A niche genre born of breakbeats and hardcore, drum ‘n bass and jungle began its journey in small, dusty rooms of warehouses. But with its infiltration of diehard soldiers, early labels like Reinforced, Metalheadz, Moving Shadow, Trouble On Vinyl, 31, and Dread led the way to a revolution in breakbeat science.
Spearheaded by the likes of No U-Turn‘s metal-driven monster (then also T.O.V.’s engineer), Nico; Dom & Roland, Future Forces (who would later become Bad Company UK) Ed Rush, Trace, Fierce, and T.O.V. A & R, Clayton Hines – drum ‘n bass was flipped on its head, unleashing a secret weapon of darkside and tech step music – Renegade Hardware.
After more than two decades of legendary releases, memorable events with stacked line-ups, and an artist roster of the most high-profile artists in the genre, Renegade Hardware is closing its doors to part one of the journey.
Stay tuned to Best Drum And Bass for part two of this interview later this summer. Don’t Forget about the Renegade Hardware Remix Competition for the Final Chapter LP, linked below.
Let’s take a trip down Memory Lane. What was the story about the launch behind Renegade Hardware? What was the scene like back then? What were you doing in life at the time?
Renegade Hardware was the sister label to Trouble on Vinyl (1993) and Renegade Recordings (1994). We formed RH as an outlet to the ‘techier’ and darker side of D & B. The scene, as we know it today, was stage. Producers were still trying to find their signature sound. It was a good time in the scene, as the music was diverse and producers were more willing to experiment.
What was your impression of the incoming breakbeat hardcore sound that soon transformed into drum ’n bass, especially tech step, as we would know it?
The whole Tech Step scene was due to Nico from No U-Turn. Mark (who I started the label with) and I got Nico into Jungle/Drum & Bass. We put an advert in The Loot magazine (BR’s Craig’s List) for an engineer when we were starting TOV. Nico turned up with his long hair and his Rock/Metal background. He engineered TOV’s first four releases and then went on to set up No U-Turn. We had a small part to play in Nico starting No U-Turn. Tech Step was refreshing and a different vibe to what was coming out at the time. The scene was in transition from Hardcore to Jungle. So Nico with Ed Rush, Trace, and Fierce, along with Dom and Roland brought a new sound that was refreshing into the scene.
Over the years, Renegade Hardware has become one of the most iconic labels in drum & bass. What do you think made Hardware stand above the rest?
What made Hardware stand above the rest, was the fact we had a clear vision on how we wanted the label to be marketed, and we never swayed from that. As everyone knows, RH’s ethos was finding and bringing through new talent.
What was the story behind the Horsemen project? There were many projects, including Horsementality, Revelations LP… How did these projects differ from other projects on the label?
The original Horseman was Ink, Loxy, Dylan and Keaton. The Horseman project came about through Ink and Loxy (the Hardware generals). Loxy and Ink had a unique sound at the time, which was heavily influenced by Breaks, as they were B-Boys. There were a lot of producers around at the time that were making similar beats around the world. So Loxy and Ink got with like-minded producers. that’s how Horsementality came about.
Renegade Hardware is under the umbrella of the Trouble On Vinyl Music Group, also to include Renegade Recordings and Barcode. How did you decide what release went where?
I was doing all of the A&R, so it was me deciding what went where.
Armageddon and Aftermath were HUGE releases. What other releases on the label really stood out as game changers in drum ’n bass?
Quantum Mechanics stood out also as it was our first album.
Those nights at the End had to have been legendary. How would you say those paired up to the Finale Events? What were you looking to accomplish with the finale?
The nights were legendary. Unless you were there, it is hard to put into context how pivotal the nights were for the scene in general.
And speaking of Finale, of course you wouldn’t be kept down long, now rehashing a series of 95-05 events, titled Backlash. Tell us a bit about those? When can we expect the launch and what is your vision?
Backlash came about as my friends and I aren’t keen on the music that is coming out now. I saw a gap in the market. There are plenty of old skool nights out there, but there are none catering for that era and sound. I have had many people come up to me and tell me that there is a need for this night.
The Reflections LP had just been released, and there is talk of a big remix project. Promote your stuff, Mr. Clayton. What’s the deal?
The projects that we have coming out before we close the label are the Reflections EP, Volatile Cycle album and The Final Chapter album.
What labels, besides your own, do you think are really running things in the scene right now? Artists?
Eat Brain stands out for me, as I like their marketing.
Hardware’s trademark sound housed huge reece bass and slamming breaks. What would you say are your top big bassline smashers?
Most of the tunes from the 95-05 era.
What else are you into besides drum ’n bass?
We recently started a project called Renegade Sound System, which is our alter-ego to play non-drum and bass music. I am into all genres of music. I rarely listen to D n’ B.
Drop something random about you that no one knows.
Not a lot of people know about my culinary skills. I am currently working on some jerk sauces.
The floor is open. What else would you like to share?
I am thankful for my time in drum n’ bass. What started as a hobby, becoming a credible music genre 20+ years later… is a great thing.