DJ Phantasy: Five Tunes That Changed My Life

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With Sub Zero’s remix of his classic anthem “44 Mag” helping put him back in the spotlight, the legendary DJ Phantasy stops in to give us a glimpse at five tunes which have not only changed his life but influenced him in a deep and profound way. Having played an integral role in the development of early rave/jungle culture, Phantasy shows no signs of slowing down as he continues to push the music forward through his Easy and #DCUK imprints.

Still, choosing five tunes out of a career spanning multiple decades was more difficult than he first imagined. “Think of this as a timeline rather than a top 5,” he advises readers, a series of “key moments that have meaning because of their influence and impact on my life and career in music.”

MADNESS – BAGGY TROUSERS – STIFF (1980)
The reason this record changed my life is because my friend Gus bought it for me when I was about eight years old for my birthday. It introduced me to vinyl and little did I know at that time that I would have a career in music. It was a great song for its time and although not necessarily a ‘rave’ classic, it has meaning to me in the way it started me on my journey of collecting records.

TYRONE BRUNSON – THE SMURF – BELIEVE IN A DREAM (1982)
Well, wow, what can I say except wtffffff. This tune changed my whole outlook on music in general. Around that time there was some seriously great electro music being made but this track is the one that changed my whole direction in music and made me start taking it a lot more seriously. Bunking into Dingals with my cousin Eamonn in Fulham at thirteen years old and hearing these tunes on a sound system, my path was set. Absolute classic. Love this tune. Probably my all time favorite.

A GUY CALLED GERALD – VOODOO RAY – RHAM! (1988)
I got into the acid house scene really early through my pal Donald and I remember at a warehouse party in Camden, the strobe was going ten to the dozen, the vibes were incredible and this tune come on with this big boing boing bass in it. I was like what-the-f- is this? It was stuck in my head all night long and I had to go out and buy it the next day whilst still up from the night before!

DJ PHANTASY & DJ GEMINI – NEVER TRY THE HIPPODROME – LIQUID WAX (1992)
I think this one should be obvious in how it changed my life. I was out there doing my thing every weekend, playing at some iconic events and then we came up with “Hippodrome.” This changed everything massively but to be honest, I didn’t actually realise what we had created and what was going on until much later. I remember we were in Jack Smooths (Sound Entity) studio and as we left the studio, Gemini turned to me and shook my hand and said something along the lines of, “That tune’s bad.” Not thinking anything I went straight to Copymasters, the dubplate cutting room and got two cut. One for me and one for Colin Dale. I called Colin and said “Colin, we’ve just made a tune; I want to bring it up to you now at Kiss FM.” He said “Get here before 10pm as the show starts then.” His show had actually started, so I called him whilst I was in the foyer of Kiss FM on Holloway Road. He ran down whilst his first tune was playing and grabbed the dub and said that he would call me later. As I got back in the car I heard live on his show: “I’ve got something very special to play you right now. I’ve just literally been given it and I gotta play it now. It’s Phantasy & Gemini, ‘Never Try The Hippodrome.'”

Well I tell ya. Me and Gemini nearly crashed the car! Haha. We fully didn’t expect him to play it so quickly and we were absolutely buzzing. As you can imagine, being as it was the biggest show on radio, the phones started popping off which was a big deal as in them days it was 50p per minute to call someone’s mobile! haha

FLUX PAVILION – I CAN’T STOP – CIRCUS (2011)
To pick a final tune is hard cause there’s been sooooooo much great inspiring music over the years that it’s unfair to just pick five but here it is. For this one you may think “Huh, why?” But it is relevant to me because in 2008 I had fallen out of love with the studio and had no intentions of ever going back in. The music that was about wasn’t inspiring me and I just felt it was becoming a chore rather than something to enjoy. Flux then brought this one out and I just remember the melody of the bass made my head nod, it was so simple, so effective, yet just bliss on the ears.

This is the track that inspired me to get back into the studio and for the first eighteen months I just made music for the sake of making music. None of it got released and probably never will but it gave me a renewed appreciation of the process of making music. I also decided at that time that I would make music for me rather than make music for everyone else. I was previously in a rut, where I was making a track to suit Hype or Grooverider or Andy when really not suiting any of them because I wasn’t true to myself. So big up Flux, Swane and Krafty for unwittingly giving me that nudge to get back in the studio. I’m now working with the seriously talented Dextone and we’ve got some exciting projects on the go.

DJ Phantasy’s “44 Mag” remix EP is available now via Easy Records. Click here to purchase.

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About Author

Colin Steven co-founded Knowledge Magazine in 1994. He also runs a book publishing company called Velocity Press specialising in electronic music and club culture.

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