“… definitely there’s something about you…”
Throwback to the season 2003-04, a happy and eventful period of my life I reminisce about with bittersweet nostalgia. I was living in London at the time immersing myself in the city’s night life like there was no tomorrow, camouflaging the cultural shock of rubbing shoulders with my musical icons. The London drum & bass scene was flourishing, club nights talking place in abundance. From mid-week events like Fabio’s ‘Swerve’ Wednesdays at The End and ‘Movement’ Thursdays at Bar Rumba to the main Friday residencies like Fabric Room 2 label takeovers, Good Looking’s ‘Progression Sessions’, Ram and Renegade Hardware at The End, to the ad hoc d&b parties at Jazz Café, Heaven, Ministry of Sound, Carling Academy, Cargo and Plastic People to Sunday evenings at Herbal with ‘Hospitality’ and Grooverider’s ‘Grace’. There must have been definitely many more I have forgotten to highlight as memories tend to blur after all these years, but there was always something happening to accommodate for every musical taste. It was evident, even then, that it was only a matter of time, before drum & bass would sell out big clubs and headline festivals across the world.
Good Looking Records were holding a long-term two-room monthly residency at The End (drum & bass at the main room, house and downtempo from Cookin’ Records artists and GLR’s affiliates at the second room), showcasing their sound spearheaded by LTJ Bukem and elite special guests every 2nd Friday of the month, until they moved to Fabric a couple of years later.
One of those nights has been indelibly printed on my memory. It must have been the April ’04 residency (I have searched my boxes a few times, but I can’t seem to find the particular flyer, which I am sure is buried there somewhere and is unfortunately missing from the sample flyer gallery). Getting comfortable at our favourite corner in ‘The Tunnel’ close to the arch connecting the rooms enabling immediate bar access, DJ Marky was on the decks, when the first verse dropped. Instantly recognizing MC Conrad’s voice though Conrad was nowhere to be seen in the dj booth nor on the dancefloor among the crowd, I elbowed my way to close proximity to see first-hand the record playing (they still played with records at the time :)). It was a white label with the track title scribbled with a black marker, and I was rubbernecking, trying to look casual at the same time – practically impossible, like trying to look cool when running to catch your flight. Marky noticed me and after the mix, relieved me from my embarrassment by showing me the record. The writing on the label read what I should have probably guessed.
Written and produced by Japan’s finest d&b export and exquisite producer Makoto alongside MC Conrad, one of the genre’s leading vocalists, whose name is synonymous with atmospheric, soulful drum & bass and Good Looking’s acme, ‘Golden Girl’ is a track that has profoundly resonated with me and is still being played to this day. Ever get that feeling, when you experience a sort of musical epiphany and really struggle to memorize the melody and the lyrics of a track/song you have just listened to, humming it during the night bus journey, before they‘re lost into next morning’s haze?
Makoto & MC Conrad – Golden Girl, GLR066, Good Looking Records, 2004
Garnering praise and wide acclaim across the d&b spectrum, ‘Golden Girl’ has been probably the last Good Looking certified anthem, which marked the end of an era, before things started regrettably to go south…
The sampler version of ‘Golden Girl’ as featured in the final installment of the Progression Sessions CD series (Progression Sessions 10 – Germany Live 2004, October 2004) was released later that year, and the full artwork version was published in 2005. The catchy twisted bass-line over a crisp and relentless amen break and Makoto’s mesmerising strings and Rhodes keys combined with Conrad’s unparalleled lyrical talents elevate the vocal version to a timeless classic. Poetic, reflective and unbearably romantic, this is the d&b equivalent of a love song, which evokes an ocean of emotions and although I’ve a pretty good idea about the dramatic essence of the lyrics, I’ll leave them open to interpretation. Perhaps, a fervent romance so intense that was doomed to end in tears, a man head over heels struggling to find the courage to confess his unreciprocated love, an ode to the personal muse, the golden girl …
Makoto reflects on the making of Golden Girl
“I still remember being in Conrad’s old studio in UK after the release of my first album (‘Human Elements’) on Good Looking Records back in 2003. We were just trying to make an instrumental track. Conrad chopped up my strings sample like really crazy and we kinda re-build the string sample into a totally different phrase. He had a really nice and sharp Amen break, so we put it on the project. Then something unexpected happened with the bass line. I think we used a 808 bass, over which we layered a twisted FM synthesis bass sound. I think it was some kind of mistake, but the sound became really good, so we left it as it was. After we had done the instrumental track, I thought it still needed something and suggested to Conrad that he should sing. He had doubts at first, but I knew he would do a great job and that emotional vocal track with the great lyrics happened….”
Fast forward to the present
Makoto has joined Clinic Talent, a Hospital Records division for his European DJ Bookings. Continuing his prolific recording career, he released last September his 5th studio album titled ‘Salvation’ on Hospital Records.
Conrad re-invented his artistic persona with the newly branded Con-Natural project on a mission to keep in close proximity with the new music trends of today and to capture the ears and minds of new audiences. He has recently collaborated with Austrian producer Paul SG for a mini tour and the renowned techno duo Pig & Dan (Dan Duncan being an old recording partner of Conrad’s from his GLR days with Intense).
Makoto artist profile, selected discography and social media:
MC Conrad artist profile, selected discography and social media:
Every track that is presented here has been hand-picked from my personal record collection and has had a profound impact on my musical taste. Featuring a variety of tracks across the electronic music spectrum, emphasizing mainly on drum and bass, from undisputed classics to underrated gems, all are tracks I wish I’d written, as the title of the series suggests.
Visit the blog’s archive for the previous installments of the “Tracks I Wish I’d Written” series here.