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There's not much we can say about Bristol born drum'n'bass luminary Roni Size, other than this man knows about putting in work. With an enviable discography at a mindblowing four pages deep on discogs that boasts releases on V Recordings, Full Cycle, Virgin (with Cypress Hill!), Hospital and more PLUS a dedicated two pages with his group Reprazent, we're wondering what Roni has breakfast. A linchpin of the genre, his productivity levels have remained consistent over the years, with 2015 seeing a triumphant and in-demand return to the live arena for Roni Size Reprazent, culminating with a crowning homecoming show in Bristol, where they became the first band to perform live on Arcadia’s gigantic mechanical Spider. This performance followed two sold out shows at London’s KOKO, and mainstage appearances at Exit Festival, Parklife, Love Saves The Day, Balaton Sound, SW4, Bestival, Outlook and more.
On a release hiatus since 'New Forms 2' in 2008, the world is still buzzing from Roni Size Reprazent's elevating performance at Bristol's Colston Hall in 2009. The now classic performance reopened the world-famous British venue, and saw Roni & Reprazent joined by the composer William Goodchild plus The Emerald Ensemble (now known as Bristol Ensemble), who worked on Reprazent’s third album, ‘New Forms 2’. The show reinterpreted the band’s hugely respected and influential back catalogue, making them the first drum and bass artists to work with a live orchestra and choir. It was an innovative union of electronic and classical music years ahead of events like the BBC Classical Ibiza Proms, and Goldie’s much-lauded performances with the Heritage Orchestra.
With the group's current resurgence in popularity, the audio is finally being released as a 13 track live album ‘Live At Colston Hall’, which will come with an accompanying DVD including four original, unreleased tracks recorded live at the show. The tracks included span both new and original material, plus songs from the three Reprazent albums as well as Roni’s solo material from the hedonistic Full Cycle era.
Ready for the here and now, Roni Size shares some of his favourite tracks of the moment with Dummy; including the jungle-reggae fusion of Cadenza & Toddla T remixing The Frightnrs, UK soul royalty Omar, and the '80s boogie of Dornik – which Roni cites as the perfect soundtrack to a "little two-steppin after a few brandys".
01. Brookes Brothers feat Danny Bird 1st Cut
Roni Size: "I’ve worked with Danny a few times, and he is one great producer who really knows his stuff. I love this one, it’s just one of those tracks that's great to finish off your DJ sets with. Often with collaboration, it can just sound like one or the other artist and not a combination of the two working together and I really like this particular collab as it does the opposite. It has a sound that is totally unique, and sounds like a whole new artist."
02. The Frightnrs Admiration (Cadenza & Toddla T Remix)
Roni Size: "I love my reggae and this release on Diplo’s Mad Decent label sounds like the real deal. I also love my jungle, and the remix from Toddla T and Cadenza is an amazing example of how the two sounds compliment each other so well. Sometimes, simplicity is best and this is a perfect example of great results. I am very fortunate to be able to take risks as a DJ and I would be able to play both mixes back to back."
03. Massive Attack Unfinished Sympathy (Roni Size Remix)
[Not on YouTube – go see Roni play and he might give it a spin]
Roni Size: "Only two DJs in the world can play this tune and thats Grant Marshall and myself, so if you hear this anywhere else then we have a digital thief in our presence! Every DJ set I play this remix of the original classic track from Massive Attack, and I always have the next DJ tapping me on the shoulder asking me who…when…and how. All I can do is shrug my shoulders and say speak to Grant."
04. DJ S.K.T ft. Rae Take Me Away (Andy C Remix)
Roni Size: "For me Andy C is probably one of the most underrated producers in drum and bass (we all know how good a DJ he is). The way he has taken the original into a absolute tear out drum and bass number is testament to his skills. I’ll be playing in Brixton this NYE at the RAM Records showcase, and can’t wait to be there. I’m also playing Bristol on the same night, and I know mix is surely going to be an essential crowd banger at peak time."
05. Cherri V vs. 2Darc If You Love Me (Turno Remix)
Roni Size: "I do love me a little roller and this is a sweet one. Reminiscent of the early noughties – I can really see this record being a part of my set where ever I go – even the odd house party. It’s got that nice vibe to it."
06. Filthy Habits & Jeopardize Make Ya Famous (Saxxon Remix)
Roni Size: "It’s incredible to see where drum and bass has gone over the years, and I do love the hard-step sound. The kids coming through are doing their thing. They eat, sleep and wake up to drum and bass every day…but it’s different now as they only see wave-forms, transients and zeros. I appreciate change and the game changers for me are the ones that maintain consistency with their sound whilst still pushing things forward. Sometimes all you have to do is add a little flavour, throw in a simple bass line and your good to go. Sometimes all you have to do is just let the drums roll out and you’re in."
07. Swindle feat JME Mad Ting
Roni Size: "Ok, so its time to switch it up and show some love to my man Swindle. Peace Love and Music is a brilliant album, with lots of great features from musicians based all over the world. Swindle is someone I've been following for a minute and we know each other well. I love his vibe and you gotta get down with the kids, right? Mad ting!"
08. Dornik Stand In Your Line
Roni Size: "Love me a bit of soul music and Dornik hits a sweet spot with this jam. Ok, it sounds like an '80s record, but with a modern soul twist. It's a brand new track and always good for a little two-steppin after a few brandys. I really like the layers of melody on top of the rhythm section, and this is definitely a jam for the ladies out there…"
09. Omar Get Away
Roni Size: "This is classic Omar. He’s the king of UK soul! Unorthodox UK soul-jazz-funk. It's records like this that made me who I am today. Omar has always had a unique sound and a style of his own, it’s live music and for those who know about putting shit on the grid to make music, well this does the exact opposite. This groove is so loose you could fit two of me in it and still find space for a friend."
10. Stormzy Shut Up
Roni Size: "Man of the moment, Stormzy doing what he does and people reacting to it. Grime is finding its superstars after years in the underground and Stormzy (as well as crews like BBK) are brewing and taking things forward, even gaining chart success. This track has got a little flavour and the beat is as simple and hypnotic as it gets. It kind of reminds me of So Solid's 21 Seconds…At the end of the day, music is music and when its all said and done, it's important I keep my ear to the ground and say, "Yeah, I remember that tune.""
'Roni Size Reprazent with William Goodchild & The Emerald Ensemble – Live At Colston Hall' is released November 13th. Roni Size plays In Motion Bristol on New Year’s Eve (tickets).