This Thursday, September 18th, Exchange LA will once again host Insomniac’s increasingly in-demand Bassrush show. Last month Datsik, the Bass boss behind LA’s Firepower Records, tore the roof off , and Thursday’s show promises to be just as intense, if, for no other reason, than the heavy Drum and Bass royalty that will be sharing the stage together. Pendulum, Dj Roxanne, Mayhem, and Hazen have all proven themselves worthy of the prestige. Now it’s time to show LA why Drum and Bass is here to stay.
I got a chance to talk to DJ Roxanne, LA’s first Lady of Drum and Bass, about the music that raised her, her upcoming release, and the musical philosophy she’s cultivated thanks to the deep roots she’s planted in the Drum and Bass world.
Hi Roxanne! You share a history with Drum & Bass in the US, and were even featured in the definitive 2002 DnB Documentary Concentric Beats. Can you tell us a little about how you became a part of it all?
I was a musician but grew up among many different genres of music. I listened to everything from Metal, Dancehall, Reggae, 80s pop, Electronic, and Hip Hop. When I first discovered electronic music within rave culture–and then Drum & Bass (or at the time in 1995 then known as Jungle)– I knew it was for me. Jungle/Drum & Bass was not only an underground culture that I related to, but, more importantly, it was all the musical influences that had carried me throughout my childhood all wrapped up in this structured chaotic glory. At the time for me, it was like the future that no one really knew about, at least not stateside, this was how I had perceived it at the time. It was a very exciting time musically, and instead of raving and partying like most of my friends, all I wanted to do was play records.
You have a release coming out soon, tell us a bit about that.
Well, aside from just being involved with Drum and Bass, I also like to play and produce other genres of music. That said, my good friend Jamie Prado and I just finished a Baltimore club / house remix for Purple Crush that will be up and available for all soon.
You recently made a mix for the UK Label Hospital Records. How has your relationship with the label evolved?
Everyone at Hospital is amazing. I have always been such a fan of the label, and through mutual friends and a mutual love of music, I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with some of the things they have been doing stateside–from the Hospital U.S. special podcast that is featuring long time and up and coming talented stateside DJs, to the new residency they just started up here in Los Angeles. It’s amazing to have such a prominent Drum and Bass label bringing their sound and love of music to the states for all their fans. Big love to Samantha Marks who is running things here at the US office and to Chris Goss and the rest of the Hospital crew at the London office for all that they do.
With Insomniac featuring DnB artists for it’s Bassrush show at Exchange LA, is it fair to say Drum and Bass is making a comeback? Or has it always been here and it’s gone under-appreciated?
I honestly think its always been here and evolution of new genres may have over shadowed it a bit in the past, but its never really faltered. New things emerging can always draw away our attention for a bit but do we ever really forget? I can’t say that I do, even if I have branched out to do other music projects I’ve always come back to Drum and Bass, and I think this is the case for most who have been involved in Drum and Bass. Its important to branch out musically; that’s how new sounds and genres emerge. But at the end of it all, my influences always circle back to my beginnings. There were some exciting times for Drum and Bass in the early 2000s, especially in the states and I feel like that’s happening again.
Why do you think dance music fans are gravitating towards the more diverse bass music sounds, including the more classic sounds of Drum and Bass?
That’s easy… Because women respond to bass. hahaha. Sorry I had to say it because its true… Seriously though, its a bit like I had mentioned before, we derive our influences from the basics that we know and love from our beginnings. All the classic sounds of Drum and Bass are what help shape the future sounds of Drum and Bass, and not only that, but all the new producers that have been influenced by the past are making music for the future. Also, there is a lot of diversity musically in all genres of bass music, not just Drum and Bass. At the end of the day, for me personally, this is a creative outlet, and music is not just creative but most importantly FUN, whether we are the creators or the spectators participating in the fun. I believe people relate to that.
There was once a prevailing attitude about Drum and Bass that it was hard to understand and the DnB scene was very inclusive and separate from the more mainstream rave scene. Is that true today?
Hmm… maybe in its earlier beginnings in the U.S. which could have been perceived that way because of the dubplate culture that was such a big part of the Drum and Bass scene among DJs and producers, and the perception that other genres may have overshadowed it at raves. Drum and Bass was very underground here in the states when I started playing at parties, but over time as Jungle progressed into Drum and Bass and new Djs and producers emerged so did its presence in the rave scene. As far as it being the same today, no I don’t think it is. In the U.S., Drum and Bass has been such an integral part of all the festivals and big raves around the states. Definitely not so underground anymore, and that’s a beautiful thing.
What do you hope to see happen in the future of Dance Music?
Less use of the word “EDM”. Who started that anyway? Honestly, I really just love so many things about MANY different genres of electronic music and I don’t think anyone should ever feel they have to stick to only one thing. Fuck genres, just make music and have fun. If you make a career out of it great, if not, whatever. As long as you had a good time in the process and learned some shit about life. Being creative and experiencing the creativity of others in music is what I think is important for the future of dance music.