The first time I heard Kemistry & Storm play was ’95 on the first floor of some hall in Stoke Newington. Something just told me that I should seek out and listen to these DJs called Kemistry & Storm. I say that I heard them rather than saw them, cos I lay down on some platform smoking spliff, eyes closed listening to every note of every mix, for the whole of their two hour set. And it was intense.
The thing about that dance was, apart from about only four people being there, with only one guy dancing, the place was empty. But the deckside duo, professional to the last, played the perfect journey of a perfect set. I chatted to them after and they were really approachable. The next time I saw Kemistry & Storm, they were mashing up a rammed Metalheadz session at Hoxton’s legendary Blue Note club, rinsin’ every groove to the last note.
When I started writing All Crews in ’98, Kemistry & Storm were among the first people I needed to interview. They were in their ground floor flat on Finsbury’s Tollington Park. I still can’t help looking at their door when I drive past thinking, ‘That’s where we did the interview.’ Behind that door was a Rave Culture, jungle drum & bass archive. It’s blue plaque bizzness. Although we were only meters from a main road, their stories took us space and time away.
Yes, I was doing the writer thing asking questions but also in my head we were having a great chat about what we loved: our Rave heritage, our music, our pirate stations, our DJing. And when I’m hearing their stories about learning how to DJ, I was also taking it as a master class for when I started to learn how to mix. Getting my first show on pirate station Rude FM was another step which Kemistry & Storm said, that you needed to take on the road to becoming a fully-fledged DJ. They continued to be an inspiration.
So when I played that magical beach set at Sun & Bass in 2014, it was down to the First Ladies of Drum & Bass. I was bowled over when Storm, who unbeknownst to me, had been sitting by the stage said, “We taught you well.”
When you arrive for an interview, you never know how things will go. This one was special. And we weren’t to know that Kemistry was to pass on. But we have this recording with Kemi and Jayne’s words, wisdom and laughter.
The interview was recorded on an ancient dictaphone which used micro cassettes. And to my horror, with all the rewinding I had to do whilst transcribing, the tape got mangled and snapped. At some point I had this watchmakers’ screwdriver, the cassette open and it’s disemboweled innards draped up and down the stairs, trying to find all the twists and breaks. My housemate was laughing saying, “Forgeddit. That tape’s fucked.”
But I wouldn’t leave it. Luckily I’d had years of experience repairing friends’ mashed up but precious cassette tapes. And I guess a career as an intensive care nurse delicately cleaning patient’s wounds and removing sutures with tweezers, gave me the skills to perform microsurgery on Kemistry & Storm’s interview tape. I’m so relieved it was saved for All Crews and Drum & Bass History. Because this is gold dust.