We caught up with jungle royalty RatPack to talk about their latest album and how the rave scene helped shape the music of today.
Since the 80s, RatPack have been tearing down dancefloors across the country. They are the first ever DJ and MC team to emerge from the UK rave scene, helping pave the way for a number of artists ever since. Having recently released their latest album (co)LabRats, we caught up with RatPack to find out more about what they're up to right now.
I think it was around a year ago that we last spoke to you, when you were busy working on your long-awaited album (co)LabRats. You released the album last spring (really nicely done, by the way), what did it feel like getting it out there?
It was a nice huge relief! That was one of the loooongest waits ever! Coinciding everyone’s schedule took some doing and was the main reason for the wait BUT it was definitely worth it, the response has been amazing.
The album saw you team up with a huge number of top artists from across the music scene, including Baby D, MC Skibadee, Ragga Twins, Slipmatt and The Wideboys, to name but a few. This meant that you had to sow together a huge number of musical styles and sounds - did you find this challenging?
It wasn’t challenging for one main reason: we’re all music lovers and we all love creating too, so when you get that passion in the studio, you can’t fail, especially when you’re working with such great artists as we’re privileged to do so.
Tell us how it works in the studio with the two of you?
Well, it normally starts with me (Mark) doing the production and making a backdrop, then I will play it to Evenson to see if he wants to sing over it or drop some barz. I might write some lyrics or have a song written for him to sing or he might have something himself, we just feed off each other's vibe. Sometimes it's pretty organic, we just start with a jam to some beats a b-line that I put down and we build on the jam we have.
Do you have a favourite track off the album?
I know we both like "Hands of Time", but honestly, I’m really pleased and happy with EVERY track on there. Each one of them has a different flava and influence and that makes it hard to choose just one track. "Hot 4 You" is another that we both play a lot.
Is it difficult to find the time to produce something while maintaining such a busy gig schedule?
Yes it can be, not just with a schedule but with real life getting in the way too. Things that need attention in life, you know, like looking after the elders in our families and sometime loses too. But, no matter what, music always pulls you out and rescues you so we always find time to let off in the studio... eventually.
Now word on the street is that you’ve been working with Dave Aspinall, who created your ‘Hands of Time’ video, on a film about the rave scene and your history within it. Can you tell us a little more about this?
Yeah Dave is a veteran raver and loves the scene with a passion and he wants to tell the unheard bits of the rave scene story. I mean, we’ve all heard about the house side of the story but not the RAVE side, which was a gargantuan part of the scene’s history, so Dave has been following us on the road documenting a fly on the wall experience with us catching anecdotes of ours and many of the artists we work alongside through the years experiences of how the scene grew and how it is now and basically making sure this side of the story is heard and not just over looked, because it (the rave scene) played a big part into shaping our culture today. It’s definitely going to be a good watch, Dave is a very talented and passionate dude. He loves the scene and wants to represent it well.
What is the most memorable rave you have ever experienced? And what was it like?
Ahhh come on, there’s too many to think of... BUT Backto95 last year was a BANGER! Seriously, not just saying it, but the crowd and vibes were wicked. Happy people and just great vibes. Also our 25th anniversary at the Coronet 5 years ago, now THAT was different gravy, an amazing party... guess it’s time for the 30th anniversary later this year OR early next year... shhhhh!
How do you think the rave scene contributed to the music of today?
As it always has, the music you grow up to always influences your direction when making music and soooo much music out there today in the charts has elements of the rave scene in it, proving the impact it still has to this day.
Next month we have the pleasure of having you down to for our 17th birthday celebrations to headline the old skool jungle stage. In my opinion, jungle was one of the first truly British forms of dance music, with people coming together across London to form this new sound. Do you agree?
Completely! It wasn’t a London thing, it was definitely a nationwide hybrid which was organic in its making and basically represented where the UK was on the underground. London, Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol, Leeds, Nottingham, Essex, Southwest, Midlands, EVERYONE played their part in making it what it is today. Something for everyone to be truly proud of and in awe of when you really think about it.
Can you name three upcoming jungle/drum & bass acts that have really caught your attention?
Papa G who done a jungle remix of RatPack v Wideboys - "Hands of Time", he’s up there. Benny L, who’s on fire right now and on the DJ tip, Offspring and also The Brigadier are ones to watch out for.
Now aside from the upcoming film with Dave Aspinall, any exciting projects coming up that we should know about?
Hmmm..... did I mention our 30 years celebration