Dance dance revolution
An oral history of how the Chemical Brothers, all-night raves, and a massive club scene made Orlando's EDM scene legendary
Published: July 3, 2013
FORTIER: We got more connected to the other parts of the world doing what we were doing, and we really felt part of something much bigger. These connections shined light on Orlando.
The Scene Explodes
CLIFF T: It went from being almost a little bit of a secret to this awesome scene that [got] clubbers to Orlando to party all night long. Back then, the clubs stayed open as long as they wanted, so the scene exploded artistically. It was pretty magical.
Q-BURNS: [There were] loads of independent white labels coming out of Orlando at the time, and many were selling loads, and not just in Orlando. We were inspired to start Eighth Dimension Records and put out our own 12-inch by an artist going by Atmosphere (an ex-member of Tick Tick Tock, actually) who sounded a bit like Orbital. We pressed like 500, which we thought was a lot, and then the distributor asked for 1,500. We were a new label, and the artist was new … I think they wanted more because we were
CANNALTE: Suddenly there were dozens of late-night choices … The weekend [radio] mix-shows were pretty much playing serious club music instead of the rotations they had been playing. With all that going on, what once had been strictly about the music started becoming more and more about the parties and the drugs, so I think [the scene] lost some of the original innocence.
Q-BURNS: I think the tourism thing worked in Orlando’s favor, as visitors would spread the word about what was happening here. That made our scene seem pretty important, and it grew by feeding off of that. The infamous Rolling Stone article certainly was fuel to the fire. I would go to record stores in cities on the west coast and you’d see a divider card designating a section as “Orlando Breaks.”
CLARK: Orlando was the leader of it all and brought international EDM to the States … [it was] like Seattle was for the indie bands in the early ’90s.
CLIFF T: So many DJs that went on to become legends – like Sasha and John Digweed – always seemed to be here in the early days. Trance, progressive,
house and breakbeat had the biggest impact here. Orlando ate up those sounds. The beauty of being open until 8 or 9 a.m. was crucial for the scene to grow throughout the ’90s.
Q-BURNS: I love that British people love Orlando, so some notable people visited in the ’90s and hung out. I met a vacationing Howie B (before he went on to work with Björk and Brian Eno) in my shop, and we hung out for a few days, and I talked him into DJ’ing the backroom of Phat N’ Jazzy with my records unannounced. Rob Playford, who ran the influential jungle label Moving Shadow and produced Goldie’s seminal Timeless album, popped by and he ended up hanging out with me in my young studio, giving production advice. Icey [brought] Afrika Bambaataa into my shop before an Edge party to ask if I had any jungle records that he could play at 33 RPM because “that shit’s funky when you slow it down.” That was cool.
> Email Jason Ferguson and Bao Le-Huu