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MC Magika Profile

An Insight Into Magika

“Producer, TV and radio presenter, journalist. manager and promoter… not just an MC”.

When did you start MC’ing?
“I started MC’ing in around 1989, at a club called Earthquake in Birmingham, which at the time was Birmingham’s weekly No. 1 rave club. It was run by two very good friends, who were key band members in the world famous reggae group UB40. From there I ran my own little clubs at the same venue after Earthquake had finished, which was called Illusion. We had DJ’s Ellis Dee, Rap and Top Buzz regularly playing and the night was a major success and on each of the nights I started to build myself up as a major MC. Then some guys who were doing a rave called ‘Galactica’, and the actual rave they wanted me to do was called Eurorave in Paris, France. With the like of J. J. F. Nipper, Scotland’s Mikey B, with PA’s from Shades Of Rhythm and Nomad. I returned from France and the enquiries started to fly in with regards to bookings”.

Before you hit the stage in the scene, what were you doing previously?
“Previously I started to rave in around 1988, went to a few of the legal acid house parties in the Midlands such as Spectrum at the Hummingbird, and the Raw parties where were held at the Hall Green Dog Stadium. At the time I was really into hip-hop and rap, with the likes of Public Enemy, Africa Bombata, Rob Base and DJ E-Z-Rock, so when I went to the early raves and I saw the likes of MC Man Parris it just appealed to me, an MC chatting over this kind of music. So I decided to have a go”.

Who do you rate in the MC’ing scene?
“On the jungle tip, I rate Bassman. Det on the techno tip I rate Ribbz and happy hardcore, and I’m not just saying this because I work with him but it has to be Stixman. I personally believe that he is one of the best happy hardcore MC’s on the scene. And also MC Marley.

Why are you called Magika?
“Sitting in a garage in 1989-90, when I was MC’ing at Earthquake and my friend’s were saying why don’t you get yourself an MC name. And we came up with names like Ninja, the Samurai, like something out of a Bruce Lee film. Then one of my friends said did anybody see Mr Magika today? This was a programme on TV at the time. And that was it, and since then it has just stuck with me”.

Where do you get your inspiration from? I mean you have a unique style of getting the crowd going more than any other MC? Where do you get the inspiration to do this?
“Watching MC’s at raves, I thought there was something missing, like the interactiveness with the crowd. We have to get the crowd involved with the set, to make it something special. I would give the crowd an instruction, for example, blow your whistles, stomp your feel, and then count to three and watch them perform. I knew I had to get them involved in the set”.

Over the past four years, you must have MC’d at hundreds or raves, but are there any that stick out in your mind?
“Yeah, Mythology in Oxford in 1991, because it was my first major rave other than the Eurorave, and it was the first time I had MC’d with the Inta No 1 the Godfather, Grooverider, Eurorave in Paris as it was my first overseas MC excursion, the Dreamscape parties which I have become infamous with my sets with Dougal. The Fantazia at Donnington Park which was for 27,000 where I MC’d for Pilgrim. I did a Raindance at Jenkins Lane in Barking in 1992, but it was called Destiny. The Eclipse in Coventry, which was the country’s first weekly rave club. Personally, raves which I didn’t MC at where Amnesia House at Donnington Park Exhibition Centre in 1992. Time Part 2 at Aston Villa Leisure Centre in 1990. Also another Time event which was held at the Rag Market. I will never forget those events”.

Are there any raves that you haven’t MC’d at?
“World Dance, Double Dipped, Labrynth. If the opportunity came to do them, then I would gladly do them”.

Drugs play a major role in the scene, references in the music etc. What are your opinions on them?
“Drugs have always been tagged with music since the beginning of time. Over the last four years the media have stereotyped drugs, i.e. Ecstasy with raves. They have tagged raves with kids going out all night and abusing their bodies. You can go to any Sharon and Tracey nightclub where people are doing drugs, it’s not just a rave thing it is definitely a dance thing. It is unfair to tag raves with drugs. Back in 1990 you never heard of people dying, because the E was near enough 100% MDMA, but drug dealers got greedy, and they started mixing it with unknown shit. Now we have people go to hospital with illnesses, and the worst of them resulting in deaths. We don’t want to see this in the scene at all, because this reflects on how the scene develops, and we don’t want to see the loss of life. Raves are about the celebration of life, having a good time. There are many councils out there who would love to kill off the rave scene, but if you take the scene away you don’t take the drugs away. By having these legal events, you can monitor the health of the ravers, but if the raves went underground then the fatalities will increase. I think that we should take a leaf out of the European scene where they have an organisation at every major event who test the drugs you buy, to see if they are dodgy. And if such a procedure was to be practised at events then maybe we wouldn’t even hear of deaths at all”.

At many raves, people go for the DJ’s rather than other factors. Do you think that the MC’s are appreciated as much as they should be?
“In the early days, i.e. 1990, people went for the DJ’s but as MC’s came into the scene, and progressed with the scene. But I have read interviews with DJ’s such as Fabio, whose musical direction I admire. And he said that you never hear of a raver asking who the MC’s were at a rave. 1995, that is the case now, nearly every single raver look for the MC’s. And whether or not the ravers, the DJ’s or anybody doesn’t like us, we will be there until the scene dies”.

Are your lyrics pre-written or do they just happen as you feed off the vibe?
“Sometimes, together with Stixman, who I work with closely, we might write a few lyrics as a foundation, but on the night we improvise around this foundation”.

Some MC’s have started to copy your lyrics, how does this make you feel?
“Well back in the early days, when I was first starting, when I was looking up at other MC’s I was looking at them to imitate some lyrics. Not a lot but just bits, such as MC Lennie, MC MC who I closely worked with at the Elevation parties at the Astoria in early 1992 etc. Then I started turning up at raves and I would hear MC’s blatantly ripping off my style. It wasn’t very nice, it made me think again, where I then developed my own lyrical direction. I still hear MC’s to this day doing it, like MC Sharkey who has got a lyrical style but tends to copy my 1, 2, 3 and my How do you feel? These are my own lyrics, and I heard Sharkey doing this at a Fusion at the Farnborough Recreation Centre. I’m not going to knock him because I did it when I first started, but as a tip from a veteran he should develop his own style which becomes synonymous with him”.

What do you feel an MC’s job involves?
“A lot of people from the scene, DJ’s, ravers, think it is easy. DJ’s play the music, and they are at the forefront at every event they play at. But visually they are at the back and the MC is at the front, and completely visual to the crowd in front of him, thus becoming the front man. It’s the MC’s job, not only to control the crowd, but to keep them entertained, and to keep them buzzing, which does come from the lyrics of the MC which gives every event that extra touch”.

Whereabouts have you MC’d across the world?
“Adelaide in Australia, New York in the USA, all over Germany i.e. Frankfurt, Munich and Mannheim. All over Switzerland i.e. Zurich, Basel, Geneva, France all over Scotland, Ireland. The scene is world wide so wherever the scene is I will be there”.

Tell us about Radio XL?
“Radio XL is a brand new commercial, legal radio station, based in Birmingham, and transmits right across Central England i.e. Leicester, Wolverhampton, Coventry, Cheltenham but also has been picked up as far as Devon, Glasgow, Oxford etc. The plan with the radio is to sustain a show on that station, but to take it to a station with an FM signal, which is our next plan. My show is called ‘Roll the Beats’ and is presented by myself and co-presented by DJ Advance. The show consists of 50% hardcore, and drum ‘n’ bass. Since we have been on air we have built up a massive following with letters coming from all over the country”.

On Radio XL, where you MC, how does it feel not actually seeing the crowd that you are MC’ing to?
“I don’t actually MC on the station, I have taken up more of a presenters job with the show. But the last hour of the show, we do a mix but my partner the Stixman usually MC’s, and if the vibe is right in the studio then I might have a little flex on the mic”.

What plans have you for the future? I know you are writing your own music. But where could we see Magika in the future?
“As you know I presented two sixty minute shows which were shown on MTV which were filmed at Dreamscape. I presented the awards to the DJ’s etc and this was shown right across Europe on peak time TV. I got a very good response from the producer of the shows at MTV, and also got good feedback from, promoters, other DJ’s, MC’s and ravers. So I have now decided to pursue a career in television broadcasting, and I am currently in the process of talking to several TV broadcasting companies about this move. Musically, I am going to be producing a lot of material on the happy hardcore front, for those of you who don’t know I originally co-wrote a tune which became a national 4-beat anthem called ‘Rave Is A Mystery’ which was taken from a Madonna sample. The place where I got the record pressed in Manchester, had a very low recording level and DJ’s just wouldn’t play the four track EP which contained that track. At the time it was not cost effective to re-press that track. I gave a test press of the EP to DJ Vibes, which he took away and decided upon himself to do his own version, which then became a massive success, being licensed to all the major hardcore compilation labels. There was no hard feelings between myself and Vibes. I want to start producing tracks with other well known producers. The first release will be at Christmas 1995 which will be ‘DJ Vibes vs Magika’, and hopefully we should be PA’ing the track around Christmas and New Year. Failing that you will definitely be able to catch that PA in the New Year. I also want to start up my own label”.

How do you rate the scene at the moment?
“I don’t like the segregation of happy going its own way and jungle going its own way. It wasn’t like that in the early days, so why now? It is something that has happened, it’s unfortunate, but I guess at the same time it helps the scene because now we have massive scenes out there with two massive followings. So the scene has really become even bigger. I don’t like the way it has gone, but that’s the way it was meant to be I suppose”.

A few years ago, you were the official MC for Carl Cox when he was PA’ing for his Carl Cox Concept album. What was this like?
“It was a great honour to work with Carl Cox, as he was and still is a living legend, and was one of the pioneers of the scene. And to work with him was indescribable, I toured with Carl all over the place doing the PA’s. This consisted of the man himself, Carl Cox, Neil McClellnan, who co-produced the Prodigy’s last album and myself being the frontman on the mic. We PA’d everywhere including Rezerection in Scotland, Hellraiser in Belfast, Club Kinetic in Stoke On Trent, and the Doncaster Warehouse which are just a few to mention. We also supported the Prodigy a few times on their tour. Carl Cox signed the group to Perfecto Records, which is owned by Paul Oakenfold, the infamous house DJ. The first track was called Planet of Love which reached number 41 in the National charts, a few more places up in the charts we would have appeared on Top Of The Pops but this was not meant to be. A few months later Carl pulled out of the Perfecto deal and the PA ceased. I MC’d for Carl at certain events, because it was a combination which appealed to many ravers out there. A few promoters have said that I rode off the back of Carl Cox. I don’t agree with that, I wouldn’t have got anywhere if I wasn’t lyrically talented so I don’t believe that this was justified. I believe I am a talent which was discovered by Carl Cox. Carl knew this which is why he chose me and our sets will always be remembered. I still get reminded by ravers about how good those PA’s where”.

You have also become extremely popular with Dougal. What is it about your combination with him?
“He plays uplifting tunes on the happy vibe which the kids love, and my lyrical influence, hyping up the crowd and interacting with the crowd has become very popular, not only at Dreamscape but when promoters book me, such as Helter Skelter and United Dance I always get asked to MC with Dougal. Promoters are booking us as a double act, but we originally and still work solo and are booked on a solo basis, but get tagged together and undoubtedly this will continue for years to come as long as the scene is still alive”.

How does it feel to be the No. 1 happy hardcore MC as voted by the ravers?
“It is an honour to be voted the No. 1 in anything. It’s great to be tagged with the No. 1, the name Magika is No. 1. It will be great to sit in my rocking chair with the grandchildren on my knee and telling them I was No. 1. It’s something I constantly get reminded about by ravers and promoters”.

Have you also been involved in promoting?
“As I said earlier in the interview, I did an event in early 1990, and I also helped to kickstart Vibeablite, but have nothing to do with them at all now. Recently I have been doing DJ bookings for the breakbeat room at Euphoria, which consists of booking the right DJ’s for Germany. All the events have been huge success stories. The events consist of four arenas, breakbeat, techno, trance and house. Recently I brought the Euphoria team over to England to Fantasy Island in Skegness which was a huge multi-musical event. With the likes of Dougal, Slipmatt, Force and Evolution, the jungle room was hosted by Formation, with DJ SS, Frost, Grooverider and Roni Size and the techno room included Gayle San, Darren Emmerson, Carl Cox and Fergus. Over 3,500 attended the first event, and this event was only until two o’clock in the morning. I plan to take Euphoria on a UK tour but the home base will be Fantasy Island, with the second event coming up in February, and the next Euphoria in Germany will be held for 20,000 plus people at the site of Tribal Gathering”.

What do you think of jungle music?
“I love the music, but the scene has developed this image of being moody which is very sad. Jungle music should be for everybody, black or white, Chinese, just every nationality creed, colour. It has been tagged as a black thing, and this has been proved by programmes such as ‘Black Christmas’ which was screened in 1994, this portrayed jungle music as black music. It is not and this is proved where the music is concerned, DJ’s who are not black such as Andy C, who has produced the biggest tracks of all time such as ’31 Seconds’. Mickey Finn, Darren Jay, Hype, Doc Scott, Swan-E, Ellis Dee and look at Rob Playford, he is the owner of one of the largest jungle labels, Moving Shadow. There is a newcomer to the scene, who is from the Midlands, my home county, Mark Cairo who has just been signed to Moving Shadow. He and the rest of the above are not black, so there you go”.

Have you ever tried MC’ing to jungle?
“I have been typecasted to happy hardcore, but I do MC, with my partner Stixman, on jungle sets occasionally and we have rocked the place just as much as the happy sets, and we proved this at the last Helter Skelter, where we MC’d to DJ Hype where the three of us tore the place down. We MC to the jungle occasionally just to show that we are versatile, but we predominantly MC to 40beat or happy hardcore”.

Have you anything further to say?
“The scene has obviously grown over the last two years. At one time I thought that the scene was going to die, but like everything it just needed a rest. And a rest is what it got and it has come back with a vengeance. People will always say that the scene will die, but I see it as a circle, the people that move onto other styles of music, and the younger generation move in, and then they will drop out and others will come. And you always get those that stay with the scene, and I think it will be here until the day I die. It will progress and develop as it has done already, and will continue to. It will go from strength to strength.

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