Recently a DnB friend spoke of the ‘Call from Goldie’ which like an urban myth is something that up and coming dnb heads will never quite believe until they’ve experienced it for themselves. Wistfully he added that recently a few new names had finally received the call, most of them feeling a mixture of fear and disbelief when the voice of Metalheadz called them to join the ranks amongst the likes of Bailey, Randall, Flight and Klute, a moment that I could only liken to a photographer receiving a call from Magnum.
Two days preceding this conversation and I’m crammed against the edge of Herbal’s sweaty walls for a Metalheadz oldskool reunion, ears receiving a battering from the bins in the corner and the sound of the beer bottles marching off the shelves to their deaths. There’s no space to move let alone to apply the necessary appreciation to the legendary sounds that engulf the crowd and I’m losing water faster than I can possibly gain it. Yet, here comes Goldie walking easily through the packed dancefloor like Moses through the Red Sea, no effort needed. Golden teeth, golden skin, blue eyes, brightly coloured Headz clothing, looking as ever like he was born to be an idol with Fats singing his arrival as another classic Headz tune is dropped. As Goldie jumps around calling for rewinds, I’m wondering how after over 10 years as one of DnB’s most prolific producer/label man/actor he’s still got the energy to party harder than the crowd but looking around me, I can see the answer. Blowing out the bass bins in front of him is Bailey the young prodigy that Goldie brought through to Headz at a young age and who’s since made such strong waves on the scene that he’s managed to sail all the way around the world flying the Metalheadz skull and crossbones. To Bailey’s left is Storm, the original first lady of Metalheadz, known throughout as one of the UK’s finest female DJ’s, her face lighting up upon the sight of Goldie’s antics. Fats and the Flux are on the mic and various other big names are lurking around clinking Moet glasses whilst transporters surround the booth and the younger faces in the crowd go mad to sounds that were made whilst they were still in short trousers.
I smile as I grab my camera bag, my eyes wide with the knowledge that this Metalheadz reunion will make for an inspired chapter in my DnB album, only to find that my batteries are completely flat and I am without charger. This happens to all photographers from time to time but typically, it’s happened on what feels like a tardis journey to the underground music scene of early 90’s London. Resigned to make do with memories, and hit with the realisation that that I’m even further away from Magnum’s call, I head to the bar during Storms set, desperately in need of rehydration in what is one of the hottest party’s of the year so far. Waiting at the bar, I watch the faces of the other thirsty people change to fit each of the tunes that Storm plays- Unofficial Ghost locking everyone’s eyes on to each others in search of mutual celebration. I’m pissed cos I want to burst through the crowd that locks me tight into a stubborn position at the bar to loosen up on the dancefloor but I’m stuck fast until I have a drink in my hand. Luckily, Storm must have heard my thoughts and edge rolls the tune, giving me time to finish a drink and head off in time for the killer break down.
Two hours later, exhausted and messy and I find myself being cuddled by the sofa’s of the guest lounge. I’ve bumped into Ben XO and we’re dissecting the memories of early Dogsonacid days during which we’d dance to the different strands of the genre that Metalheadz was at the beginning of. Himself a producer, DJ and essential dnb head, Ben tells me that there’s still a lot going on in Drum n Bass- it’s more international, Europe and America not so far behind as they used to be. As a result we’ve seen many of our friends flourishing in the after currents of it’s mass-success, many of whom are at here at Metalheadz. Chris Bassbin, Skopes, Tendai and various members of the Inperspective family are all downstairs dancing to the sounds that have strongly influenced their own.
Tonight though was about Bailey and Storm, between them providing a 2 hour mix of big, dark and dubby tunes as Bass II Dark, Jah Know Ya Big, Your Sound and Black Rose. It induces a slightly sick feeling of regret for missing out on the Bluenote era but I’m happy. The sound at Herbal was better than usual, I’ve had a wicked time and judging by the wrecked characters crawling outside afterwards, so has everyone else. Goldie can smile all he wants.
D&B TV: The impact of Metalheadz, Biggest Metalheadz Moments and The Future of Metalheadz feat. Goldie, Storm, Bailey & Outrage
Bailey and Flight on 1Xtra
Official Dillinja Microsite