When did the Flava start:
Flava itself i believe started on the last Friday of September 1994.
I know we quickly settled on having Flava as the 4th/last friday of the month so slight chance that the first one was a bit earlier in September but by the October one it was on the last Friday in general.
Music policy was obviously hip hop but back then there wasn’t the poppy RnB chart stuff that people call hip hop. So when we said Hip Hop it was obvious what it meant.
How did the night come about?
In 93 Stussy Stu and myself along with another student (a friend of Stussy Stu) did a night called Freestyle in a venue called Charlies which is now Voodoo Lounge.
Music here was hip hop from Stussy. I played reggae/ragga/hip hop and the other dj played a jazz funk fusion style.
We started to play the Chill Out room at Cultural Vibes in The Warehouse and used the name Freestyle. The student who played funk moved away, this meant there was a natural move towards hip hop becoming the music played.
By Sept 94 Stussy Stu set about getting a night together and wanted me involved and was thinking about straight Hip Hop so as to stand out from anything else of that time.
Doing the previous nights we were making contacts with Plymouth people that we didn’t all know before and we knew that for Plymouth people the person known as Tall Paul was THE hip hop DJ in town. Therefore any hip hop night needed Tall Paul involved without a doubt.
We did our first year in the studio.
We then went to what was then called The Sound Factory. The building in a previous era was Zenas. Again I think we did a year in there give or take a month.
We then went back to the studio for about one year.
In October 1997 we had our 3rd birthday night in The Cooperage.
The Cooperage had just got its 2am licence and with a suitable stage for live events and a PA system by NUB permanently set up there with one of their guys on the pa’s mixing desk plus a lighting system set up for regular use, those were all part of the reason why it was the right place to be at that time.
Things like quality of sound, room for live acts and alternative deck set ups where all things that had not been consistently suitable at previous venues.
We definitely did 2 years at The Cooperage.
The 5th birthday celebration in 1999 was the first time that we did room two for the DnB night Legends of the Dark Black held in The Dance Academy.
That was a monthly affair and we continued doing the second room for Legends until it finished.But i not sure which year it was but I think it was 2004.
There was then a couple of nights done in Tramps in the bus station, one of which was the Souls of Mischief gig.
There was also a few nights that we did in a club called The Bus Stop (The White Rabbit) which Im fairly sure where done under The Flava name and co booked/promoted with the team at The Bus Stop.
We were a mixed bag of residents in the first place.
A student called Stu who used the DJ name of Stussy.
There was Paul Sullivan who used the name Pes. He’s now established himself as an author of books on music and travel. He’s just done a book on the influence of dub and how it has spread to music all round the world.
(DJ) XL a well known person of the Plymouth club scene and early hip hop and rave scene in Plymouth. He had previously dJed under his nickname of Tall Paul but due to a well known national DJ called Tall Paul our Paul became XL.
And myself Bloodshot, I had been involved in DJing and promoting of my own club nights (in Plymouth) that musically had gone from punk/goth/hippy/indie roots into a hip hop/reggae bass styles of the time (early 90s).
Paul Sullivan and Stussy Stu movd to Brighton after the first year and remained involved for another 8 months travelling back and forth but eventually they were doing their own thing in Brighton. For the remainder of Flava XL and Bloodshot continued as residents.
First Rate: who came with a load of people in minibus such as Kilo from graf world and some breakers.
MK: a 4hr set for £100! XL booked him from seeing an ad in HHC
Disorda a pre-100% UK hip hop set, he played all American.
Grasshopper: booked via blade. I thought he lived in UK but halfway thru the night talking to his car companions they said “and yeah we got to get back to belgium for a show tomorrow night”. He driven over to Plymouth for our night with Blade as a passenger (not performing) then back to belgium asap for £150!
Pogo: Phoning out the blue (landline before mobiles) at 7am the day before the first ever Enforcers show (the show gave them the idea for the team) kinda hassling me for a map to the Sound Factory but i had the evening before sent it to Profile the Dj Agency.
It was just funny and totally unexpected to have DJ Pogo waking me up with my bedside phone at 7:05am!
Dex Dexter: from Brotherhood, he’d signed to virgin and did it for around £150 max just because since he signed to a major he never DJed anymore in a club, cant remember if he came with mc.
Shortee blitz: first visit £180 and TY was with him!
DJ Noize: had his car impounded during the show, he needed it to be in gatwick at 2pm for a flight to denmark!
Semtex: Came by himself, no mates in them days lol and we found out he was one armed! Its hard enough getting the tunes out the sleeves init let alone aero cutting with one usable arm!
Plus many more like: Mr Thing, Task Force, Mark B, Roots Manuv, Kofi.
3 tracks closely associated with Flava:
Apache -Incredible Bongo Band.
Apache because of the breaking and because before Flava there was no breakin regularly in clubs and so the only people that knew that track were the breakers.
For many of the average punters coming to the night they would be unaware of the tracks significance and many times in the early days i had people enquiring about the track and wondering why it would be getting played as its not what people who are not massive hip hop heads would think of as hip hop. People would wonder why it was played because they would know the tune and if anything associate it with The Shadows, people would be really confused.
DWYCK by Gangstarr feat Nice and Smooth.
DWYCK because it was constantly one of the most popular tunes played. Nearly every guest DJ would play it and plenty of people went on to buy the Gangstarr Hard to Earn album so as to get the track. Its an all round classic track from what is called the golden era.
Cranium by Cella Dwellas feat Cage.
A track first played by XL that we both went on to play regularly at the night. We played it so much it went on to become a hip hop classic for Flava yet at the same time it was a very underground tune that was not widely known in hip hop.
Thanks to Bloodshot for helping out with this feature.
Flava flyers courtesy of http://phatmedia.co.uk/
Photo’s Courtesy of Raek.