It’s the mid 90s and rave culture has emerged from Thatcherism bruised but in better nick than the embattled then-former Prime Minister. Reflecting the downbeat mood of the times with a darker, less euphoric sound that its techno, acid house and disco counterparts, jungle emerged at accelerated speed from its lower-tempo contemporary, hardcore. Shunning the four-on-the-floor and melody-over-rhythm philosophies that proliferated dance music at the time, a rhythm-as-melody approach was prioritised, with ragga and dancehall elements sprinkled in. This was the sound of a multi-cultural United Kingdom, unifying through adversity.
Despite building his name on a dubby blend of house and techno as resident of London party institution Fuse, Enzo Siragusa’s original infatuation was for jungle and lived through these days as a youth, flicking through tape racks at Woolworths then hearing his picks loud at raves the same night. Those who stay till lights for his sets will often get a glimpse of this love, as he ups the tempo past 160 for his final track. Here, he unpacked the passion in more detail, with a brief history of jungle’s evolution from hardcore.
Where does your love for jungle stem from?
From a misspent youth, exploring my mind, body and soul in many a rave. This music really did expand my mind.
What jungle record has left the biggest impression on you as a DJ, and why?
I just cannot answer this question, especially for a genre that was so forward thinking it broke the mould. There was nothing like it in the world and it came out of the UK. There are so many influential jungle tracks and the genre continued to evolve where many sub genres came through – ragga, jump up, intelligent – and they all moved the scene in a different way. Too many have blown my mind and stuck with me to this day, I refuse to say that there was just one record that did it for me. It’s not a cop out it’s just impossible!
What jungle record has made the biggest impact on your sound as a producer, and why?
As above! I could keep listing tracks and producers for a very long time.
You’re known for finishing your sets with jungle but have recently played a completely jungle set at Gottwood. How did that go?
I mainly played jungle in my bedroom, and have only played a few jungle sets out in clubs. I’m a house DJ! However, to get to a point in my career that I am able to pay homage as a professional DJ to a genre that impacted my life so much is a dream.
Enzo Siragusa’s history jungle’s evolution from harcore in five tracks
Slipmatt – ‘Breaking Free’ [Awesome Records, 1994]
When I started raving it was all hardcore. Some was happy and some was dark, which went on to evolve into jungle and Drum & Bass. Slipmatt was a hardcore DJ, he’d had chart hits with ‘On A Ragga Tip’ and ‘Way In My Brain’ under his SL2 alias. I remember buying both those on tape from Woolworths, and they were definitely an entry point for many into rave music, alongside music from The Prodigy. Whether you’re a junglist or hardcore raver, ‘Breaking Free’ was a tune on both dance floors. It’s a monster, and that’s what it all comes down to in the end. Who cares about the sub-genres?!
LTJ Bukem & Peshay – ‘19.5 Reprisal’ [Good Looking Records, 1995]
LTJ Bukem, I have said before and always will, defined the ‘intelligent’ Drum & Bass sound with his productions and labels. Bringing Peshay and Bukem together, well it doesn’t get much better as they were both pioneers of the sound. I can say that most of the tracks on the Good Looking or Looking Good labels are seminal. This music is timeless. It has touched me in a manner that I can’t get away from. It has influenced my sound when producing for sure. I can still listen to this tune and loose myself. Both sides of the record are brilliant.
Higher Sense – ‘Cold Fresh Air’ [Liftin’ Spirit Records , 1994]
This track had a certain vibe to it, it’s a heavy roller with soul. Tracks like this bridged the gap between the deeper ‘intelligent’ Drum & Bass and the more popular jump up’ jungle back then. Rave music but with a headsy, introspective feel about it. I remember this being played a lot, particularly by Randall.
Photek – ‘Complex’ [Photek, 1995]
Photek had quite a few aliases and all of his stuff is on another level. I have referenced him a lot in the past, and that’s because he’s a next level producer – this track specifically. I remember playing this and thinking “this is intense” and it took my mind to a different place. Again, it falls into the ‘intelligent’ category and, as a young guy, I listened to this stuff a lot. Both sides of this record are beautiful. I loved it so much bought it twice and have two copies of the vinyl.
Nookie – ‘Only You’ [Reinforced Records, 1994]
I loved jungle as it was freeform, kind of like jazz. There were no rules. New sounds and new feelings were being brought through into the music. Nookie always blurred the lines between hardcore and jungle. He was a very talented producer who managed to make positive and uplifting tracks. You can play this tune no matter what the circumstance – smooth and soulful.
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