Joining LTJ Bukem and his Goodlooking Records team as a resident MC, MC Ribbz talks to Organic about, Fabric, then, now and everything in between.
You are synonymous across several genres and generations as an MC and performer, where does the MC Ribbz story begin?
When I was younger I was in a sound system which played reggae, studio one, lovers rock, rare grooves, soul, funk and hip-hop, pirate radio was my bible, I was in the record shops constantly buying tunes I heard on the radio This also exposed me to a lot of new music which I liked and I just bought them. For me the music was not suitable for my sound system, I just played them at home to myself. The music was fresh and exciting.
I moved to Plymouth to study which I completed and I started giving mixes to a local club called Zenas. This is where I met my DJ partner Hurry. We started putting on acid house parties, replicating what we were seeing around the country... We were young and had a really good following of youngsters around us, so it just gained momentum, we did it for several years and got picked up to host one of the tents at the first ever Universe event, and it just took off from there. I then one night had a blow out at a Fantazia party at West Point new year’s eve. There I met Robbie D who gave me the mic, I climbed onto the tallest speaker stack and MCed all night, it all went crazy from there and ever since.
At that time, I was not aware of anything else going on anywhere else in the world as such for me to say “I want to go there, or there”, I was just focussed on our UK seen and loving the music, meeting the DJs and people making the music. By that time my love for techno was growing. I worked at Mighty Force records Exeter which was responsible for the first ever Aphex Twin release 'Analogue Bubble Bath'. I made it my mission to meet all the techno DJs of that time because I could, people like Colin Dale, Colin Favor (kiss FM), Brenda Russell & Dave Angel, those were the main people pushing that sound from the UK. There are others but that’s another chapter.
The people who are DJs and MCs in the scene are the people I grew up partying with, so when I’m going out, I’m going out with my mates. It’s just one of those things you do. I’m lucky I’ve got good friends in this scene; we just go out there and do it. It’s only when you get a little bit older you start to realize how much you do or did. When you speak with people at parties who reminisce about parties like Universe, Fantasia, Dreamscape, Fibre-Optics, Quest, HelterSkelter, Technodrome etc. You start to realize how long you’ve been doing it. Until that point you don't even think about how long you've been going.
"I was meeting the people who I followed and made the records I bought. That was the motivation."
I started as a DJ and still buy tunes. I’m going through my vinyl at the moment, it’s a fucking nightmare! I don't have enough time left in my life to listen to them all again.
It didn't faze me spending between £100 - £200 pounds weekly on tunes, as I got wiser I started to go to the distributer to buy them then I started working at the distributors. Now I don't buy as much due to other responsibilities and if I get DJ gigs I tend to play first and MC for the rest of the night because the night flows better that way.
MCing has certainly changed alot since your own beginnings in the acid house of the late '80s and early '90s, however your attitude seems unchanged. How do you see your role within the dance?
If the DJ is having a good time then this reflects on the floor, I like to think I help give the night structure, help the DJ relax so they can perform at their optimum therefore making the crowd more receptive. I try to conduct myself in a responsible manner, some people will laugh at that and so would you if you heard some of the tapes in circulation, but these things make for a memorable night, people talk about them for years. My focus is to ensure we are all having a good time including the production team, bar staff, security and management; we are all in it for the long haul.
it’s weird I don't assume anything, regarding Fabric I had to come and check it out before accepting Bukem's offer just to ensure that I fitted in. I usually MC at raves; house, techno, tabber, industrial and even MCed for a good friends disco set recently, the mind set is still the same, make the party happen as best as I can. Drum & bass is a music I love and I am fully aware of all the sub genres and I was lucky enough to be around at the very start, and back then it was about pushing a new form of music which was completely ours from the UK and I am very proud to have been there from the very beginning. now things appear to have gone full cycle this is the only drum & bass night I have in my diary. I am honoured to be asked to be a part of it again, the music, one of the most positive inspiring forms electronic music out there.
My style has not changed much, no rhymes, just crowd interaction. Over the years I still get people saying to me "you’ve been saying the same thing for the last twenty years" and I know this, but it’s a vibe thing. Nothing is planned, it’s how you feel on the night, it’s all about trying to create a good vibe.
Over the years I have had the opportunity to be involved with some really great things. Resident MC for Laurent Garnier when he launched his F Communications label, MCing for Tom Middleton at the Big Chill and Bestival for the 'One More Tune' album launch, MC for Carl Cox, Fabio and the Grooverider, Dave Angel, Jeff Mills, Derrick May, introducing Bukem and Conrad at Universe for the first time. Being on stage with Shades of rhythm The Prodigy, this scene is truly amazing and I have not changed my focus one bit, it’s all about the floor.
When I’m out and the night is going exceptionally well, I am aware of it, I feed off it, the crowd are doing exactly the same as you, listening to the tunes and dancing. You are there with them, as one. A seriously good party is when everyone is in the same place mentally.
How did you get involved with Fabric, what are your expectations?
I had a conversation with Danny (Bukem) and in passing offered my services to host his set at Boomtown 2013, because I was already there MCing in a techno arena for the weekend. I was really surprised when Danny called me to accept my offer because I didn’t realise he held me in such high regard. After that he asked if I would host some dates at Fabric and I actually said no, I had to do a recky before accepting the offer, I even spoke with Conrad for advice. I have a lot of respect for the other MCs and I will just muck in where I can, it’s going to take time, the MCs have residencies spanning years so hopefully I might do too. I like Fabric and the Bukem Sessions and at times feel the music does not lend itself to a MC with stage presence, so I tend to go on the floor in the crowd, there you are in it with them...
"You are there with them, as one. A seriously good party is when everyone is in the same place mentally."