People from the era tell their stories.
» Rich Denman
I grew up in Bristol near the bottom of Gloucester Road and it always felt like the hubbub of the city and, by the time I was eighteen me. Kosta (Special K Café) and Grant (Daddy G, Massive Attack) had a flat at the bottom of St. Michaels Hill. It became like the centre of the city universe for the up and coming musicians, DJ’s and the youth culture of the day as both Grant and I were DJ’s and anyone coming from Clifton to down town or the opposite direction from St. Pauls or Stokes Croft would pass by our flat and pop in. Grant and I played a lot of house parties as well as the Dug Out night club which was 3 minutes walk from the flat. Punk had been and gone and the main music theme was reggae with local interest in bands like The Pop Group and other reggae sound systems, DJ’s like 2 Bad and a little later Fresh 4 and Smith & Mighty.
The Dug Out was a great place to meet like minded people including many good reggae ‘toasters’ (talking over the mic) including Gary Clail and then rappers as Hip Hop took hold of the eighties. Gary Clail was one of the first white guys to do toasting and brought a unique sound to the genre. The Dug Out closed down and The Moon Club in Stokes Croft became the main hang out.
The Wild Bunch formed from mine and Grants DJ Sound, a loose collective at first but I didn’t stay on the mic as no reggae was played at all as Hip Hop became the main music force. Grant, DJ Milo and Nelly Hooper became the nucleus of the Bunch.
I was also catering at the time so when the Wild Bunch travelled to play in London nightclubs and elsewhere I would do the food. The Wild Bunch started to forge quite a reputation and it was the sound system that was the pre cursor for was eventually to the formation of Massive Attack. We became friends with Delge (Delniga, Massive Attack) a talented graffiti artist at the time. Grant and he soon became close friends and collaborators and Massive Attack formed with some of the rappers from Wild Bunch like Claude Williams along with other talents Tricky and Mushroom.
Many musicians and others associated with music quite often made the national music press throughout the 80’d decade. It filled me with pride to have mates and associates often reported on with such positive acclaim, Bristol dem Massive!
Towards the end of the decade I became aware of a young sound called Tru Funk. These two brothers were not even 13 and 17 respectively at the time and were producing some very interesting tracks. The older brother was the musician (via his computer and keyboards) and the younger one was unique rapper. Good to hear the Bristol sound was still producing talent.
I didn’t stick with catering as I found people in that industry were far too uptight. I am now a mental health worker, a challenging but always interesting job and I meet a lot of good people in this field, both staff and patients.
Interview with Jillo Wisternoff
Words © Rich Denman