DJ Krust (Roni Size)

DJ Krust is the co-founder of Bristol's Full Cycle crew (with Roni Size, DJ Die and Suv), and he is much noted in the drum and bass (jungle?) underground for his push-the-envelope productions both alone and in collaboration with Size.

Born in Bristol in 1968, Krust was raised on hip-hop and began DJing in the mid-'80s at schools and small clubs around the area. His interests grew to include acid house and rave by the late '80s, and a stint in the group Fresh 4 landed Krust in the middle of the charts, when "Wishing on a Star" made number nine in late 1989. After meeting at the 1990 Glastonbury Festival, DJ Krust and Roni Size soon began to produce tracks together, often in collaboration with DJ Die and Suv. The outfit recorded solo and in tandem for Bryan G and Jumpin' Jack Frost's V Recordings during the early '90s, but then in 1992 formed the Full Cycle label with manager Chris Warton. Along with its sister label Dope Dragon, Full Cycle released several crucial singles and the 1995 label retrospective Music Box, through an agreement with Talkin' Loud Records.

DJ Krust continued to record for V and Full Cycle, and helped out on remixes for Goldie and fellow Bristol crew More Rockers. Size's debut album New Forms -- featuring considerable production help from Krust -- hit the music world like a bomb in 1997, leading to Krust's own major-label contract the following year. His Polygram debut, True Stories, was followed in 1999 by Coded Language. His sophomore effort Through the Eyes was issued a year later Recently he's on tour in America with Reprazent. Their new record IN THE MODE is banging and fresh. Their live show is a pure adrenaline rush.

Roni Size and DJ Krust are both going to perform at Coachella 2005.


AL: The shows have been getting better and the audiences have been getting larger. Have you guys made it a purpose to tour America heavily?

Roni Size and Reprazent
DJ Krust: Full Cycle was our own record label. So some people knew us from those days. We had an underground cult audience from those days before we did any albums. When the album came out, we attracted a whole other audience. The audience is made up of people who know us from Full Cycle, V Recordings, and Dope Dragon. Now they know the first album, Coded Language, New Forms, Breakbeat Era. People know about all the records and they know what's going on.

AL: Was it always a band at first or were you DJs?

DJ Krust: At first it was a DJ thing and we came out of that mentality. It was always a DJ thing. Making records to play for ourselves. That's how it started. We started out as DJs on the scene and we weren't getting noticed or getting any breaks. We weren't getting noticed anyway, so we started to play some of our own music. We started to give out our records to Jumpin' Jack Frost and Bryan G in the early days. And they were the first DJs who started to play our music. They started V Recordings. Then, bam, it started taking off from there. They paved the way for us to come through. So when we did the album, we wanted to promote it, so Roni had the idea of putting a band together. Nothing like that had been done before in that music.

AL: When New Forms came out and won The Mercury Prize and caused a lot of attention, did you decided to take a break for a while? And maybe focus on the solo records?

DJ Krust: No, it wasn't really like that. We didn't know how things worked when you win prizes and everything to that extent. We toured the record for a year non-stop. For us, we're DJs. We don't have a band mentality. I already had signed to do an album already. Roni Size and myself signed record deals at the same time. We took time and effort making Reprazent. After that year, I had to make an album, and our own label didn't get any attention. We had a lot of problem so we had to take care of business. Everyone had personal agendas that they had to deal with. It took us that long to get things back together and sort out personal problems. We had to put a new identity to Full Cycle. I did an album and Roni and Die did Breakbeat Era. All these projects, which were in the pipeline before, were all of a sudden put of hold. After Reprazent, we finished off all these other projects, getting them out there. It was two or three years later before we were able to do In The Mode. And it was like, bam, everyone thinks where have you been? We were busy doing other things.

AL: It seems like Wu-Tang Clan, where you have the band and many side projects and solo records?

DJ Krust: We are like a lot of people. In the band we are all individual artists who have all their own individual projects as well.

AL: Is Jazz a big influence?

DJ Krust: The whole thing about Jazz is on New Forms there was a vibe of Jazz on it. We are more about funk. I didn't know anything about Jazz. I know more about Jazz now than I did then. For us, we are coming from the old days, the funk era, like Parliament Funkadelic, George Benson, and Motown. That's our whole vibe. That's what we grew up listening to. People saw a double bass, and to them it was jazz. But it was more than that.

AL: Do you collect a lot of vinyl?

DJ Krust: I have a real small flat and it's hectic. You walk in there and there's records everywhere. I get a lot of CDs these days. The first tour we did we went around and collected vinyl, but now we are trying to build on the equipment we have. We all bought laptops and we're more studio based. In the beginning we were all about samples. We used to sample a record and fit it in with what you are doing. Now we learned how to play instruments and play keyboards and use live drummers, instead of sampling a record to create a vibe, you can create your own vibe. Instead of sampling the record with a certain keyboard sound, you go out and buy the keyboard. You look for it and you source it.

AL: Have you got any Moogs and Arps?

DJ Krust: Exactly. We have Moogs and Arps. That's right. Once you start hitting these keyboards, something comes out. You add that vibe with some of the new technology today, with the breaks and the drum machines, and the laptops, and you automatically start using the equipment in a whole other way. We started using Ataris. We are the computer generation. We grew up using Ataris. It's been in the last three years when we started using Macs and Pro Tools that we were able to go inside and really fuck with them. We prefer Pro Tools.

AL: How do you go about composing new tracks for an album?

DJ Krust: On the last two records Roni has done most of the work. He's an arranger. Roni will do most of the work already and then someone will come in and catch a vibe. They'll do this or do that and contribute with something, even a little keyboard here. I play strings basically. That's what I'll do anyway. Or various things. Bam, I bring that to the table. Suv will bring all his effects. Die will bring his own keyboards and start working on melodies. Roni will go through everything and sift through it and get what he wants, and that's what it is. We almost finished another record, the new album, the third one. We went to Australia and did The Big Day Out. It happens seven days around the country. It was a great experience. We did that and came back full of energy. We went back into the studio for two weeks and made fifteen tracks. We all sat down and contributed. It was a great. It was a very spontaneous thing.

AL: How did you work with Method Man and Zack from Rage Against The Machine?

DJ Krust:Roni had an idea to work with Hiphop people really early on. We asked them a while ago and nobody knew who we were. So Zack met Roni at Glastobury and they got along and decided to work together. After a few years, people knew who Reprazent are. They said "I know them!" It was a different ballgame then. We have a track record. We are not some fly by night thing.

AL: Then you decided to do some songs and some more song based stuff? DJ Krust: It's all about where we are coming from. Our whole background is about songs, growing up and listening to music. Instrumental music is great but you can't really sing along to a bass line. Words are easier to follow. When you have a hook or a line, something to sing to, that's what stays in your head. That's what I remember from old school festivals in Bristol. They still have carnivals during the weekend. That's where I grew up. There was the Wild Bunch, who are Massive Attack now, that's where they would play every year. They had the biggest sound system ever. They would play all day and all night. You would wait to hear the new tunes and the new techniques. That's what the whole vibe is about.

AL: You guys grew up as B-Boys?

DJ Krust: Yeah, definitely. Hiphop started in our era. I had just left school and there was Hiphop, Bebop, and Electro. That was what was happening. We used to get these albums Electro Volumes one to ten. I kept them all. They are really wicked. It was like an English Culture that you are not presented with anything that is naturally you. You are looking outside. We were like a lost generation of kids without a background or history. All our parents and the parents of our friends were from Jamaica. You sort of rebelled against that upbringing, because they were still stuck in that Jamaican mentality. We weren't exactly Jamaican. We were Jamaican/English. We were born and bred in England. Our parents were like go get a job and go do this. And we were like we'll do that but we're into music. They couldn't understand. For them, it was like respect your parents. Being into music we thought was positive.

AL: So you liked NWA, Public Enemy, and Afrika Bambaataa?

DJ Krust: Loved it. The Beastie Boys. There was not one thing we didn't like. It was a culture and a lifestyle. It was more than music. It was something we could take on board. It's about scratching, breakdancing, graffiti. It's discipline, a code, and about respect. It was a type of respect you didn't experience in school. It was a type of respect we experienced in our own group. We felt like finally we had something for ourselves. Kids rebel. It doesn't matter what your mum and dad says. You'll do the opposite.

AL: Why do you think the establishment has given you all these awards, such as The Mercury Prize?

DJ Krust: We helped create a musical scene, something that started from the streets upwards. Then the establishments begins to accept what we're doing. We have to contribute and show up. We have to say this is the people behind the music, this is us. This is who you have given the award to. You have to play the game and be part of that. As well as being us. Nobody can get away with that.

You have to break it down and think about how Dr. Dre or the RZA was embraced by the industry. They went through the same struggle ten years ago. Now we're going through it. They have given us award. Why have they given us awards? They want us to contribute. They know we are serious. We have toured the world. You have contributed by having hit singles. Between all of us we have 200 remixes. Maybe more. We have put out over 300 records on three record labels. Hiphop has been around for twenty years. We have been doing it for five years or so. We still have a lot of work to do.

AL: You did a show in New York Central Park last summer. What was it like?

DJ Krust: Amazing. One of the best gigs ever. Central Park. It was a dream come true. We grew up dreaming about going to New York just to buy some records. Now we come to Central Park playing for an audience we grew up wanting to be a part of. We would have given our right arm to go to a Hiphop jam back in the early 1990s when Hiphop was vibrant and fresh. We got all these DJ Red Alert tapes. We studied them. The Wild Bunch and Soul II Soul were great but New York was where it was all about: you wanted to buy the trainers, the jeans, the white Kangol hat. You wanted to be part of the lifestyle.

Official Website: http://www.ronisize.com/

-Alexander Laurence