If you are into your breakbeat hardcore with an oldskool vibe then i seriously doubt that InnerCore will need any introduction. Since dropping his first InnerCore Project in 2018, Matt has gone from strength to strength with his production and some of those early records have become quite sought after now, changing hands on discogs for anything up to £70. I recently bumped into the man himself at DISSONANCE in Bristol. He played before me and was proper smashing the place up when I arrived... On vinyl.
So it was a no brainer for me to Invite the mighty InnerCore to come and do a guest-mix for my show on Eruption & Podcast... I also caught up with him for a little natter about belt-drive turntables, dubplates and some other stuff!
Hi Mate. How’s your week going so far?
Hi Vinyl Junkie, It’s been a fairly manic one to be fair. Been in Scotland for Christmas this year, with snow which was great! Hope you’re having a good week mate.
Yep… All good here mate, Xmas was a bit mental with the release of Jem 77 on boxing day… But anyway… Can you give me a brief bit of background on yourself. How old are you, Where you were born, where you grew up, what school you went to etc
Ok, I'm 42 years of age, I was born in Leamington Spa UK, I grew up in Bidford-on-avon which is a small village near Stratford-upon-avon. I went to Bidford infant/primary and then Alcester High School, which is where I caught the rave tape bug! Our bus driver was some cool young lady who now looking back at it must have been a raver back then (1991-1997), because she was happy for us to stick on our latest Fantazia rave tapes, Jungle Mania, the list goes on.. I used to swap rave tapes with mates at school, copy them and all that. I remember my favourite Dj's back then were DJ Slipmatt, DJ Sy, Ellis Dee, Mickey Finn, Randall, all the greats!
A raving bus driver! I bet her driving was a bit ropey on a Monday morning?So musically, let's start right at the beginning… Going way back, before raving and DJing and all that good stuff… What is your very earliest musical memory?
Ahhh wow, really going back to my earliest music memory here. It was a record my parents played to me as a kid, I must have been like 2 or 3 years old and it was a 45 Vinyl record of this song with a dog singing in it, I actually still have that record somewhere, I think it's called wonderdog? They also used to play me the Star Wars stories on vinyl and I remember being fascinated by all the laser sounds, R2D2 sounds and all the sound effects. Then in the late 80's I remember hearing M|A|R|R|S - Pump up the volume, and that stood out to me back then, I think it was the amount of samples and how they were used that just got me interested.
"Pump Up The Volume" by M|A|R|R|S... What a tune! So when you were growing up, what music was likely to be played in your house? In other words… What was the soundtrack to your youth? And how did this music affect your future?
I can remember a fair bit of funky disco stuff, The Beatles, Reggae stuff and my Mom loves Barbara Streisend. When my parents were still buying and playing Vinyl Records I think I was more interested in how the records were turning on a record deck and making music, it really is magic right! Saturday nights were all about sticking some music on and dancing around the living room, singing and just having fun. I don't think my love for music would be the same without my parents so I have them to thank for that. My younger brother told me a while back that he was speaking with a work colleague about music and his colleague turned around and said "I don't like music"...That still baffles me to this day? What! Each to their own I guess. Their loss! hahaaha
Someone said that to me once as well... "I don't like Music". It totally baffled me too. How can you not like music? Where would we be without music? And vinyl... Talking of vinyl... What was the first record you ever bought and how old were you?
Oh geeeez, this is either gonna look super embarrassing or super cool, the first record I bought with my own paper round money when I was 14 was Technohead - I wanna be a hippy. I think I saw it in HMV or Our Price (that's not around now is it?!) and just wanted to buy it on Vinyl. I didn't even have mixing turntables back then, just a record deck on top of my Alba Hi-Fi. Then I remember picking up a few other rave, hardcore bits and thinking I must save up for some actual decks. I was into graphics and drawing back then, I used to sketch up my own rave flyers and I was heavily influenced by Pez art, he did all the Helter Skelter flyers and art. My plan was to go into graphics design when I finished School, however the bug of wanting turntables took over and I didn't go to college, and I got a job in a factory which paid enough for me to save up and buy my first pair of belt driven Soundlabs! Wow they were fun, took a while to actually learn to mix. I used to just study and listen hard to DJ mix tapes and try and work out how they were doing it. Practice makes perfect, that's my best advice for any budding bedroom DJ's out there.
SNAP... I actually learnt to mix on a set of Belt-Drive Soundlabs as well. I remember the first time I had a go on my mates Technics (I had been mixing on the Soundlabs for about 6 months) and it felt really easy in comparison. So Matt, are you a big vinyl collector?
Whenever I have some spare cash (which is not that often nowadays being a family man), I will buy a record I really want. Between the years of 1997-2005 I was buying records every week, without fail. My collection is quite varied, a bit of house, trance, breaks, old skool, new hardcore, happy hardcore, jungle, and lots of drum and bass. My younger brother and I used to finish half a day every Friday when we worked together and then we would jump on the bus to the local underground music record store - it was called First Base, run by a chap called Clive. After going a few times, we got to know Clive well, even to the point where he would save the new white label promos drum and bass records for me and my brother to get first dibs on. This would have been around the 1999-2002 era, when we were resident DJ's at a local bi-weekly event called Tunnel Vision - Lost in Bass. With a friend we had met at a local free party, he invested in some pretty heavy subs. And the pub we used to DJ in was actually in a cellar type of venue. We used to rock that place, to the point where the shop above was complaining that the bass was making their goods fall off the shelf. We really did push it to the limit, there were no sound police and we just cranked it to how we wanted it. Great days thinking back to it now. This is also where we first played our own productions on actual dub plates! We used to drive up to Wednesbury to see a couple of lads with a lathe cutting machine, think they were called Urban Sonic? I still love the smell of acetate
I love the smell of dubplates in the morning... Smells like... Victory!! Haha... So when & what was the first rave you ever went to? What was it like and how did this change things for you?
I'm gonna break this down into 3 events, a club night, a rave, and a festival.
1994/95 - The first club night I went to was a Jungle/Rave music night in a pub called Buggsy's in Evesham. I used to buy rave tapes and scene magazine from a record shop in Evesham and pick up flyers. This event was really cheap, like £3 entry or something. So I got a bunch of mates and my brother together and we went along. We were all under-age, but we all got in. I can remember feeling a bit out of my depth, the smoke machine filled the room so you could barely see and the music was LOUD.
I also remember looking at people and thinking wow they are dancing weird, which I went on to learn they were just 'raving'. Dj Patience, DJ Ratty and Fallout were the DJ's playing that night. And it was an eye opening experience for me.
1995/96 First Festival I went to was the Phoenix Festival back in 1995 or 1996. I can't quite remember the year, but The Prodigy were playing! It was one hell of an experience, I smoked a lot of stuff and just had a mad time. One memory I have was the Metalheadz tent, with all the best Drum and Bass DJ's from that era. If I could go back and do it again, I'd probably appreciate it a lot more, back then I was still a kid really. However, I still have fond memories of that festival.
1998 - First proper 'rave' I went to was Flashback 2nd Birthday at the Que Club Birmingham , It was my mates birthday coming up and I bought us a ticket each after seeing the line up on a flyer in a Skateboard shop in Stratford upon Avon (Ziploc). When we got to the venue I was really nervous, but an excited, you know. And when we got into that main arena, my god it was breathtaking. The event was a focus on old skool music 1989-1993, so it was really cool to actually go and rave to the music I'd been listening to in my bedroom whilst growing up. After that initial que club outing, I went to the Que club as much as I could. I absolutely loved it in there.
The Que Club was a sick venue... Miss that place. So when did you first start learning to produce and what inspired you to do so?
I first started 'dabbling' with music production in the year 2000, and this was all down to my younger brother Luke. Whilst I was busy tightening up my mixing skills in my bedroom, Luke would be messing around making drum and bass music in this program called Music 2000 on the Playstation. At first I was like, what the hell are you doing, your not actually making the tunes just using sounds in the program. Then he started to actually make riffs, bass lines, and even sample in drum loops like the amen break for example. That's what it was then, we would make tunes, record them to tape and listen back on our walkmans at work. Then we met a guy called Anthony at work, and we got talking and it turned out he was a deep/progressive house music producer. He then gave us some music software on CD's, called Acid-Pro. And that is when I cut my teeth in the music production game.
Aare you self taught or did you go to college to learn music production… ??
All self taught, although a good friend of mine who I used to make music with in the early days is a pianist and he taught me the theory side of things like chords etc. But in terms of music production, I would say I'm self taught. I used to spend hours figuring things out, working out synthesis and getting a basic knowledge of how music is arranged. There was a drum and bass production forum, called DogsOnAcid which had loads of good information in regards to making drum and bass, back then.
I was even chatting with producers like Pendulum, Noisia and many others that went on to do huge things! The thing is with music production, it's a never ending learning curve, so you can never learn enough. There are no rights or wrong ways of making music as long as you get the result 'you' want.
Agreed... So what DAW do you use? And do you have any hardware in your studio?
I've used quite a few through the years, Cubase, Logic, Reason. But now I just use FL Studio. I work fastest in FL Studio, that's why I like it.
My setup includes:
PC Running FL Studio
Soundcraft Signature 10 Mixing Desk
Nektar Impact LX 49 Midi Keyboard
Roland Alpha Juno-1
Cyclone TT-303 Bass Bot
Korg Poly 61
Commodore 64 w/cynth cart v1
Can you remember the first time you heard one of your tunes played at a rave by a big established DJ? Who was the DJ and how did it make you feel seeing all those people going mental to something you had made?
The stand out moment for me was when Ron Wells (pka Jack Smooth) played my tune 'Pinnacle' from InnerCore Project Volume 1. He played it as his first tune at the Dj Tango tribute night in Birmingham, and I remember standing back from the crowd and just watching them go for it. It was a great feeling, after many years of making music it's good to see all the hard work unfold before your eyes.
So you have a label INNERCORE PROJECT… Tell us about that…. How did it start and what is your Mission Statement…
Over the years I've always dabbled with making older 90's sounding tunes, and even incorporated those styles into Drum and Bass when I was making it. Then I found a Facebook group called 'MPS VINYL - Music Preservation Society' ran by Robin Allinson (RIP). I started collecting Vinyl again because of that group, and was loving the old sound again, so I decided to just go for it and make some jungle techno/hardcore breakbeat. I posted a short video of one of the tunes I'd done on the MPS group
and the reaction was overwhelming, even artists like Ron Wells, and Nico (from No-U-Turn Records) were commenting. Then Robin got in touch and said if I'd fancy doing a 4 tracker via MPS. And that is how it began, it was such a pleasure to work with Robin, and without him the Innercore Project label would not be what it is today, so I'm eternally grateful for that, and all the support from the MPS group and beyond. From Robin's connection I then got other signings on labels like Peace On Wax,
Kniteforce, Hardcore Vinylists, Parallax Recordings and more!
My mission statement is really just to keep that original early 90's to mid 90's vibe going, not get too technical with the music and keep a raw vibe and proper rave energy. Educating the next generation of ravers that weren't even born in the 90's, and continuing the legacy of the main artists of the glory days of rave.
What releases do you have lined up for the label??
Next up are the InnerCore Dubs Volume 1 and 2, these are basically tunes that were just lurking on my hard drive, unsigned. And during the lockdown I put them up as digital dubs releases. Then quite a few people asked if they were coming out on vinyl, there was no plan to and then Robin from MPS got in touch and said he would put them out as a Vinyl release. Sadly that was the last project I'll be doing with Robin, so until I get some more tunes together and sort out the pressing etc that's all I have forthcoming on my label for now. But it's not over yet, trust me.
I should hope not... What's the biggest gig you ever did and how many people did you play too??
The biggest I can think of right now is when I DJed a drum and bass/jungle set for Sika Studios crew at Boardmasters Festival in Newquay. I remember looking up at the crowd half way through the set. The area I was playing had just filled up massively. I could just see a sea of people having a good time, I can't tell the exact numbers of people but it must have been in the 800-1000 range. I want to play some bigger gigs again in 2023, so promoters get in touch!
There has been a massive resurgence in vinyl sales lately with loads of old classics being remastered and repressed. Is this a good thing and why? Discuss...
I think it's 100% a good thing, for one it gave me a chance to collect some of my favourite tracks from back in the day, without paying ridiculous prices on Discogs or eBay. And I think I speak for many record buyers when I say that.
Do you think the vinyl thing will grow or fizzle out? discuss your reasoning…
My thoughts are that it will just continue to grow, although the digital era is very much upon us, you cannot hold an mp3 in your hands and put it on a record player. People like to collect things and have something to show as a collection. As far as I know there are new pressing plants popping up here and there, so that's a good sign that Vinyl is continuing to grow.
Who do you see as your early musical influences and who continues to inspire you today?
Going back to 1991, The Prodigy, Altern8 and other rave groups like The Shamen really caught my ear. I think all of those still continue to inspire me, as they are all still active in some way or another. And they haven't just faded away like a lot of the early 90's acts.
The sound of the early 90’s hardcore and jungle has come full circle with lots of young people, who were not even born first time round, adopting this sound, buying records and even producing music in this style… It's amazing… What's your thoughts on this and how is it going to affect the future of the scene?
I think it's great that the younger generation are getting to experience it. There was a time when I was a teenager in the mid 90's and I used to think, I hope this music is still around when I'm a bit older, thankfully it is! As they say "Hardcore will never die".....I think it can only be a positive thing for the scene, and the generation making the tunes now will hopefully inspire the next generation and so on.
How does the newly produced hardcore / jungle compare to the original stuff?
If it's done right it can be just as good or sometimes even better. Take Pete Cannon for example, his tunes and remixes are really taking that old skool sound and putting a new spin on it. There are so many other producers doing it right as well, too many to mention here! I've also seen comments on my music saying stuff like "if this was made in 93 it would fit right in '', which is good to see.
Tell us a funny story about your adventures out on the road DJing.
One that springs to mind is when my mate Marc (Dj Onyx) and I were djing drum and bass in Lithuania, the crowd were going bonkers. We had people in the crowd trying to give us money during the set, god knows why. We didn't take it and just carried on DJing, the energy was high and then someone let off CS Gas bombs, we were like what the hell is going on, and just continued to DJ. Straight after our set we were approached by some dude with a video camcorder and a mic as if it was like 1994 or something and he asked if we can do an interview, so off we went into the crew room and did an interview, I remember thinking here I am just finished a 2 hour set of madness, sweating my nuts off and now I'm doing an interview. The Lithuanian promoters were absolutely great to us though and treated us like royalty, is was all a bit overwhelming to be honest, because we didn't expect anything and just wanted to go and represent our sound. And that same ethos stands today with InnerCore, it's about music, not about egos.
Any final words or shouts??
Shouts to yourself (Vinyl Junkie) for inviting me to do a mix and interview for your radio show…….
I'd like to say a special thanks to Robin Allinson (MPS Vinyl), who sadly passed away recently. His work with me will always be remembered and without him my label probably would never exist. He gave me lots of great opportunities, for example remixing The Hypnotist tune - Hardcore you know the score. If you'd have told me 10 years ago I would be remixing that tune officially, I would have laughed at you. Robin made things happen for InnerCore, simple as that.
Also I'd like to shout and thank the following;
All my family, my friends, all the record labels I've worked with, all the producers I've worked with, all the DJ's supporting the InnerCore sound, especially Jay Cunning and Billy Daniel Bunter for really pushing my tunes to the masses. All the promoters that book me to DJ, Foundations, Calling the Hardcore, Wax On, Dissonance, Jungle Syndicate, the list goes on. Ron Wells for the inspiration and generally just being really helpful when I've asked production questions in the past, most producers from back in the day wouldn't even give new producers the time of day!
Shouts to all the mastering engineers, Robert @Subvert Central, Lawrie @curved pusher, Simon @the Exchange, Beau Thomas @1087 for making my music come to life. I also want to say thanks to all the pressing factories that have been under major pressure the last few years, Phil East for example is a major player in the independant underground dance music scene, and his hard work needs to be recognised.
The original Djs and producers from back in the day such as DJ Tango (Rip), Ratty, Fallout, Essence of Aura, Jack Smooth, Top Buzz, The Prodigy, Acen, DJ Luna-C. And also shouts to the new Dj's Producers such as Pete Cannon, T-Cuts, Worldwide Epidemic, DJ Jedi, Tim Reaper, Sherelle, Shadowman, Elusive, Dee Sub, Glowkid (for the blogs etc), Skru (for all the breaks samples), and of course all the people buying and supporting my music.
For Dj bookings or remix work email - email@example.com
Check the radio show...