It's Only Bloody DJ Rankin in the Mix Motherf***er
“DJ Rankin in the mix motherf***er”, if that signature just sent a nostalgic shiver down your spine, then you’re in good company, for longer than we care to admit, the West of Scotland youth, were in complete awe of DJ Rankin, DJ Cammy, DJ Notgotaclue and DJ Pulse. Make no mistake about it. “Local Bedroom DJ’s” were the sound of the Bebo generation.
GlasgowLiving caught up with DJ Rankin, who prefers these days to be known as Gordon, to discuss life as a teenage underground sensation, hearing your own music at a party and to clear up some of the more excessive rumours once and for all.
Tell us, how was it you started releasing tracks? For a good few years you were literally the sound of every bus journey, every drunken weekend and the sound of every teenage party.
Well to start with it wasn’t so much as releasing tracks as I was only remixing or making mash ups for myself and my friends to listen too it was all just a bit of fun I was only about 13 years old and looking for something to do. I started messing around with mixing software and remixing songs I had no clue what I was actually doing at first to be honest it was for my own enjoyment I knew that it was basic, I mean listening back to it obviously it was out of time and just a mash of acapellas *laughs* but what people forget is I was 13 when I started doing these remixes, I’d let a few mates hear it and they would love it and ask for a copy then it just went from there it got shared out all over and all of a sudden this messing around I did for my own enjoyment was in demand. I never went out originally to be heard or become a DJ it was all harmless fun then all of a sudden I had clubs at me asking to do gigs so it was time to up my game and actually learn how to DJ properly. Obviously I realised the stuff I was doing was not professional so I had to move on, learning how to produce myself and polish my mixes, but by this time the older stuff I remixed with little knowledge of how it’s done had already spread like wild fire.
The way I see it is everyone has to start somewhere the difference is my stuff took off before I even knew it when I was very young I think people forget that, its easy to slate something someone done when they were starting out and also forget I was the first to do this style I had no idea it was going to become something big but I am glad that it did. I still get told to this day I inspired alot of great DJ’s to get into this game. Thousands of others started to copy the style and made it their own and it just kept getting bigger I’m glad I started something that made so many people’s childhood and brought joy at those adolescent times because no matter what they say they will always tell you how those remixes brought them joy and still brings them nostalgia and into that fact it also brought some people their first interactions with dance music.
It took a few years until people started to see past the old remixes I did when I was a kid and they would come watch me DJ and couldn’t believe I was actually good and enjoyed watching my sets and hearing the new material I had produced myself not just remixes. Once this happened I got regular gigs and people took me more seriously, getting involved with Clubland artists like Micky Modelle, John Truelove (The Source) in the studio and then also touring with acts like Akon, Ultrabeat, Cascada, Scooter, Special D, Faithless, N-trance etc helped a lot, I still tour with these guys today and we always have a great time tearing up clubs. The people who come to these gigs love it, it’s almost a taboo to admit they love being taken back to the times they sat outside all night in bus stops and parks with their mates drinking cheap cider with songs blasting from someones mobile phone, but make no mistake…. They love it.
Did you ever actually make any money from your releases? You must have been downloaded thousands of times, back when the internet was a little slower than Broadband, young people were loyal as f*** to you, probably spending the best part of a day, downloading and creating the weekend “Mixtape”.
Once I had my own material signed yes. I had tracks signed to Clubland with Micky Modelle etc but obviously i never made any money from the mash ups. The internet was brutal back in the day with dial up broadband I am sure I pi***d alot of parents off when they wanted to use the house phone but couldn’t because there kid was online downloading my remixes *laughs*. It was weird when I would get on a bus myself and hear a group of people at the back of a bus playing my own remixes but can’t say I didn’t enjoy it.
There was a certain mystique surrounding you, rumours of being in a club but keeping low key or someone’s cousin’s cousin was mates with you and you were a legend. Did you ever feel like a rock star knowing that you had an aura, people loved your releases and your tracks were everywhere?
I would always get the “my cousin said he knows your brothers dogs cats mums sister, bulls**t” *laughs*. Really I have no idea who actually was talking sense or telling the truth, but it was pretty mental when people started coming up to me and asking for photos and stuff but now since I became established doing gigs every week it’s more normal for the reasons people want to speak to me or get pictures, because it reminds them of being young, getting into music and it’s pretty cool when they tell me “that made my childhood”.
Did you ever go to a random party and people unbeknown that you were in the room, play your music, that must have been a tad bizarre.
Yeah sometimes *laughs* it wouldn’t take long for word to get around who I was though, it was as bizarre as hearing the music in clubs and on buses, but once it happened a few times you get use to it.
There were so many rumours around could you clear any of them up..? (as best you can)
Did you get sued by Scott Brown?
*Laughs* No that was a lot of garbage. Scott had no reason to sue me, this was one of those rumours that done the rounds, no idea where it came from but I never even remixed any of his material a lot of people would start putting my sample on any old song and trying to do a mash up themselves and passing it off as mine so people would want it and listen to it stuff like the Clown Song I mean what the F**k was that *laughs*. Nothing to do with me, same as the Crazy Frog remix bollocks, so I’m pretty sure that’s where that rumour came from.
Did you get a record deal?
I got tracks signed on several labels and was signed to Tortured Artists under John Truelove (The Source) who wrote You Got The Love.
Did you get in trouble with the police?
Like any young lad I was in the usual bother but nothing serious ever, think the most I’ve got is speeding fines *laughs*. I remember rumours going around I was in jail or some s**t *laughs*, pretty funny though. Oh also there was one that I died in a blazing car crash!
Did you have a “beef” with DJ Cammy, like the rumours suggested?
Not at all he actually plays at the I Am A Raver events that I am the headliner for across the UK. Check it out on Facebook or on my likes page DJ Rankin Official, which believe it or not I’ve only recently set up after all these years. A wee shameless bit of plugging there *laughs*.
Who inspired you to start releasing tracks originally?
Making remixes was just through listening to Tom Wilson’s radio show on Sunday nights and loving the music. Producing my own material I would probably say a mate of mine who was doing well and taking off with his own productions at the time Dennis (Special D).
How did you promote your music to begin with? Did you hand out free cd’s? On-line tracks or simply let your pals hear and share?
Like I said I never went out to make a name so it was all through friends getting a mix cd from me, they then copied it or uploaded it online and it just spiralled its way around the UK and Ireland, over social media platforms like Yahoo Messenger and MSN. It would never happen today, but back then no one was doing anything like that, and a lot of teenagers had just discovered the internet.
The problem they face today is the amount of people interested in being in this profession makes it so much harder to get a break and make a name. With the advances in technology and the internet, it makes access to the world without the backing of record companies or funding easier, but the downside is this means too many are doing it so it’s very difficult.
Can you give us an idea about your time line during your underground career? Things must have got a bit mental for a while.
*Laughs* It got wild I won’t lie. Myself and Barry (DJ Pulse) even got caught up in the closure of the Universe Nightclub in Coatbridge. We had a resident spot in there and played its last ever night, where it kicked off big time after Barry played the sample “this club is closed forever” and amongst all the rumours already going around about its closure it kicked of massively. When we left it was mayhem with petrol bombs, knives, baseball bats, the lot. It was going down out there.
As far as timeline I just continued to do gigs mostly in Ireland. I had a gig every week in a different venue and just toured for a while before getting signed and moving forward into production and setting up my own events. I’ve travelled all over doing what I love, a few nights that stick in my mind are the Point (o2) in Dublin with Akon, what a massive experience, also playing at outdoor festivals with Faithless was great, hanging out with 5ive, Fatman Scoop and playing venues the Geordie Shore cast are involved at are always fun. I could sit forever reminiscing, but every gig I play keeps a special place in my heart, no matter how big or small they are.
Are you aware that you pretty much made every bus journey bearable if you were a teenager but ruined the journeys of many of the “older generation”.
*Laughs* yeah it’s like marmite you either love it or hate it. Sorry old yins.
Are you still using your signature “Dj Rankin in the mix Motherfucker”.
Unfortunately yes *laughs* a lot of clubs ask me to use it in my sets, as it brings the nostalgia back so I just go with it. It’s funny because that’s actually me saying that sped up, back when I was 13. If you turn the pitch down there’s 13 year old me.
And finally what you up-to these days?
Working on lots right now, more so than ever before. I guess being much older and wiser now helps to get on with it unlike when I was younger it was all just a blur. I am working on productions and remixes constantly with lots in the pipeline. My sets have moved on lots over the years. Obviously I still play the old classics although re edited and beat matched correctly *laughs*. Honestly I was tone death in my youth but it’s good to laugh at how we started. Also, I play new productions I’ve done but I infuse them with the old tracks to get an all round good vibe from the crowd. It’s amazing how many people ask me for new remixes they’ve heard in my sets, that I’ve actually produced. They’re shocked how far I’ve come but once again they are comparing me to a 13-14 year old me. Forgetting the 15 or so years in-between I’ve had to develop as a producer and a DJ.
I have gigs every week these days, I am heading out to Magaluf this summer with the Industry guys (Ultrabeat etc), Ireland for rag week on the 1st and 4th of Feb. I’m home in Scotland, Sat 13th Feb for the I Am A Raver event in 69 Below, inspired by what I started all those years ago. Some of the other well known DJ’s like DJ Zitkus, Gary MCF, DJ Pulse, DJ Cammy etc are playing as well. They are a great bunch of lads and we blow the roof off those sold out gigs. We all had a part in the scene and have come a long way since the early days, so if you come to those gigs you get a serious show with great technical DJ’s who could hold their our own against any top DJ today.
We are on tour with the I Am A Raver events all over Scotland this year. Places like my home town Falkirk, Glasgow, Greenock and lots more, Definitely worth keeping an eye on my official like page facebook.com/djrankinofficial for all my upcoming events at home and overseas. Be sure to check out the I Am A Raver events page on Facebook.
Thanks very much for your time Gordon/DJ Rankin, look forward to seeing you Sat at 69 Below’s “I Am A Raver”.