Northern Groove Show – An MC Conrad Tribute Session


RIP Conrad Thompson (1972 – 2024).





Tracklist:

  • Makoto feat. MC Conrad – Introduction
  • Adam F – F Jam (Vocal Mix feat. MC Conrad)
  • MC Conrad – Energetic Poetry (Nookie Remix)
  • Utah Jazz – Conrad Funk
  • Seba feat. MC Conrad – Words 2B Heard Meets Planetary Funk Alert
  • Greg Packer (feat. MC Conrad – live) – You’re The One
  • Paul SG feat. Conrad – You´ll Never Know
  • Zero T feat. MC Conrad – Morning Sex (2016 Remix)
  • Total Science feat. MC Conrad – Soul Patrol (Lenzman Deep In Your Soul Remix)
  • MC Conrad & Furney – Drum Tools
  • Con*Natural – Lean Upwards feat. MC Conrad (Makoto Remix)
  • Ill Logic & Raf (feat. MC Conrad – live) – Shoot Out
  • PFM feat. MC Conrad – Words 2B Heard Meets The Western
  • Blu Mar Ten (feat. MC Conrad – live) – B.R.O
  • Seba (feat. MC Conrad – live) Camouflage
  • The Repeat Offenders – She’s A Mystery (Con*Natural & Paul SG Remix)
  • Nookie (feat. MC Conrad & DRS) – The Breeze
  • Makoto feat. MC Conrad – Merchant Blessing
  • MC Conrad & Makoto – Golden Girl
  • Intense – Wastelands (Live feat. MC Conrad & DRS)
  • PHD & MC Conrad – Progression Session
  • Big Bud feat. MC Conrad – Words 2B Heard Meets Transmission
  • LTJ Bukem feat. MC Conrad – Orchestral Jam (Vocal 12″ Mix)
  • Unglued feat. MC Conrad – Born In 94

Download here.

First broadcast on bassdrive.com on Wednesday 1st May 2024.


About The Mix

Given the sad circumstance, I think this has been the most difficult mix I’ve ever done. I had truly thrown down the gauntlet, putting myself under more pressure than usual with doing this live show. In hindsight, I should have done this show on the following week, because I was still raw. I hadn’t had enough time to absorb and process the sad news of MC Conrad’s passing. I didn’t realise just how much it was going to hurt during the show, and for how long after. But I decided to do the show, with a lump in my throat throughout. Here we are two weeks on, and it’s obviously still on my mind.

When Marcus Intalex passed away in 2017, I did a tribute show only 3 days later. That was also a difficult show, because I knew Marcus personally too.

Marcus and Conrad were huge heroes of mine, before I got to know them; through working with them and promoting their events and endeavours. Both were bonafide legends to so many people. Both sadly passing away suddenly, leaving large wakes in their musical orbits.

I found doing this live Northern Groove – Conrad Tribute particularly hard, because it was his voice that I was hearing throughout the show. That natural, familiar voice that I love so much. A voice that belonged to a good human being too. Conrad was like a funny brother to many of the people that knew him.

I consider the human voice to be the most powerful musical instrument. It’s my favourite musical instrument. Some people are good with faces, I’m good with voices. I’ve often surprised myself when I can place a voice. Conrad had such a unique voice! Primal to the movement, it suited the Drum & Bass that I adored. Proper grown-up Drum & Bass. Drum & Bass to grow up with. Conrad’s partnership with LTJ Bukem was second to none – to quote my friend Jass, “Seen the best, seen the rest!”

As with every live Northern Groove Show, I did a few hours of prep; listening to and cherry-picking Conrad-associated tunes, then building crates within Serato. For this show, I created the following crates to work from:

1. Intro Tune
2. OLDSKOOL (with Conrad Vocals)
3. 00s (with Conrad Vocals)
4. RECENT (with Conrad Vocals)
5. Tracks (without Conrad Vocals)
6. Live Mixes (Random)
7. LIVE Select (Conrad & DRS)
8. LIVE Select (Conrad)

I then spent some time thinking about what to say during the show. I’d taken a few screen captures of things that I’d intended to read out. I was certain that things would also come to mind, like memories of moments conjured by the music.

To quote my friend Simon, “Conrad was great at letting the music breathe”. His poetic rhyming and timing was always on point. He knew when to sing, when to rap, when to hype the crowd and when to let the music flow. He got to know the music quickly, finding the tune, and his song within. Then developing the lyrics and perfecting his delivery during many live shows and tours. Conrad could sing like no other Drum & Bass MC too! In my mind, he could turn a good ‘track’ into a great ‘song’. He did this many times, with the results appearing on many Logical Progression recordings, Progression Sessions CDs, and Essential Mixes.

For my tribute show, I also wanted the mix to breathe and flow naturally. I didn’t want Conrad vocals on every single track; I wanted some space and time to say a few things, and to drop shoutouts to those listening. It didn’t quite work out like that, though…

Despite playing a few instrumentals on my show, I often didn’t quite know what to say or how to say it; the occasion got the better of me. It was a case of rabbit in the headlights whenever I hit the ‘mic on’ button.

The mix itself was all-consuming. Both technically and emotionally. It took a lot of focus to select and then mix, live and on-the-fly. Jumping BPMs has become standard on my show; I’ll usually always drop things down to 160, and then go back up to 176+. But throughout this mix, the tempo was all over the place! Up and down, down and up!

 

Northern Groove DJ Studio, 2024

 

Thankfully, I had the foresight to set cue points or hot cues on all of the ‘live-recorded’ tracks. This is something I never usually do, as it’s just more digital DJ admin. But it was very useful function to have on those live-recorded tracks, as it meant I could swerve several potential issues; such as avoiding 3-way clashes with Bukem or Blame’s mixes, e.g. from the end of the track they’d just played, or the start of the track they were about to mix in. It avoided vocal clashes too; I wanted Conrad & DRS’ narrative to flow, their vocals not entering the mix mid sentence, verse or chorus, or ending too abruptly.

I also tried to avoid any warbled time-stretched artefacts, due to severely pitched tempos, so I played two vinyl cuts (‘F Jam’ and ‘Golden Girl’), the rest were all lossless files. Regarding the sound itself, I had to remind myself that with the live tracks I was mixing, I was essentially playing a recording of Bukem or Blame playing a dubplate or vinyl record, so any discrepancies in key, pitch, or surface noise etc, could be down to their dubplates, records, or the recordings. On Blu Mar Ten’s ‘B.R.O’, lifted from the Progression Sessions 3 recording, I was reminded of one issue; that Bukem’s dubplate on that recording may have been a couple of years old and may have been worn, because there were definitely issues with a clipping kick drum midway through. Unfortunately that distorted kick sounded even more pronounced on my recording, despite not being in the red on the mixer or broadcast meter.

So there there were many facets to contend with. For me, it was quite a surreal, on-the-edge scenario when in-the-mix. There was an instance when Bukem was chopping beats on the crossfader into the playing track (‘Camouflage’), while I was blending the next tune in. It felt and sounded satisfying, but was also a bit hairy, at that moment! Thankfully it stayed in the pocket.

As I settled into the mix, I was reminded of the time that Conrad MCd over my DJ set, five years ago, at SoulStructure & Friends at Eastern Bloc Records, here in Manchester. It was just before Covid, but it seems like only yesterday.

 

Conrad & myself at Eastern Bloc Records, Manchester, 2019. Photo by Marcel

 

I played after Conrad had DJd under his Con*Natural guise. I wasn’t expecting him to get on the mic, but after spinning a few records, I played ‘Night Windows’ by Oblivion (AKA Source Direct), just as Con began to vocally host proceedings. After years of hearing his voice over many notorious live sets and landmark recordings, this was the legend himself, spitting lyrics over my selections! It was a surreal and warm moment in my modest DJing life. Thanks to John & Dom SoulStructure and Christal for making that happen.

 

 

During my tribute show, I received lots of great encouragement, via the Bassdrive chatroom, Facebook, Insta, Twitter and messages dirct to my phone. It was overwhelming! I couldn’t keep up! Sincere thanks to all those that have reached out during and since.

I said on air that I felt ‘happy-sad’. Conrad’s passing had evidently shocked and affected many of my D&B friends. So, I’d hoped that they would want join me, to pay their respects, and celebrate Conrad’s life and musical legacy. My friend, Pav, said that it was a bittersweet show. It was.

After the show I was completely drained. I think being both up and down, emotionally, at the same time, took twice the energy out of me. Plus the Bassdrive server stats were to the limit! So there was also the pressure of having many more fresh listeners than usual, listeners that don’t always listen to my show, if at all.

Ultimately, I hope my tribute show, and this post, has in some way helped people to process the loss of MC Conrad, while also celebrating his art.

 

 

 


About The Tracks:

From a total of 79 Conrad associated productions that I cherry-picked for the show, these are the 24 that I played. Nearly every tune can tell a story. Here are a few words and memories to go with each release, performance or moment.

Where possible, I’ve listed Conrad’s lyrics as text. They are great to read on their own. Seeing them as text can also clarify their content.

 

01. Makoto feat. MC Conrad – Introduction

 

 

The intro track to Makoto’s debut album ‘Human Elements’, from 2003, only featured on the CD release. I thought this would be a fitting way to start my Conrad tribute show, and it was.

I think the first Makoto track/recording featuring Conrad’s voice was ‘Butterfly’, on Progression Sessions 4, released in 1999. From that point, there would be plenty more magical Conrad & Makoto moments, spanning 25+ years.

 

Conrad, Makoto & Danny. Photo from Makoto’s Instagram

 

Around the turn of the century,  while Fabio was coining the term ‘Liquid Funk’, I would have said that Bukem & Conrad and Makoto & Deeizm were bringing their ‘Liquid Soul’ to thousands of dance floors, worldwide!

 


02. Adam F – F Jam (MC Conrad Vocal Mix)

 

 

Just pause for a second
Let me jog your conscience
Broaden your horizons
We’ll have no nonsense
We’ll shift another gear
Into a new format
Temperatures higher than 100
On the thermostat
Check the beat
Check yourself
Check the groove
Check the rhyme
Each individual
Has to lock into your mind
Once initiated
Then of course we can continue
Mixing up the tunes
To put the magic in
Your heart
Your mind
Your body
Your soul
With automatic push button
Cruise control
So we proceed the programme
You realise you dip rise
Open your eyes
You’re harmonized, qualified
To push the drum and bass
And this is how we boomin’ it
You should be knowin’ it
And never assuming it will be
The same style
You will find on the street
New style, new beat
Unique for the beat freak.
No need for hostility
‘Cause the sound ain’t hostile
We style, the style
With the livin’ profile
Hooked into hypnotic beats
Meanwhile
We expand to infinity
Then another mile
Mood moderators
Mind fascinators
Flickin’ the switch
The sound innovators
Beats hit hard
Like the staff of correction
Squeeze the injection
Spreads a sweet infection
You got the fever
We gave you the fever
And we’ve got
The pleasure control
So pull the lever
Start the motions
Start the mechanics
Expanse the dance
Transoceanic
No need to worry
No need to panic
As we slip and slide
Dip and glide
Super acrobatic
And the mood can be mellow
And the mood can be manic
As we expanse the dance
Transoceanic
And so you’re lookin’
For the perfect beat
You’re lookin’ for
The jump up crew inside
Shake your body
And wake up your vibe
Looking for the educated
Party people with pride
Cos we’ve got the perfect beat
The perfect musical ride

 

‘F Jam’, with Conrad’s vocal, featured on Adam F’s incredible album, ‘Colours’. Released the same year as Roni Size & Reprazent’s 1997 Mercury Music Prize winning ‘New Forms’ album.

“It’s all a matter of opinion”, mine being that I think ‘Colours’ is actually a better album, with tracks like ‘Circles’, ‘Aromatherapy’,  ‘Metropolis’, ‘Dirty Harry’, ‘Music In My Mind’ and ‘F Jam’.

 

 

Also, see Adam F & MC Conrad performing ‘F Jam’ live in London, 2023 here.

 


03. MC Conrad – Energetic Poetry  (Nookie Remix)

 

 

I played the Nookie Remix of the MC Conrad track ‘Energetic Poetry’. Both the original and this remix feature on Logical Progression Level 4, which was presented by MC Conrad.

The following words are taken from a Facebook post by Conrad, from a few years ago, when he provided some insight into this release…

(In 2001) I presented the 4th installation of 4 #GLR annuals releases – Logical Progression Level 4 for (lots of fours) with respect, #goodlookingrecords & #ltjbukem
With a major inspiration from the previous instalment LP3 from the mighty #IntenseLive, shouts to Beau Thomas +2 for all the support, love, guidance provided from day 1 and from my 1st ever studio bedroom built at my mum[s] yard, I set about putting together a studio band of heavy heavy hitters from live circuit, with a massive thank you my blood brother Chris ‘Gitz’ Campbell – on guitar
@mrmikis – on keys @tribanks – on drums @indergoldfingerofficial – percussion
RIP to the humblest sweetest bass man Ranvir Verma (@asian_dub_foundation) & myself on vocals, samples, chopping, looping, arranging and working out wtf this button does
Also another massive help with drums, percussion & vocal tracking via @christianhensonmusic #earlydaysinkensalrise thank you for too many things to mention
Unfortunately the album never got a proper launch and we never got to play together live (probably something to do with me delivering beyond a lot of deadlines, I think I started this in 1999) #whome??
The LP concept was shelved by some internal label BS & ppl were still really hooked on vinyl releases from the label more than the new medium of CD releases especially with this series and as a result became more interested in the studio exclusives tracks on the release and the concept installation got a bit overlooked.
I’m proud of what was made 20+ years ago and I know now that things happen for a reason and had it gone ways wanted or expected, I might not of been able to survive, remember or be here in flesh, let alone post a #tbt online..
shout out to all that took part supported gave help and advice and created.

 

On Progression Sessions 6 – America Live 2001, Conrad went to town over Nookie’s mix here.

 

 


04. Utah Jazz – Conrad Funk

 

 

The track ‘Conrad Funk’ on this 12″ from 2012, also featured on Utah Jazz’s 3rd album ‘Groove Therapy’, on his own Vintage Recordings label.

I played this beatiful track, early doors, only because it has ‘Conrad’ in the title. I’m not sure if Luke (Utah Jazz) is referencing MC Conrad here, it doesn’t matter. To me, this tune has the soul of a Conrad enhanced groove. Besides, from around 2007 onwards Utah Jazz was producing some serious tunes that Conrad sounded incredible over! From ‘A Leap Of Faith’ on Good Looking, to tracks like ‘Mesmerize’ and ‘Cloud Nine’ from his brilliant ‘It’s A Jazz Thing’ album.

Check this footage of Bukem & Conrad doing ‘Cloud Nine’ from when I filmed their set at Stylus, Leeds, back in 2008 here.

 


05. Seba feat. MC Conrad – Words 2B Heard Meets Planetary Funk Alert

 

 
I know you love the vibe that we’re giving
We’re forever pushing the vibe within
Baby would you cry for the rhythm
Let fly with the rhythm
We’re pushing the vibe within you
Because the music’s touching me baby
I’m touching you
We keep pushing the vibe within
I know you love the vibe that we’re giving
Lover of music! That is our living
We’re pushing the vibe within you
Look what it’s doing to you!
The music’s touching me baby
I’m touching you
And we planted a musical seed, and it grew
Now maybe if you trust in me baby I can trust in you
‘Cause we’re pushing the vibe within you
And we planted a musical seed, and it grew
And yea the music’s touching me, baby
I’m touching you
Check the fatness and the freshness
As we move on, as we progress
Something about this sound baby I’ve got to confess
As we increase the pleasure, ease the stress
The music’s filling up my mind
With the thoughts of finesse
So baby open up your mind
And let your soul get undressed
Logical mystics at their best
Check the fatness and the freshness
Now baby you move your body
We’ll do the rest
This music is my first love baby and I must confess
I can profess knowing that I won’t get stress
Yes and with that love I’ve got the advantage
Because deep lies the heart’s language
Speaking to the rhythm and it’s speaking in beats
Speaking to the music with a lyric deep
Sound is sweet and never will decay
And if I feel like drifting other ways
I can do that if that’s what I need
Flip the script and down pitch the speed
As we move on as we move through
Twisting mystic vibes just for you
Check the fatness and the freshness
Vibe is live and direct, express
This is my first love baby and I must confess
I can profess knowing that I won’t get stress
Oh… yes!
As we move on, as we progress
To increase the pleasure, ease the stress
The music’s filling up my mind
With the thoughts of finesse
So baby open up your mind and let your soul get undressed
Logical mystics at their best
And what you hear is not a test, oh yes!
As we fly with the rhythm
Baby I need to know would you cry for the rhythm
‘Cause I could die for the rhythm
So would you die for the rhythm?
Get high with the rhythm
Jump back and kiss the sky for the rhythm
As we take the vibe we shake the vibe, your body rock
‘Cause we can’t stop, won’t stop
With the sound of the future shock
You’ve got to keep moving cause there ain’t no stopping us

 

This is a huge fan favourite! Everyone knows these words, because it’s all about the music! Conrad and Seba both struck chords on this classic. I’ve loved this combination for 26 years, since I first heard it in the clubs and on the first Progression Sessions CD.

 

 

Check this wonderful recent footage of Conrad & EKTO1 rehersing Planetary Funk Alert for The MC Conrad Live Project. I adore this video and Miff EKTO1’s words alongside his post here.

 

Seba’s Conrad tribute

 


06. Greg Packer (feat. MC Conrad – live) – You’re The One

 

This is peak Bukem & Conrad! IMO.

This video has been shared and viewed thousands of times in the days since Conrad’s passing.

 

 
“You don’t know what to do? Then learn, learn, learn the boogie!”

 

I first heard this recording, before I saw the video. My pal, Jass, had ripped the audio for a car journey. He had a very good car stereo system. So I was blown away by the audio, then soonafter by the video. It is incredible footage!

Greg Packer’s tune is a fantastic, uplifting, feel-good, liquid bomb. A fitting first track for Bukem & Conrad to start their show with at Electronic Beats Festival, Cologne in 2002.

 

 

I first met Greg Packer in 2009 at Fabric, when he was DJing before Bukem in Room 2. I had with me the legal documents that Greg needed to sign for us to release his tune ‘People’s Music’, which Bukem began his excellent FabricLive mix CD with.

Last year I caught up again with Greg at The Prince Of Wales, in Brixton, where he was DJing after Greg Wilson. It’s amazing how Greg, as Dr Packer, has become a leading figure on the Nu-Disco / Re-edit scene. I had a great chat with Greg; he told me loads of interesting tidbits about the early tracks he’d had signed with Good Looking, and about ‘Your’e The One’, released on John B’s Tangent Recordings, and the joy he felt at hearing Conrad perform over his tracks.

 

Greg Packer’s Conrad tribute

 


07. Paul SG feat. Conrad – You´ll Never Know

 

 

From Paul SG’s ‘This Is Me’ album, released in 2016 on Paul’s briliant Jazzsticks Recordings label. ‘You’ll Never Know’ is a stunning colaboration between two friends and soul brothers. Listen to the full song here.

“I love Paul to bits and we connected at the start of the end of Good Looking days. I still remember telling him to keep hold of Jazzsticks and have his own thing. I’m proud of how he maintained it and kept it going and I’m blessed that he’s offered me a space and place to jam there whenever I like.” – MC Conrad, 2021

 

 

Paul SG’s association with Conrad also goes back to my time served at Good Looking, when I worked as Label Coordinator. This isn’t the time or place for any GLR/GLO histrionics, but it was disapointing to see the demise of Good Looking; projects not being realised, albums not being released, and friendships failing. But then it was great to see the likes of Paul and Conrad (& many before them), move on and run their own things.

Since 2009, Paul SG and his Jazzsticks Recordings imprint have established a rich back catalogue of work. With such a strong, recognisable sound and graphic ID, through the work of Martin at Align Creative Services.

It’s always a pleasure to drop the latest Jazzsticks numbers on my Northern Groove Show!

 

Paul SG’s Conrad tribute

 


08. Zero T feat. MC Conrad – Morning Sex (2016 Remix)

 

 

Originally released on Zero T’s debut album, ‘Cheap Shots’ from 2008, with a remix appearing on the ‘C.I.A 20’ compilation album in 2016.

As a side-note, around 2007, Bukem & Conrad were touring, while I was acting as Press Officer and GLO Community Officer – running the GLO, social media, E-promotions, and looking for content. I was catching their live shows whenever I could, while looking for any fresh gig footage going up on YouTube. So at this time, I was aware of a track that Bukem was playing and Conrad was MCing over…it was a harder edged tune, very heavy hitting! For this track Conrad had formed these brilliant lyrics based around the subject matter of social media – he was directly referencing Myspace, Facebook and YouTube; “Log on, listen!…” etc. Proper digital social commentary, if you like. It was fantastic! I was telling Danny, Conrad and Tony, “We’ve gotta put that out! Record that vocal mix! What is it? Can we release it?”. I heard the word “No” a lot from Tony, so nothing came of that. Four years later, that track, ‘Hang Twice’ By Zero T and Beta 2 came out digital only, on Footprints. I think it’s an incredible track. Conrad’s vocals on it were sublime and very of-the-moment. There was footage on YouTube from one of their gigs, but I can’t find it now. No doubt there’s a recording of it somewhere.


While searching through 2007/08 videos on YouTube, I rediscovered this great promo video that we received from the promoters of this event in Yekaterinburg, Russia. This footage really does take me back to that Bukem & Conrad era…

 

 

Zero T’s Conrad tribute

 


09. Total Science feat. MC Conrad – Soul Patrol (Lenzman Deep In Your Soul Remix)

 

 

Love this version! In 2009, Lenzman tastefully re-worked the Total Science & Conrad original from 2006, taking it a bit deeper. He also slightly re-arranged the lyrics, but they still have the same impact…

 

Look how we got you on the soul patrol
We came to free your mind, soothe your soul
It’s easy how we do it, do it natural
As we get close & deep & personal

Let the music deep in your soul
Inside of your mind, you go for yours,
don’t stop don’t pause, while i go for mine

Deep in your mind,
way down inside of your heart,
and the vibe that’s within, tears you apart

Let the music deep in your mind,
deep in your soul,
down inside of your heart
Close & deep & personal

 

Total Science’s Conrad tribute

Lenzman’s Conrad tribute

 


10. MC Conrad & Furney – Drum Tools

 

 

‘Drum Tools’, from 2008, is an absolute belter! Conrad brought the tightest, toughest Amen break to the table here! He had some sick beats and good ideas. Collaborations with the likes of Furney and Paul SG brought the best out.

 

Conrad, Bukem & Furney at Fabric, Room 2. May 2007. Photo by Northern Groove

 


11. Con*Natural – Lean Upwards feat. MC Conrad (Makoto Remix)

 

 

This EP is all killer! The only vinyl release on Conrad’s “digital first” label, Resonance. It was a joy to play Makoto’s remix of ‘Lean Upwards’ on this tribute show! Likewise, it’s been a privilege to play all of the Resonance label promo tracks on my show over the last few years.

Personnally, I think the sound of Resonance sits perfectly between soulful/jazzy – earth vibes, and abstract/synthetic – space vibes.

Resonance on bandcamp

Resonance on YouTube

MC Conrad Presents Resonance on Spotify

 

 


12. Ill Logic & Raf (feat. MC Conrad – live) – Shoot Out

 

 

“FIRE IN THE HOLE!”

Such a slamming tune with the Ennio Morricone sample etc. Conrad’s voice just took it to another level! I’d heard Bukem playing it out for a while, at The End, then once in Amsterdam at day festival at the Olympic Stadium. Conrad actually says “…in Amsterdam” in his lyrics.

The version I played on the tribute mix is lifted from the final Progression Sessions release PS 10 – Germany Live 2004. The track itself coming out the following year on Doc Scott’s 31 Records.

 

Doc Scott’s Conrad tribute

 


13. PFM feat. MC Conrad – Words 2B Heard Meets The Western

 

 

OK, this is THE moment for me. THE tune!

Back in ’96, I was all about Fatboy Slim, Freestylers and The Chemical Brothers. But, at the same time I was leaning towards deeper, more atmospheric moods, via artists like The Future Sounds Of London, Leftfield and Orbital. Two friends, Marcus and Steen, both suggested that I should check out a compilation of Drum & Bass called ‘Logical Progression’.  I took their advice… ‘Demon’s Theme’ by LTJ Bukem stood out immediately, with its break and tempo. ‘Danny’s Song’ by PFM also had a familiar vibe that I really liked, it reminded me then of ‘The Girl With Sun In Her Head’ by my beloved Orbital.

But it was PFM’s tune, ‘The Western’, that grabbed hold of me then and has never let go of me since. That bassline got me into D&B! But it was Conrad’s vocal delivery that made me want to know more about this Logical Progression thing, this label and all concerned.

In ’97 I was making mixtapes with Big Beat, Trip Hop and Indie tracks on. But as soon as I put The Western on, I realised it was next level shit! In fact, I remember recording one 45 minute side of tape with back-to-back recordings of ‘The Western’ on, so that I didn’t have to keep hitting rewind on my Walkman! I used to listen to this tune on the bus, before work or football, college, then university. It was pure motivation!…

 

Get in line in your mind, get ready to rip it up
We gonna kick it up better be sitting up
Pay attention you’re next on the agenda
We’re gonna send ya on a brain bender
Get in line, get your views in order, we gonna sorta make them run like water
To co connect like oceans together
We endeavour where others said never damn! Ain’t that clever?
‘Caus PFM is here to progress
On a mission that stands way above all the rest
Yes man!! Set it off with a loud bang
Rock on the set with the mic in my hand
With a dope dope powerful bass bass boom
We got a dope like a big bass bassoon
And when we bust a new style style
You will go wild wild. You can reminisce… And put it into you style pile
We kick it off with nuff nuff clout, PFM set it off cos I got the mouth
When I rock on the set with a P for perfection
The set was ours at my last recollection
So we choose to cruise not get too hectic
Go too slow the set might just get septic
And you party people might not accept it
So smooth and mellow that’s how we kept it.
And as we move on the scene it get respected.
We got you moving with the right directive
Inside your mind it gets injected
We got sounds assured for those who are selective.
I tell you action stations people get ready,
Twist ya like spaghetti, boo ya like betty.
Foundations we laid down so many,
You wake from you deep sleep to feel a new penny
Drop into action. You was relaxing…?
Extreme !! Now you’re doing the max and ooh! It’s inside ya keeping you hyper
Shoot you out of your cloud like a mystic sniper
Now all those non-believers we’ll flatten
With future patterns due to split the atoms
Vibes causing symphonic spasms; and baby’s having secret orgasms
It’s a wild world that we live in
You step to the vibe like a new found religion
Take your position, compile your vision futurism, algorithm has risen up!
As we make your mind corrupt
And I can feel this mystic vibe come creeping, creeping, creeping up
We bring the beats that bang and beats make your mind explode
Sounds to set your mind in mode
PFM gonna flick the switch and switch to overload
So as we drift away, away we drift
And I know now you can see clearly through the mystic.

 

‘The Western’ original 12” picture sleeve (1995) / PFM ‘The Remixes’ picture sleeve feat. Mike’s Ricochet Mix (2003/04)

 

Mike PFM’s Conrad tribute

 


14. Blu Mar Ten (feat. MC Conrad – live) – B.R.O

 

 

It had been a while since I listened to this track, so hearing it on my show was a bit of an emotional moment, that really caught me off-guard!

According to Mixed in Key and the Camelot wheel (AKA the circle of fifths), the root note of ‘B.R.O’ is A Minor: The impact that this key has on emotion is “Sad, but with tenderness”. Well, there you go!

 

 

Also regarding ‘B.R.O’, let’s clear something up… If you missed this Q&A, from Reddit in 2013…

Q. Rumour had it ‘B.R.O’ stood for “Bukem Rip-Off”?
A. “… that is a true story. it’s partly called that (‘B.R.O’) because it had fragments of Atlantis in it, and also that we always considered it a really unimaginative good looking-esque roller – a rip off of the Bukem sound, as it were. Hence BRO… It came out years after we wrote it. It was done in 97/98, something like that and didn’t come out until 2001 or something, long after we’d left GLR.” – Chris Marigold from Blu Mar Ten:

This was the first tune on my tribute show to feature Conrad sparring with DRS on the mic. These two gifted MCs, holding court, live on stage, flanking a Bukem, Blame or Rantoul spun DJ set, was a sight to behold! Conrad and Del delivering words to be heard and engaging their audience. I have a few great memories of such captivating occurences.

 

DRS & Conrad, 1998

 

Check this 1999 Recording of Blame, Conrad & DRS at one of the legendary Progression Session nights at the Shepherds Bush Empire, London here.

“I take my hat off to Del, he’s put so much work into this culture since we first met” – Conrad on DRS, 2021

 

DRS’ Conrad tribute

 


15. Seba (feat. MC Conrad – Live) Camouflage

 

 

I know at least two great friends, Simon and Paul, that would definitely list this recording, from the first Progression Sessions, in their top 3 favourite Bukem & Conrad moments.

For a start, the track ‘Camouflage’ by Seba, is a haunting masterpiece! It’s on its own level of depth, with an excellent, forever thickening layer of breakbeats. The tune evolves and progresses throughout. On the PS live recording, Conrad embellishes the atmospherics with a layer of whispers and breathy vocals that combine perfectly with the music to create a dream-like, subconscious feel, creating an almost meditative listening experience.

Around 1998 – 2002, my pal, Simon (ESPER) and myself were getting together most Friday nights to hang out and enjoy listening to Drum & Bass, while practicing our mixing and working out sets. We’d spend the week hunting down D&B records in Manchester town centre. We’d get new releases from HMV and Eastern Bloc. Our favourite place for finding second-hand, mid 90s, ‘golden era’, atmospheric cuts was from a trader called George, who sold records from the back of Dr Hermans, the shop you went to if you needed a new bong, or multi-coloured skins. Over the years, ESPER and I unearthed some absolute D&B gold / Jungle classics from that shop! Our other favourite place was The Vinyl Exchange, where we found many promos. I still go to the Vinyl Exchange today; I love chatting records with the manager, Russ, and Dave who looks after the D&B section in there. I recently found out where all those promos came from… every week The Vinyl Exchange boss at that time would hire a van, drive down to London, and go direct to the offices of Muzik Magazine, DJ Mag, Jockey Slut (Jockey Slut moved from Manchester to London when it was sold in 2000), were the Vinyl Exchange staff would buy all the promos that the mags had just reviewed, then load up the van and head back up the M1.

 

 

I got so many D&B promos from the Vinly Exchange back then! ESPER and I would catch up each Friday to play each other the nuggets we’d found that week. It was almost competitive, but it was also healthy, because as a DJing duo we were on the same team. Esper would play my records and I would play his.

I look back on those times fondly. This was a time when owning your vinyl bangers came from hard work, from beating the streets. Luck came into it; you had to be in the right shop at the right time. A time before Discogs, when a hard to find record was hard to find! We’d entered a scene where a lot had already come before us; maybe 5 years worth of Jungle and D&B releases. So, many of these records had long left the shelves. This was also before YouTube, when to know the track you had to hear it in the club, on the radio, on a mixtape, or your mate owned the record. For us, as DJs, this was also a time before CDs, never mind USBs. You had to have the vinyl record!

A holy grail was a holy grail! At this time I can remember two ‘holy grail’ records that I yearned for; Blu Mar Ten vs. Erykah Badu ‘You Got Me’ and Seba’s ‘Camouflage’.

 

 

One night ESPER calmly told me “Dan, I’ve got Camouflage”. He wasn’t talking about  Stan Ridgeway either! Because earlier that week, ESPER had bumped into our friend and local legend, Chris Jam (of the Jam MCs and Konspiracy) outside the Vinyl Exchange. Chris was about to go in and exchange some records, ESPER asked him if he was selling anything interesting… That was when Chris kindly gave him the copy of ‘Camouflage’. I remember being impressed that Chris was on the Good Looking Records promo mailing list. Chris gave us guestlists to catch him play the back room at Electric Chair in The Music Box. He also gave me my first public DJ slot, playing a set alongside himself and ESPER at Manchester’s iconic Dry Bar, more about that here.

 

Seba’s Conrad tribute

 


16. The Repeat Offenders – She’s A Mystery (Con*Natural & Paul SG´s Certain PPL D&B Remix)

 

 

I can’t write too much about this track, as I can’t remember how it came to me. It’s a collaborative remix done in 2015 by Conrad & Paul SG.  It resurfaced purely through doing this tribute show. I really like the production on it, and The Repeat Offenders’ vocal hooks have really caught me since listening back to it.

 

 


17. Nookie (feat. MC Conrad & DRS) – The Breeze

 

 

This was the tune that I most wanted to hear during the tribute show. I hadn’t heard it for years! It featured on Logical Progression Level 2, presented by Blame in 1997. Nookie’s ‘The Breeze’ only appeared on the mixed CD compilation release, so it never saw vinyl! I find that strange, as for me, it’s invocative of the ’97 vibe, with that bassline and swing. It also takes me back to the infamous Modern Times documentary. This programme aired on the BBC, the week I’d left home to live in Manchester and study at university, it made a big impression on me. Incidentally, there was also another documentary that was pulled just before it was due to be aired on national TV in the UK. That finally resurfaced a few years ago. So here is Hey Good Looking, the other fly-on-the-wall documentary.

 

Logical Progression Event Flyer, 1997

 

Blame’s Conrad tribute

Nookie’s Conrad tribute

 


18. Makoto feat. MC Conrad – Merchant Blessing

 

 

From Makoto’s ‘Tomodachi Sessions’ LP on Hospital, 2019.

Due to time constraints, and wanting to play several more Conrad tunes, I only played half of this track. Regrettably, I switched it out before Conrad went deep and meaningful. Listen to the full song here

I went down a rabbit hole with trying to get these lyrics typed!

 

My feelings, my meanings
My secrets, my deepest, oh
My sickness, my peace in
My highs and, my hopes and my dreams
(repeats)
Just sail away
Sail away, sail away
Let your soul travel far
They don’t know where you are
And you’ll find your way
Sail away, sail away
Just let your inner feelings reach for soul
Better dig deep to find out just who you are
Just sail away, sail away
We’re on a mission, we’re in soul
Come on let it go
The others will find their way
Find their way
??? ??? mysteries ??? ???
They don’t know
??? ??? ???
You may not like how I roll
As though it’s dark in the room
So when I want you to know
??? ??? ???
When it all looks too easy, for…
My feelings, my meanings
My secrets, my deepest, oh
My sickness, my peace in
My highs and, my hopes and my dreams
(Repeats)
Sinkin’ in my deep end
Like so-called trendy friends
You get fair weather at the weekend with
So many turns and bends
Too many moving parts
Turn passion into pounds
In exchange for art
But it tears lives apart
Some wager hard on it
Suddenly your part of that poison
You was ??? smitten ??? parts
??? to avoid the plague
Somebody spilled the inkwell
Ruined the first page
That trust we built ???
That file’s unsafe
The model ship sail rocket thrust engaged
You’re blessed, that cool name
To last you lifetime
The concept for free
??? in my spare time
The way that we became
We’re blessed when we’re onstage
The innocent unchained
The beauty you unmade
The voice for game played on ???
It’s all good
It’s all blessed
I wish you weren’t in my dreams
About the ??? the label
??? played for agents
Hold tight, the pressure
is ??? It will make you
Unjustified hesitation
Acknowledge with your frustration
And never make good relations
While I’m telling you ???
I could be rippin and kickin and tearin
I feel they thinking while I’m ???? ???
I’m loving most of it
When all I want the most’s for you to know that there’s a lesson
In the journey that we have been on
You’re gonna be ???
You may not like how I roll
A storm is coming through
So when I walk to the room
??? ??? ??? freely
When it all looks too easy, for
My feelings, my meanings
My secrets, my deepest, oh
My sickness, my peace in
My highs and, my hopes and my dreams
(Repeats)

 

Sounds like Conrad was exercising a few demons on this!

 

Makoto’s Conrad tribute

 


19. MC Conrad & Makoto – Golden Girl

 

 

If you weren’t in love with either this tune, or with a real, elusive ‘golden girl’, then you weren’t doing 2005 right!

Romantic Drum & Bass! Who knew?

 

There’s something about you,
I wanted to tell you but I don’t know how to
you caused me to react now am I supposed to?
Act when your around girl… if you want to,
We could choose to when we do, what we do.
I’ve got self esteem in to get close to
got me insecure I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to
feel you, please you, touch you,
I don’t know if I really know you.

There’s definitely something about you
now that I found you
Should I let go, or should I hold you?
I don’t know if I really know you.

Should I hold you?
Show you…
not really sure if I’m supposed to,
I don’t know if I reallly know you.
There’s definitely something about you,
baby.. now I found you
Should I let go or should I hold you
Show you…
I don’t know if I really know you…

 

On his God Is No Longer A DJ blog, Spyros sums up these lyrics very eloquently…

“Conrad’s unparalleled lyrical talents elevate the vocal version to a timeless classic. Poetic, reflective and unbearably romantic, this is the d&b equivalent of a love song, which evokes an ocean of emotions and although I’ve a pretty good idea about the dramatic essence of the lyrics, I’ll leave them open to interpretation. Perhaps, a fervent romance so intense that was doomed to end in tears, a man head over heels struggling to find the courage to confess his unreciprocated love, an ode to the personal muse, the golden girl…”

I love how there’s no mention of the ‘golden girl’ within the lyrics themselves. So, the lyrics and emotion could apply to any unrequited love. In my case, back then it would have been ‘ginger girl’, although that doesn’t quite have the same ring to it!

Here’s an anecdote, regarding the copy of ‘Golden Girl’ that I played on my tribute show… For the ease of doing a live radio show, I prefer playing digital. But, on the day of this tribute show, I couldn’t find a digital version of ‘Golden Girl’ anywhere! Never mind a WAV. Criminally, Golden Girl isn’t on Spotify or iTunes either! So, I resorted to having my vinyl copy to hand. After all, how could I not play Golden Girl on a Conrad tribute show? But, this copy tells it’s own little story… Around 2008, one morning, at 9am, I was having a coffee and a Skype convo with the Voice of Reason, the Original I-ON-ING Psycho, Mr. Tony Fordham, who was instructing me, “Daaan, you need to get on a train, go to Grimsby, visit Mr Male’s warehouse, and do a stock take for Mr Wells at Nu Urban. Oh, and help yourself to anything missing from your collection!”. So about 4 hours later, I’m climbing up shelves and counting pallets of unsold records, CDs and tapes. Other than a live gig, this was the best day’s ‘work’ that I did while at Good Looking. It was definitely the most rewarding too, as two massive boxes containing one copy of every release and format (apart from the very early releases), was sent to my home in Manchester the very next day. I found a few nuggets in that warehouse too, most notably, one 12″ single, the last copy of ‘Golden Girl’!

‘Golden Girl’ had been released a couple of years earlier in 2004 (promo) and 2005 (with artwork sticker). This was before the arse had completely fallen out of vinyl sales, and before digital distribution had gained any real momentum. However, I think my copy was actually a return, due to an audible issue at the very start of the track. But I’m not complaining, the ‘‘Golden Girl’ vinyl is like gold dust now!

 

Makoto, LTJ Bukem & MC Conrad at Fabric, 2006. Photo by Northern Groove

 

I’ve been a huge fan of Makoto since his first release ‘Wave’ / ‘Jupiters Field’  (as Mokoto), on Good Looking Records’ sister label, Nexus Records.

So, when I started working at Good Looking in December of 2006, not long after I took the photo above, Makoto had only recently left the label. However, we still had yet to release his brilliant second album ‘Believe In My Soul’.  I was doing press and promo for this, I found the whole situation very awkward, to say the least!

 


20. Intense – Wastelands (Live feat. MC Conrad & DRS)

 

 

From Logical Progression Level 3 (1998), I wanted to play either ‘Wastelands’ or ‘Afterlife’ on the show. I bought the vinyl on the week of release from Piccadilly records, and then later bought the CD for the incredible live recordings that feature on CD 1.

 

 

Unfortunately, I didn’t go to see Intense perform this live session at Guidance, at Sankeys Soap in Manchester. . . But I have it on good authority that Intense, alongside Conrad & DRS, with DJ sets from Bukem, Blame and Seba, were unbelievable that night! Because I’d soon become friends with three attendees of that very show; namely, Simon (ESPER), Marcel and Jass. They’ve been great friends of mine since around then. Together, they studied music production at Spirit Studios in Manchester. These three guys were so passionate about sound and music that it was intense! Sonic adventures were to be had…

With Simon, it all really started when I bumped into him in town, not long after we’d met through another friend who was visiting Manchester. Simon had just bought Blu Mar Ten’s beautiful ‘Everglades’ EP from HMV. I’d also bought this very record the previous day. I was in town to collect my hi-fi amp that had just been serviced. So I invited Si back to mine to spin his new records. From that moment, we’d practice mixing Drum & Bass records at every opportunity, often plotting our sets long into the night, armed with a crate of Stella, a pack of Cutters Choice and a taxi-bag of inspiration. Together we also produced tracks as The Future Cosmonauts. Yep, we loved the Future Engineers!

When it came to going to see Bukem, Conrad, Blame and DRS do their live thing, the man like Jass became my gigging partner. We’d travel up and down the country, and often into Europe to catch Progression Session shows; Melkveg in Amsterdam and Off Corso in Rotterdam spring to mind. At my favourite club, The End, in London, we made friends with producers, Cedar, Pete Rann and Vincent. Jon Cedar would kindly get us guestlists each month. Then, by the time of Bukem’s Fabric residency, I was working at the label, through which we’d meet more heads; Furney, LOCKSMITH, Blade, Paul SG, soulTec, Jrumhand, and the GLO community crew. Top people and good times!

 

Mark Halflite, Jass, Ben B-Pro, myself, Ant soulTec & Matt Jrumhand, in Farringdon, 2010

 

In my friend, Marcel’s case, I helped him to promote his and Simon’s label and events, ‘Bubbles Nation’, in Manchester. I was dishing out copies of their new vinyl EP to local DJs such as Mr Scruff and Jason Boardman. But I also handed a copy to Danny Bukem at The End, in 2003. I’d written my daft email address on the plain white sleeve. I remember Danny and Fabio pointing at my email address and grinning. Anyway, Danny emailed me back the next week saying that he wanted to release the track ‘Superfuzz’ on the next Earth compilation, so did I have any further info? He also played the track on his monthly Cosmic Show.

 

 

Sadly though, there never was an Earth Vol.8, but this instance was my introduction to, and the start of my connection with Danny and eventually Tony and Conrad.

 

Progression Sessions at The End, December 2003

 

Pig & Dan’s Conrad tribute

 


21. PHD & MC Conrad – Progression Session

 

 

1997’s ‘Progression Session’ is like a fine wine, it’s a deep and velvety vintage, with good legs. Aylesbury’s finest on the buttons; MC Conrad, alongside Patrick PHD, whose credits consist of several seminal atmospheric essentials. I got this record when I received my student grant and ordered a pile of 12″s from the Good Looking mail-order catalogue. A smart move!

An MC Conrad vocal version also features on Vocalist 01

 


22. Big Bud feat. MC Conrad – Words 2B Heard Meets Transmission

 

 

When Big Bud’s ‘State Of Mind’ / ‘Transmission’ 12” came out in 1999, I thought these tracks were very different and fresh. To me, the beats and sounds within where uniquely Good Looking, they didn’t sound like Moving Shadow, or Creative Source tunes.

 

Big Bud ‘State Of Mind’ / ‘Transmission’ 12″ Sleeve. Design by N. Purser

 

By then I was completely and utterly hooked! I was sold by the whole Good Looking sound and identity. 

The Big Bud record sleeve above is one of my favourite designs by N. Purser.

Between 1997 to 2000, I was studying Printed Textile Design (BA Hons) at Mancheser Metropolitan University. I took a lot of inspiration from this sleeve, and other record label designs for music packaging. I wrote my dissertation on this very subject. With labels like Good Looking Records, Warp Records, Mo Wax, Ninja Tune, and especially the artwork of The Future Sound Of London releases, for me, this was a very special time in design and artwork for music.

Also at Good Looking at this point in time, was G. Jones. Together, both Gareth and Nick worked wonders from the art department at the Good Looking Records office in Watford. They established such a strong graphic ID for the label(s).

 

Gareth & Nick in the GLR Offices, Watford, ’99-ish

 

I’m such a big fan of their work that I’ve spent the last 10 years replacing all the white label promos in my collection with the full artwork versions!

Those gatefold EPs were the insect’s elbows!

 

Future Engineers – Technetium EP gatefold centre. Design by G. Jones

 

More recently, Gareth’s studio has been doing the artwork for Conrad’s Resonance label here.

While over the last year, Nick has been creating Instagram posts from his studio, that provide insight about his Good Looking Records sleeve designs, and his artwork for other related music releases, here.

 

Big Bud’s Conrad tribute

Nick Purser’s Conrad tribute

Gareth Jones’ Conrad tribute

 


23. LTJ Bukem feat. MC Conrad – Orchestral Jam (Vocal 12″ Mix)

 

I bought this record from the Vinyl Exchange the week I moved to Manchester. I had it on repeat, for Bukem’s swirling string arrangements that complimented Conrad’s dextrous lyrical delivery. Heady and heavy stuff!

 

It’s all a matter of opinion
Can’t make no judgement, it’s all a matter of mystics
And we ain’t pausing, we’re causing the main logistics
Can’t make no judgement, it’s all a matter of pride
You love the way that we drift, the way that we glide
Can’t make no judgement, it’s all a matter of fact
We roll out that makes you react
Can’t make no judgement, it’s all a matter of mystics
And you know we ain’t pausing
We’re causing the main logistics
Can’t make no judgement, it’s all a matter of pride
As we push the vibe inside

Can’t make no judgement, it’s all a matter of opinion
I like our thoughts to be heard by millions
Aint no progress without a struggle
And I’m watching the rats leave the pot to watch the pot bubble
But quick on the double it’s down to a simmer
Cooking up your mind to deliver a winner
In a… second, a glance, a flash in a shimmer
We make you shiver, our sound blessed a sinner

Sublimity energy keeps on building
God bless the path of the musical children
Walking the step of change going forward bound
Our music’s taking you to higher ground
I have found the deeper we go the higher then we climb
Making progress in your mind
Getting in tune with the powers of the mystical flow
Something I’ve got to see, got to do, got to know… Yo!!

When money speaks the truth keeps silent
But you don’t need no money for the true enlightenment
Already hyped up psyched up ready for combat
Do something logical, you say how they do that?
Mad skills on the borderline, but all cope
And if you take a big mouth full you’ll always choke
And I don’t need no daddy to line up the pocket
Cos logical freestyle profile programmed to rocket
Won’t stop it till a man’s begging mercy on his knees
And baby can’t recover cos she feels relieved and pleased
I will flip and balance all that is lopsided
Already decided how the music’s gonna be provided
Wide accessed worldwide
Keep it real and the feel’s got to be live
Thought you were smart in the dark you can’t hide
Cos your programme’s crashed and your access’s denied

Can’t make no judgement, it’s all a matter of pride
You love the way that we drift, the way that we glide
Can’t make no judgement, it’s all a matter of mystics
And you know we ain’t pausing
We’re causing the main logistics
Can’t make no judgement, it’s all a matter of fact
We make it harder like that, hard to hold back
Harder for you not to react

Can’t make no judgement
It’s all a matter of opinion
Our music’s taking you high taking you low
Our flows got ripples like h2o
And you have got to be able and willing
Filling your mind with rhythm
Gotta keep you moving keep you singing
Bringing the message across gilding
Those that are lost in time and space
You’re climbing at your own pace
Bass is your main reactor music the main factor
We’ve got the knack to make you listen
Release all that’s within
Let the process begin link the yang with the yin
Now natures doing its thing
And I pick up my pen and mix my words
To paint my picture choose the shade of my emotion
Add the colour to my scripture
Feed the paper words of rhythm
Vital to the vision the words are always twisting
But logical’s the rhyme mission
Cos logical is as logical does
And logical never was a was
Cos logical is the fixed buzz
And you can’t make no judgement
It’s all a matter of mystic
And we aint pausing, we’re causing the main logistics

‘Orchestral Jam’ also features on LTJ Bukem featuring MC Conrad – Progression Sessions.

 


24. Unglued feat. MC Conrad – Born In 94

 

 

I’m so glad I opted to play this track to end the session with. It was a very last second decision! It brings things full circle; a very fresh track, with a nod towards the start of Conrad’s MCing jorney. It underlines Conrad’s influence on the new generation of fans and producers. Unglued, who was born in 1994, samples the opening lines from the start of LTJ Bukem’s Dreamscape 8 tape, recorded on New Years Eve, 1993.

When Conrad asks and informs…

“Anyone got the time?… It’s about ‘alf past eleven, we’ve got ‘alf an hour of hardcore power, before we go into 1994 and into the year for hardcore…”
“Grab a girl, grab a pen, grab a spliff do whatever makes ya feel nice!!”

Listen to their full Dreamscape 8 set here.

 

 


Con*Technical

I thought I’d use this space to place a few images that illustrate Conrad’s technical approach. He didn’t just rock up with an SM58. Far from it! I hope this section shows just how devoted to his sound and performance the man was.

Conrad answering tech Qs about the echo effect on his mic…
(Screen-grab taken from the Long live beautifully crafted Jungle! Facebook group in 2021)

 

Conrad on his hands-free mic set up, 1998-ish

 

From Shelley Deeizm’s Instagram

 

GLO Sound Specs, 2007…

(Click on images to expand)

 

The images above are a couple of pages taken from Bukem & Conrad’s 2007 technical riders. They were designed by Levi (AKA DJ Blade), with all of the relevant info and input supplied by Conrad. At this time Levi was doing all the Good Looking artwork, freelance through his Dandelion Worldwide company.  There were other ‘GLO Sound Spec’ variants available, depending on a venue’s DJ booth or stage facilities.

The staged setting above is more or less how the Bukem in Session residency at Fabric was set up…

 

LTJ Bukem, MC Conrad & Moose, at Fabric, Room 2, October 2007. Photo by Northern Groove

 

 

MC Conrad at his mixer, at Fabric, Room 2, November 2007. Photo by Northern Groove

 

 

 


A Timeline

I read of Conrad’s passing first thing on Tuesday morning, someone had shared the news on the Atmospheric Drum & Bass Revival Facebook group. I was one of the first people to see the post and I was like, WTF?! There was nothing online anywhere else about this terrible news. Confirmation from a reliable source soon came though. Things have been difficult since. It was horrible having to text a couple of close friends, to ask if they knew, and if not, to tell them the sad news. Like many people, I was in shock. I found some solace in writing down my thoughts, in a kind of eulogy passage that I posted on Facebook and Insta, here. It was quite personal, but then I did know Conrad personally. I’ve been surprised by how many likes and shares that post has had, I really didn’t expect that! I had to take the day off self-emloyed work, as I simply couldn’t concentrate on anything else other than trying to process the news, and think of Conrad. I knew the outpouring of sadness, love, respect and admiration would be huge. It was! The algorythm on my facebook and insta feed, generated by many connected Drum & Bass heads, was overwhelming.

Here are two posts that have really resonated with me:

 

Taken from a post on the Atmospheric Drum & Bass Revival Facebook group.

 

By EKTO1

 

EKTO1, Miff to his friends, had recently been working on live projects with Conrad. I first met Miff about 6 years ago, in the garden of my Dad’s house, as he was dating my step sister for a while. You can imagine our convos… they started with ‘Drum’ and ended with ‘Bass’. Shoutout to Miff, your words here are so on point.

The tributes poured down my feed all morning. In the afternoon The Guardian dropped a decent orbituary here. Many fans of Conrad, and Drum & Bass, shared their thoughts, memories and Conrad tunes throughout the day. I wanted to offer more myself, so I posted some photos and words, here and here. I thought these would provide something unique and fitting. They were well received.

That night I met up with my mate, Paul McGuire, for a pint and a catch up at The Hillary Step in Whalley Range. In the early naughties Paul worked in the press department at the Good Looking offices in Watford.

 

 

Later, in around 2007, I would work online at Good Looking myself, where I became LTJ Bukem’s Press Officer and GLO Community Officer (‘Socials’, as we would say today). Eventually, I would work there as Label Coordinator, scheduling the Good Looking vinyl releases. This was after a period of company restructure. I was working remotely from Manchester, regularly emailing and Skypeing the team; the legal depart, Remi in events, Levi was doing artwork, Danny was based in Watford and Tony was operating from his bunker in Germany.

So, Paul and I sank a few bevvies, reminisced and shared anicdotes involving all things GLO. This get together really helped our frame of mind. Three pints down, and on the walk home from the pub, my thoughts turned to my BassDrive radio show the following day. What the fuck was I gonna do for that? I decided there and then that it had to be a Conrad Tribute show. I couldn’t just do a regular show. So then it was midnight and I was pulling out records and ripping Progression Sessions CDs.

 

On the Wednesday DJ Trace, who essentially introduced Conrad to Bukem, posted this update on his Facebook page. accompained by two landmark sets that he’d just uploaded to YouTube.

 

“… I first met Conrad in early 1991 at Telepathy, Marshgate Lane, in London. He was dancing on top of a massive speaker, throwing shapes. I chatted with him and got his number. Over time, we became friends, and he sorted me out with a few gigs in Buckinghamshire. This upload was our first live set together; it was at an event called Energize thrown by a DJ called Rylo on a farm near Gerrards Cross in the summer of 1991. When I heard about the party, I called up Bukem, who I had been hanging with, and told him to come down. This was the first time Conrad and Bukem met and also did an impromptu set together, and the rest is history.” – DJ Trace, 2024

‘DJ Trace & MC Conrad Live at Energize 1991’

“& the first ever Bukem & Conrad set, from 1991″…

‘LTJ Bukem & MC Conrad Live at Energize 1991’

 

Next on this timeline of events came Bukem’s message…

 

 

 

 

Then the next day, I read this piece in Mixmag. Nicely written by Marcus Barnes, I really liked how Marcus told Conrad’s story from the early days; his influences, associations and the landmark events, thoughout his 30 year career in Jungle / Drum & Bass. There was one particular line in this article that made me smile…

 

“Conrad was a widely loved character in the d’n’b community thanks to his positive persona; always laughing and joking, friendly and kind.”

 

When I started getting to know Conrad, through the ‘Bukem in Session’ events I was documenting at Fabric, I don’t think I ever forced myself into Conrad’s space with my cameras, when recording video footage or taking stills. At the events themselves, Con was always in the zone. He was so obviously professional, when it came to his performance, and his standards in sound.

To be truthful, thinking back to that time, I don’t think Conrad was in the best of places. I definitely got a frustrated vibe from him, so I thought the last thing he needed was this lad, me, getting in the way.

Between 2007 and 2009, I took many hours of video footage, mainly at Fabric, but also at Ministry Of Sound, Stylus in Leeds, and other venues in Liverpool and Manchester. This is probably my favourite video from my archive, it was on the ‘goodlookingTV’ Youtube Channel that I administrated for a while, but was taken down about 10 years ago.

 

Bukem in SESSION at Fabric – Jan 2008 Part.1. Track: ‘True Believers’ by Furney. Video by Northern Groove

 

The sound quality aint no great shakes, but this was tape. I used what was available. Conrad was recording the audio of all the monthly Bukem in Session shows at Fabric. He was making two seperate recordings each time, one of Bukem’s mix, the other of his vocals. They are out there on discs somewhere. I’d love to put them together, over the video footage I took!

As Miff has said so eloqently, Conrad “…poured his love, passion, strength, fragility, frusatration, positivity and higher sense into his art”. Towards the end of my time working at Good Looking, the end of Conrad’s time there too, I could sense the tensions and feel his frustrations. Nowhere is it more evident than on this recording…

 

 

I was unaware of this recording, until a friend mentioned it to me the other night. I was blown away by Conrad once more! Just listen to Conrad’s words right through. He’s letting it all out! He’s being very honest about himself and his situation at that time. Regarding the subject matter of money, and of the cicumstances and frustrations at Good Looking back then, in hindsight I could also relate!

So we had an instrumental version of this track scheduled for release in 2009 / 2010. I was aware of this Test Pressing, and I’d also heard the live version, recorded for the ‘Bukem In Session Live at Exit Festival 2007’ DVD, that I’d spent a lot of time and effort trying to release while working at Good Looking.

However, the studio recorded & mixed version (above) had somehow completely eluded me, until now! So I had to message Danny Bukem, while on a tour of the US, to ask if this track had been released since I’d left the label. He replied shortly after saying “mad u just sent me this, I just played this an hour ago in a club and gave a little speech” .

This vocal version has never been released.

So, I’m glad Conrad was in a better place through the last years, months and weeks of his life. As many of his friends from within the D&B scene have said since his passing…

 

Makoto & Conrad, 2023

 

Through his Resonance label output, and his colaborations with Miff, Paul SG, Makoto and Nookie…

From Conrad’s recent appearance with Fabio & Grooverider…

 

 

To his encounters with on the road with many other legends in the game…

Goldie’s Instagram post…

 

Got off the phone with the lads yesterday, it’s like. It’s none fuckin stop .. and way way too much, and much much too young … your contribution to the music and your #vibes was just different class …. Just so glad we got to speak in the summer you were in such a great place…. Rest in power #conrad ️️️♥️…. Always in our hearts . Goldie @metalheadzmusic family

 

If you missed it, this UKF Conrad interview is worth a read. This is a very honest and frank Conrad speaking. Here’s a paragraph that I find rather poignant…

 

“I was in love with the music and still am. But I had this lyric I’d often say… “There’s a twisted kind of pleasure from the pain riddled with toil.” That kinda puts it in a glass crystal. A lot of pain, a lot of painful expression and I’m grateful to the platform to be able to deliver that but I’m also reminded that pain wasn’t good for my health. It almost aligns itself with self harm or drug miss-use. All these things that people do to soothe souls the wrong way.” – MC Conrad, interviewed in 2021

 

A further, unpublished article, by Marcus Barnes was posted on his own ‘Music Is The Answer’ website: RIP MC Conrad: An Unpublished 2021 Interview.

 


 

On a personal note, the last conversation I had with Conrad was something special. I took a call from him, after accidentally deleting his shared Resonance promo Dropbox folder! “Daan! Why’ve you deleted my tunes?” We had a long catch up, it was a convo that I’ll always remember and hold dear. In amongst the many topics we covered, I told Conrad that I was having a crisis of confidence. That I was uneasy with the demands of this social media centred world that we were all now living in; about endless obligations, pressures and commitments…  such as pushing my DJ events, venues and agents. Promoting my weekly D&B show and my self imposed duty to maximise exposure for the artists and labels I was playing. Or holding back from posting about some of the incredible journeys I’d been on recently, working as a driver for my friend and DJ, Greg Wilson.

Through my time working with Conrad at Good Looking, he understood me and my frustrations. Through doing my Northern Groove D&B shows, he knew I was still deeply passionate about this music. I’d often quote him when something was “Sooo good … to shout about it!”.

With my confidence crisis, Conrad offered me some kind advice, at the crux of it was, “You’ve just gotta play the game, Dan!”

He suggested I should be shouting about my DJ adventures and taking selfies with the music legends I was meeting on the road. After all, He wanted to know where I was and what I was doing.

With regard to promoting my D&B shows, Conrad reminded me of the tracklists I’d been posting after my shows. This was during Covid, when I had more time to spend on admin while I’d been furloughed; this was a time when I was playing many of his new Resonance releases on my show and was able to represent these releases more. Conrad was then sharing my tracklists and raising awareness for my shows! This meant so much. Nobody else was doing that. He also made me admin of his Resonance PR Facebook group, where he was building a good community of people who shared his vibes. But when lockdown and my furlough ended, my day job and regular commitments took precedent again.  So my show went back to its low maintenance admin operation.

But recently, thanks to Conrad, I’ve been able to get back into the routine of doing my show, representing the artists, labels and releases more, via my tracklists, blog posts and through my channels. So I suppose I am playing the game again.

I don’t think Conrad would have minded me sharing this. He liked to give advice if he thought it could help you.

 


Final Thoughts…

A fortnight on and partly as a result of writing this post, I feel that I’ve been able process Conrad’s passing more. Speaking to friends has also helped. My thanks to Jass, Paul M, Miff, Rich, Paul SG, Christal, Pav, & Bobbywizz!

In the last two weeks, the Drum & Bass community has pulled together, because of the loss of one of its leading lights; the one and only MC Conrad.

Reading all the tributes, from the D&B Generals, down to the dance floor foot soldiers, has been a heart-warming experience, listening to Conrad’s associated music has been a cathartic exercise too.

I hope that this Conrad Tribute Session and my accompanying words have in some way helped you, in the same way that your tributes, memories and tune dedications have helped me.

Thank you!

And thank you, Conrad! Our poetic Master of Ceremonies. RIP.

X

Dan Soulsmith


14th May, 2024


Connect with Dan Soulsmith on instagram, twitter & facebook. Join the Northern Groove facebook group.


Producers & labels, if you would like your music to be featured on my Northern Groove D&B show, please send tracks via email to northerngrooove(at)hotmail(dot)com


bassdrive.com / bassdrive facebook / bassdrive twitter


 


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