Randall is one of the jungle and drum & bass scene’s most prominent figures, but his entry into electronic music started at slower tempos than 170BPM. Inspired by acid house pioneers like Mr. C and the Hypnosis crew, in the late 80s he helped spearhead a move towards the forming of breakbeat, cutting his teeth behind the decks during a heyday for mixtapes and illegal rave sessions across the capital. By the early 90s he’d become one of the drum & bass sound’s leading DJs alongside the likes of DJ Hype, Grooverider and Fabio, all whilst feeding the roots of the scene through De Underground, the East End record shop he opened and ran alongside Coolhand Flex. The pair furthered their impact on drum & bass through Mac II, the visionary imprint that remains one of the genre’s most cherished. As Randall prepares to join Coolhand Flex and a bunch of the roster’s key figures at FABRICLIVE on 26th July, he told us more about the label’s origins accompanied by a classic jungle session featuring a cast of his closest contemporaries.
Basically no, I just drew some tracks from the label, both forthcoming and some other releases coming up through various labels and producers.
You’ve been playing at FABRICLIVE since our early beginnings, is there anything you clearly remember about your first visits to the club?
I have great memories of fabric: for its sound, vibe of the place, and of course the people that turn up week-in-week-out to listen to great underground music.
You’re widely considered one of the jungle sound’s pioneers, but was there anyone you looked up to throughout the 90s?
Rhythm Doctor. He was also part of a collective called Hypnosis.
Can you name any raves you used to go to that had a big impact on your formative tastes?
There was a place called Dungeons, off Lea Bridge Road in Leyton. I had many a memorable night there listening to Mr. C, Rob Ackinson, Lindon C, Ellis Dee, RatPack and Richie Fingers. A world of cool underground DJs played at this spot.
What was the primary ethos underpinning your Mac II label?
The main ethos was to put out quality music with Coolhand Flex when we closed our Forest Gate record shop, De Underground. With the closure, labels such as IE, Intough and Oddball ceased to exist, so we set up Mac II in 1996. We’ve been pushing our music out since then.
It’s hard to think of any of the most prominent names in jungle and drum & bass who didn’t go on to found their own record label. Why do you think this is?
As DJs, we either get sent a lot of music, or start writing music. It’s just a natural journey for a DJ who wants to make music and has that calling to make something that could be quite special.
Your label has featured a few younger artists in recent years, how do you typically choose those you want to work with and release music from?
If the tune has a vibe that Flex and I like, we’ll find a way to fit it onto our label. There are no boundaries when it comes to our music.
Finally can you name one Mac II record you’ll definitely be packing for your night with us?
One track that will definitely be played is Trex’s Sugar Riddim featuring MC Singing Fats. It’s coming out in August on his next release, Society EP.