Legendary drum and bass producer, DJ, and pioneer Roni Size, has been one of the most instrumental figures to the genre, and shows no signs of bringing his influence to an end. First coming to prominence in 1997 with the release of his groundbreaking, genre-defining, and Mercury Prize-winning album New Forms, through the years Roni Size has continued to spearhead drum and bass into the international genre that it is today. Set to perform at one of the UK’s essential festivals this week, Boomtown Fair, we were lucky enough to catch five with the drum and bass figurehead and discuss the Bristol sound, his live sets, and the festival itself.
The West Review: Over the past few years I think you may have been at every festival I’ve looked at, wether it’s NASS, Glastonbury, or Boomtown. How do you manage it?
Ron Size: Well I think over the last three or four years I’ve really been pushing to get myself back into that premier league table. We’ve [just had] a release out on the 10th June on Full Cycle and it’s been a really interesting moving forward because the audience and the technology and the way everything is done has changed so much.
TWR: Speaking of which, your renowned live shows are something of a rarity within the genre, you don’t all that often see live sets from drum and bass artists nowadays. What made you want to keep up your live sets?
RS: I think when you perform as a live musician, you have the stage to yourself. You can put up a live drummer, bass player. You can put a really dynamic show together which can evolve and you can play on some major stages around the world.
The fact is that there are a lot of bands out there who have a live show, but they’re not really live bands. Back in the day, we embraced trying to be 100% live band and now we’re a live show! We want to go out there and show people that we don’t just stand behind two sets of turntables and shout “put your hands in the air”. There’s a lot of substance to what we do.
TWR: Alongside the likes of Massive Attack, Portishead and Tricky, you are of course an instrumental part of the The Bristol Sound. As a fellow Bristolian, I’d be eager to hear what you thought makes it so popular?
RS: The Bristol sound, Full Cycle sound, is something which incorporates its own flavour from the city. That is hip hop and reggae culture; soundsystem culture and that’s what people have tapped into. They’ve tapped into basslines and ragga vocals and it’s made it popular, people want to replicate that sound. You’ll buy a brand new plug in and you’ll go to the lists and you’ll see Bristol Bass or Bristol Drums or Bristol Sounds (laughs).
TWR: Your next show is at Boomtown Fair in Hampshire. What can the crowd, including myself, expect from your new sets involving DJ Krust?
RS: Well it’s a Full Cycle takeover so we’re going to be playing stuff from Full Cycle which is mine and Krusts’ record label. We just recently started it back up and are on our second release of this new venture. The first part of the journey started back in 1993 and then we took a step back in about 2008 because we had other work commitments. Now, in 2015/16, the label is starting to reach all the areas of drum and bass.
We’re going to come to Boomtown and spread the name so people know that Full Cycle is a label they should get involved with. It’s going to be showcasing some new artists and playing some classics which have made it what it is today.
It’ll be my first so I’m a Boomtown virgin! I like the fact that it’s my first year, I’m looking forward to being pleasantly surprised.
Roni Size and DJ Krust’s Past & Present EP is now available to buy on iTunes, catch him live at Boomtown Fair this week.