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AK 1200 Interview - Planet of the Drums Tour


AK 1200 Interview - Planet of the Drums Tour

Planet of the Drums


In its eighth year, the Planet of the Drums unites AK1200, Dara, Dieselboy, and MC Messinian in their mission to bring quality drum and bass music to the people. The summer tour of over thirty US cities proves that D&B is a powerful musical force and should not be relegated to the backroom. The crew plays a variety of D&B from jump up and rolling to dark – bringing out the newest underground tracks along with the most loved anthems. The POTD strives to spread their message that "drum and bass isn't just dance music, it is a way of life."

DJ Ron Slomowicz: So when you started the Planet of the Drums, did you think it would keep going for 8 years?
AK 1200: I never really thought about it; I guess, in hindsight, that we didn't anticipate it to go quite so long, but it seems like each year there was a meaning for it so we just carried on. We've always remained friends so it just seemed like the right thing to do. After a while we started realizing, 'wow, it's been six years, wow, it's been seven years, and wow, this is our eighth year,' so we never really paid too much attention to how long it's been before now really.

RS: What was your original reason for starting the tour?
AK 1200: The drum and bass music that we play was constantly being mistreated and we were always being hidden in the backrooms and treated like B-class DJs. Promoters didn't want to invest any amount of real money into a DJ that played drum and bass because there wasn't a crowd for it so why on earth would they put us on the main stage. Beyond that, why on earth would a promoter want to book all three of us at the same show because, after all, we were considered backroom talent in 2000. So we basically pulled all of our resources together and took a stand and said that there are enough fans out there, we sell enough CDs and there's proof in all of our individual shows. I was playing in a backroom that had more people than in the main room when I was playing, so it was just a matter of saying look, we're going to take it if you're not going to give it to us. That's why we developed Planet of the Drums.

RS: Why do you think there was that resistance?
AK 1200: We weren't in the comfort range of 124 to 140 beats per minute. We are the extreme end of dance music and the people that everybody loved to hate. Techno people hated us, progressive house people hated us, breakbeat people hated us and everybody hated jungle. The only people that were more hated than us were like the full-on hardcore people that played like that evil blistering hardcore stuff.

RS: You mean the gabba?
AK 1200: Yes.

RS: I've always had the impression that drum and bass in the UK was sort of like their version of hip-hop.
AK 1200: Yes, exactly. Over here in the US we created hip-hop, so you have that whole territorial thing. With the UK, at first they were delighted when jungle music first started because the Americans were calling and they thought they could get out to America. Then when drum and bass and jungle started getting really big in the UK they were basically dissing anybody that was American and said that American drum and bass is crap. Drum and bass in the UK was their only contribution to urban music as, apart from soul or R&B, urban street music was jungle. If you've heard any UK hip-hop from a long time ago, no hip-hop DJs over here would give it the time of day. So it was basically like the same thing on the other end, jungle is our version of hip-hop in the UK so it's a UK music. Then, all of a sudden it started blowing up and spanning worldwide beyond America, Asia, Australia, South Africa, and all of Europe – it was just everywhere. Eventually it became a global form of music that was sort of built on grassroots and code of conduct, like a ladder type of thing where you earned your way.

RS: I've always thought of Timbaland as someone who bridged the gap between US hip-hop and drum & bass with his early releases.
AK 1200: I wouldn't think so, maybe he might have had some influence. There were hip-hop artists before him going to London, like Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, and Scarface that were doing shows. After their shows they would go to a London club that was predominantly black and they'd be hearing jungle music, so they started getting all these drum and bass mixes done. That is probably where Timbaland started here with the drum & bass or jungle vibe and started making beats out of that. I wouldn't say Timbaland was any sort of bridge between hip-hop artists and drum and bass whatsoever. I think it was the hip-hop artists that were going to London playing and then hearing drum and bass and going crazy with it. Then later on after that, there were the crews in Atlanta like Outkast and Ludacris. I played a show in Atlanta that Outkast were at and they were all bumping to my set, you know what I mean? That was back in 95 or 96.

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