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Looking Inside The ‘Ravin Eye’ Of The Beholder. An interview with hardcore’s biggest and best magazine ahead of the HTID Hardcore Weekender 2013.
If you’re any sort of die hard or devout part of the faithful raving collective, there’s a very fine chance that on your way out of one or many of your favourite events, you’ll have been handed a small, handy, glossy magazine that not only is interesting, but also, informative, useful, funny, entertaining and dedicated to the very scene in which it documents the movements of. This magazine would of course be the quite legendary Ravin’ Eye and for well over a decade now, the team behind it have worked tirelessly, often on their own clock, always paying largely out of their own pocket and most certainly devoted this quite large part of their lives to present a magazine that not only fits the tone of the scene in which it chronicles, but also has built a following of fans globally as a result of their years of hard work and dedication on bringing a good quality, up to date and FREE publication that caters specifically for the scene in which it is distributed in.
Now entirely as important a part of rave’s history as the DJ’s, MC’s and Promoters themselves, Ravin’ Eye is hardcore’s answer to Mixmag, just with more fun and less seriousness and let’s be honest, that’s part of what makes the scene great. Here, ahead of their hosting and running of the now infamous DJ & MC competition which they hold at each HTID Weekender and the next of those being held on the 22nd – 24th March at the Trevelgue Holiday Park in Newquay, Cornwall; we thought it an ample opportunity to talk to the people behind the hardcore scene’s much loved read…
Hey guys, hope you are well? We’re guessing it's usually you that asks the questions, we at HTID thought it'd be nice for you to be asked a few for once, makes a nice change! Let's get back to basics, where did Ravin' Eye come from, where did it all start, how did it get started and who's behind it? How many of you on the team?
“It does make a nice change! Well, one of our raving crew came up with the idea for a hardcore newsletter back in 2000, she had been thinking about it for a while and funnily enough,; after the very, very first HTID (the small one held in Salisbury), she decided to mention it to us. So it was basically post-rave waffle and all the way home in the Car we were coming up with article ideas and funny features we could write.
It took us a good few months to get organised properly and to save up some money, we sent some interview questions to DJ Sy, never believing he’d actually respond, but he did and from that moment we were like, “Right, let’s do this!”
Initially there were four of us, but for the last five or so years it’s just been the two of us at HQ. Planning, writing, editing, designing and all the other day to day jobs, it’s always been something we do in our spare time along side full time work. We have always had other people volunteering to write articles and offering to help in other ways though so mostly it has felt like the team is much bigger.”
It does always seem like you have a massive team, yes, which is a good thing! Walk us through how you got your stories initially. As a then unknown publication, was it difficult to get the one on one time with the artists and get all the back stage access and things that you needed? How was it received by the artists and industry insiders behind the scenes to start with?
“Ravin Eye’ was always run completely anonymously, largely because we were ravers out every weekend and wanted to enjoy our raving without any association with a magazine. We never wanted any credit; we just did it because we love the scene. We never took any guest lists even to do event reviews back then, we went along to the night anonymously and if we thought it was good, the review went in the mag. Apart from a few interviews / special features conducted by people who wrote on our behalf (for example, Astraboy); most of our initial interviews were done via e-mail.
Artists and industry professionals were always helpful right from the very first issues and always supportive of what we were doing. Even initially, sending payments for ads by cash to a P.O. Box! No-one seemed to mind the anonymity aspect, if anything, it showed that we were not seeking any personal gain, we were in it for the right reasons. In fact, when the very first issue went out (after a Slammin’ Vinyl at the Sanctuary in Milton Keynes) we came home and there was a message on our answer phone from Whizzkid. He had picked up a copy and just wanted to let us know he thought it was brilliant and wanted to help any way he could. We think everyone just saw the value in having a mag solely for hardcore.
Gradually over the years various people in the scene worked out who we were and we also got to the stage where we wanted to re-interview artists and put a different spin on things by doing it face to face. By this stage the mag had been going for some time and many artists have approached us and invited us to their homes / studios. These were DJ’s and MC’s we had respected and loved the work of for many years and the opportunity to meet and interview these people was and is still amazing for us.”
Very nice indeed. How big was the first issue, was it difficult to put together, did you have way too much to fit or not enough, how did it all pan out first time around? How many copies did you publish then in comparison to how many now?
“The first issue was 3 A4 sheets of Paper (so 12 A5 pages), photocopied at a local Staples, folded and hand-stapled together! Damn, I remember those aching hands from the first few issues, our Stapler was crap! We had lots of ideas and more articles than we could afford to print (laughs). We look back now and it looks VERY old skool, not very well designed at all, but hey, it was a learning curve. We did 1000 copies, which when you’re stapling them by hand, is more than enough and we definitely wouldn’t want to do that with the 5-6000 copies at 28 or 32 pages now.”
You say you fund it all (pretty much) yourselves as well? Is it still as much self run and self funded now as it was say, right back in the beginning?
“The first few issues were funded entirely out of our own pockets and although we started to get advertising interest over the first few years, it was never enough to cover all the costs but it gave us a massive boost and encouraged us to continue. As with all aspects of the scene there have been highs and lows, whenever we have made more money through advertising we have increased the number of pages in the mag or the amount of copies we print or done fun giveaways like car stickers. We’ve never made a profit, but that wasn’t ever what it’s been about. We’ve always put money in to the running costs to cover Petrol for flyering, postage costs, etc.
It’s been hard in the last couple of years in the ‘current climate’, we’ve struggled to make ends meet, as have other promoters and artists and as such we haven’t had the amount of ads we used to get, but we’ve had massive support through donations from ravers which has made up some funding and covered the deficit in our print costs. So honestly, every pound that had been chucked into a donation bucket or sent via Paypal over the last year has made a MASSIVE difference to us and will continue to do so! So thank you to every single person who has helped us in this way!”
There’s more details on donations and how you can get involved to follow, but meanwhile, in the beginning, was it a difficult process to get them out there? How did you work out how and where you were going to get them noticed and read? Where is it that a reader gets a copy from?
“As I say, we did 1000 copies to start with and mainly used Epidemik, a flyering team who used to cover many events. We would choose a selection of events around the UK, large and small, each issue. We soon realised that having copies just go out in flyer packs was not a productive way to flyer though, it was far better to have our own team, saying the name of the mag as they flyered, raising awareness and making sure it was going to hardcore ravers, especially at the mixed genre events. We were also out pretty much every weekend raving anyway so wherever we went Ravin’ Eye would appear, even if it was just a few copies left in the chill out room or on the bar.
Over the years, the big events became the easiest place for us to distribute big numbers of the mag and as now, we tend to leave early (as much as we hate it) and flyer for the last hour or so as ravers leave. We also now use MDMA’s flyering team to cover some of the Northern events which we struggle to get to. The majority of our issues are still flyered for free in the same way, at the end of the night as ravers leave the events. We also have a copy mailed out with every hardcore purchase from http://www.cdpacksuperstore.com
We do offer a subscription if people want a copy mailed out to them, it’s now £10 for 4 issues which covers the P&P. We accept payments via Paypal to firstname.lastname@example.org or by Cheque / PO payable to ‘C Crane’ to Ravin’ Eye, PO Box 3628, Newport Pagnell, MK16 8ZX”
Get involved people! So Ravin' Eye has now been going how long? How often is it published? It is without doubt the hardcore Bible and the scene's most established publication. Why do you think that is? In your own words, why is it you think it has indeed become so popular?
“Ravin’ Eye has been going for 11 years this Summer (2013), we used to average between 5-6 issues a year, but it’s now going to be published quarterly. We think Ravin’ Eye’s popularity is born from the fact that we are ravers ourselves, we love the scene and that we try not to take ourselves too seriously! We try to balance out event reviews and artists interviews with funny, random features (did you take the Static Fanatic test this issue?) and we try our hardest not to be biased towards any particular style of hardcore, regardless of our personal taste and of course we’re always open to ideas for articles and submissions.
It was never supposed to be a ‘high brow’ publication with controversial features, the ethos is to promote a positive side to our scene and to reflect the nature of hardcore; having fun and a pure love of the music. Plus it’s free; it’s hard not to love something that’s free!”
Sounds like a perfect ethos to us! We live in a digital age, where Kindles and file reading devices and tablets appear to be the future, is this the way forward for Ravin’ Eye too and in answering that, what is the future for Ravin' Eye overall? What are your plans?
“This is something we’ve been asked a lot and as much as we appreciate how digital technology is the future for many publications we’re just not really wanting to take Ravin’ Eye that route at the moment. One of the key things that we love about running this mag is flyering it directly into the hands of ravers who have just come off a dance floor. Seeing ravers reactions and the enthusiasm people have for getting a new issue is a massive buzz, for us it’s the equivalent of a DJ looking up and seeing the response on the dance floor to their latest track, it gives us the incentive to work on the next issue, to put up with the stresses that come along with running the mag. If we took away that physical product and just provided the content online / digitally it loses a big part of what has made it special, for us and we think for the ravers who are given it.
Perhaps there is a middle ground where we make some of the content available for a small fee to download once the main issue is out, it’s something we’ve talked about a lot and who knows, we might find the time to get it sorted if the demand is there. We have already put the early issues online to purchase and at the moment it just doesn’t seem that ravers want the information in this format.”
You guys must have had many great adventures in your time running the magazine, want to give us some of your best memories / favourite funny stories?
“There are too many! In the early days, when the whole original team were equally into the scene it was just all about getting smashed and coming up with funny, random things for each issue, how many puzzles can we do about Scott Brown? (Laughs), raving friends became like business partners and that was a huge learning curve for us, but the friendships formed are something irreplaceable.
Traveling to Canada for the last ever Hullaboloo and getting literally mobbed by candy ravers giving us original ‘UK Crew’ candy gifts, that was certainly memorable, then getting the bug and traveling to Australia to follow the Raverbaby takeover, partly because we just wanted to go and partly because it would be great to write about it in the mag, that was an amazing experience. Pretty much every face to face interview we have done in recent years has been brilliant, meeting and getting to know the artists who we have followed for so many years and have so much love and respect for is incredible and we feel so lucky to be in a position to do so. Getting invited to Styles’ studio, on a road trip with MC Storm or to meet Hixxy at the Pub are things we will never ever forget.”
Just some of the memories, we’re sure you’ll treasure forever. Looking back and looking forward however, as a perfectly placed organisation to document the rave scene and witness it's twists turns and changes, how have you watched the scene change in your time as publishers and where do you see it going next?
“The rave scene, as with any music scene, has highs and lows of popularity. From when we started out, the massive numbers attending raves in the early nineties, through the ‘happy hardcore’ era and then it was back to the underground, a rebirth of new sounds at the end of the nineties, when the scene was very small in comparison. We started Ravin’ Eye in 2001 and over the next few years watched the music soar in popularity again, more commercial successes and sounds bringing new ravers into the scene.
Again in recent times, the focus has come back to the core followers as money is tight and the music is changing again. These are the times we’ve often found to be the most exciting for the scene, producers experiment and find new sounds to entertain us with; new producers and DJ’s get a shot at bringing something fresh. You only have to look at the Future World label to see how much exciting talent is bubbling in hardcore right now and labels like Hardcore Underground finally getting more recognition bringing more variety. The scene will keep evolving, as will the music and as long as ravers love the vibe that hardcore creates (and what’s not to love?), then there are plenty more exciting times to come!”
We’ll agree with that! Moving forward, you're hosting the Ravin' Eye DJ & MC competition at the HTID Hardcore Weekender 2013 in Newquay in March, please tell us about the event, why people should come, the competition, the prizes and the part you have to play in it all...
“HTID have found a superb home at Trevelgue Holiday Park, the site and Staff are just so laid back and welcoming to the ravers and the whole atmosphere there is just a perfect backdrop for the hardcore crew. HTID take over the site in style, with the quality sound systems you would expect in all arenas and lets face it, this, alongside a messy weekend away with all your raving mates is just too good to miss!
We’ve held the DJ / MC competition final here for the last two events and it’s been great fun. Plenty of ravers make it down to the Main Arena to support everyone during the daytime on Sunday (12:30pm onwards) where the finalists have a chance to showcase what they can do for a live audience. The deadline for CD entries to the competition is Thursday 28th February and we then have a week or so to choose our final selection for these live heats. If the last competition was anything to go by, the standard just gets better and better and the number of entrants goes up and up! We’ve already received some excellent demos but there’s still time to get your entry in, so if you’re up for the challenge please send it to us on CD, no more than 30 minutes in length to Ravin’ Eye, PO Box 3628, Newport Pagnell, MK168ZX
We’ve got MC Storm and Joey Riot on hand as our guest judges this time and they’ll be bringing their vast experience, listening out for the quality and skill that will win the top DJ and MC a main stage set on the Sunday evening, plus interviews in Ravin Eye and a studio session from Joey Riot. Quite a prize!
Please come along and support these upcoming talents during the finals and for the winners set on Sunday 24th March, they could be future stars of the scene!”
Thanks guys, best of luck with it all, we'll close out by asking you to set a competition question for us, it can be a true or false or a multiple choice or anything you like really and we'll use it to set off our competition for this week, which is to win a HTID Hardcore Weekender 2013 T-Shirt!
What year did Ravin’ Eye begin?
A) 1951 – We’re f**ked, but still having it!
B) 2011 – That’s right, 50 issues in 2 years, not bad eh?
C) 2001 – Over a decade of stomping and telling you all about it!
Answers please to email@example.com, please include your Name, Address, Post Code and a Contact Telephone Number that we can reference against your booking information for the Weekender. Please note this competition is a COLLECTION ONLY prize and therefore should you win MUST be collected from the HTID Hardcore Weekender 2013 in person, details above are required so we can cross reference your details with your existing Weekender booking information. Therefore, only those actually attending the Weekender are eligible for entry to this comp, if you’re not already attending and would like to, see information below!
Thanks guys, keep us posted on where we can keep up with Ravin’ Eye?
“Look out for Ravin’ Eye flyered at an event near you, for updates of flyering schedules and other information, catch up with us at http://www.facebook.com/ravineye and on Twitter - http://www.twitter.com/ravin_eye or @Ravin_eye”
We also offer a subscription service to the magazine, payments to be made via Paypal, either for a block of 4 issues (£10) or issue by issue (£2.50) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please remember to include your name, address and the issue number(s) you require when sending any payment. The latest issue is number 50. Next issue is due for release approx - beginning of May. If you've missed any issues, we sell back issues at £2 per copy; the only ones no longer available are issues 1-4 and 11.
We also accept payment by Cheque or Postal Order payable to 'C Crane' sent to Ravin’ Eye, PO Box 3628, Newport Pagnell, MK16 8ZX and you can also donate this way, if you wish to support the mag in any way, thank you!”
Ravin’ Eye host the DJ & MC Competition on Sunday 24th March 2013 from 12:30pm in the Main Arena at the HTID Hardcore Weekender 2013, taking place from Friday 22nd to Monday 24th March 2013 at the Trevelgue Holiday Park, Porth, Newquay, Cornwall, TR8 4AS. More information can be found at http://www.htidweekender.com. You must be swift though - as the deadline for booking is Friday the 15th March!
Want more downloads? You can now purchase MP3 set bundles from your favourite HTID events at the MP3 CD Pack Superstore here: http://mp3.cdpacksuperstore.co.uk
Enter The HTID Hardcore Weekender 2013 & Ravin’ Eye DJ / MC Competition – Info Page:
Words: Jon Brown