DJ H – The Bass Project EP

VFS006

DJ H ‘The Bass Project’ EP –  Originally released on Dance Force Records in 1993 – Vinyl Fanatiks 006.

Now this is a rare one! They dont come much rarer than this in the jungle world! One of the most expensive jungle records to purchase on Discogs.com, with prices starting at £300 for a poor condition copy!
DJ H was a 15 year old kid when he made this EP. His dad, Les Howlett, worked as a bouncer at Raindance and could see the potential in the up and coming Rave Scene, so he moved from London to Kings Lynn in East Anglia and set up a record shop, Dance Force Records. Inspired by his record shopping trips to Music Power in London he wanted to create something similar and build a brand, including a record label and in doing so, inspired his son, Danny, to start creating some tunes for his dads label.

DJ H signing the sleeves for the ‘Black Label’ reward

A local kid called Andy, who was a regular in the record shop had all the gear and Danny, working in his Dad’s shop, had all the samples and ideas! Together, in the back room of the shop, they started to experiment on an Amiga 500. 3-4 days later the track ‘Petruccio’ was created, Andy engineering all the ideas that the 15 year old Danny was conjuring up in his head! A short while later the flipside was made and Les Howlett had to make a trip up to The Exchange to get Simon to cut it. Unfortunately Danny and Andy didnt know about compression, mastering or how to mixdown a tune so Les had to persuade Simon to take on the job! Simon wasnt really keen on cutting it as it was a nightmare to work with but thankfully he persevered and a whole day later, the EP was finally mastered. Danny recalls how annoyed his dad was with him when he got home that night!

A handful of test presses were made and Danny remembers the time a customer came into the shop and said he had heard Cool Hand Flex playing ‘Petruccio’ on Kool Fm. Danny was blown away! That was the first time he had heard about his music being played on a pirate.

Around the same time Danny was DJing at an Under 18s rave in Stevenage alongside DJ Dougal. During the course of the night Dougal heard the young DJ H playing ‘Petruccio’ in his set and came up to him and asked what it was and when he found out that Danny had made it he asked if he could have a copy. But it was Danny’s only copy at this time and he didnt want to hand over the record, so he said NO!!! A decision that Danny still regrets to this day, as he believes that had he handed over the record that night, his EP would of been more commercially successful than it was. 

A few months later in 1993 Danny went down to a rave called ‘Love Of Life’ at the Kelsey Kerridge Sports Centre in Cambridge and this time went armed with a load of TP’s! Once bitten, twice shy! Frost and Slipmat were also playing so Danny tried to get Frost to play it but he refused. He didnt play tunes that he hadnt heard before. He then tried to blag Slipmat, who did decide to listen to it mid-set on his headphones and Danny recalls Slipmats response to hearing it: “How many fucking breakbeats have you got in here???” passing comment on how badly it was mixed down.Unfortunately Slipmat also refused to play it and Danny left feeling a bit rejected. 

Not long after some travelling distro company came into the Kings Lynn shop and Les handed a load of copies of the record to them for them to sell to the shops they supplied and the records were handed over ‘sale or return’. To Danny’s annoyance they never returned with the money or the records and that was the last they ever saw of them! Dejected, Les called time on the label and the ‘Bass Project’ EP slipped into obscurity, forgotten by most, including Danny! 

Danny reunited with his record 26 years after making it!

With the rise of the internet and Youtube the ‘Bass Project’ EP started to become something of a cult record, a rarity so obscure that huge amounts of money were changing hands for the limited copies still around, with copies presently on Discogs for up to £600! It wasnt until Danny decided a couple of years ago to look his record up on Youtube that he noticed the interest it had generated over the past 20+ years. He was blown away!

So, around January 2019, Vinyl Fanatiks steps in and after a few emails and a little bit of coaxing, we managed to persuade Danny to authorise us to reissue the EP for him. Unfortunately the masters are long gone and there was no other way to remaster the EP other than from a vinyl copy. But due to the problematic original mixdown it wasnt possible to release the record as it was. So we then spent months trying to source the original samples, though Danny couldnt remember many of them as it was so long ago! Once a good part of the samples were located we drafted in the old skool don that is Ellis Dee who painstakingly spent 21 hours (yes, you read that correctly, 21 hours!!!) layering the samples, editing the drums and levelling out the mix on all 3 tracks (he probably could of got this done quicker had it not been my hardcore OCD that was always finding something to change!) The structure, edits and breakdowns are true to the original, layered on top of the original vinyl master, to retain an essence of the original mix and the 8bit Amiga vibes. The final tracks were sent to Danny for approval who felt the new versions were a dramatic improvement to the 1993 version, which is credit to Ellis Dee’s abilities. Thanks must be given to Alexander Herring from Germany for supplying the vinyl for us to record. Thats how rare the record is! We had to get it shipped from Germany as it was the only copy we knew of! Finally, and something that made Danny extremely happy, Simon from the Exchange recognised the tune and remembers doing the original mastering job on it 26 earlier! Out of the thousands of tunes he has done since that day, its testament to the catchy vocal and riffs in ‘Petruccio’.

Now all we have to do is fulfil one last remaining quest for Danny… to get this record to DJ Dougal, to put those demons to rest once and for all! If we can meet the target, then I will personally track down DJ Dougal and give him a copy of this reissue!

The Dance Force Records Crew, Kings Lynn – 1993. Can you spot DJ H and his dad?

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