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Seani B talks to Rudy Ranx

BUCKING THE TRENDS: Rudy Ranx has been giving crowds a good time as a DJ for decades, and now presents a radio show where he shares the best reggae to an even larger audience – but the world of the DJ has changed since he got into it

AS A FULLY paid-up member of the DJ Union, I can say that my respect and admiration of my fellow colleagues knows no bounds (when warranted!).

Hearing a DJ at the top of their game can be exciting, invigorating and a challenge – just as it should be. I see it as an art form, and wanted to get the thoughts on that statement from my guest this week, legendary veteran DJ, selector, radio host and musician Rudy Ranx.

ENTERTAIN

“It always has been, from as far back as I can remember,” he pronounces confidently. “I can recall going out and seeing sound systems, whether big or small, and the whole concept was of being able to entertain a crowd of people for a period of time.

“Back then, there weren’t loads of DJs on a line-up – it was one man or one sound. You always had to think ahead of the crowd in order to keep them entertained.”

So what attracted a young man from west London – the youngest of seven siblings – to a life centred around music?

“Everything – I started this thing over 35 years ago. It was my sister and my cousin who got me into the love of music, and my dad,” he tells me.

“I remember the faithful gramophone in the front room where mum and dad had parties! I was the favoured one who played the music as a younger!

“Later in life my dad had a grip (suitcase) full of seven-inch records and he handed them over to me, which was a big deal. It felt like the passing of the baton.”

I (like many other West Indians of a certain age) can relate. The bygone era which saw emphasis placed on such values seem to be a thing of the past. However, changing eras and new styles aren’t something that faze Rudy.

“What we do isn’t as much of an art form nowadays. The DJ’s role changed to being a showman when the set-up moved from one deck to two turntables and a mixer and the creation of mixing and scratching.

“I was one of the first to use Technics 1200s turntables – you can ask Norman Jay! There weren’t videos to watch, so the aim was always to get better and nding the best and different music and introducing it to the public,” he tells me.
“I used to mix reggae and soul – back then there was soul sounds like Rapattack and Mastermind and we used to have musical face-offs. We would link up with the likes of Soul II Soul too. Everyone brought their own sound system, it was a special time.”

Norman Jay is one of the UK’s leading musical exponents, a true pioneer and someone who has been at the forefront of musical in- novation on radio and in clubs for decades with the Good Times Sound System. Rudy has been an integral part of that growth.

“In my teens, my friend and I had a sound which played on the South Acton estate every week and we always had other sounds that would come and play alongside us,” he recalls.

“One night we were doing a dance and we played with a sound called GT, which was run by Joey Jay, Norman’s brother, but Norman came that night. He played predominantly soul and it was a really good night.

“He liked what I did and asked me to join them – that was around 1981. Back then you had two musical routes – soul, which was emerging with a series of all- dayers, or reggae, which still had the house parties.

“We bucked the trend and started putting on our own events. We had a residency in Canning Town with the late, great Derek Boland. Norman and Good Times have spawned some legendary DJs and music industry professionals. Big up Norman and the crew.”

PROFICIENT

Rudy is also a talented musician, proficient in drums, guitar, keyboards and bass.
He still records for London-based Stingray Records now and has played bass on recording by the likes of Freddie McGregor, Morgan Heritage, Lukie D and more.

“Jamaica has always had an affliation with the UK feel for music. When you look back at some of the classic albums such as 1000 Volts of Holt, they sent the tapes over to UK for the special coating on top to make it extra sweet. The knowledge of the music that was prevalent in the UK was also important,” he says.

He brings this knowledge now to a weekly radio show.

“Radio is very important to me. I believe that radio shows who you are as a person musically. There is so much good reggae out there that I would like to give a platform to – and not just from JA or UK – you can hear good reggae music from as far out as Tonga or Fiji.

“The reggae market is very strong – the resurgence of the roots music with the likes of Chronixx, Protoje and the like has put it in good stead. Unfortunately we don’t get to see that showcase of talent enough, as Europe does.”

It’s Rudy’s selection, knowledge and the creativity that goes with it that makes him a special talent in a crowded market. There goes that word again, creativity. You just can’t go round it.

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