“Word up. This is the Vibena story.

I never really cared too much about music until I heard stuff like 2 Unlimited “Get Ready For This” and The Prodigy – “Charly”. I was thirteen and knew nothing about underground music, so when I saw Charly on Top of the Pops I thought it was completely mental – it sounded really fast at the time and the hoovers were like nothing I had ever heard. I started taping hardcore tunes off the radio and buying the occasional vinyl with my extremely limited funds, I was particularly into Acen, and later Moving Shadow especially Omni Trio and Foul Play.

By then I had started messing around with a copy of OctaMED, an Amiga music program that was given away on the cover of Commodore User magazine. I had no idea how to make music – tuning, how many beats in a bar, all of these things took me ages to grasp. I had some friends at school who also used trackers and they helped me learn about these things and make music that very slowly sounded less terrible. I was still God-awful though.

In 1994 at the age of sixteen I managed to con my (yes, quite middle class) parents into buying me a Korg M1 synth. At this point I had started buying mixtapes and happy hardcore and jungle had essentially split into separate genres. One tape in particular, Slipmatt @ Helter Skelter from around April 1994 was amazing. This tape had brilliant tunes on it like DJ Demo vol 1, Sunshine Productions “Above the Clouds” remix, Fat Controller “In Complete Darkness”, Remarc “One 4 Da Vibes” remix and loads of Slammin’ Vinyl. I rinsed this tape in my Walkman for ages and tried to emulate the style using the piano sounds on the M1 and sampled breaks on the Amiga.

After a while I finished two tunes I was happy with, and sent them to DJ Brisk who wrote the hardcore reviews for Eternity magazine to get some tips. I was astounded to get a call from him a few days later telling me that he’d sent the tape to Slipmatt who was starting a new label. Amazingly enough, I then got a call from Slipmatt who came round my mum’s house and recorded the tunes from my mum’s hi-fi with a portable DAT player. I was gobsmacked. These tunes were later properly produced in a studio and were released on Universal as the Positive Energy 12″.

At this stage, I though I knew something about making music, but I was sadly mistaken – Positive Energy and the few Vibena tracks that followed were flukes really. By 1995 happy hardcore had become stompy 4×4 music and I wasn’t really into it anymore, though after hearing the excellent DJ Spinback mix CD on the cover of Dream magazine in 1996 I make a more stompy Vibena track (“Close to All Your Dreams”) which saw limited release on a couple of compilations.

By this time I was listening to mainly DnB, and fluked some remix work for majors (these were TERRIBLE productions so I’m not going to mention them here), and did an atmospheric track that got played out by several Good Looking records DJs.

All subsequent efforts to make anything decent failed so I went to uni to do a music tech course. The original mix of Wicked Atmospherics was the first tune I made entirely “In the box”, using Cubase SX and Kontakt. After uni I went to work full time for a music tech magazine, where I still work and attempt to further my still limited production skills. The 2010 remix of Wicked Atmospherics was created by me but includes additional production and mixing by Hattrixx. I hope one day to produce something entirely myself that doesn’t sound like ass.

So here’s to dreams, and in the words of Everything But The Girl, old friends.”

Fun Vibena facts – can YOU work out which are true?

  • “I was the first openly heterosexual happy hardcore artist.”
  • “When I made Positive Energy I had no idea what filters, EQ or compression were”
  • “Part of the beat from Positive Energy pt.1 was sampled from a “Lemmings” novelty record”
  • “I invented dubstep”
  • “Positive Energy was originally promo-ed on vomit coloured vinyl”
  • “The name “Vibena” is a play on the name of the squash drink “Ribena”
  • “Music production is actually really, really hard if you’re no good at it”
  • “It’s fun though!!!”