All Crews Russian translator and publisher Anna Sapegina tells the story behind getting Brian Belle-Fortune’s classic drum & bass book onto Russian bookshelves…
If you believe in All Crews, you believe in all the Crew
Early July 2014. My north Moscow flat is filled with books and I have a feeling that my life will never be the same again. Brian’s writing an article for the source of Jungle Drum & Bass knowledge, Kmag, whose publishing arm Vision also released the 2004 version of All Crews. They asked me to write about my experiences publishing All Crews Russian.
Why did I start my journey? Well, it’s about love. Jungle Drum & Bass is a phenomenon that dissolves barriers between races, nationalities and social classes. For me it became a whole world that gifts me an opportunity to travel the globe meeting friends, sharing the same unity, loving the same vibey deep rooted Jungle Drum & Bass. One Love!
Flashback two weeks to 21 June. My friend El Dude helps me carry two heavy suitcases to the train that will take me to the airport. Tonight I’m returning to London. The initial part of my mission is done. The printers have finished printing the first All Crews Russian proof and I need to make a special delivery to Brian and the other contributors. Looks like I’ll love my new life.
How did this chapter begin? Way back in 2012 I received a message from Vladimir Zamansky, who initiated the translation, spending two years on it. I never knew I’d be involved even though the universe planned it.
I saw the All Crewsmobile on the road when I was in London for the first time sitting in the D&BArena office. All Crews was most the amazing gift I could ever imagine receiving. Back then I didn’t know this was ‘The Book’. And now I’m getting this Drum & Bass bible out to the Russian Jungle massive.
I first met Brian on the paradise island of Sardinia at Sun & Bass a few months after my conversation with Vladimir. It was my very first night at my very first Sun & Bass and I recognized Brian immediately with his eyes full of kindness and by the crowds’ adoration for him.
Later he appeared at the official pre-match festival party at La Posta bar where I celebrated my birthday. He asked, “Anna, will you translate All Crews?” For a second that seemed like an eternity, my mind went blank because I knew that this was where my responsibility began. I replied, “Yes Brian. I’m with you” then jumped in the All Crewsmobile.
B asks, “How do you visualise the Russian version of All Crews?”
“I want it to be exactly the same as the original like two-drops-of-water but with Russian text.”
“Ah,” he says. ‘The same as two peas in a pod’ but I get your drift.”
I got busy interpreting and working with the author which meant re-reading every word with the greatest scrutiny. We went word-by-word, page-by-page.
Apart from short lunch breaks, we worked all day. Though while we worked we joked, sharing stories, as I pencilled notes on every single page, adding extra notes whilst speaking to B.
After three months reaching the final word Brian said, “And it’s a wrap!” Next morning he went into hospital for a planned hip replacement – major surgery.
All Crews’ major surgery continued. After the corrections I sent the text to our talented Berlin based designer Nadine Gahr. Nadine found fonts exactly like the original. My designer friend Sergey Moskalev in Amsterdam created the pixelated fonts used for the chapter titles.
Working with the Cyrillic alphabet is an enormous task for a non-Russian speaker but Nadine was amazing enough to win the battle creating a 326 page book from the English version that came in at 248 pages. It was fascinating to see Nadine cope with quirks of the Cyrillic text. Characters like “и” & “й” look exactly the same but the small dot on second character makes a total difference in pronunciation and can completely change the entire meaning. It was a monumental task. But she cracked it.
Our Sun & Bass gifted friend, London from the Rooftops photographer James ‘JB’ Burns joined the All Crewsmobile replacing some pictures that we couldn’t use for copyright reasons. Big up the many other photographers including Tristan O’Neil, Tim Schnetgoeke and Des Willie who also kindly supported All Crews Russian. Each version of the book is individual. And we handle them like a delicate, exclusive dubplate.
Parts of our journey were hellishly difficult and we almost crashed and burned the Allcrewsmobile. The project left me in a metaphorical coma. And I needed the whole non-metaphorical summer lying in a dark room recovering, emerging with my first grey hairs.
Early July 2014 after the final post proof corrections at the printers, our shiny fresh exclusive dubplate is pressed and my flat is full of boxes. I send a picture to Brian. “Look B! We’ve done it!!” Then pack 30kg of books in my suitcase and set off for London.
It’s the night of the solstice and I’m leaving on the train to catch my plane. At the station my friend El Dude is outside my carriage waving champagne in a plastic bottle. The Drum & Bass in my headphones fills the air. I’m on a mission to get copies to Brian and its featured artists. At Moscow airport passport control and security goes unbelievably fast, like the place was empty but from me.
After a few hours nervous with excitement I land in Gatwick earlier than planned. Everything moves swiftly.
The taxi driver is waiting for me and my 30kg suitcase. Riding through South London’s streets I’m happy to return to the area I know and love so much. I open the window and breathe in the night. Shame I wasn’t able to arrive early enough for the event of the year – Goldie and the Heritage Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall tonight. Brian and everyone will be there now. And I just can imagine their feelings… Timeless.
My close friend and Sun & Bass beach after-party master Mog has a place for me to stay. It’s Saturday night and there’s a few industry people chilling round his place. I’m soaking in the hot tub drinking a few pints of my favourite tipple Guinness so excited about the forthcoming ten days. MC Response says, “Good luck with your journey Anna!”
July 24 4.45pm. I’m meeting Brian at the Ministry of Sound for Bailey’s 5pm Intabeats show. I’ve listened for years, never going out or planning anything during his slot.
Four years ago when I landed a job as the account manager in a Moscow advertising agency, my stipulation was never to start work before 11am on Wednesday mornings. I know myself and my radio-addiction. Considering the time difference, I’d never be able to wake up early enough to get to work after staying up late listening to all the Drum & Bass shows.
Anyway, a year after I started, my company joined a big corporation. My new boss called me into his office for a chat: “Anna, from next week you’re starting work from 9.30am sharp.”
“But what about our arrangement!?”
“This is how it’ll be whether you want it or not.”
“OK, but on Wednesdays I definitely can’t be in office by 9.30 because I listen to radio ‘til 6am every week.” I’ll never forget the look on his face.
“What do you mean, “You listen to radio?!?!?!”
I arrive at Ministry of Sound at 4.40pm but there’s no sign of Brian. Call. No answer. Should I leave? 4.50pm I see a guy on a mobility scooter. Brian? Nah. I’d better buy some new glasses. 4.57pm. Brian rolls up with his new A11 CR3W number plate! We ring the doorbell and enter.
Ministry of Sound is very crowded. People are everywhere, sitting by tables and walking around drinking beer. How could I forget? It’s the World Cup and England are playing their final game.
The studio is small but packed. Bailey’s assistants are Drum & Bass legends. DJ Clarky worked in Blackmarket for ages and DJ Chef runs his own show on legal radio. Before that he was on pirate station Kool FM. Chef also teaches kids music. Talented producer Darrell Invaderz is there for an interview. Cute lady DJ Sweetpea joins the crew. Edward Oberon and Paul T are in the studio for an interview and live mix.
The air-conditioning isn’t working. I’m hot and excited. How will I sound on British radio? Will I be able to find the right words to express my feelings?
Bailey says, “We are on AIR” starting his mix.
Brian and I are on in the first hour of the show. Producer Chef sets up our microphones. The crowd outside the window keep gesticulating at the TV. The studio concentrates. Chef and Clarky stare at two large monitors. I think, ‘They’re probably collecting social media shouts for the show.’ I go around and see… Nope. It’s the football! This is England.
Grooverider waves at us through the sound engineer’s window and then comes inside to give me a hug. I’m speechless.
“Yallright Anna. B? What ya sayin? ”
Their fists greet. Bailey, Chef and Clarky take pictures non-stop. Everything’s filmed. Should I be nervous? The ‘ON AIR’ sign turns red. The mics are live. Brian and Bailey start talking. Instead of nervous shock I feel calm. Brian and Bailey are with me. What can be wrong? I am who I am. And we’re here on an All Crews mission.
The interview went well, apart from missing all the shouts I was supposed to send. I totally forgot to take the list out the Russian copy of All Crews I’ve just presented to Bailey. The show is over. Outside we take group photos. I treat Brian to Nandos and a large glass of red wine.
We’re chatting, joking and talking All Crews. My phone flashes non-stop with Facebook, Instagram shouts and text messages, everyone is saying a big thanks to Brian and me for all the work we’ve done.
Friday evening. I’m carrying my 30kg suitcase again off to see the All Crews crew of JB, Greg, Brian and his wife Kate. I need to give them their copies of the book that they’ll never be able to read. But it’s the book, which means so much for each member of the crew. Reach Tottenham’s All Crews mansion. We’re drinking red wine and laughing in back garden.
Brian says, “Anna, Nadine will be here in a bit”. I can’t believe my ears. “She will! But she is in Berlin?!” Our designer and lovely lady enters the garden with her man Yan and I feel happier than ever before. We pass books to each other, signing signatures and writing messages full of love. One Love.
Herb is in the air alongside another energy level. Synergy. Ms. Dynamite’s singing on Shy FX’s track Cloud 9, “You get me high – high – high. I don’t wanna come down…”
Luke Howard the namer of clouds lived down the road and we’re talking about types of clouds, social media applications and teaching Brian how to post mentions on Facebook.
“Another special guest should be here very soon!” says JB. “Guess who?”
“Uhm… Bailey? Chef? Goldie? I have no idea!”
The dinner was amazing but I need to leave soon as I promised A-Sides that I’d support him down Fabric’s Good Looking night.
“I’ve gotta leave in five minutes to catch my train back to South London,” says Greg, as someone knocks on the front door. I answer and can’t believe my eyes…
“Yes Anna,” he laughs. “We finally meet!”
I’m speechless following the secret guest back to the garden. I totally forgot that it’s late and my Russian friend has been waiting ages for me at Victoria. We’re both supposed to head off to Fabric.
Nadine and JB are talking: “Yeah in Berlin…”
“Berlin! Did anyone say BERLIN?!”
He came straight from Berlin to Tottenham. And our secret guest is… NAVIGATOR. Everything is like a dream come true.
“Welcome to your new normality” my friend Mog once said. But I still can’t believe. Another Drum & Bass producer Benefit Beats, a Jungle evangelist from Kool London joins our incredible evening. I call my Russian friend saying, “Here’s the address. Please come. I can’t leave.” It’s a night I’ll never forget.
The rest of my special London trip remained very intense: Fabric for Good Looking with A-Sides, meeting Moose and a Junglette called Nicole, then Playaz till early morning.
Ministry Radio on Tuesday chatting with A-Sides, BTK and the guys from Innersoul. Later the same evening I check out Marky playing a special funky Brazilian set.
Next evening I’m down Soul in Motion with Bailey, Need for Mirrors, BTK, Edward Oberon, Paul T, Jumping Jack Frost, Fabio, Chef, Clarky and A-Sides. Even John B comes down from Maidenhead, dancing till late.
Two hours after the party’s end I have to be back at the airport because the Russian Jungle Drum & Bass lovers are bawling for their books.
Many people ask about my future plans. Will there be further updates or even another book? I don’t have any exact plans but there are still lots of things to do. And as long as there is faith, the All Crewsmobile will keep on rolling. I know, that journeys through Jungle Drum & Bass culture will continue.