Last year, we published an article listing thirteen of the hottest dubs in circulation at that time. Since then, all but four have seen official release. That small grouping has just lost another comrade, as Dope Ammo & DJ Hybrid dropped their remix of Baby D – Let Me Be Your Fantasy last week, finally unleashing one of 2019’s most sought after pieces of dancefloor pressure.
Those dancefloors are as of yet still empty, of course, but that doesn’t take away from the vitality and freshness of their rework. As an innately familiar piano riff dovetails into Baby D’s soaring vocals, Hybrid and Dope Ammo capture the spirit of the 1990s and roll it out over a punishing, new school jump-up beat. With support from all over the scene, most memorably via High Contrast’s 2019 set at Boomtown, the official release has been a long time coming. As Dope Ammo tells UKF, however, it’s been a process fraught with difficulties and the story behind this remix is one that offers insight into the often complex, personality-driven world of the modern music industry.
We wanted to hear that tale get some insight into how one of the 90s’ biggest tunes became imbued with 20s drum & bass flavour…
What are your first memories of the original tune?
Dope Ammo: I was at secondary school and it was a wicked time, I’m so glad I was around then because that whole old school and rave music sound was so new and it was the rebel thing to be into. Now you get everyone dancing to Let Me Be Your Fantasy, but back then it was underground. My early memories are of it just being an absolute anthem, every DJ was playing it, everyone was supporting it, and it just got you didn’t it? When you heard those chord progressions, that piano line and that vocal, you were just in it.
Definitely yeah – how did the opportunity come up to remix it?
Dope Ammo: Last year I was doing a sound clash at Printworks with Benny Page and we were putting together dubplates for it. I went up to Kool FM to do some promotional stuff for my new album on Billy Bunter’s show and Liquid was there, so I gave them a copy of the album and then Rat Pack were there, so I gave them one as well.
A few days later, Liquid hit me up and said he absolutely loved my album and he ended up doing an old school remix of I’m Good, which was also on the album. Then Rat Pack called me up and said they loved it as well, which then turned into us doing a studio session together. I said to Mark from the Rat Pack that it’d be amazing if we could get a Baby D dubplate for the soundclash at Printworks, so he hooked us up and to cut a long story short, they did me the VIP and we had a Dubshotta one done, Benny got one done, and I got a Dope Ammo one done as well.
Interesting, so that dubplate was the origin of the remix?
Dope Ammo: Yeah exactly. Hybrid came down to my house for a few days because we were doing a sample pack for Loopmasters and then at the same time we were writing music for a Welcome To The Jungle album in the series that Ed Solo and Deekline do. One of the tracks on that was my own version of Nina Simone – Feeling Good, but I was just not happy, not happy, not happy. Hybrid was down and I said to him, you know what, you might be able to put a nice spin on this.
DJ Hybrid: Yeah, that was it. I took the Feeling Good stems home, but then I think I ended up changing it a lot in my studio before I sent it back over to Coco, and you wanted me to send an instrument over as well.
Dope Ammo: Yeah and I was just like wicked, the sound is much better, the drop was sick, but it didn’t really gel with the musicality of Feeling Good, with the vision I had in my head.
So, then we’ve got the Baby D vocal. Benny did a mix and it was alright but it’s Let Me Be Your Fantasy, it’s got to bang! So, he told me to have a pop at it and I did one, I sent it over and he was like ‘it’s alright, but it just doesn’t bang again’. It was getting closer and closer to Printworks and we were thinking ‘god, we need to play this dub’ because it’s such a wicked dub – but what drop do we put on it?
I was just messing around in the studio and I thought hold on a second, I’ve got that Feeling Good drop that me and Hybrid had done. I looked at the key of it and I thought hold on this could work, this could actually work, so it was a complete happy accident. What we ended up doing is taking what I’d made for the intro from Baby B and then what me and Hybrid had done for Feeling Good, the drop from that, and literally put them both together.
I think we played it as the last tune of the first round and when it dropped, I was like, oh my god, and both me and Benny were like, what the fuck have we done here?
DJ Hybrid: Coco had put me on the guestlist at Printworks, so I was just having a few drinks or whatever, it’s rare that I get to go to a rave and just rave because obviously I’m normally DJing and stuff, and I just remember being at the front and hearing that tune drop. It sounded really good as well. The drop went off, and it probably took me about 20 seconds to realise that I’d actually made it [laughs]. There was this Let Me Be Your Fantasy, Dub Shotta vocal on top of it, so I was really surprised to hear that. After you did your set we were chatting and I was like, ‘so where did that come from?’. I wasn’t expecting it.
That’s a classic bit of dubplate history right there! What’s the story of it going from dub to release, then?
Dope Ammo: After that I thought I’d send it out on dubplate to a selection of DJs like High Contrast, Hype, Bryan Gee and so on, and when Boomtown came around, they had to move High Contrast to the Lions Den stage because of the weather and he only intro’d with it. So that was really cool.
Then I was like ‘fine, we need to release it properly.’ I spoke to Baby D and they told me that the rights are owned by a guy called Floyd Dice who actually wrote the track. Phil owned Production House, the label which put the original out, and D is Phil’s missus who sang on the track; they both told me that I needed to get in contact with Floyd Dice and Bucks Music because they were the people who actually owned the master and the full publishing.
DJ Hybrid: At first, because we’d been doing the exclusive tunes for the Jungle Cakes compilation, we were talking to Deekline and Ed Solo and we were thinking of trying to, if we could clear it, feature it on this Welcome to the Jungle compilation. So that was the original idea. But then that fell through and at that point we were thinking that we might do a special kind of USB dub pack or something. We just thought at the time, like, there’s no way it’s actually going to get released, we thought we were just clutching at straws.
Dope Ammo: Danny Byrd hooked me up with very prominent platform in the genre and were like ‘yeah, we definitely want to help you release this record’. We were obviously really chuffed.
Then it was just playing the waiting game, but nothing happened. Eventually they hit me up and asked if I could intervene a bit because they weren’t getting any kind of response from Bucks Music, so I went back to Bucks music and they were saying stuff like the marketing budget wasn’t there, you know, a lot things needed to be sorted out. So, it went back and forth, back and forth, and it didn’t go anywhere. And then I kinda just got a bit disheartened by it all. We we just thought what a shame because what a big track, it’s gonna do well, it’s gonna sell well. Why can’t we get a deal?
That’s so frustrating and it also puts a dampener on the music as well, doesn’t it?
Dope Ammo: Yeah man, absolutely. So, I just left it, I thought yeah, this ain’t gonna happen. Then, I was playing a gig in Germany in November last year at Dreamland with myself, Ed Solo, Kenny Ken, Benny Page and Nicky Blackmarket. Nicky was the first one to play and I was on after Nicky, so I thought I’d go with with Nicky to have a catch up. At one point he goes ‘Coco, what’s going on with your Let Me Be Your Fantasy remix?’. I went ‘Nicky don’t even fucking ask mate honestly’. I said “I don’t know, I tried this, I tried that, I’ve done this and it’s just not happening. Then Nicky asked if I’d spoken to Floyd Dice, the guy that actually wrote it. I hadn’t had any direct dealings with him because he’s just represented by Bucks Music, so I went ‘oh, do you know him?’, and he went ‘yeah, I know him from back in the day!’
Isn’t it crazy how these little connections can make such a big difference!
Dope Ammo: About a week later I got a call from Nicky saying ‘right, Floyd wants to have a chat with you’. Then in the week, Floyd called me up and we just really gelled, we really hit it off and just chatted for ages. I was telling him about the remix and how big it had gotten and he said, ‘you don’t have to tell me, all of my mates were sending me videos of you playing it at Printworks’.
Then we met up in Camden for a beer and we just got on really well, he’s a really nice guy, really humble. I told him it would be great if he could get it through, speak to Bucks Music and get the deal done. Literally a couple of days after, I got an email back saying yeah, we’re happy to give you the clearance. All it took was a couple of beers to make that happen. In the end I decided it would be better if I released it myself through Dope Ammo, so massive shouts to Cygnus because they’ve been totally behind the record, and they’ve really helped me out so Dan and Louis, absolutely huge bigups to them.
DJ Hybrid: I think once you met up with Floyd, the talks became a little bit more personal and sort of less business-y I suppose, and that’s what helped tip it in our favour. I think in the end after all that, going to different, bigger labels and having these ideas, it turned out that we were in the right position ourselves. We’re gonna make sure that everyone gets their end of it and everyone’s happy, whereas if it was with an external company, we might not have been able to have as much control over things like that, you know, just making sure that people are actually getting paid their royalties and so on. We just wanted to make sure that we were doing it right and being respectful to Baby D and Production House, the original label that put it out.
It’s all about who you know. The one downside is that we won’t be able to hear it in clubs…
Dope Ammo: Oh yeah, I mean the plan was to release it just before the festivals, but then obviously, its the massive kick in the bollocks of Covid. I was down for about three weeks but I kind of picked myself up and thought right, it is what it is, let’s adapt to what’s going on. Me and Benny Page realised we need to put out more music and get in the studio, we need to just make more stuff.
Obviously, we’re gutted that we can’t go and play it in the clubs, but we’ve tried to do the next best thing and so we’re doing the launch with Moondance, who are an old school promoter from London that’ve been doing parties for years. We’ve brought in Baby D for it, we’ve got all my old school heroes; Rat Pack, Slipmats, and obviously we’re bringing in Nicky and Ray Keith, because without Nicky Blackmarket we wouldn’t have even got this far. It shows you why he’s so loved in the drum and bass scene, he’s done so much for drum and bass and jungle music. I know Ray Keith as well, he put in good words with us because he’s good mates with Floyd, so we have to bring those guys in for the lineup.
Banging. Just to finish on the tune itself; it seems like part of the appeal is that it merges the two fairly separate worlds of jump-up fuelled party music and classic rave?
DJ Hybrid: Yeah, that’s it really, it’s that contrast. The drop on it is very modern, it’s very in your face. That’s what’s nice, you’ve got that contrast of a euphoric, old school ravey jungle vibe with properly new school, rolling filth. Hopefully we should probably appeal to all audiences. At the same time, I’m expecting there to be a little bit of a negative backlash, as there is with any remix of a classic. When the tune is that big and it’s such a staple to the history of the music, there’s always going to be some people that are a bit precious about it, you know?
Very true, like with the Pola & Bryson bootleg of Circles.
Dope Ammo: Yeah, definitely. You’re both right in that it appeals to the younger audience, it’s like when I was back in 92 and heard Let Me Be Your Fantasy, it made all my hairs stand up, it got me. And what’s mad about is that it’s done it again, 20 years later, with the new generation of kids, and that is just so special. What an incredible thing.