When hearing the name Roni Size, founder of seminal British label Full Cycle, the word pioneer quickly springs to mind. He is an artist who distilled the very essence of British music, creating a fresh new genre in Jungle and transforming underground electronic music into a live, large scale affair, an effort which many producers have since replicated.
Growing up on Bristol’s Shaftesbury Avenue, an area of the city pulsing with the reggae played at Jamaican style blues dances, a young Roni became enamoured with the hedonistic vibe of the 80’s. After being expelled from school, he was encouraged to build a studio that came to be known as the Basement Project – a Bristol institution for many years. From here he became engrossed in the sound of Bristol - making dubplates for reggae sounds and cutting, scratching and sampling hip hop, funk and soul inspired by local crews 2Bad, City Rockers, Plus One, UD4, FBI and The Wild Bunch.
However he soon got swept up into rave culture – together with DJ Krust, DJ Suv and DJ Die, he began experimenting with sounds, realizing his favourite moments were present in breakbeats and sub bass. The crew built on that, and before they knew it, Jungle was born. Roni rode the same wave as contemporaries Goldie, LTJ Bukem and 4Hero – a completely novel wave full of rolling groove.
As jungle was exploding into the national consciousness, Roni founded his Full Cycle imprint. Often mentioned in the same breath as other iconic labels such as Good Looking Records, Metalheadz and RAM, the label was responsible for pushing drum n bass forward, incorporating the deeper sounds of jazz and soul with rolling sub-bass. Roni Size and Die’s seminal 1994 release ‘Music Box’ - sampling drums from James Brown and a vocal snippet from MC Lyte - is agreed to a record responsible for changing the scene. The Full Cycle family grew with the addition of artists like as Photek, Clipz, Heist and Tali, bringing records now regarded as classics.
Notable releases on Full Cycle are Roni’s own ‘Daylight’ (1995), sampling Roy Ayers; ‘Turn Dance’ from 1996 (Roni and Die under a new moniker); Die’s Reincarnation (1997) and ‘Clear Skyz’; Krust’s ‘The Last Day’; I-Kamanchi’s ‘Never Can Tell (It’s a Trap); the late 90’s jump-up of Bill Riley’s ‘Closing In’ and 2006’s ‘Good Old Days’ from Die & Clipz.
Reprazent, the band that emerged from the collective, achieved the almost impossible by forging a live act that had the respect of the drum’n’bass scene, whilst simultaneously reaching new ears on bigger stages. Roni and friends rode this wave for years – one foot each in the mainstream and the underground, winning The Mercury Prize in 1997.
These days, Roni is as hungry as ever – ready to redefine what drum’n’bass means ….