“Everyday’s a busy day in the life of Size.”
Words by: Nikki Ellis
And it certainly seems that way! In the last year Roni’s comeback plan has had a massive impact with the reformation of Reprazent, countless festival stage takeovers and the revival of one of the most seminal labels in drum & bass. As part of his “Full Cycle” tour Roni Size will be joining us at Hospitality Southampton this Friday and we can’t wait to hear what he has in store! We caught up with the D+B pioneer ahead of the shows…
So after the craziness of last year, was there a particular highlight for you?
Yeah definitely the highlight for me was playing Arcadia in Bristol that was massive, messing around with the home crowd, my mum came and we had loads of family and friends there so that was cool. We played in Pula the night before at the Amphitheatre and that was incredible. Having those two gigs in a row was an amazing week, I think that’s my wish list ticked off.
So you achieved everything you wanted?
Well you know musically not quite, we didn’t get to put the album out which we’re still working on, but we got to be able to perform it and work out what we needed to do to the record to make it right. It’d been a while since we’d all come together to make music so we just wanted to get on the stage, get on the road and gel together and then reassess it and get in the studio and really nail this album because you know we just want to make sure this album’s right, it has to be right. So I didn’t meet all my goals last year but it was a great year nonetheless.
And what are you looking forward to in 2016?
Well the aim of this year is definitely getting the album out but it’s never just about having one goal. Having the record label is important. Getting back to its audience with Full Cycle and keeping the new label established, getting music out there.
And its rumoured the next Reprazent album is going to be called ‘For the Masses’ is there a strong meaning behind that title?
Yeah I think its definitely doing it for the masses. It’s a working title. It carries weight. Its not the masses like the ‘X Factor’ masses or those people who are just in it to win it. We’re talking about those people who turn up, they’re at the front, at the end of the year they’ve got all their wrist bands on to say they’ve been to this festival, that festival. We’re doing it for those masses who have been supporting us for years and years.
And the first release on the label this year will be the ‘Formulate EP’ from you and Krust?
Yeah so we’re moving towards putting out this EP in February. ‘Formulate’ is a track myself and Krust did years ago, which was a really popular track but we just never released it. I think it was put on a compilation but it never ever came out. We’ve got newer mixes of the track as well and we just felt like it was great start point because we’re looking to formulate, generate and forge the sound of Full Cycle for the next twenty years. So this is a great beginning. We didn’t want to just go straight in with a brand new track. You know we did this track in 1993!
So a mix of the old with the new?
Yeah exactly that. We wanted to remind ourselves about the simplicity and the flavour of what that record really was. It just never came out and I don’t know why but it’s coming out now.
Obviously you were part of a massive movement in Bristol back in the late 90’s. Is there anyone that you think are doing the same thing for Bristol now?
To be fair, Bristol’s filled with of a lot people who aren’t actually from here but they just move here from different parts of the UK, so its really difficult to gauge. There’s a lot of the drum & bass community who have moved to Bristol – and you know what its not a bad thing – but at the same time I think Bristol’s sound has to remain. I don’t want this city to become as an amalgamation of different sounds that really represent other cities. I want the sound that is here to represent the sound of what Bristol is… but I think that means having more nights.
I believe there’s a gap in the music at the moment and I feel that Full Cycle can fill that void. I have a lot of music in my computer that doesn’t sound like anyone else and I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing! But the one thing you’ll be able to say is that you can identify it as a Roni tune. Whereas nowadays I think it’s really difficult to pinpoint. I think there’s people like Culture Shock who I think you can really identify his sound, but I find it really hard. I hear a record and I just don’t know who that’s by. Whereas before I’d be able to hear a record and be like “that’s a Dillinja record,” or “that’s Adam F,” or “that’s Wax Doctor” and that’s why I’m really wanting the aspects of the Bristol sound to remain Bristol.
You’ve dealt first hand with crossover success. Did you ever feel like you had to compromise anything to gain that kind of widespread reach? Do you think artists of today who have that kind of success are also compromising?
My take on it is, of course I had to compromise, but I had to compromise in a way that benefitted me. I was always into good quality music but being signed to Talkin’ Loud just drew me straight towards jazz. So I started to put more jazz elements into my sound. You start to look at the success rate, then you start to put a live show together and you want to have songs that people can sing along to. So yeah you do have to compromise but I feel that a lot of the compromises that are happening in this day are not necessarily compromises. I feel like, a lot of people, really all they ever wanted was to be a pop artist, they wanted to be pop. That’s what they want to be, so that’s what they’re being but they use the vehicle of drum & bass to be that pop artist, that’s just my opinion.
I just think drum and bass is in a place that has got to be cautious. Even my mum said the other day ‘there’s too much damn drum and bass’ and that’s my mum! She’s 78 and she listens to the radio all the time and she says “there’s too much” and its got to be careful that it doesn’t become over saturated. I know that the younger generation love it but I don’t think that it belongs on mainstream radio every day because with drum & bass the reason that it’s survived is because it’s always been underground music. It’s always been that. It’s always had that foundation.
You and Krust will be joining us at Hospitality Birmingham and Southampton, will people get to hear any more of the new releases in your set?
Yeah absolutely, I always play my new stuff every set. We’re trying to build the set and put together some decent music which represents a bit of the past and a bit of the future.