DJ Stretch Unreleased Slates And AKO Beatz

As we announced last month Reinforced are planning to release a limited edition series of vinyl only rarities called “The Unreleased Slates“. This has became possible after DAT tapes that were previously thought lost were rediscovered.  One of those DAT’s was by The Guyver AKA DJ Stretch. We caught up with him to find out more about this release and his label AKO Beatz.

It appears various Reinforced DAT’s that were previously thought lost have been rediscovered. One of those is Guyver 2. What can you tell us about this DAT tape?

Yes, one of the best things to happen for Reinforced fans as I thought some of them, especially Guyver 2, were gone forever. I was extremely happy when Marc called me with a snippet of the Guyver tracks and simply said “remember these?”.

The DAT tape had 4 tracks on it, 3 unreleased and 1 I released on a label I started called Rinsin Records’. I think what’s planned to come out will excite the oldskool and nuskool fans, plus some were planned to come out and just never did so I think now is a good time.

What equipment were you using at this time?

Back then off the top of my head I had:

3000XL, Akai 950, Alesis Midi Verbs x2, Novation Bass Station, TL Audio Valve Compressor, JV1080, Behringer Compressor, PC, Roland J8000, Allen and Health Analogue Desks, Alesis Microverb, E-MU Proteus, White JBL Control 5 and a 15” Sub.

Where and how were these tracks made?

“Never Never” was originally planned for Guyver 1 but due to the tracks I already had for it we decided it would go on the next Guyver EP. “Never Never” is a personal track to me and I was pretty gutted when I thought we lost the master copy but I’m happy it will see a release as the Guyver projects show a different side to me. “Control My Soul” was slightly unfinished but the DAT contained a few different versions of it. Marc and I managed to locate the missing elements and it will also be on the 12”.

You mention “Control My Soul” features additional production, tell us what is it like working with a true pioneer like Marc?

Marc Mac is just simply a genius and such an inspirational person, his thinking is next level and in sessions he always pushes my thought process, I love bouncing ideas off him. I personally don’t think Marc Mac gets the full recognition he deserves and we shouldn’t wait till it stops to recognise the work and passion he has given to British music. It’s not something Marc looks for, this is just how I see it, and that tells you a lot about him. Marc’s musical knowledge is vast, he can make music in pretty much any genre and will still leave you with a classic. After listening to music from a young age, playing sound systems and being in the studio he still shows the same love and passion. No egos and incredibly humble he just wants everyone to be the best they can be. If you play Marc an idea or send him a track he won’t just say ‘no’ he will give you ideas to try, make it better or help find a direction that works. I’ve taken all the elements I’ve learned from Marc and Dego and applied them going forward. Some of the education is priceless especially in what we do.

What kind of style can we expect from “Never Never” and “Control My Soul”?

“Never Never” is a vocal track with some lovely pads and breaks in the intro before amen edits come in but still keeping the essence of the track. Marc has a knack of making me go outside my usual creation process and keeping me focused. I love this track for many reasons. The main samples in “Control My Soul” take me back to my youth. It has that Stretch jungle flavour so to speak and also the Reinforced Tom & Jerry sound fused in as well. Definitely something the masses will like.

“Control My Soul” was fun to do, we would lay some ideas down and just try things out what we thought would work. Back then there was so much equipment at Reinforced you could get lost having fun creating sounds and breaks. I done a few tracks with Marc and it’s only looking back now I realises all of those sessions were priceless, especially when I see the love and excitement from everyone about the music.

Marc explains that he sees the “Unreleased Slates” series as legacy and part of the bigger R story. Where do you see that story going?

The legacy is already there in the history of rave, hardcore, jungle, Drum and bass, British music and that can’t be changed or rewritten. The unreleased slates are a must and part of the untold R legacy. To find some of the DATs really is a big deal and will continue to write a few more chapters in the label’s history and more importantly the RIVETS continue.

You are helping to keep the spirit of Reinforced alive with your AKO Beatz label having recently released two tracks from your DAT collection, notably your VIP version of “Maximum Style” by Tom and Jerry and prior to that a track you made with Dego called “Be Good to Me”. Are there any other unreleased tracks in the pipeline waiting to come out?

Really appreciate that man. The AKO brand is special to me and has its own little 22 year history which is linked to Reinforced through my journey. To be able to release the tracks that you mention and a track from Goldie on the label (who has also played a part in my growth) is important to me as I want to give something back to the fans and music lovers plus leave AKO its own legacy. In terms of more releases I have a few things in in the pipeline, the AKO150 label focuses on unreleased gems and retrospective beats that has that oldskool feel. Arcade 5 is coming soon which will have an unreleased track and a retrospective track.

The second hand price of vinyl is astounding at the minute with some classic drum and bass tracks fetching hundreds of pounds, do you see making all your back catalogue tracks available digitally?

That is the million-dollar question, personally, I have no plans just yet as to me I find music eventually gets lost on someone’s computer or on a hard drive. Never say never though, at the minute I’m very passionate about the vinyl projects we got lined up.

What’s next for the Guyver and AKO Beatz?

Well for the Guyver we have the lost slates (Control My Soul and Never Never) on Reinforced and also some collabs are in the works.

Plus we are proud to announce the following line up for AKO Beatz & AKO150:

AKOB 010 Double O – Dreamin’ EP (reissue)
AKOB 011 Headgear – Planet 03 EP (October)
AKOB 012 Enjoy – Just A Vibe/Fragile (October)
AKOB 013 AKOism Vol 2 (November/January)

AKO150 005 – Arcade 5 – Soundclash and Sky One
AKO150 006 – Arcade 6 – The Remixes

Last but not least the AKO Beatz 1st Album project “Unknown Elements” in 2018 which is already in the making. A shout out to everyone that has been supporting Reinforced, AKO and the movement of British music.

For more info visit the AKO Beatz website.