Any fan of the finest jungle and drum n’bass will testify that the Source Direct name is held in very high regard.
By the mid 90s, Jim Baker’s music had been released by some of the scene’s most crucial labels – including LTJ Bukem’s Good Looking Records and Goldie’s Metalheadz – and the unmistakable Source Direct sound became a rich tapestry of inspiration for the producers and DJs who were eager to push boundaries. But things turned sour towards the turn of the millennium, with Baker separating from Source Direct member Phil Aslett on negative terms before taking a 10 year hiatus. Now, with the help of longterm friend and Nonplus Records founder Boddika, Baker is back. We reached out to Baker to hear his side of Source Direct’s remarkable story.
Early Years: Discovering breakbeats
I was a wild child and I was expelled from school. I was always getting into trouble with the law. I was rebelling against everything. But then I heard N.W.A, Boogie Down Productions, Eric B & Rakim and Public Enemy. It was completely anti-establishment. They made their own scene that stuck two fingers up at the idea of ‘industry’. I wanted that but with a UK feel.
Breakbeats in the late 80s early 90s had a closer BPM at around 120. We would go to parties that would play a hip-hop track followed by breakbeat, followed by acid. There was a lot of experimentation back then, and there was such a healthy competition between producers to find new samples in breaks.
1994-95: Releasing on Metalheadz and rise to prominence
When Goldie dropped Terminator, it blew me away. So having releases on his label Metalheadz, supporting him in his vision and having his nod of approval was a mark on the board for me. I felt the same travelling around with LTJ Bukem in the early days. Bukem would come to my house every week without fail, cutting my tracks on dubplate, and I’d go out with him around the country and hear Source Direct played on huge soundsystems. When one of your tracks drops and gets about four rewinds … moments like that I’ll never forget.“When your trackabout four rewinds – moments like that drops and gets
1996: Signing to Virgin Records’ offshoot Science
The deal was that if I was signing to Science, I wouldn’t be told what I could or couldn’t do. I wanted full artistic license. So that was written into the original agreement, and it all seemed like a step forward. The deal was looked upon with a philosophy to further the UK d’n’b sound and encourage a hub of creativity with the backing of Virgin. But things didn’t pan out as I had hoped. I had an old school mate Phil who was regarded as a co-partner. He was just in the right place at the right time. It’s ridiculous that he somehow ended up involved with me and a contract. I was making all the music and he was just in it for the ride. I initially invited him to DJ an hour’s worth of records at a few local events, and from there he found himself involved with Source Direct. By the time the Science deal came about, I saw it as a foot in the door. For Phil, it all went to his head. My heart and soul was crushed. It wasn’t working.
When your track drops and gets about four rewinds – moments like that you never forget
1999 : The dissolution of Source Direct
Phil pulled out of our first major tour. By the time I returned, it was agreed that I would buy Phil out of his contract. But I needed a break from everything. It was all escaping my control, my life went very strange for a few years. I fell in love with a girl and bought a house. A few years fly past and she’s lost to cancer. And when I went through a bad patch, I got hooked on some hardcore Class As. Sticking pins in my arm is nothing I will ever do again. Eight years clean. That’s something that will continue.
2015: Rerelease series for Nonplus
I’ve known Alex [Boddika] since around ‘97, but I met up with him a couple of years back. He wouldn’t stop going on about an SD return. I wasn’t sure at all, but he kicked me up the arse to get back in to the scene again. There’s a lot of unfinished business for me. I’m sitting on a lot of unreleased material. We’re releasing the old catalogue, remixed by underground artists with new perspectives. It’s basically the start of an 18 month project with a potential release on Metalheadz, all leading up to a new Source Direct album – or two. I feel reborn.
Source Direct appears at Outlook Festival, Pula, Croatia, 2-6 September