Listen to Tone Def
The story of Tone Def
It began with a thump...
Not sure what came first, Tone Def Records or me, but we were one
of the first to start the drum and bass ball rolling.
I had been a DJ for several years, mainly playing on London Weekend
Radio and a residency in several clubs in London.
Tone Def Records was launched in 1989 with Alex Gold (Extravaganza),
our first outing was Morsecode's seminal house track "Thank
God" an anthem in Ibiza, and the "Second Summer of Love".
The track was well received, but I felt the energy and direction
was a bit off-cue and repositioned the label's style with the second
release - "Inspiree" by the French Underground.
"Inspiree" was a 4 track ep, a diverse mixture of sample-led,
breakbeat dance music. All the tracks were produced in a bedroom
studio, which comprised of analogue synths, drum machines and an
Atari computer and a crusty mixing desk. The sound was raw, yet
appealing and very sympathetic to the hybrid amalgam that was very
street, at the time. I was surprised to receive a call from BBC
Radio to find out whether the group was actually French and if a
spokesperson for the band would like to take part in a radio show.
It was great fun, but I felt there was more to do. I was still searching....
I still needed to create a sound or something I was comfortable
with. It was good, but not quite there...
In 1992, the release of Dreamfinder by Sound Corp with its drums,
heavy bassline and staccato synth stabs, heralded the beginning
of a new genre. Sound Corp were Sean and Kevin from Slough in the
UK. They were looking for a label to release some music and were
introduced to me by a friend, while I was DJ'ing at a club in Windsor.
Dreamfinder was initially pegged as the b-side
to "Close Control", but it soon became the dominant track
and was hugely successful. There were several permutations and remixes
of Dreamfinder, some limited to 500 copies.
The success of Sound Corp, the sound, label and production style
led to a series of dancefloor fillers. Over the years and through
Tone Def, I worked with Darren Jay as SLM, with Foul Play as "4
Horsemen of the Apocalypse" and on his own as "2 Dreads
in a Dub".
As a label, Tone Def was the stable of many diverse acts, such as
DJ Harry - "Cape Fear", FX - "The Sound of FX",
Inna Rhythm "Carrie" French Underground "Type 2"
and collaborations with Nookie, Aphrodite, Phantasy and Mikey Finn.
Tone Def's last release was a hybrid of funk, strings, vocals and
futuristic drum and bass. "Chronicles in Dub" was the
soundtrack to a film that never went into production. The script
was based on my experience as a London DJ, the pirate radio scene
and my love for music.
Many of the Tone Def releases are now classics, some call the sound
'hardcore', others see it as the moment that drum and bass moved
from the street into the sphere of composition.
After a couple of years in the music wilderness, I have started
DJ'ing again, thanks to friends like Tigger, Cookie, Burning Man
community, Paul Tai and Claire. I am working on new material and
a box set of Tone Def material is planned.
Want to listen to some Tone Def Records?