” / John B “Blandwagon Poos” situation back in 2003, Groove had Twisted and his mates on Radio 1. While there are all kinds of giggles in there, it’s all about Grooverider and the echo’d out “TWENTY PERCENT”. That kind of insanity, talking about a side of the dnb scene that isn’t normally brought up? It’s messy, inded, but it’s much more exciting than what we are always given as dnb radio.

You say all of this to say…what?

I’m more excited about Fabio and Grooverider doing guest radio spots on Rinse FM than anywhere else. It’s not even that they are doing what they used to do on the radio (especially Grooverider), but the fact that they have actual personalities helps. Sure, we need to respect their time and what they’ve done for the scene, but we can also see them as human beings.

Let’s bring back more of this energy, shall we?