UK garage is a small niche of house music in the United States, but in the UK, the impact of the genre on pop culture is huge. It's a more uptempo take on house music, with shuffling beats, and it's a parent to dubstep. Its most mainstream appearances in the U.S. have been crossover hits by Craig David.
In the early aughts in Dallas, you could hear the sound at the Groovology residency of DJs Mundo, Chrisko and Mark J. It came to an end after four years, but you can still hear them spin at the annual Bubblin event, which they host the last weekend of the year. It's the largest UK garage event in North America.
This year, Mundo is out of town, so DJ Sushi will keep his seat warm for the night. This week's mixtape features Mundo, Chrisko and Mark J tagging for a surefire set of UK garage.
How did the Bubblin event come about?
Chrisko: As UK garage was catching steam in the early 2000s, Arthur [Hincapie] from Valence wanted to do an event that took it up a notch. He wanted to do something a bit more dapper.
Mark J: We had a weekly called Groovology that lasted 4 years, ending in 2003, with Mundo and Chrisko. Arthur Hincapie was largely responsible for the nuts and bolts that gave us the opportunity to do Groovology. We started Bubblin to get the crew and the party regulars together once a year on the last weekend of the year.
Who has been involved, and do you still keep in touch with the crew?
Chrisko: The main DJs have always been Mundo, Mark J and myself. Emcees on rotation were Lifted, Tiny and myself. Arthur has always been the man behind the scenes making it happen. We all keep in touch via social media.
What is your connection to UK garage? What drew you to it? Do you play it throughout the year?
Chrisko: I came from a drum and bass background, and I’ve always been really into vocal tunes. Dallas has always had a top-notch house scene, and the drum and bass and house scenes were always intertwined. I definitely grew up with a love for house, and it really combined all of those sounds.
Mark J: I was always an R&B and soul kind of guy. I was also a house-head. UK garage appealed to me because of how it fuses those styles into something unique unto itself. Like Craig David was a perfect example of a crossover artist that was sold as an R&B act — especially in America — but was firmly planted in garage. At the time, there were a lot of R&B crossover remixes and otherwise that were cross-pollinating those scenes.
What other genres do you play?
Chrisko: Drum and bass was and will always be my first love. That’s what really brought me into DJing and emceeing. I worked with Adrian Katalyst in the late '90s, and he was instrumental into getting me into drum and bass in a bigger way.
Mark J: I've been deejaying since 1983, doing stints at at long list of clubs. At one point, I was gigging six nights a week. I've explored a lot of styles, formats and eras through all of those gigs. I grew up listening to Detroit on-air DJ legend Electrifying Mojo, who was known for covering all sorts of styles ranging from Detroit techno to electro to Prince to Boogie to B-52’s. I lived in West Michigan, but the influence of Mojo was huge on just about anyone coming from Michigan at the time. I started collecting vinyl when I was 6 years old. I've really experienced all types and styles.
How was this mix made? Is there a theme?
Chrisko: This was recorded live over Labor Day weekend in 2001. Groovology was on Sundays at Home Bar/Green Elephant, so three-day weekends were always good times.
What was your most significant musical experience this year?
Mark J: I had a blast playing pressure mode with Keith P and Lars before Lars left town. It’s always great to be invited to guest slot. I also did a guest mix for active sessions back in March. I got to explore different kinds of house that I like.
What is your take on the state of UK garage today?
Chrisko: It’s actually really exciting. There has been a resurgence over the last few years, and some of the OGs are back and making great music. Mark Hill and Pete Devereux, who were Artful Dodger, are back in the studio under the moniker Original Dodger.
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Mark J: M.J. Cole is out there and still doing it big; Wookie did a remix for Disclosure, who already pay more than a little lip service toward UK garage. UK garage is influencing popular music in the UK, and that translates over to all kinds of music everywhere in pop culture.
Where do you like to dig for new tunes nowadays, online or in stores?
Mark J: I go to record conventions, Half Price Books, listen to podcasts, mixes on SoundCloud. I love Forever Young and Doc’s in Fort Worth. I used to work at Oak Lawn Records from '97-2001.
1. Zed Bias Ft. Dynamite, Spee, Sweetie Iris — "Bite Em Up"
2. Ms. Dynamite — "Booo!"
3. Shut Up & Dance — "Moving Up"
4. MC Vapour Mark "Rough" Ryder — "Move Your Body"
5. Unk Artist — "We Rollin"
6. Shola Ama — "Run to Me"
7. Lonyo — "Garage Girls"
8. Unknown artist/track
9. Shanks and Bigfoot — "Sweet Like Chocolate"
10. Corrupted Cru Ft. DJ Luck/MC Neat and Shy Cookie — "Poison"
11. MJ Cole — "Crazy Love"
12. Bling Ting — "It's a Vibe Thing"
13. Tori Amos — "Professional Widow (UK Garage Mix)"
14. Mundo/Lifted MC — "Unk Title"
15. DJ Narrows — "Saved Soul"
16. Unknown artist/track
17. Unknown artist/track
18. Unknown artist — "Bad Boy"