Roger Close began selling imported tunes under the guise of FULL HOUSE PROMOTIONS (FHP) with accomplice Chris 'Kooljack" Ripoll from a garage in a little known suburb in the national capital of Australia, Canberra in 1988.
In the heady early days, the idea of an interstate guest DJ was unheard of, and we could only dream about the possibility of internationals visiting our unknown shores. Within a few months, FHP had joined forces with Jon Wicks (Clan Analogue) and the D-Mix radio show was born, airing late on Sunday night on a local FM sports station, 2SSS. With an ex Canberra DJ (The Phantom) working in a pub in London sending out tapes every fortnight of Danny Rampling's dance show on BBC1 and Graham Golds Hot 100 on KISS FM, plus one nutter on the ground giving us his crazy weekly round up from his bedroom, the show featured the very latest international underground music. We found ourselves experiencing the novelty of playing interstate at the Tunnel on the Gold Coast, crossing live to D-Mix
We launched a weekly club night in 1989 called VOODOO featuring Canberra's scratch master LD Glove, and hip house and acid music landed. The first interstate guest was AUST DMC Champ Drew Muirhead. We later featured the Melbourne based John Course of Vicious Vinyl on three decks. The only thing that worried us was the Criminal Justice Act in England which looked like closing down the underground dance music before it even started. Over the next 7 years, we worked with ACT authorities including a representative of the Chief Ministers secret youth initiative, independent MP Micheal Moore, the Federal Police, and the Canberra Institute of Technology, to validate the profession of dance event promotions.
As the music landscape changed over the next few years, we developed and followed the freshest possible sounds. On Boxing day, a small posse of rave protagonists landed in Canberra on a door deal, and over 500 witnessed the sound of The Prodigy and Dream Frequency, with Sydney's finest Peewee and local DJ Chris "Fresh" Fraser. The EXPERIENCE party series had launched!
It was not until 1993, that the community really took off around the country, and a new club night RAW finally brought regular visitors from Sydney including Abel, Jumping Jack, Nik Fish, Paul Holden, Sugar Ray, and Phil Smart. It also became the lauching pad for several young then unknown DJ's from the ACT including Danielson (Koolism), Nic Toupee, Ken Cloud (Mad Racket), John Mclean (Deep Techique/Melt), Jeremy Joshua now signed to DJ Sneak in the USA,and of course DJ Archie (The Ladykillers). I am proud to see Canberra bands like ASHTON SHUFFLE and D'Opus and Roshambo breaking new ground.
In 1994, Chris Fraser joined the team full time, and thanks to brilliant graphics artist (Kirsty) the ground swell continued with the EXPERIENCE series. The Prodigy returned and we squashed them into a small indy band venue with a very large PA called the Asylum, the night was called SMILE, and it rocked hard!!! One of my best memories was having a private party the night before the gig in a private 7 bedroom house. My door girl Beck organized a feast fit for kings, and the lads met and played live on decks with all the local DJ's, a local skate board manufacturer (they left town with several home-made decks) and our FX factory wiz who sold them three four foot life-like green aliens in silver space suits, which they took home on the plane after playing jokes on airport customers in the deli, before waving goodbye and catching their plane back to Sydney. We had a ball, and Canberra had witnessed the best techno band in the world! Later that year, with DJ MUSH-E we returned to the Australian National University for a memorable party called POW WOW.
Following the evolution of DUB HOUSE DISCO, while Chris and I chased the sound of NRG and TRANCE, Jon Wicks joined forces with Ken Cloud and Nic Toupee - and the Canberra Housing Authority was born. This laid the foundations for house music in all its forms to enter the Canberra Scene drawing the likes of Derrick Carter. With the announcement of the Olympics in Sydney, Southend created history and suddenly the world started to notice the best island scene in the world. As Ken Cloud left us for bigger things in Sydney, SMILE grew from strength to strength with Chris Fraser and Nic Toupee joining me as residents, and weekly rotating locals Speedloader, Fink, Mik-E, Downtown Baloo Brown (formerly NRGMC), Squid, Jeremy Joshua and the cream of Australia's finest rave/trance, hardstyle and breakbeat DJ's including Jahlion, MPK from Adelaide, Jumping Jack, Nik Fish, Spellbound, Paul Holden, Jade and Peter Tribe from Sydney.
While always in love with swing and funky discofied house music, from the days of the earliest jack'in Chicago house in the late 80's, I had also fallen in love with breaks from my introduction to hip-hop. I started playing English breakbeat and found support from two labels in the UK, Remix records and United Dance. Thanks to Peter Tribe and Chester, I became a monthly resident at one of the wickedest club nights in Sydney, known as The Breakfast Club by 1995 and the Scottish sound of Scott Brown become integral in the hardcore sound. We witnessed an invasion of UKs bigggest names as we played with SLIPMATT, CRU-LT, VINYLGROOVER, and RAMOS & SUPREME to name a few, thanks to tours coming through Sydney. SMILE moved venues to one of the best clubs ever built, Xtreme which included Mik-E's laser system, intelligent lights, three split levels, a thirty foot long DJ box.
Meanwhile, combining three dj's, mixing on three decks, under the banner DJ's IN FULL EFFECT, with one as a scratch/cut sampler with ARCHIE (the scratch master) always in the mix with other local Canberra DJ's including DJC, Whippy and Jon Wicks as guests, we made several tapes (before CD's arrived) with the inspiring SLIPMATT and the magician CRU-LT which sold out at Central Station and in England at record shop called REMIX RECORDS. For me personally, the best part was finally receiving promo records direct from England. For the collectors out there, check out the stupid answering machine message on the triple pack from Cru-LT! Lesson is don't call London at 4am after a forest party folks, or you will find yourself sampled - and used on a record.
Working closely with two of Sydney's finest underground DJ's, Sugar Ray and Phil Smart the SABOTAGE tour finally landed in Canberra with a crowd of over 400 enjoying the tech-house beat and what was then called the electro sound (a minimal dub sound to a techno beat). By this time FHP had several nights running, with funk bands like SWOOP and SKUNKHOUR and hip/hop/acid jazz djs Baloo/Mr DowntownBrown and Jude Fox, and house events featuring the likes of Mark Farina and Scott Hardkiss. Hardcore went mainstream and hearing Malorca (Ultra-Sonic) say...thats the wickedest Wednesday night we ave played anywhere in the world...made 1996, as Ultrasonic came to town and blew us away. The funny part was Jah-Lion dropping in by accident to play back-to back with me to finish the gig. We also witnessed ULTIMATE BUZZ, SEQUENTIAL ONE, WESTBAM and FORCE MASS MOTION (DJ Michael Wells).
On the party front the crew produced the best event of the year, and we invited groovers on a journey out there and beyond. Aptly titled RAVE NATION, it included an outdoor arena (the Holodeck), where Canberra's finest battled the nation's best back-2-back with Chris Fraser v MPK (Adelaide), Speedloader v George Vagas (Syd), myself v Jahlion (Melb), Mik-E v Culture (Brisbane). The skate crews built ramps, and the pyramid (from the flyer) complete with the eye, using a mirror ball - which the laser hit in spectacular fashion - in the rain, creating "green raindrops". The indoor house room (The Aboretum) featured a wall of 10 foot ferns surrounding the dancefloor, and featured Julian, Baloo (DowntownBrown), Andrew, Nicole (Nic Toupee), Ken Cloud and Jon Wicks. To complete the event, and thanks to the owner, the front room was full of pin ball machines pool tables and video games. The following week, FINK produced a new yearly event at Canberra University, DJ's were invited to play at Oktoberfest amongst the bands, and I received a very strange phone call from Sydney. In less than 24hrs, a production came down from Sydney, along with SLIPMATT, and a party called PEACETRAIN came to town overnight.
Following a move to Sydney, my focus shifted to dance radio and production with Ray and Phil on SABOTAGE tours and LOVE parties at the Metro. With my original door temptress Beck joining me, and while acting as Program Director, I co-produced and anchored the morning show, Brunch on community license contender Radio Dex, while Jon Wicks produced the weekly Breakfast shift. Brunch featured the best house DJ's on the planet including Mark Farina, Derrick Carter, Ian Pooley, and Gene Farris, along with our own Ken Cloud.
My favourite residency in Sydney was a regular Sunday arvo called CRISP playing fused and filtered disco and funky jazz tech house all in the same sandwich. The best remembered gigs were a Warm-Up gig (intro by Jazzy Jeff, exit by twisted acid breaks), deep filtered disco tech at Sublime, a Deep End appearance and a funky breaks intro through to driving tech house with a twist of disco set at Tweek'n. In recent years, I finally made it to Launceston in Tasmania (thanks to Millsy and Forthy:), and back to Canberra (thanks to Gav my old high school buddy).
In October 2008, I joined my good friend and brother in rhythm Jon Wicks, playing some of the house and rave classics from 89-93 back-2-back for REUNION:BACK AGAIN, playing the main room at the Metro on George St (a lifelong dream), after one of my local heroes DJ Robin Knight. Along with the pioneers of the Sydney scene, I played a 95-96 UK breakbeat and hardstyle set at ANTHEM 6:GOLD SERIES on ANZAC DAY 2009, and was blown away by the crowd response. The next morning I joined the UPSIDE DOWN DJ's for their 21st show, and played hip house, house and rave classics from 88-94 in a monster mash up on www.housefreaksradio.com with 6 DJ's rotating on 6 decks, with live drums, bass, rhythm, bongo's and keyboard in the mix.
I am now a DJ and member of Lucid Realms, a collective of like-minded individuals who present EARTHDANCE GIPPLSLAND. You can find me in the VIctorian Doof community where I play random parties with my Alaskan Malamute Hudson.
In over 25+ years, I have played with the some of the worlds finest DJs and artists, and many of my heroes, across virtually all known genres. A joint release with TSM (Three Stoned Maniacs) on Sony Music, and collaborations with Pocket and Jon Wicks can be found online around the traps.
I turned 50 in 2014, taking a small posse down to 90 Mile Beach to celebrate in style. The next adventure awaits.
Roger Ramjet’s tracks