by Patrick Ogle
DB might be the most important DJ/producer out there when it comes to the introduction of Drum & Bass to the United States. If you saw the film, Kids, you saw his Breakbeat club, NASA. Likewise if you were an aficionado of Sm:)e Communications you will remember DJ Dara, signed by DB. The two then opened Breakbeat Science, a label and store that was all about Drum & Bass.
And while this article isn’t about music REALLY, DB is still doing music. His recently released material under the moniker Ror-Shak (with partner Stakka) is witness to this. He has also been active in releasing mix CDs; one per year for the past 13 years.
But this isn’t all DB has been up to. He has been reinventing himself as artists do. And anyway, you cannot DJ forever (well, you CAN but it gets sad sometime around your 60th birthday).
“I am getting pretty old, pretty long in tooth to be out til 5 a.m!” he says. “And kids don’t want to see some old guy spinning.”
He still retains his love of Drum & Bass but accepts that it never hit it big in the USA.
“I fell in love with drum and bass and pushed it but it is the least popular of the dance cultures. I got into it before it was popular and rode its peak into the mid and late 90s,” says DB. “It is STILL in decline in America. It is a tiny, tiny genre. The fans who love it are hardcore, dedicated kids.”
Don’t take from this that DB is bitter. He says all this with no rancor and in good humor (would that all musicians were so ready to move on and create new things)
These days DB is working on an art project of a rather extensive scope- a book and touring art show of collected “sticker art.” It is basically a personal history of a sticker collection.
“The genesis was when I decided to gather all the stickers I had collected into two or three scrapbooks. I started for personal reasons.” he says.
A friend of his wife’s is a literary agent and thought it was a good idea. He did research and found there were no similar books. The book, Stickers From Punk Rock to Contemporary Art, begins chronologically with Andy Warhol’s banana from VU.
“I thought that was a great kick off point” he says.
“It goes to show that if you’ve got a good idea you don’t necessarily need agents and managers.” says DB.
He did expand the concept beyond just his own scrapbooked collection as well. The original collection includes mostly early stickers not connected to skate fashion. Later he added to the collection with more skate fashion-type stickers from companies such as Fresh Jive, Fcuked, Stussy and others.
The book goes beyond stickers collected by DB. He also has contributions from artists such as Banksy (there are numerous stickers from Banksy in the book) and a multitude of musicians.
“I reached out to the White Stripes, Radiohead and everyone said ‘sure’ when asked to help.” says DB. “There have been very few who have said ‘no’ or not been helpful.”
Hip Hop designer and pioneer Brent Rollins also contributed to the book.
“Brent Rollins has, without a doubt, the biggest collector of hip hop stickers I have ever seen.” says DB.
Another key contributor was Radiohead’s designer Stanley Donwood; He wrote text and gave permission to use his designs for Radiohead. For those now aware of Donwood’s work he did all the album and poster art for the band.
KAWS, an artist who, in the early 90s went into bus stop stands, takes out ads, paints them again and puts the new work up in the same place also contributed as the book expanded beyond just stickers and into contemporary street art.
“The majority of the book is contemporary street type art. That is what the publishers know is hot,” says DB. “We are trying to get funding to take it around the world, do it big. It is a collection of 5,000 stickers but not JUST stickers but other media as well.”
The book is tentatively slated for release September 14 and a tour of between a dozen and two dozen cities is planned, world-wide, following the release. The collection will be on the road for between two and five years.
They are doing this up right. No slapdashedness here. The reason for the tentativeness of the release date relates to quality. The first samples of stickers to be included in the book were not up to snuff quality-wise. So, back to the proverbial drawing board.
DB is also a partner in the recording/multi-media label, Deaf Dumb & Blind Recordings. When he has a second to breathe he spends time with his wife and two young kids. He says he tries to sleep but no one with two small children really gets to sleep. If all this were not enough he does a radio show.