Drum n Bass is stronger than ever and in Oslo where it’s popularity has never waned in the margins of club music, a crew has emerged from the depths of the scene to fly the flag for the genre from this wave to the next. BigUP has been a fundamental force in the current push happening in Oslo, resonating with a renewed interest in the genre happening all around the world.
Constituting a few generations of DJs and producers who cover the vast expanse of DnB and Jungle, BigUP represents every nuanced corner of the genre and community in Norway. Over the last few years they’ve been bringing sounds from liquid to hardcore to club spaces around Oslo, with regular appearances at Jaeger. They came back to their traditional midweek spot at Jaeger two weeks ago with the cameras trained on them.
Even during these difficult times, Drum n Bass proved itself resilient yet again, as BigUP made a show of their expansive interpretation of all things drum n Bass and Jungle with Lug00ber, Tech, Drunkfunk, Simon Petter and Fjell representing the crew from our sauna. In the down time between their visit and now, we reached you to the bigUP! crew to ask some questions while we premiere their set on YouTube.
Tell me about the origins of BigUP! and the circumstances and ideas that informed the beginning of the crew?
Fjell: Late 2017 the guitar player of my band sent me a link to an announcement by Oslo Sportsbar, in which they were looking for DJ’s to play on a monthly basis.
Having had a concept before (Percussive Maintenance at Skuret bar in Oslo) I sent in my resume, i.e. some poster designs and mixes.
In January 2018 I got invited to do a short test run in the bar which I did together with Drunkfunk, and from that point on we kept playing on a monthly basis. Late 2018 we moved to Naboens pub’s basement and have been playing there until the quarantine in April 2020, together with the gigs at Jaeger.
The main thought behind Bigup is to let people have a proper night out at a concept where they can expect the deeper and more soulful styles of D’n’B and Jungle.
Typical for our concept is to have the DJs play 2 half-hour sets: An early and late slot, which brings a lot of variety in both style and tempo. This also gives the DJs the opportunity to play for a smaller and larger audience during the nights.
How did you all find each other, and was there anything constituting a scene that brought you together?
Fjell: We pretty much ran into each other during the different DnB nights that ran the last decade and a half here in Oslo, both on the dancefloor and behind the decks. The scene here is pretty open and in general both the audience and DJ’s are very easy going. So I can say we were friends quite some years before we became the ‘Bigup’ crew.
My first thought after getting the monthly gig was to share it with the DJ’s I knew who had the drive and the experience from running other concepts:
Drunkfunk and Tech I know from ‘Room 101’ at the Villa, I knew they could deliver good sets and their selections would really compliment mine.
Simon Peter I know from ‘SubPub’ at Maksitaksi (RIP), where he on a weekly basis kept the underground DnB scene alive and delivered deep selections that would fit Bigup perfectly.
-Tech: I actually played as a guest DJ a couple of times before getting “voted in” for a steady position in the crew ;)
Who is BigUp! today?
– Drunkfunk: Residents are Fjell, Tech, Simon Peter and Drunkfunk but we are known to invite a lot of local talents.
Drum n Bass in Norway for me seems to congregate around a small but dedicated community today, but what is the history behind the genre here and where do you guys factor into it?
– Drunkfunk: We have to give a massive shout out to the one like DJ Subway for promoting local DJs with Room101 at The Villa for over 10 years and counting. He is now living in Bergen and building the scene there. The scene might be small but not lacking DJ’s with variation of styles. What we lack in size we take back in consistency over many years.
With Bigup we like to play jungle and DnB from the last three decades to brand new music all in one night.
– Fjell: It is like the Asterix comics; DnB in Norway is the rebellious little village that won’t give in to the greater powers, being house/techno and pop music (The Romans in the comics). We cannot blame the clubs for choosing the more popular genres to attract a larger audience, but as a subculture it feels like we really have to prove ourselves more nowadays.
Luckily, clubs like Jaeger give subcultures like DnB the chance to develop and reach a larger audience.
-Tech: The popularity of Jungle and DnB in Oslo (and Norway) has had its highs and lows over the years since I moved to Oslo in the early nineties, but being in a good, solid crew helps us to never give up.
Some of DnB’s biggest stars like TeeBee is Norwegian. What is it about the genre that resonates with Norwegian artists and DJs like yourselves?
– Drunkfunk: Future Prophecies, TeeBee and K sure helped to put it on the map here early. Still remember the first time I heard TeeBee track “Fingerprints” on the radio.
-Tech: TeeBee was a resident DJ back in the days when the The Jazid Club started doing the Oxygen DnB nights and it meant a lot. (Jazid was the first proper club I played at and Oxygen was the first crew I joined in Oslo)
TeeBee has been important for the scene and truly deserves the success he has today.
Like so many underground cultures, DnB too went through a heightened phase of popularity with some questionable examples coming to the fore. How do you distinguish the core fundamentals of genre from its more gaudy, insincere interpretations?
– Drunkfunk: We never pay any attention to the charts. DnB has a healthy underground foundation with a well of music to choose from.
– Fjell: Very much so, only a select few can make a living from DJ-ing and/ or producing DnB, but there are more popular styles that attract a larger audience. They have very little in common with what we play on our nights.
-Simon: 100% underground. This is without a doubt a labour of love. A shared appreciation of the sound.
– Tech: Sure, there are DnB charts helping people to discover the genre, but I think we´re more into finding the tracks WE love and presenting them to the audience.
It seems that the genre is experiencing a bit of a revival today, especially amongst younger audiences. Why do you think it’s gained popularity recently again?
– Drunkfunk: DnB is the parent to dubstep that came out in the mid 2000s. I think kids growing up with dubstep as their soundtrack are likely to explore its roots.
– Fjell: I think streaming services like Youtube and Spotify make it easier to find out about DnB and Jungle. The younger generation is somewhat fascinated by 90’s rave culture – Partying seemed less restricted, something I think still resonates with DnB nights.
-Simon: Not really feeling the growth in Norway, but going to festivals like Outlook in Croatia you can easily see how popular the sound is with youth from all over the planet. DnB never really went away, but it’s definitely making a comeback.
-Tech: It´s always good to see new faces at our parties, but the scene is still quite small, so we never know how many people will turn up each time.
And what sets this era apart from the late nineties early 2000’s when it was at the absolute height of its popularity?
-Drunkfunk: Since the late 90s DnB grew to a worldwide scene online. DnB has always been in fusion with current music and pushing for the freshest sound. The difference now is that we have a back catalog of gems from the last 20 years.
– Fjell: Producing has become more accessible, the sound has become more organic and there are a lot more subgenres than before. Thanks to modern hardware and software it is easier to get into making DnB and experimenting with the sound.
-Tech: Yeah, agree with Fjell here, it´s much easier for new artists and small labels to do releases these days, both digital and on vinyl.
From what I can tell, the BigUP! Crew is made up of a few generations of DJs. How does the crew keep evolving through each generation?
– Drunkfunk: That is a great question!
-Tech: Well, yeah, I´m the oldest one in the crew, but it’s nice to see that new generations (both DJ´s and crowd) have been finding the DnB scene. We don’t care too much about the age difference in the crew, we focus on the music and we inspire each other!
What are some of the seminal DnB classics that you can all agree on?
– Drunkfunk: “Up all night” – John B
– Fjell: ”The Angels fell” – Dillinja
-Simon: “Stalker” Aphrodite
-Tech: This is too hard! Q Project – Champion Sound (Alliance Remix) (plus the original and a lot of other remixes)
What is the common thread that ties all these generations together?
– Drunkfunk: Great passion for basslines
– Fjell: DnB’s easy access. It’s often a blend of different cultures, looks and age on the dancefloor. No one seems to judge.
– Simon: Love for the sound.
– Tech: Rhythm is key.
And what in your opinion are some of the future stars of the genre here in Norway and further afield and what are some of the newer tracks that are inspiring you today?
– Fjell: Next to myself (https://soundcloud.com/fjellmusic) I only know a few other people in Norway that are actively producing and releasing, for Jungle I would say ‘Msymiakos’ (https://soundcloud.com/msymiakos) and for Liquid tunes I’d recommend ‘Nostre’ (https://soundcloud.com/nostre-official).
Let’s not forget our frequent guest ‘Lug00ber’ (https://soundcloud.com/lug00ber) and our friends in “Skankin’ Oslo” (https://soundcloud.com/skankinoslo)
Newer tracks that inspired me: ”Jungle Crack” – Forest Drive West , ”True Rebellion” Coco Bryce ft Dead Man’s Chest
– Simon: Watch out for the one they call Bootldr! https://www.mixcloud.com/bootldrDNB/
Is there anything else you’d like to add before we see you again?
Massive BigUps to all the supporting clubbers that have partied with us!
And to the Junglist DJs: Lug00ber, The Skankin’ Oslo kru, Mira Mark, DJ Subway, Harold Lloyd, DJ Hova, DJ Spacebear, DJ Dunder, Digital Cookboy , Instance, This Mean War!, DJ Saraa, Bootldr, DJ Large, Psychofreud, DJ Apecat(RIP), Tony Anthem and Future Prophecies
Thanks to Jæger to having us onboard.