From hosting pirate radio shows to raves all over the Midlands, the life of a DJ can spring many surprises. Charlie Bourne spoke to DJ Rich Hyde on his career.
Before the streaming sites surfaced to dominate the music industry, getting your fix for your favourite tracks was a lot simpler in the age of pirate radio. Life as DJ wasn’t too bad either.
Rewind to the early 1990s, a new phenomenon was sweeping through the UK.
The rave scene was just getting started, whether legally in clubs or illegally in wherever wasn’t occupied, ravers were using their weekends to party on endlessly in rebellious fashion.
With a career spanning over 30 years DJ Rich Hyde, from Swadlincote, was truly in the thick of the Midland’s rave scene particularly during his time as host on a pirate radio station.
He said: “The promoters I was playing under at the time started their own pirate radio station which was interesting, it was around Burton and it was called Baseline 105FM.
“We had shows on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I used to play the rave show on the Friday night. So we would broadcast live from people’s bedrooms, there was an estate agent who would give us keys to empty houses and we’d keep moving around to play wherever we could.
“I remember we moved into this flat to do a show and there was a family living there. I was on at 10pm-1am, the bloke used to come knock on the door and say ‘can you turn it down a bit because were off to bed now’ as we were trying to do a show in the next bedroom. It was unbelievable really.”
Playing the radio show was a strong platform for Rich to progress as a DJ, as his name began to grow around the area more opportunities opened up for him, until Baseline FM came to an abrupt end.
“We did that for a couple of years just moving around, played a few parties through the show and that was awesome until I went to do a Christmas day special.
“I could smell burning so I looked around, the amplifier was just about catching fire and had smoke coming off it as we were in a flat with somebody above us, so I chucked a load of water on it and got out of there. That was the end of Baseline FM.”
Alongside Rich’s radio gig, in the early 90s he performed live at raves frequently which gave him the opportunity to play with some of the biggest names in the business, under the alias DJ Frenz’E.
“I played with Carl Cox at Burton town hall which I’ve still got all the flyers for, the promoters bought Slipmatt to Burton as well and that was a great experience.”
As the rave scene grew even more popular Rich started at Vines in 1994, a popular club in Derby that raised his stock as DJ further around the Midlands.
Rich added: “That was the main spot for pre drinks, Derby at that time was absolutely buzzing. There were two clubs called Progress and Renaissance. Progress at that point was one of the biggest clubbing nights in the country.
“I started off at Vines with a lad from Manchester called Gilly, we did a partnership called Gilly & Rich and we played all over Derby and Vines was our main place.
“The drug scene as well was massive so we’d play to 800 every Monday night and they were all proper clubbers, I’d play for university on Wednesdays which was more disco stuff. Then Fridays I’d do all night, so around four hours where Renaissance was based and that was called Union 1, on the 10pm-2am slot.
“At that time the clubs didn’t really run past 2am in case they wanted to risk it with authorities which you couldn’t really get away with.”
In comparison to Rich’s experiences of the mid 90s, the rave scene today has changed immensely.
Illegal warehouse parties turned organised festivals, the need to dance replaced by the need to record videos and pirate radio stations are extinct.
It was a much different time, but one Rich looks back on with fond memories.
“Raving has changed massively. On Saturday nights people used to come to us at Vines, then go to progress and then on to a place called Hot to Trot in Mansfield. After that the same people would come back to us at noon on the Sunday and just party all the way through, it was unbelievable.
“But people were there for the music, you’d drop a tune with a piano in and folk would go into one, where as now they’re videoing on their phones, almost disengaged and stuff like that for me is a massive change.”
So why did this dramatic change happen?
“Basically, I don’t think authorities understood it at that time, but raving helped stop football hooliganism. All the different firms they’d all come together and they were that loved up on Es they just used to dance together, rather than kick 10 barrels of sh*t out of one another. It was a great time
“You’d go out and there would be no bother at all, it was awesome.”
After multiple years of performing around the Midlands and making a name for himself, Rich began DJing for a company called Twisted Love, who had their ambitions set on a tour abroad.
“I went out to Ibiza to try and find us a venue to play at for the following year, I met up with a bloke called Jan. He had a venue in Playa d’En Bossa right on the beach and he loved what we were about, we played him some stuff and he was keen to get us on board.
“I then went home to try and convince the lads at Twisted Love to commit to going out there, but with work and girlfriends they had at the time it didn’t happen.
“Following year that same bar won best bar in Ibiza and the year after that they opened a hotel. It was called Ushuaia.”
“That for me was one of my biggest regrets, not going out there, we could have been booked to play out Ushuaia and if we did well they may of took us on to play there more.”
As of right now, Rich is still active as a DJ. Often using sites like SoundCloud and MixCloud to post mixes that he has created to his followers.
“I do a series called forgotten gems which is all tracks from the past 30 years which include vocal tracks, a lot of funky house and then I move it up to tech house and maybe a bit of trance.
“As well as that every year I do an Ibiza mix just to put stuff on there and keep my name about.”
To check out DJ Rich Hyde’s mixes visit soundcloud.com/rich-hyde online.