WORDS

After years of performing, MC AD is finally getting into the studio

Whether you’re a recent drum and bass fanatic or a retired rave-head rattling on about the good old days, you’ve likely heard the enthusiastic tones of MC AD hurtling through the airwaves.

Despite an overarching modesty, this man’s history is richer than most, performing residencies and sets with some of the most iconic labels, club nights, and DJs for over 20 years. Think Renegade Hardware, Playaz, Hospitality, Goldie, Pendulum, Chase & Status; the list goes on. Throughout this whole journey, he has focused solely on perfecting the art of hosting and MC’ing sets while putting studio tracks on the backburner… until now.

Friday saw the release of Fall Back, a dancefloor heater on René LaVice’s Device from North Base, Smooth, Dima Pulsar and, of course, the vocals of MC AD. To finally settle your vocals on the longevity of a recorded track is no mean feat for someone that’s used to the dripping ceilings of a club or the vast expanse of a festival main stage, yet it all sounds made to be.

Upon speaking to him, it appears his vocal cords have been warmed up, and we can expect more music from him via a growing pool of talented producers. It’s the beginning of a new era from the talented wordsmith, and we’re with him every step of the way. Check our conversation with him below to find out more about the new single, his expansive history in the scene, plus who else he’s been working with.

Where to start… you’ve had a huge history as an MC/host that it feels crazy you’re only releasing your first solo studio track! Why now?

I’m not quite sure why now, it just felt right. The only time I’ve ever been on a track was a feature on a track called Instinct from Loxy, Ink and J. Dub, alongside other vocalists including UK rapper Sway. I’d never done my own solo feature though. It’s with people that I’ve known for a long time who have finally dragged it out of me. MCs on records are far more accepted than they were years ago as well. You did have some that stood out, but it was few and far between compared to now. That’s a big reason why.

Have you managed to perform it out?

I actually haven’t, no one’s had the tune! Only Rene La Vice and North Base had a hold if it before the release, so even I haven’t had the chance yet to hear it out loud yet.

That’s going to be quite the experience when you do!

Yeah, for sure. I’m looking forward to hearing it on a loud soundsystem and to see people’s reactions.

How is the experience of recording a track compared to your usual live environment? There’s a more permanent nature to it that I guess must demand a new mindset.

The studio is not my natural habitat, so I find it nerve-racking to be honest. I’m slightly more used to it now as I’ve made a few tracks since then which are yet to come out, including tunes with Night Shift, Joely and Dima Pulsar off the back of the latest track. There’s also going to be two tunes out on Emcee Recordings with DJ Chef at the end of the year. It’s safe to say it got the ball rolling. On the first draft of this new tune though, North Base were like ‘you’ve got to do better than that’, which I think came down to my nerves affecting the recording. It was said in the nicest possible way however, and I’m always open to positive criticism.

See, in my head when hearing the track, I was picturing you in the studio with that same boundless energy you have on stage…

To be fair, the studio guy was telling me I was shouting too much. It’s the way I’m used to doing things.

You’ve got quite the history with the North Base guys, right?

Yeah, loads of gigs over the years as well as becoming close friends.

How did you first meet?

Before North Base, there was Sonic & Silver. I used to do a lot of gigs with them in the Renegade Hardware days when I was coming through, and from there we had a great bond. It’s got to be around twenty years or so now.

 

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It must be quite surreal. You’ve played together at some of those iconic nights like Renegade Hardware at The End, to now putting out music together. It feels like it’s come full circle.

Yeah, definitely!

You’re playing the Renegade Hardware Weekender this year. How are you looking forward to that?

Yeah, it will be great to see everyone and represent. Renegade Hardware was the first big establishment that put my name on a flyer and gave me a chance, so there will always a warm heartfelt feeling towards them and the brand.

To take it back even further, what was your introduction to the scene as a raver?

I was into hip-hop from a really young age, and it was only my cousins I knew that were into the rave side of things. Where I grew up in east London, everyone used to listen to hardcore. It was a whole culture; the turntables, records, and everything else surrounding it. Whenever they had money, they would spend it straight away on records and just mix and mix. One day, my friend played me a tape which had Jumping Jack Frost on one side and Ratpack on the other, and the rest was history. I listened to pirate radio religiously around this time, Weekend Rush being a favourite that was big before Kool. I was obsessed, listening to it and taping it all day. From there, my friend then took me to my first rave, Elevation at Roller Express. I was taken aback by it.

How did this lead to you picking up the mic?

Well, after that I started doing pirate radio with Loxy who I met through a mutual friend. I was mostly hosting with a few lyrics here and there, and didn’t fully know what I was doing. I used to do it religiously every Sunday though, even missing my last lesson at school on a Monday to do the afternoon show. I loved the idea that maybe one day I could get my name on a flyer, so I kept at it. As it happened, there was a Renegade Hardware show on Rinse in its pirate days, and a guy called Interactive told me he was going to get me on it. Clayton from Renegade Hardware was outside and asked him how the radio show went, to which he said it went well and explained that he took me. Clayton told me he’d seen me around for ages and didn’t know I MC’d so he gave me a gig. It was a case of ‘if you’re good you’ll get more and if you’re not then you won’t’. I did the gig with Loxy, Usual Suspects and Ink, and it apparently went well because that’s how I got my Renegade Hardware residency. 

Amazing! I don’t think people always realise the hard graft that people like you had to put in back then.

Yeah, there was no social media or even internet when I started. It was all about word-of-mouth. When I used to go to nights like Elevation, or Innovation when it had different owners, I would just turn up, pick up the mic and do the first hour or two. Sometimes the MC would be late and you’d just carry on, the promoter didn’t mind. I did it for practice mostly, that and it was a great thing to be a part of.

It is such a different landscape these days if you are an MC trying to break through. Is there any advice you’d give to people trying to do this now?

I’m going to be a hypocrite here, but now I say you should release tunes. As it’s accepted now, you’ll likely get noticed a lot quicker. Radio is also good if that’s your thing, but there’s nothing like performing to a crowd. I’ve had opportunities like that just from being in the right place at the right time, like how I got involved working with Playaz and DJ Hype.

Someone was late for a gig once, and Zinc – who I’d known for a long time – told me I needed to jump on the mic. Someone saw this and ended up telling Hype I was good, to which he basically said he’d believe it when he saw it. He then caught me when I was on tour with Loxy and Ink in America and realised what I could do, so he got my number. We got chatting, and he told me he needed an MC for when he was outside of London or abroad.

There wasn’t really room for me in London as all the big MCs were doing the big raves. Thankfully, I ended up going all the world with him and then became a Playaz resident, which led me to becoming a resident at Fabric as well. It was like building blocks, and I just kept on building.

How were the Playaz nights at Fabric? I always wanted to go to those, but I wasn’t quite old enough at the time.

It was amazing! Hype is someone that I’ve listened to for years on cassette, seen on videos and seen in the rave, so to be involved in such a big thing like that was huge. They were amazing times, and it went on for a good 15 years or so if I remember correctly. There were a couple before I did it, and then I was on every single one. They only ever had three MCs do it, so to be added on to that with Fats, Rage and GQ who are three people I really look up to was amazing. It was great to be involved with an iconic club like Fabric as well.

Moving into the present time, one of your main gigs right now is with CruCast. Tell me a bit about the touring experience with them.

It’s really good! There’s such a good energy, and it’s opened me up to a new audience and fanbase. I’d never have imagined that I’d have fans or supporters, but since touring with them it’s gone through the roof. I get a lot of messages, and people are genuinely excited to see me. I was thinking about joining them for a while and they were thinking about adding me to the team, so it naturally took off from there. I like to think I’ve done a good job because I seem to be on all the shows now. It’s just a bit mad to be recognised. As soon as I come on, without saying anything, people are excited to see me which is a crazy feeling! I’m enjoying every moment.

You get to perform on both drum and bass and bass/bassline sets. Do you find there’s different challenges as an MC depending on which genre you’re hosting?

I kind of just naturally adapt to the difference. Before CruCast, I was touring with Redlight for a project he had at the time for a year or two, as well as with Zinc around the same time. It wasn’t exactly the same as the CruCast sound, but it definitely adapted me into this style. Technically it’s a bit different in terms of when to come in and when not to, plus there’s a load of vocals in that music. I’ve been doing drum and bass sets for ages, so it’s nice to do something different.

Surely we’ve got to see you on a bass track with the CruCast gang?

Haha, possibly! I’ve got a non-drum and bass vocal that I’ve done on a song with someone, but I can’t say too much about that now. It’s not with CruCast, but I hope there will be something on there in the future.

You’ve already mentioned some more forthcoming music, now how about some forthcoming shows you’re looking forward to? This is probably a hard question as you have so many…

Haha, it definitely is hard to remember them all. I love all the festivals. All the shows are great, but the bigger the better. I thrive the best in those situations. The CruCast autumn/spring tour has been going well, and I’ve got a couple more with them at the end of the month. Then there are all the summer shows with CruCast at festivals, Ibiza, plus Ayia Napa and Zante on a weekly basis. It’s nice because you do all your clubs at the start of the year and then it gets into festival season. It’s a healthy balance. If I was doing one thing all the time it could get a bit repetitive. It’s the same with performing over other genres. It means I’m not doing the same thing over and over, and I get to work with different people, so it keeps it refreshing.

Are there any final shout outs or bits you want to mention?

I want to give a big shout out to CruCast for everything, and to North Base, Smooth and Dima Pulsar for getting me on the track. Shout out to both Night Shift, Joely and DJ Chef for the tunes we have coming out. Shouts to my agent Danny at Earth Agency as well for all the hard work behind the scenes. Finally, I want to big up you guys. I’m not used to being interviewed so it’s an honour. I hold you in high regard so it’s nice to be asked. I’m shy, believe it or not!

You’ve got to put that front on for the shows at least, right?!

Yeah, a lot of people don’t get it! I’m two different people really. The suspense of that leads to a bit of interest because people are like ‘how does he MC, he hardly says two words’. Once I’m up on stage, I’m doing what I’m doing, and everything transforms.

North Base, Smooth, Dima Pulsar Feat MC AD – Fall Back is out now on Device

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