chapter  3
19 Pages

Interrogating the Production of Sound and Place: Bristol as a Site of Music Production, From Lunatic Fringe to Worldwide Massive

I was really keen to get in some of the ‘New Wave’ stuff, I feel we’d really missed out on using that infl uence. Everybody working in Bristol now has some connection to that period. I remember fucking about with Lunatic Fringe, a punk band in Bristol, performing Anarchy In The UK in Sefton Park Youth Club where Roni Size was working. There’s a core of that whole punk-reggae connection in Bristol. So for the fi rst few weeks in the studio I was sampling Gang of Four’s Entertainment, Wire’s Chairs Missing, The Ruts, 999. (3D on recording their Mezzanine album, Mojo Magazine, July 1998, p. 62)

Fresh Four was like our group, we developed our sound in the 80s, with thanks to Smith and Mighty. They helped us out with Studio equipment etc, and we kind of taught ourselves how to make music. We were making beats and mixing breaks together back then, it was later on we met up with Die, then after that Roni and then formed Full Cycle, and later Reprazent. We’ve always been into the ‘Bristol sound.’ But it’s progressed, there’s a Bristol ‘Drum and Bass’ (D&B) sound as well now, which is defi nitely different to the London sound. London is a lot more industrial, techno-infl uenced and dark-sounding. Which is great, I mean, I love it, but I couldn’t listen to it all night. Our thing gives us our identity. I’m glad we do come from Bristol because otherwise we might be forced to conform to what everyone else is making, it’s good that we’re from the country because I think it infl uences our sound. (DJ Suv of Full Cycle and Reprazent, International DJ, January 2002, p. 49)

It probably went back to the punk thing, why we told Branson to fuck off. I was into that, the idea behind the whole thing and it’s still there; a lot of people carry their morals from that time. (Rob Smith, from Smith and Mighty, on why they refused to sign to Virgin Records; Johnson, 1996, p. 183)

Contained within these statements are clues to the conundrum of the importance of place, location, and identifi cation with different elements

of popular music genres and their infl uence on the sound of a locality’s popular music. All three, 3D, Suv, and Rob Smith, are important informational nodes in the cultural landscape of Bristol’s popular music scene. 3D illuminates the importance of punk and reggae and the connectivity that many who are still working in the popular music scene in Bristol have to that period. Suv hints at the importance of location in infl uencing the type of sound, comparing the dark, industrial drum and bass (D&B) of London to the more melodic, jazz-and reggae-infl uenced D&B of Bristol. He also points out the element of conformity that exists in scenes, which I want to argue comes from the development of musical milieu in those locations and the musical ‘fi elds’ that they operate within. Rob Smith shows the importance of certain ethical and moral attitudes that come from the punk era and ethos. He still feels strongly about and respects the do-it-yourself philosophy, the anti-corporate stance, having a wariness of ‘selling out’ and a hatred of the fl ash insubstantiality of the mainstream pop world.