Monday, May 29, 2017

Why Losing Marcus Intalex Hurts So Much: An Unapologetic Drum and Basser's Essay

The DnB community woke up to unbelievable news today, to find one of its founding fathers and the DJ and producer credited with the invention of liquid drum and bass has died. There isn't really much information available as to the details, but that's not really the point of this post anyway.

The importance of Marcus Intalex to the drum and bass scene cannot be understated. In the early 90s he was one of the first DJs to have a real radio show out of his hometown, Manchester, that featured predominantly drum and bass. He has countless legendary tracks on Metalheadz, RAM and his own now famous label, Soul:R.

I only met Marcus a couple of times but I can agree with his friends when they say that he was incredibly nice, down to earth and chill, even with backstage chaos and hedonism going on around him. Even if liquid wasn't your thing, pretty much everyone respected his work and knew his most famous tracks like "How You Make Me Feel", with its clean beats and soulful vocal samples.

Marcus's career isn't really what this post is about, either, however. It's about the community from which he comes and the utter and abject sadness we all feel over his death. I don't know how many others feel this way, but until I found drum and bass I felt like a sort of missing link, like I didn't belong, even within my own family. I sort of felt like I was searching for something and that no one really understood my perspective. I started playing string bass when I was ten, and I was sort of magnetically drawn to that low, rumbling feeling. When I was 13 or 14 and first heard jungle and then drum and bass, I knew I'd found it. I literally said to myself, "yep, this is the thing. This is what I've been looking for. I'm home."

I've quoted Jubei quite often in my writings for other publications as having said, "Once drum and bass is in you, it's in you." I've heard that sentiment echoed time and time again, and it was certainly true with me. My parents were really strict so I didn't get out to my first parties until I was older, but I knew that once I found that music I would be OK. When I started connecting with people in the scene, again the only way I can describe it is "home". This community are a family in a sense of the word that, I'm sorry, very few other music genres will understand. We have a shared reality. It's a perspective that can't be taught or pontificated upon. If it's in you, it's in you. It almost becomes chicken and egg at some point, because you wonder if drum and bass found you or you were meant to find drum and bass. It's tantric. It's grounding.

When we lose a member of the community, it's like losing immediate family, whether we knew the person well or not. I never met Spice and I never met Stevie Hyper D. I only met Marcus Intalex a few times, but hearing of his passing today fucked me up. I talked to his close friends, who, of course, felt it even deeper, and I talked to people who never met this gentle drum and bass giant, and everyone - unequivocally - was devastated by this loss.

For many of us, especially those who joined the scene between 1991 and 2001, Marcus Intalex was a big part of that first connection to the heavy bass, fast pitch and highly syncopated beats that our hearts and blood move to, and no matter what sub-genre you were feeling, Marcus was a favourite across all party lines. He introduced soul into jungle and drum and bass, and his beats were some of the cleanest among his peers in the 90s, and I daresay were a precursor to neurofunk. It's a loss on so many levels; community, family, heart, soul and rhythm.

I'm not judging or trying to separate from other parts of the electronic music community with this post. I'm writing this to get my feelings out before I explode and to honor the life and work of Marcus Intalex, and to put a respectful, honest piece out there for the community that feels to me more like family than my own family, especially since the loss of my own father. A few insensitive things have been said by other EDMers, and I've already forgiven them because if you're not in it, it's tough to understand. It's not a judgement, it's a plea. If a dnb person is a little crankier the next few days or distant, let them go through it. We've lost a brother this weekend, and respect around grief is always appreciated. Other than that, let's keep playing those Soul:R records. That's how he really would have wanted us to remember him. Rest in beats, bruv.