DJ Lipmaster Mark and MC Evenson Allen otherwise known as RatPack are never far from the party. Currently riding high on the release of their new album (CO)LabRats and about to join the lineup at Trent Country Park for the almighty Moondance, we thought it was high-time we caught up with the oldskool legends themselves for a few words.
Hi guys, how are you and what are you up to at this moment in time?
Hi, We're fine thank you, just busy promoting our new album and also working with a guy called Dave Aspinall (who created our collab with The Wideboys 'Hands of Time' video) on a film about the rave scene and our history within it. So stay toooned for that folks!
You have been playing the circuit now since the birth of rave culture and actually joined forces as the UK's first RAVE DJ/MC team in around 1985. It must've been pretty exciting dropping in on the wave of acid house in the late 80's? Was it a case of being in the right place at the right time ?
It definitely was a case of being around at the right time, especially with hindsight and seeing how people look back at those days in great awe and wish they were there (if they are younger or were too young to go to the raves back then). The momentum of the culture was incredible, Acid parties were everywhere, in warehouses, fields, and the coming together as one with all the ravers back then really was something special.
I'm talking about the unity between people from all backgrounds, black, white, rich or poor! It didn't really matter who you were, we all shared a common love for the music and raving. I will say we were definitely privileged and lucky to be around in that era, it's what broke us into this whole way of life!
Did you ever expect your career as RatPack to see you going strong through what is now 4 decades?
Well, I must say ...'ahem...I (DJ Lipmaster Mark) was a teenager back then too, and one of those decades would have been my teenage years. So we're not as old as this question makes us out to be, 'ahem 'ahem. No seriously, We didn't even expect a career, we were just doing what we loved to do and that was playing music and making people happy. Eventually we got into making tunes and that took us to another level. We finally had to realise that this was going to keep us busy for a good few years, but having said that, we took nothing for granted and still feel blessed every time we get a booking and people hang around for us. It really is an honour given to us by all the people who have supported us over the years.
You have performed at some incredible events and parties over the years, what is the most exotic or maybe surreal location you have ever had the privilege to perform at?
Wow, that's the billion dollar question (I remember when that question was a million dollar question, there's a sign of the times for ya!) Well, we’ve done a few A-list parties in Italy which I will always remember. We played at a party for a crowd that consisted of the Ferrari F1 racing team, Italian footballers, Italian fashion designers, Armani models and basically some really high profile names.
We couldn't believe we were playing for these guys and making them rock to our sound too. One of the parties had about 2000 (Yes 2000) people on a roof in Rome and another was in an exclusive club, which was on an island in the middle of a lake in Sicily. They were some of the more surreal gigs that we've done. There are lots of others too.
Your new album, (CO)LabRats has just hit the shelf here at TID, please tell us about the project and how it had been received so far?
Yes at last, it's taken nearly three years to get it out there but finally it's here! It's of course a collaboration album and we've done tracks with some legends of the scene, such as; Shut Up And Dance, The Wideboys, The Freestylers, Baby D, Slipmatt, The Ragga Twins, King Yoof and Billy Daniel Bunter.
We have also collaborated with some mega talented artists such as 2Hype and Secret Agent, Stephanie Smart, 28Hertz feat Lady Chann, and another legend of the scene MC Skibadee. We've been getting a really good response from everyone that has bought it and also getting good reviews from the bloggers and critics, so we're very happy with it all!
Oldskool influences and early rave elements just never seem to be far away from the surface when it comes to any genre of dance music these days. Why do you think this is after so many years?
I think it's imprinted itself on the whole music industry and has become a 'go to' ingredient for most producer’s dishes (to use a chefs analogy). It's tried and tested and it works. Everyone loves a familiar sound, some classics will never go away, just like a Sunday roast or rice and peas or cake and custard......can you tell I'm starving?
You guys were producing chart smashing anthems back in the early 90's, do you still use any of your old kit in the studio or is all done in the box these days? Any favourite bits of software for creating that classic RatPack sound?
We still have all of our old kit. The Atari ST1024, Akai S900 Sampler, Korg M1 Keyboard and so on, but I have to admit most of those sound are on board now and it’s a rare occasion when I fire up the old synths and racks, but it's always like being in a sweet shop when I do (I need to stop it with these food references already!!)
Sun 6th August will see you on the bill for the immense Moondance line up to be held at Trent Country Park, London. How does Moondance stand up these days to those legendary and much talked about raves from the 90's?
Funki and Moondance were there all through the 90's and Moondance was always delivering good quality raves. True ambassadors to the whole scene and definitely one of the big players! Not one person who went to Moondance at the then Camden Palace (now Koko) will ever forget those days. We still cry about them today, and ALL make it to the reunion once a year there!
Give us one of your favourite Moondance memories?
Like I said, I'll never forget the Camden Palace days, we used to rock that place down to the ground and so did every other DJ that was on the bill. Always the best crowds with the happiest of people and never any trouble. God I miss those days!
Finally, what are your plans for the rest of 2017? Any international gigs, projects or exciting news you can share with us?
Well, as I said at the beginning, we're working on this movie with Dave and hope to be doing some more collabs with some more legendary artists. There's always something to keep us busy. We have lots of new merchandise to come out soon on our www.ratpackmusic.net website too (plug plug) everyone is loving our new logo, so that will keep us busy too!
Keep up to date with RatPack.
Catch RatPack at Moondance Festival, Sunday 6th August, Trent Country Park, Barnet, EN4 0PS
For tickets: CLICK HERE