DJ Jason Kaye, highly respected DJ and MC in the jungle and then UKG scene, sadly passed away on Saturday March 11 at the age of 54. It is a true loss to the scene and felt by many. In tribute, we explore his incredible career and legacy.
Born Jason Kyriakides, of Greek Cypriot descent, Kaye grew up in North London. He began DJ-ing and MC-ing in the ‘80s, developing a strong reputation in the rave scene. This culminated in the forming of the infamous Top Buzz in 1988, alongside MC Mad P (Patrick Jarrett) and DJ Mikee B.
As part of the group, Kaye pioneered jungle techno and then UKG at London’s raves through the 90s. Top Buzz enjoyed success with their EP Livin’s in Darkness, which was released with Basement Records in 1993, and headlined countless raves in the UK and abroad- Europe, North America, Australia, during this period. It was a partnership that endured the test of time – Kaye and MC Mad P were still performing oldskool UKG and jungle together in the UK as late as this year.
It was during the mid 90s that Jason turned his full attention to UKG. He founded the highly influential UKG record label, Social Circles. Established in 1993, it furthered producers like Zed Bias, Steve Gurley and The Wideboys. He described the label name as being inspired by the fact that “…all of my business dealings evolved around one large social circle”. The label was responsible for elevating artists such as Sticky and Kele Le Roc and releases including Tubby T ‘Tales of The Hood’ and ‘Dollar Sign’ by Stu$h. Soon after Sticky joined the label, it facilitated Ms Dynamite’s successful launch into the UK market, providing her with her first feature on a single. Kaye, Sticky and Ms Dynamite co-wrote and released ‘Booo!’ft. Ms Dynamite, which charted at no.12 in 2001.
Alongside the label’s success, Jason and Terry “Turbo” Stone also founded Garage Nation, the infamous Garage events brand which boasts a healthy roster of bookings to this day. Kaye also mixed many UKG compilations, including notable releases for Suburban Base Records’ ‘Pure Garage’ album brand, which reached millions.
Tributes have poured in across social media from fans and artists alike.
Suburban Base Records posted to their Facebook page:
“I’ve been trying to write something for the last several hours, I’m truly in shock at the passing of another dear friend Jason Kaye, after losing Fats (Will) yesterday to get this news today absolutely floored me. Both have releases scheduled with us and now they are no longer here, this hurts so much I can hardly get my head around what’s happened.
Jason Kaye was a huge influence on dance music from Top Buzz in the earliest days of rave to being one of the biggest names in the Garage scene and helped launch many careers with his label and as a producer.
“Jason mixed albums for our Pure Garage album brand which he was really proud of and we have been great friends for decades. I only just recently went out to dinner with him and his missus, had a lovely evening in their company and said we’d do it again soon, which makes this even more heartbreaking.
“Jason gave his time for free to DJ at the last Pure Garage annual Charity event. We had plans for a number of releases and he had asked me to contribute to his book.
“A good kind man that went out of his way to support his friends, we’d call each other just to check in and see how each other were doing.”
Doc Scott wrote on Twitter
“Rest easy Jason Kaye, I don’t really know what to say apart from this one has really upset me, if you went to raves back in the day you were a fan of Top Buzz, including myself, it was an honour to share the stage with you, I’m truly gutted …”
DJ Logan Sama wrote:
“Rest in Peace Jason Kaye
He did so much for others and was an absolute gent to me. Responsible for so many legendary projects across multiple genres of music.
Shared his platform with so many musicians to launch themselves to success.
The Artful Dodger also paid tribute on Instagram, penning:
“Absolutely gutted. I only see you last week, you gave me a big cuddle before I left, if only I knew it would have been the last time I was going to see you. Rest in paradise brother, until we meet again ”
Rest In Peace Jason Kaye