It’s been a year since I was last chatting to Bernie and Terry AKA Serotonin AKA the world famous Krome & Time. The last interview covered their debut release on their infamous Tearin Vinyl label whereas for this interview we are taking a step back, well, quite a few steps back being how quickly the hardcore, rave and jungle scenes were progressing back then. From 1994 back to the glory year of 1992. And what a big change the scene went through over those two years and what an advancement of sound Bernie & Terry went through during that time too. So how did this project come about guys?
“This release was the bridge between us leaving Suburban Base and getting round to starting Tearin Vinyl” Terry aka Krome explains “We wanted to start something new. But we wanted to do it without people knowing it was us. To be a bit more experimental and to try a few new ideas”.
Bernie, also known as Mr. Time adds more background to the project “This was the time when the white label was king. That’s what people wanted. It felt more exclusive and special and we wanted to do something like that, to get in on that scene. So we pressed up a load of copies and filled up the boot of the car and just drove around the country. We use to use flyers to help us. Often these big raves would list local record shops where you could buy tickets, so we used those to build up a list of shops around the country using those as our resource and we would hit the road”.
DJ Krome on the decks, Mr. Time on the mic – Dublin 1995
I have to admit, that’s a bloody good idea. You have to remember that this was before the internet and these were specialist shops, often not lasting that long, due to various reasons. I do recall that a few shops were fronts for people to launder their drug money. Others were so badly managed as they were being run by first time record shop owners that they just went under through bad financial management. So to have any clue as to where you needed to go in unknown cities and towns of the UK, this must be one of the best ways I can think of. I remember back in the early to late 90’s when I was record digging a lot, I would go to a town and find a Yellow Pages and flick through to the record shop section and use that as my directory, calling them up asking if they had any jazz, funk or hip hop. Looking back on that era, those were great days. I admit it was harder to locate the shops but it was the time before eBay and Discogs and there was not a great deal of knowledge about what records were worth, so you were always finding bargains. These days even Oxfam are charging Discogs prices, preferring to sit on stock on the off-chance it may sell rather than sell stuff to make money for the charity. I’m getting on my high horse now and have completely deviated from this interview, sorry about that… let me just check Bernie and Terry are still with us! “You there boys?”
Bernie continues “We use to choose an area and hit 2-3 record shops a day, dropping off records ‘sale or return’. Going back a week or two later to collect our money. With the Serotonin release we sold them all ourselves without distribution. We had pressed up a couple of thousand copies and sold them for about 5 or 6 quid each. It could of even been 3000 units for that releases, I can’t remember! It was so much fun as you were in total control of your money, as long as the shops paid you that is. But you think about it, 3000 records at £5 each, that’s not a bad chunk of change for a couple of kids. It kept us going”. Terry adds “We were based in East London, so we only travelled a certain distance every day. No further north than Milton Keynes but the vast majority of what we sold was either in London or down South. We went down to Brighton, Gravesend, Worthing and Portsmouth, as well as other places down there that I can’t remember right now. Our main fanbase was down south actually and I think that’s a lot to do with Sterns and that we played there a lot. We were well known down that part of the country due to that club and Mensa and the support he gave us. The south had such a vibrant scene which started in Worthing thanks to Sterns and it just spread out from there, along the coast”.
“During that time” Bernie reflects “The music was massive. You could distro yourself if you wanted to. The whole process was DIY and you didn’t need anyone to help you. It was real money, good money. White labels were panache. It was about the music, not the artwork, not the names. It was a period when it really was just about the music. That’s all people wanted, good music”. Taking a moment to ponder over this as I type makes me think how things have changed. How now it’s all about social media presence, about getting the likes, getting the shares. About gimmicks and strategy. About going into a club and throwing cream cakes at punters in the audience. Everyone has to have an angle, a way to climb over the next person, to get to the top of the pile. But during the rave years it was the total opposite. It was more of a challenge to get music out there without anyone knowing it’s you. It was fun to be undercover, in plain sight. We didn’t care about profile or future planning or management strategy. We left that to the major labels to fret over. We kept it raw, we kept it pure… actually a phrase comes to mind ‘This sound is for the underground’. Now why didn’t anyone do a tune called that??? What a great title that would have been! Oh, wait…!
Mr. Time – At his mate Dave’s house – 1994
Terry explains further “We also did the white label as we didn’t have a label at the time, so it kind of worked out perfectly for us. Back in the day, everyone used different names. It was the thing you did. If you kept the same name, people got bored”. “A new name gives you freedom” Bernie adds “Freedom to make a new sound. You could experiment”. Terry chips in “People can’t judge you as they don’t know who you are. They judge the music”. “Musicians should be eclectic” Bernie concludes.
As the guys were telling me all of this, I started to think a bit more about it all. Surely some of these record shop owners you were selling records to, white label records with an undercover name, must have clocked who you were. Both Bernie and Terry are quite distinctive characters and anyone who was raving, especially down on the south coast, would recognise them? Was their cover was ever blown? Bernie laughs as he tells me “A lot of the record shop owners knew who we were when we went into their shops. They knew we were Krome & Time and to be honest, I am pretty sure they would have sold the record to their customers as a Krome & Time record. I mean, it’s all about making money and having an obscure Krome & Time record under a different name on a white label would have been a good sell for them. It sold out, so thinking about it, they must have let people know it was us!”
So, I have to ask the obvious question, the first question that I actually thought when I started this repress for the boys. Why the name Serotonin?
“We realised that serotonin was released when people were happy. We were ravers at the end of the day, it didn’t take us long to find this out! And being around rave clubs since the late 80’s, as a punter and as a DJ, we saw first-hand how the release of serotonin affected people. The whole culture grew up around ecstasy; it brought people together and it made them happy” Terry explains, with Bernie expanding further still “It’s paying homage to why we were a part of this movement and to where we originally came from, the acid house scene. But to be honest, most of our tunes and artist names we came up with due to vibes and feelings. Same as when you have kids. You look at them and the name comes to you naturally”.
As we continue to chat about the old days I notice something on Discogs, as I have the release page open in front of me. I hadn’t seen it before but now the penny drops. The catalogue number of the release is KT001. “We decided to give a little nod to Krome and Time on the release. But not only that, the phone number that’s included on the artwork (0831 820 970) was my old phone number! I use to get phoned up by people at really random times trying to find out who the artist was and how to buy copies” Terry remembers with a laugh.
The record was cut at The Exchange by Paul Solomon and the guys recall that Terry started ‘Rumblism’ at his studio and Bernie started ‘Dramatical Style’ at his. But where the tunes were finally completed, neither of them can remember “It was either at Austin’s place (Suburban Bass Austin) or over with Phil The Scientist (Kickin Records)” Terry tries to recall. Bernie adds “The thing is this, the reason we can’t remember at lot of all this stuff is that we were just too busy living it. It was our lives, it was normal to us. It wasn’t a one off event; it was a daily thing back then for us!”
Studio pressure – Mr. Times studio – Bermondsey 1994
After having a few chats now with Krome & Time I know how busy they were back then. How involved in the music business they were and how ground breaking their music was and still is, all these years later. But they weren’t making music to be famous or to have bragging rights; they did it as they had the vibe and the passion. The music breathed through them. It was a natural partnership and one that still commands respect to this day. These guys are true to the game, understated and very down to earth legends of this music we love. It’s an honour to be working with them again.
At the end of the day, we all love a bit of serotonin!
This release was painstakingly mastered from a mint condition vinyl copy by the ‘engineer incredible’ that is Dapz at Compound Audio.