Over the years, the cities of Bristol and London have graced us with a cultural significance that’s very much their own. How fitting then that they both played key roles in the life of DJ/producer, Raj Panasa aka Bearface. Born in Bristol, he decamped to London during his formative years in the late ‘90s, a choice that would play a profound effect both on his outlook on life as well as his musical make-up.
Soon after he immersed himself in the local acid jazz scene, Bearface became a regular at clubs such as Plastic People, where his love affair with all things house music only intensified further. “I always loved the music that the DJ was playing at 3am”, he states, and a life-long infatuation with the sounds of Masters at Work, Mood 2 Swing, Ron Trent and Chez Damier would appear to cement the point.
After honing his own sound over a number of years, his first release, the ‘Bare Brass’ track, became KISS FM’s ‘Track of the Week’, an accolade that eventually got the record signed to Roger Sanchez’s Stealth label and licensed to compilations by Defected and Vendetta.
Following on from ‘Bare Brass’, he released several more tracks on Stealth under the Bana Kuba alias, including ‘Tribal Dancing’ which became a fixture in his sets for some time. Since then, a host of labels have taken on his music, including the aforementioned Exploited, as well as Volupso, Clubstream and Clubstar to name a few. Many globally renowned DJs have also leant their support, with Hector Romero, Danny Tenaglia, Todd Edwards, James Zabiela and Groove Armada among those who’ve showered his music with praise.
These days, Bearface is busy helming his Beartone label, which has enjoyed great success recently courtesy of the San Jose EP. The release ultimately brought him to the attention of the mighty Exploited, where Claptone and Purple Disco Machine were among those who leant their support to the brilliant sounds of ‘Moon’. A far cry from his early days as an acid jazz percussionist, the record nonetheless highlights his penchant for eclectic tropes in seriously impressive fashion.
Always one to embrace new ways of working, 2017 saw the producer work in tandem with a junk percussion band, while 2018 will feature his second release on the much- celebrated Exploited. Looking forward, Bearface is currently working on a new live set that aims to showcase his intricate ability to work between genres as well as his love for dancefloor dynamics. With further releases in the pipeline for the likes of Exploited Ghetto and Beartone Records, the following few months are sure to prove particularly fertile ones for the multifaceted producer. Watch this space!