We Love Jungle presents: An interview with Billy Bunter

We Love Jungle presents: An interview with Billy Bunter

What does Jungle mean to you?

Jungle, for me, is DJing in East London and working in a record shop in East London in the early 90’s, and watching the likes of Kenny Ken, Congo Natty, Suburban Base, M Beat, Ibiza Records, Remarc, Kool FM etc. All (sooo many to mention) add a brand new flavour to the Rave and Hardcore sounds of the time. They brought a dub bass, notched up the BPMs and injected reggae authenticity into the tracks and created a brand new movement, style and ethos whose foundation is still just as strong, if not stronger, 2 decades later.

How did your radio show start?

My Monday show on Kool started over 4 years ago. It’s an unusual time, 12 – 3 on a Monday afternoon. But somehow it’s grown into stages at Bestival, regular club nights, CD releases with some of the biggest DJs in the scene, vinyl releases and merchandise. We even won an award for best radio show. It’s very retro in its musical approach. My new Friday show ‘Brand New Good For You’ started about 6 months ago on Kool and is dedicated to purely brand new music. Lots of the new Jungle music getting produced gets aired for the first time on the show, and it’s becoming a bit of a notice board to hear the freshest stuff as it’s being made. It’s overwhelming the amount of artists who give me their music for first play on a Friday.

Can you remember the days of Pirate Radio? How did it influence the Jungle Scene?

Very much so.. I grew up listening to Pirates in the mid 80’s discovering Hip Hop, Soul, Funk and Reggae. When the late 80’s hit and the Acid Explosion took over the UK, pirates were an integral part in conveying the information and music that was needed. Through pirate, we heard the whole UK Rave and Hardcore sound emerge and then progress into Jungle. In 1993 I was on Eruption FM in the heartbeat of East London on 101.3. It was a great time in tower blocks and some rather dubious studio spaces. Throughout ’94 and ’95 I would DJ all over the UK playing Hardcore, and Sundays were always spent listening to Kool FM as a music fan and catching the likes of Stevie Hyper D, Navigator, Ragga Twins, Devious D, Nicky Blackmarket, Brockie, Det. Just like Acid in the late 80’s was being conveyed through the radio to us all. That period was when Jungle was being conveyed to us in its rawest form and it was another pivotal era in Pirate radio being at the centre of a movement.

Has the digital era changed radio’s place in today’s culture?

Absolutely. Everything has to progress…now, as much as it’s fun to say you got locked in a tower block for 8 hours after a show, or jumped during a show by smack heads (Yep, these are stories for another day). There is nothing better than the whole internet age and being able to connect to the world in a heartbeat. You need to remember most pirates in the heyday were only on at the weekend and in certain parts of London. The digital age has made us far more connectable, contactable and listenable…which is ultimately what it’s all about.

Has your approach to DJing changed since you first started out?

Nope, that’s probably the one thing that remains the same as when I first DJ’d in 1990. Here’s the music I like. I hope that others like it too.

If DJing wasn’t your job, what would it be?

I would be working on the markets…and if we could still break into phone boxes like it was 1990, I would be doing that too. Or worse…Who knows.

What’s your top Jungle tune at the moment?

That’s real tough, as so much amazing music is getting made from the raw amen instrumental sounds reminiscent of ’94 to ’95 through to real authentic reggae and bashment in a modern Jungle style. I’m a real sucker for hearing original vocals and producers taking the time out to voice artists in the studio and create original compositions. For music to move on, we need to hear more and more originality and freshness.

What’s your musical guilty pleasure?

That’s a tough one, as most people know I love ALL music and support lots of music, so nothing is actually a guilty pleasure. If I had to pick one, that was outside of what I DJ, but then I do do a series of shows at least once a year in the style…is my love for late 70’s Hip Hop and early 80’s Electro Funk. I can still be found at many a record fair, charity shop and car boot hunting down the gems.

What’s your party trick?

Drinking a bottle of JD straight during our boat parties, thinking I’m stringing a competent set together and somehow people still coming back for more every summer…

Any new projects coming up for you soon?

On the Jungle tip my Killa Sound single with Ragga Twins and Hattrixx is finally on 12” vinyl. Available here. Also watch out for the next Temple Of Boom rave on July 11th which I do with Jacky Murda and King Yoof. The Jungle Room is gonna be full up with live acts!!! On an Old Skool tip my 25 Years Of Bunter CD is now up for pre sale. On an Acid House tip myself and Slipmatt have just remixed the new Wide Boys single. And on Reggae tip. I’m just making a track with King Yoof, Ragga Twins and The Rat Pack for the new Rat Pack collabs album. In general, if you click around my label site you’ll be able to hear lots of varied music, as well as some great Jungle CDs and single releases Old Skool and New Skool from Uncle Dugs, Lion Dub, Kenny Ken, Ragga Twins & Spyda.

Check out more from Billy Bunter on Soundcloud, Facebook and Youtube.

Comments are closed.