- The Berlin label reissues a drum & bass classic for its 25th anniversary.
- The first time Kemistry & Storm went to a specialist record shop in London, they were practically laughed off the premises. Several months later, when they began posting mixtapes to prospective promoters, complete with CVs and bespoke artwork by Goldie, they made sure to keep their gender a secret. At their first gigs, Kemistry was constantly fielding requests from ravers wanting to touch her blonde dreads. She usually laughed it off as "curiosity." These kinds of tricks and concessions were part and parcel of being female artists in the male-dominated rave scene of the '90s.
Storm has since said that none of this really phased her and Kemistry. They were too focussed on music, and they had each other. Bound together by a deep obsession for rave tunes and DJing, they were a formidable duo with a powerful synergy. It's a huge cliché at this point, but the way they finished each other's sentences, especially in this excellent interview from 1998, is kind of amazing. From the late-'80s until Kemistry's freak death in 1999, they shared everything together: rooms, dance floors, records and eventually DJ booths at clubs all over the world. They helped Goldie get Metalheadz off the ground and became residents at the label's legendary party at Blue Note. "For me to lose half of myself... it was just so shocking," Storm told Dazed last year.
Three months before Kemistry died, DJ-Kicks: Kemistry & Storm hit the shelves. Still the only drum & bass entry in the series, it's widely considered one of the greatest mixes in the genre's history. It came at an interesting time. Frictions, caused by rapid commercial growth and the rise of numerous sub-genres, were appearing in the scene. Dozens of crews and labels were suddenly in competition. Kemistry & Storm could have packed DJ-Kicks with Metalheadz tracks, but instead they reached out to their friends. "They were all making such great tunes," Storm said recently on NTS Radio. "We could see that the !K7 thing was a platform to maybe move them a little further as well as ourselves."
The mix, recorded on vinyl in just two takes, is impeccably put together and shot through with an exhilarating energy. It also captures a unique moment for the two DJs, who, for the first time ever, are playing each other's tunes. Despite sharing a record collection, they never crossed due to subtle differences in taste and style. Storm was tougher and rougher. Kemistry loved letting the light in. By this theory, Kemistry executes the mix's most audacious moment, its first burst of sunshine, a transition so glorious it sits etched into the minds of drum & bass fans worldwide: the snarling funk of Bill Riley's "Closing In" into the celestial chords of Sci-Clone's "Everywhere I Go (Remix)."
This is the beauty of this DJ-Kicks: flashes of jazzy brilliance set against a dystopian backdrop, like fireworks against the night sky. The drums smash and crunch with purpose. The basslines ooze a kind of mischievous funk. Take "Pressure" by John B, with its elegant melody followed by a guttural drop. Or the jazzy swagger of J Majik's "Space Jam." Some of the best tracks are plain nasty, like Primary Motive's "Venom," whose electrifying synth line first emerges naked and fierce from a thrash of percussion. "Tronik Funk," the mix's incredible final tune by Dillinja, is another special moment. Kemistry & Storm always liked to leave the best until last.
DJ-Kicks: Kemistry & Storm is an iconic mix. Along with Goldie's Timeless LP and Fabio & Grooverider's BBC Radio 1 show, which launched in 1998, it helped bring drum & bass to the masses. More importantly, it showed young women who loved this music what was possible. "I think she inspired a lot of women," Storm said about Kemistry on NTS. "Women seem to be able to now have a voice. It's not a level playing field, but we're getting there."
01. Dom & Roland - Trauma
02. John B - OlÈ
03. Architex & DJ Loxy - Submerged
04. Test - The Fuse
05. Digital & Spirit - Mission Accomplished
06. DJ Die - Clear Skyz
07. Bill Riley - Closing In
08. Sci-Clone - Everywhere I Go (Remix)
09. Decoder - Stash
10. Goldie - Hyaena
11. Jonny L - Uneasy
12. John B - Pressure
13. Primary Motive - Venom
14. J Majik - Space Jam
15. Test - Static (K7 Mix)
16. Absolute Zero & Subphonics - The Code
17. Test - Tronik Funk