I, like you, really fucking love UK Garage. Everyone does, even Jesus. It's a sound thats influenced dance floors all across the UK, especially London, and no producers could be said to be more influential than Noodles, aka Groove Chronicles.
From playing raves at the tender age of 17, to being one half of one of the most seminal dance music groups of all time in Groove Chronicles, to creating a label in DPR, which he has used to consistently release banger after banger on, Noodles has been through it all, with one thing on his mind, making people dance to the best genre of dance music there is, as backed by Jesus.
So in build up to what promises to be an incredible set from him at this years Meadows In The Mountains Festival, I sat down with the UK Garage pioneer and discussed his origins, the evolution of UKG and of course his ethos when it comes to garms.
WG: How did you get into the UK Garage scene?
Groove Chronicles: I didn’t really get into the scene as such, it evolved around me when I was selling vinyl in record shops in Camden (Zoom Records) & the West End (Unity Records & Passion Records inside Mash on Oxford St amongst others). This was before garage was recognised as its own genre, when it mostly US stuff being played in between 92 and 94. We started making what is now known as garage from 94 onwards, by speeding up and sampling old US House records and thats when the 'garage' scene came into its own, but I wasn't really feeling what I was hearing so I set up my own label, DPR in 96 and started making my own tunes.
What was the scene like when you first started?
Like anything new it was exciting and fresh, having moved away from the US stuff to having our own sound, which was very much a London orientated sound, it felt good, there was a real sense of achievement in creating this new wave of music and we were proud of the scene we had created for ourselves, for our city.
How aware were you at the time that what you were making was revolutionary?
I was actually. As I mentioned at the time i wasn't hearing what I wanted to hear from our own take on the American stuff, it wasn't as exciting as I thought it could be and boundaries weren't being pushed. Working in the record shops I sold a lot of styles of music, I was interested in fusing sounds together, which I still do now, and I wanted that to come across in the new music that was being put out there and that was definitely different at the time.
Tell me about Groove Chronicles, how did that come about?
Groove Chronicles was an idea I had whilst working in one of the record shops, it was Unity Records on Beak Street. I used to manage the shop and we had three floors, 1st floor was house, garage & techno and the back was hip hop, r’n’b and soul. The 2nd floor was merchandise section and rave tickets etc with a 3rd floor for jungle, d'n'b & hard-core. There used to be a certain part of shop on the back staircase where you could hear the mixture of musical sounds being played on different floors, like hip-hop & r’n’b blending with the jungle breaks & house bass-lines with techno sonics on top, it was crazy! That inspired me to create my own fusion sound and the Groove Chronicles name just came to me.
How do you feel about El-B these days, would you ever work with him again?
He’s doing his own thing, I wouldn't work with him again though, no.
What are your thoughts on how UK Garage evolved? Do you feel proud to have inspired these movements or do you not really rate them?
Time moves on and music moves with the times, its interesting what’s being made and what people think UK garage music is, it’s an individual thing I guess? UK garage to me is made up of so many different genre’s, so its down to interpretation. I didn’t actually think Black Puppet would become a whole movement in itself, that wasn’t my idea when I was producing it, it was just a load of samples put together and in my ears it sounded different, which is what I wanted to achieve. Basically in my mind, do what you feel sounds good but is different from what the next man is making.
How do you feel about UK Garage right now?
It’s just new ravers going out to new UKG raves. I think everyone's playing it a bit safe to be honest, same DJs playing the same tunes. It's shame because there's thousands of amazing garage records out there that can still make people dance but the majority of people might not have heard them before, so it might not get the same instant reaction to the 'classics' but trust me, you can still make 'em move!
Who should we be looking out for in UKG producer wise at the moment?
There are a lot of UKG producers making good music & Dj’s playing the music, you just got look on social media the love they are giving to the scene so I say ALL OF THEM!
Meadows In The Mountains is a pretty different kind of festival, have you heard much about it before?
Yeah it definitely sounds interesting! I hadn't heard about it until now but I know Dan from DNR records in Croydon has played there and he loves it, so I'm there!
In terms of fashion, what do you think about the recent harking back to classic garage DnB raver looks and brands like Moschino, Reebok Classics etc? I saw you talk about it in the recent Super Sharp exhibition.
Clubland back has always been a melting pot of fashion and fashion has always been a way for people to identify themselves with a certain scene, it’s good that people are expressing themselves in clothing again.
Do you think it's just people cashing in on a trend or it's something more real?
It’s clothing and people wear what they want and what they want to look like as well, some things change and some don't!
Has your look changed over time or have you always had the same style of dress?
I use to sell Carhartt back in the day so i still have a few pieces from them, I kind of collect other bits as well I wear a lot of Stussy, Alife, Penfield, Spiewak, Nike & New Balance clothing. I guess not much has changed for me style wise
Do you feel proud of your contribution to UKG and to British culture in general? You're basically a living legend in terms of what you've done for the scene and for UK dance music in general.
Yes I do, I’ve been fortunate to have been around in the music scene from the beginning & met a lot of good and bad people in what I call underground music, I don’t see it as individual thing more of a movement with more and more people joining worldwide. I have a lot more to give with my new musical ventures with producer & dj dubchild who I’m now working with check out the new music on my DPR label.
Cheers Noodles, see you on the Mountain.
You can buy tickets for Meadows in the Mountain Festival here.
Written by: Tom Usher