The Return Of Dr S Gachet
2016: a singular year for drum & bass comebacks. Bad Company, Pendulum, Commix and J Majik all returned throughout the year. Doc Scott continued to build up 31’s armoury with some the label’s most exciting releases in years. Digital and Spirit got back together. Roni and Krust brought back Full Cycle.
Then, just as we thought the OG comeback party couldn’t get any bigger… Two weeks before 2016 wheezed its final puffs Dr S Gachet storms in from nowhere with another critical reminder of our genre’s ever-extending heritage. Literally in this case… Remember The Roller?
Of course we do. We also remember many other tracks he prescribed throughout the 90s. Just as his early cuts such as Logan’s Run and Gladiwax marked the transition from hardcore, tracks such as The Message, The Dreamer, It’s All Gone Sideways and Forbidden Agenda joined the dots between jungle’s transition to drum & bass. Icy, spacious, deep – sitting somewhere in that illusive sweet spot that allured DJs from both light and dark sides, Gachet’s influence as a producer matched his reputation as a selector and resident at AWOL.
Then, around the mid to late 2000s, his name was no longer so dominant on line-ups. His label Audio Maze was no longer delivering releases and we heard less and less from him. Of course he didn’t completely disappear; he’s performed at many key name at many legacy jungle events, the return of AWOL and parties such as Innovation. Plus, let’s face it, Bladerunner and Heist’s remixes of Remember The Roller have been floating around unofficially for at least three years. But Gachet is the first to admit he hasn’t been as active as once was.
As he finally unleashes the long awaited remixes of his iconic track – relaunching Audio Maze in the process – we find out what caused his absence in the first place…
How’s it going?
I’ve had better days! I seem to be a wanker magnet every time I’ve gone out today and my back’s fucking killing me. Apart from that, all good.
What happened to your back?
I’ve got lumbar disease in my spine from slipping a disc years ago. That’s a direct result from carrying bags of vinyl and dubplates. It’s never going to heal. Once you’ve slipped a disc you’ve got back problems for the rest of your life. People say ‘don’t you miss dubplates?’ I’m like ‘no fucking way, it was very expensive and very heavy!’ I don’t miss it at all.
When did this happen?
About 10 years ago. One day I was indoors, I bent down to pick up some piece of paper on the floor, I felt this incredible pain and the disc popped. I was on the floor for four days. I couldn’t move. It was hell. I have to take it very easily and often wear a weight training belt tightly so it pushes the disc back in. You never forget that pain before a disc goes – those initial twinges just before it goes and feels like something exploding in your back. A living hell. There’s no cure for it. Like tinnitus. Which I also have.
You’re a jungle casualty!
I really am, but you’ve got to keep on haven’t you?
So is this why you’ve been absent for a while?
That’s part of it. But the main reason was more personal. I was looking after my brother who had fallen ill. He was in intensive care and had to be put into an induced coma – he had meningitis, septicaemia and gangrene. I couldn’t leave him like that – I stayed to look after him and became his full time carer for five years. It was long road to recovery for him and my DJ career had to take a back seat during those years. I had to be back before 6.30am to make sure he had his breakfast so a lot of bookings I was offered couldn’t be honoured. Sadly things got very dark between myself and my other brothers during the end of this time. It got nasty and I was kicked out five days before Christmas. They gave me until midnight to find somewhere else to live or they’d throw out my stuff.
When was that?
Three years ago. Things got from bad to worse – I was homeless and sofa-surfed for two years. By then my DJ bookings had dried up and there wasn’t a lot of income coming in at all. It screwed me up for a long time and it’s only in the last year that I’ve really got back on my feet. Not many people know about why I was away for so long but this is the cold reality of it all. I’m back now though. And that feels good to say.
Can you pinpoint a moment when you got back into the studio or when you knew you were back and could return to the body of work that’s inspired people over the years? Both Andy C and Friction have bigged you up in interviews over the years…
Friction is the man. He caned the new Remember The Roller remix five weeks in a row on his show. I’m eternally grateful for that. I haven’t spoken to Andy for a very long time – understandably, what with him being the busiest DJ in the world and all that – what has he said about me?
He always mentions you from the Paradise Club and AWOL days – legendary moments in jungle.
They were legendary. And I always remember Andy on the stage, looking over the DJ box and observing everything, taking it all in. He didn’t miss a trick – you knew, even back then, that he was on the edge of something massive. He had that energy about him. He’s created new paths that no one could possibly do in the game. Who else could play all night long and pack out Alexandra Palace? No one in drum & bass. He’s in the league of your Carl Cox types now. I take my hat off. Did you know I did an All Night-style eight hour set myself at AWOL once?
No. When / how?
World Dance had a midsummers rave and I played early to drive back to London and do AWOL. Thing was, World Dance was so good that none of the other DJs wanted to leave. I was the only one that left. Randall, Micky, Darren and all them stayed and raved and I played their sets! I didn’t even get their wages either. Didn’t ask for them – that’s how it was. We were a family looking after each other. If a DJ couldn’t make it, they’d still get their wages. That’s how we worked.
Really? That sounds too honourable!
Print it. This is how it was. We were tight back then. Those days are gone now – it seems like a lot of people just look after themselves and forget where they came from. It’s getting harder and harder now. I relaunched my own label Audio Maze for this reason – so I can do things on my own terms and not rely on anyone else. Audio Maze had a reputation. Anyone from the early days knows the label – it’s a platform that exists, why set up something new when I’ve already got a brand? Have you heard the remixes?
Of course. Who hasn’t? Heist and Bladerunner – Two of the most respected names in proper drum & bass…
I didn’t respect Bladerunner for a second! He didn’t ask my permission to remix me! He popped up out of the blue on email and asked my opinion on it. At first I thought ‘you cheeky bastard!’ Then I listened to it and thought ‘fucking hell, that’s exactly what I wanted!’ He’s stayed true to the original but upgraded all the sounds. And I love how Heist has done the different basslines on it. Two very different remixes that fit two very different sounds. Heist’s remix was in Rise Of The Foot Soldier 2. It’s the bit in the lapdancing club – you can hear it in the background for about 50 seconds. It’s an encouraging start…
What other tracks are you going to revisit?
I’ll probably go back to Forbidden Agenda and then hopefully Hardcore Hip-Hop. The problem is we stored a lot of these on floppy disc which I managed to keep hold of but they’ve totally deteriorated. They’re just empty discs. So the mission is to get those sounds again and reverse work it. I can’t remember where a lot of the samples come from!
How are you finding digital in-the-box production compared to the big desk analogue set-ups?
Fucking mad. Everything has changed entirely. It’s changed for the better – it’s made sure anyone can produce now if they want to, which has to be a good thing. When it comes to digital the only thing I’m not happy about is sales. But I’ve got to do it if I want to come back properly, right? I know there’s a whole generation of people are like who the fuck is this Dr guy? So I got to re-launch the label properly and do everything right. When the label is back on track I’ll be looking to sign new music.
Got your eye on any artists in particular?
I can tell you now that Joe Nebula will be on the label. He has been sending me some dangerous tunes – he’s been on this for years and I want to push him as far as he can go. But other than him I’m looking for quality music. I’m not on the big name hunts – it’s about good music. I’m confident about my ability to pick fucking great music.
Who’s making great music to your ears in general at the moment, then?
Well I tell you who I miss? Lemon D and Dillinja. Where the fuck are they now? Dillinja made my favourite record of all time – Friday. There’s never set I play without that tune. So yeah I miss those guys. How about Peshay? Where’s he?
He was making some sick funk on Tru Thoughts a while ago. How about new guys, though?
Well he needs to come back! But new artists? Frankee is killing it. I send him a message every new track I get – he’s smashing it. There are a few on RAM I’m feeling actually – Rene LaVice has made some great music too. Of course there’s Joe Nebula who I mentioned earlier and Ash A Tack who I’ve known and been working with for years. His label Director’s Cut is criminally overlooked! So hopefully I can help to raise some profiles. But before I think I can go and help other guys, first let’s make sure I do my own comeback properly.