MDC interview#36 "Saint Acid (Bang Face)"
Saint Acid (Bang Face)
Bang Face is a regular electronic dance music event that has been taking place at various venues across the UK since 2003. Starting as a monthly club night in London, it has grown to include an annual three-day weekender at Southport, a boat party on the River Thames, as well as guest shows at festivals such as Glastonbury. In 2013 Bang Face celebrated its 10th birthday with DJ Mag stating BangFace [maintains] "the perfect blend of old skool rave and the finest contemporary leftfield sounds". In March 2015 Bang Face reached the milestone of 100 events by hosting the Weekender at Southport Holiday Park. Resident Advisor asked the question "Is Bangface the most unique rave out there?" and described it as a "Neo-rave utopia".
The influence of Bang Face is all over the world. Without their existence, I think the current music scene has changed. Bang Face told many people RAVE music and culture. As a result, RAVE came back to the music scene. And as long as Bang Face is there, it will remain forever.
It’s a season of Weekender soon. Music lovers from all over the world will gather over there.
I’m very lucky to have an interview with Bang Face's boss. This is a very interesting interview to look back on Bang Face and RAVE music in the 2000s.
Q.Please tell us about your birthplace and your age. Where are you based now?
I was born in London and I’m 44 now. I live not too far away in St. Albans. Saint Acid from Saint Albans ;)
Q.Since when are you interested in music? What records did you first buy with your own money?
What kind of music scene was there in your hometown?
The first music I listened to was Electro Pop and Punk in the 80s. As kids we just liked music that was fun. One day we’d be breakdancing on lino in garages, the next day we’d be dressing up as Adam Ant. The first album I remember buying was Adam And The Ants – Kings Of The Wild Frontier. I also remember being asked to sort the music for a mates 10th birthday party and buying Axel F and the Ghostbusters Theme on 7 inch. They went down very well! I guess this was my first ever DJ set. I also have memories of being the first person in the school to have a copy of Jack Your Body by Steve Silk Hurley and also Guns n Roses – Appetite For Destruction. I guess the influence of electronic and punk/rock is pretty much what Bang Face is all about! A lot of my childhood friends stayed involved in music and we were all the right age to experience the rave scene when it exploded in the UK in the early 90s. A few of my mates ended up getting signed to rave labels like Metalheadz and Moving Shadow.
Q.When did you start DJing? What kind of genre you playing at the beginning?
Well if you don’t count my DJ set when I was 10, I started properly in the mid-90s playing a mix of Electronica, Acid and Rave. I was at art college and used to organize parties at the student union and locally in pubs and bars. I also did student radio which was great because we’d get a FM licence for one month a year. It meant we could broadcast to a much wider audience around the North London area. We used to lock the studio shutters from the inside so they couldn’t kick us out and play all night!
Q.When did you learn about "RAVE"?
Please tell me about the RAVE you went to the first time. What has changed after experiencing RAVE?
My first memory of Rave Hardcore was when a mates’ older brother gave us a copy of 808 State – 90 on cassette. After hearing Cubik that was it! I’d never heard anything like it. I was hooked from that track on. I went to my first rave shortly after that. It was in chalk quarry in Thurrock and we went to see The Prodigy. It was amazing, the atmosphere was mind-blowing. I remember dancers from the stage coming out over the crowd in Zorbs – a strong influence!
Q.How did you get the RAVE information when SNS did not exist like modern times?
From flyers or word of mouth from friends. St. Albans is right on top edge of the M25 so it was very easy to get to the raves quickly by car. I remember getting my Dad to take us to a few before any of us could drive. I feel really bad about that even now!
Q.Have you been to RAVE other than UK? What is the characteristic part of UK RAVE?
I never went to rave outside the UK in the 90s so I don’t really know. Of course I’ve been to a few since Bang Face started and have done a few in Belgium and Netherlands myself.
Q.Have you organized a party or RAVE even before Bang Face?
Yes, Bang Face started in 2003 and I’d be organizing stuff for about 10 years before that. I guess they were all prototype BF events.
Q.Please tell me the top 3 of RAVE that you experienced.
Definitely the first rave I went to with The Prodigy that I mentioned before. Other ones that had a strong influence on me were gigs really – Orbital at Glastonbury and Aphex Twin in an old London prison. I forget the years but they would have been mid-90s.
Q.Between 1997 and 2000 did UK have a Big RAVE too? At that time, RAVE sound was not used much in the music scene.
Did there be a time when the RAVE / RAVE sound fell down in UK?
Yes I think rave as we know started to fade away in late 1993 and into 1994 when the Jungle scene started turning into the Drum n Bass scene. It became much more serious and ‘darker’ in tone. I did really enjoy that period though! We used to go to Metalheadz at Blue Note in London. It really felt like a significant shift in sound and the tunes there were incredible. It was an exiting time too because as I said a few mates were getting signed to DnB labels.
Q.Why did you start Bang Face? What is the first concept? What is the origin of the name "Bang Face"?
Bang Face started in 2003. For about a year before that I’d starting hanging around with mates from art college again and DJing at their events in Hackney. One time I decided to play a set with a full mix of different styles from my collection and it went down great. From there we did a few co-hosted nights and then I started Bang Face in a disused underground toilet in Shoreditch. It was free entry and just mates DJing. The name came out of what I called Saint Acid’s Newsletter that I used to send out to get friends out to raves again. I was DJing at 3 or 4 events in the same weekend and I just made up something silly in the newsletter – I said, ‘they’re calling it Bang Face, the birth of Neo-Rave’. I just used to say ridiculous stuff to annoy friends who were moaning about getting too old to go raving! From that it became Bang Face – A Neo-Rave Explosion of Acid, Jungle, Rave Hardcore, Drum & Bass, Breakcore, Bass, Techno and Electronica! – the styles I played in that DJ set. The fun stuff like costumes, inflatables, masks, banners, funny pictures had already been part of previous events but as soon as things took off and I had money from ticket sales I just starting spending the lot on all the extra fun stuff.
Q.Do you remember the situation of the club scene in London/UK in 2003? Do you think Bangface was fitted to the era then?
There wasn’t much happening in 2003 and I think that’s why I started Bang Face. From 2000 to 2003 we all finally woke up from basically 10 years at art college. I’d been working really hard doing animation and illustration projects and it felt like we’d got away from having fun and the right time to change that!
Q.Bang Face always books Breakcore artists. Is Breakcore a necessary element for Bang Face?
Yeah I think it is. The UK breakcore explosion happened at the same time as Bang Face so the two will always be linked I think. I’d been playing breakcore stuff in the year before Bang Face started and it was just a great way to finish off the set and see people go crazy. It’s funny because the sound has its origins in much earlier music. Alec Empire is often credited as an influence with his mid 90s stuff. I remember buying one of his records purely because they were always alphabetically next to the Aphex Twin records in the London shops!
Q.How many people work at Bang Face?
Bang Face is basically just me. For the Weekender Warren and Fran come in to help programme and organize everything. Of course loads of people help out at the events and especially the Weekender which is a big operation. I’m very grateful to them all.
Q.Bang Face made a showcase at the Glastonbury Festival in 2010. Did you feel the pressure?
That is actually one of my fondest memories. I don’t remember feeling any pressure, I just wasn’t sure how it would do down. Glastonbury had changed a lot from my first memories of the festival but it turned out to be an amazing party. It was in a relatively small tent but the sides were pulled up so it was almost open air. It was on the Thursday night so the festival wasn’t in full swing so loads of people turned up. The weather was amazing too. It’s hard to beat raving with the sun setting in the British countryside! I remember people who would never have come across Bang Face before seeing the banners for the first time and the look on their faces was priceless! It really was a proper party with an amazing atmosphere. We even made it into the mainstream press when The Telegraph listed us in the top 10 highlights of Glastonbury and above headliners, Muse!!
Q.Please tell me the memories of the first Weekender.
It’s strange because my memories of the first Weekender are pretty hazy. I think the sheer amount of effort and time put into that took its toll. I remember standing in the office above the main gates when they opened and seeing the first people walked in. I felt a massive sense of being overwhelmed. I just said out loud, ‘what have I done’. Although it was biggest Bang Face event at the time, I’d done the Glade Festival for 3 years prior to that so I knew what to expect and how to scale BF up and still retain the atmosphere from the smaller club events.
Q.Napalm Death appear in Bang Face Weekender 2018. Why did you book them? Did Raver enjoy their Live?
Napalm Death was a booking that I’d wanted for years but the tour dates never matched up with us. It felt like an obvious booking with all the influences you can hear in breakcore. I’d say it was one of the best Weekender sets ever. It reminded me of the energy when Atari Teenage Riot first played the Weekender. At Bang Face we developed our own style of mosh-pit which we call the mash-pit. It was great seeing a proper massive one for that set!
Q.What is the difference between RAVE in the 90's and RAVE in the 2000's? What are the good and bad aspects?
I think main difference is back then it was a pretty big social movement and of course it was new back then. I still think you can get the same atmosphere at raves now. That’s down to the music and the ravers themselves. That’s always been an important philosophy of Bang Face, that the Hard Crew are just as important as anything else in creating the right atmosphere. They have a responsibility to the maintain the vibe! J
Q.A showcase of "Japan Invasion" was held in Bang Face weekender 2017. How was their showcase?
That ranks as one of the best takeovers ever! The enthusiasm and energy was amazing. The Hard Crew really embraced it. It’s like everyone appreciated the effort and long journey everyone had made. It felt really special. They made a great mini documentary of their trip over which included a visit to a local supermarket which made the press after locals were scared of mask-wearing tourists!! J
Q.This is a difficult question, but what was the most wonderful Bang Face Weekender and regular Bang Face? Please tell me an unforgettable memory on your Bang Face.
I’m not 100% sure why but I have some very fond memories of the 2010 Weekender which was dinosaur themed and called ‘Juracid Park’. The theme really connected with the Hard Crew and Dave Skywalker did a great remix of the Jurassic Park theme tune. It was also the same year that a volcanic ash cloud grounded all European flights that week so it was a massive struggle to get everyone there. I think that made for a great party against all the odds! One of my unforgettable memories of the regular Bang Face parties was when Ragga Twins first performed with Luke Vibert. I’d contacted the Ragga Twins about doing a PA again after a long break. I had to meet them at their house and pick up the original backing track dubplates. I then went round to Luke’s to digitize them so he could build a set. It all came together and it was just a perfect rave moment. Seeing Luke with the Ragga Twins really summed up what Bang Face was all about, fusing music styles together and making unexpected connections!
Q.I think only Bang Face can request to The Prodigy for "Experience" set. Have you thought about booking The Prodigy or Liam Howlett?
Of course! I’ve asked many times but sadly the management control the bookings now. I did once have a link to Liam but it didn’t work out. The closest we’ve got is Leeroy once played a classics set for us.
Q.Why does UK have many wonderful festivals and RAVE culture? And always new dance music comes from UK. Why do you think?
That’s a very interesting question! I guess the UK has always had a strong music scene right from when music becoming a way of influencing society. Each generation seems to want to make a change. For my generation it happened to be rave. That was special because we were the first kids who got their hands on home computers. It made it much easier to create music without the need for a studio or even a band. Rave made a big a impression on society and got a lot of people worried. I suppose they were scared of people having too much fun!
Q.What is your future goals?
I think just to keep the Bang Face dream alive and Bang Face Japan of course! Let’s make it happen J
Q.Please give the message to readers.
There is only one message!