“DON RANKS, dj extradornaire”
Interview by Chris Little
Everyone’s gotta to get their start somewhere, and what’s a better start then diggin through the likes of Matt C’s crate of records before you even knew what you were doing. Don Ranks, a dj that seems to be everywhere now, was the lucky kid whose brother just happened to be friends with Matt C, a forgotten crate of records at his house led Don Ranks trying his hand at djing, a profession, that anyone whose heard his sets will admit, is all old school to him. His focus right now is the jungle vibe, but like many dj’s he got his start by playing house, such classics as Mr. Fingers and Larry Hurt started him on the right track. A progression first through techno, then through speed garage and the Belgium Sound. Don exparimented with jungle at a few parties and the reaction was so strong to this relatively unknown sound, that this self described futurist filled up his collection with more and more jungle. When Raga took off, Don Ranks head spun three times, it blew his mind, and so for the fortunate ones, we the people now get to experience jungle in all it’s glory at the hands of Don Ranks.
DETNOV: Describe the Jungle scene in Toronto
D.R.: The scene likes to go three steps forward and two steps back. I remember when energy 108 was playing jungle but now you don’t hear it on thier airwaves anymore. They have the flipside show, which is cool, but it’s not really pushed on the mass radio, I guess it doesn’t make money for them. But what happened was that delirium and other companies that were doing jungle fell off and all you had left was Syrus. The scene goes forward but then it likes to go back, and then it grows somemore, and new people come and different faces, all kinds of people that were around when I started are no longer around. But the scene seems to be moving with the youth right now, it’s a younger thing. But it’s a progressing scene, and it’s still very young, it’s still going to progress more.
DETNOV: So the scene started at the underground
D.R.: Definitely, everything starts at the underground, then moves to the overground, which I don’t have a problem with, some people like smaller scenes, I like bigger parties.
DETNOV: So when it went mainstream, did you notice a commercial sound, something that all the songs seemed to have in common
D.R.: See that’s Drum and Bass, that’s Jungle, its got a certin beat pattern in it and innovations come within the beat pattern, the beat works in a frame work. Look at house, it’s always been and always will be four on the floor. The jungle beat changes, now we’re into “boom ba, boom ba”, but it devolps and the music progresses and that’s why I love music. It’s so exciting, it’s a progressing music and always changing.
DETNOV: So how does the Toronto scene compare to scenes in other cities?
D.R.: When Toronto’s roaring, Toronto’s roaring, but I got tell you the truth, I was in New York the other day and it was like something I haven’t seen. I haven’t been to London yet, but when I went to New York, I think New York was running to tell you the truth. There was noise in the crowd, the crowd was a little more responsive, without the MC having to guide them. Like here people let the MC tell them what to do, but in New York people were doing their own thing. That was only one night but I caught a vibe in there that I haven’t really felt in Toronto except maybe on New Years. Here people seem to like to be guided as oppossed to listening for themselves to hear certin things within the music that’s gunna make them say “give it to me again, REWIND, JACK UP”.
DETNOV: The scene aside, what should the world know about Don Ranks?
D.R.: I like to make the people have a good time. Every dj has their moments when they think something is running, they’re going to play a certin thing, but generally, myself, I like to make people have a wicked time. I just always like to be ahead, at least within the sound of the music, I want the sound of what’s coming not of what’s here. But I will mix it with Raga and maybe a familiar tune once in a while. I play to the crowd, but I still like to sound like the future so I try to play to the crowd what’s coming as oppossed to what the sound is now.
DETNOV: So what are you spinning now, what fills your crate?
D.R.: I gotta say it’s some things that aren’t out yet, a couple of things in the studio that we’ve got cooking, myself and Laza. Laza has a couple good tunes that I like, but mostly things that are in the studio that have a good sound to them, New Crust, Andy C., High Tech, V Function. There’s always new things coming out, so come next week it could all be different.
DON RANKS, coming to a party near YOU!!