Charissa Saverio, also known as DJ Rap, has for the last eight years been the undisputed queen of the hardcore and drum'n'bass turntables. She's become a prime mover, the prime female mover in fact, on the hardcore, jungle and drum'n'bass scenes that have shaped the last ten years of her and countless other lives. As a producer, she's consistently rolled out the tracks that have made the rave scene rock: from 1990's Ambience - The Adored to 1993's Spiritual Aura and 1996's Roughest Gunark. As a DJ: her intuitive orchestrations between incendiary, impacting jump-up percussion and the sheerest, sensual, ambient effervescence have made her intensely female sets penetrate deep into the hearts of the nations' clubbers and ravers. And that's just the beginning. For DJ Rap is about to move far beyond the realm of drum'n'bass. This extraordinary girl, with her extraordinary story is about to release an album that way surpasses the incredible acheivements she's already amde. DJ Rap is about to unveil a surprising and inspiring long player of songs, live instrumentation, breakbeats, guitar band eloquence, trance, ambience and her own vocals, that's gonna set the world on fire.
Listen up. 'Cos this is where the real girl power kicks in.
Born to an Italian fater and an Irish-Malaysian mother in Singapore, DJ Rap was brought up all over the world. Indonesia, Malta, Africa were all home for a while. Her stepfather managed luxury hotels and she grew up living in the palatial surroundings of Raffles in Shangri La. As a child, her two loves were playing the piano and horse riding. She'd practise the piano six hours a day and spend the rest of her time in the stables dreaming of becoming a pianist. When the family moved to Southampton, England in her early teens, she discovered pop music: until then Charissa had only ever listened to classical music. After leaving school she modelled for a couple of years and then took time out to travel the world, backpacking through Greece, Turkey and Europe. She returned to London and joined a legal firm, first as a secretary, then training to be a solicitor. Her life, for the first time in years seemed to be following a normal, everyday course. Then, one evening, everything changed. "I was going out with some guy and he was giving me grief. So the flatmates that I had said 'come with us to this rave, it's wicked'." And it was. She jacked in her job, kicked out her difficult boyfriend and raved. "It completely saved my life," she recalls, "I was in heaven every single day. For three or four years, it was complete bliss and I was really happy!"
And it was from this bliss that Charissa metamorphosised, invisibly, into DJ Rap. "I started buying records and thought about DJing, but it was just a thought in my head, not serious." She met a budding producer called Jeff B and together they laid down a track 'Ambience - The Adored.'
Rap wrote the meloday and the song. With its Papua New Guinea-esque combination of floating synths and grinding breakbeats, it was an instant hit on the burgeoning rave scene and beyond. Dj Rap promoted the record by going on a few pirate stations. One of these was East London's Rave FM where original junglist bad bwoy "Coolhand Flex" taught her to mix. Encouraged, she bought more records and practised her mixing. She got good: a few bookings in pubs and smaller clubs started coming in. Then one night, DJ Rap was down at a hardcore night at the Astoria. Fabio was on the bill, but hadn't turned up. The promoter turned to Rap. "He said 'So what d'you think of it in here?' and I went 'It's crap!' and he asked 'Why is it crap?' and I went 'the decks are Fisher Price, the DJ's crap, I should be in there.' He just looked at me; 'You think you're good enough?' and I said 'I know I'm good enough', and he said 'Well you're on, Fabio hasn't turned up.' And suddenly I was on the main stage, playing for 30. I couldn't believe it!"
It was in one of those optimistic, dawning days of the rave scene, when anything seemed possible, Strings Of Life segued seamlessly into Bang The Party and Let The Music Use You, that DJ Rap made her name. And these, incidentally were a few of her favourite tunes. Having co-produced a number of twelve inches including "Coda Coma" on Jumpin' and Pumpin' (1990) and "Divine Rhythm" on Reverb (1991) she took time off studio work to build her DJing career. By 1993 she'd become the first female DJ to play at all the major raves: World Dance, Dreamscape, Lydd Airport, and Rezerection. She was a regular fixture at The Paradise, Quest in Wolverhampton and The Eclipse in Coventry. As hardcore evolved into jungle, DJ Rap, with her inimitable mix of furious breakbeats and weightless melody was there on the vanguard, dropping the new sounds everywhere she could.
"The moment I heard a breakbeat tune I was like 'This is it!!' This is me, I could live and die right here in this space. For a long time it was a real problem cos most records were four-to-the-floor, Euro or whatever, and then you might have "Shut Up And Dance" creating this amazing "Ten Pounds To Get In" and it was frustrating cos there wasn't enough of it."
Rap returned to the studio. Two twelves for Suburban Base: 'Vertigo' and 'Jeopardy' followed, co-produced with Aston. But it was 'Spiritual Aura', with its sensual gasps of ambience and loose syncopated drums that really established her as a name to watch. By the end of '93, it was everywhere. A landmark of the ethereal, swooning 'Artcore' golden era of jungle production. The success prompted DJ Rap to start her own label, Proper Talent. There have been around twenty releases to date, as well as a subsidiary, Low Key Recordings, created in 1995 to nurture new producers. Over the last five years DJ Rap has spun the discs as much globally as nationally: Australia, the States, Canada, Europe, Japan. Her "Journeys By DJ" mix is undoubtedly one of the best in the series and an excellent example, with it's excerpts of trancemeister Peter Lazonby's 'Sacred Cycles' and Carl Craig's 'The Wonders of Wishing', of Rap's impeccable, broad taste and sense of gentle, dreamy ambience as well as hard impact, slash'n'burn breakbeats. DJ Rap's debut album, 'Intelligence' for her own label Proper Talent also illustrated her talents as a producer, songwriter and vocalist capable of striking out in a multiplicity of directions.
Tracks like "Roughest Gunark" were caned by the jump-up jungle turntable Mafia, but there were also moments of deep contemplation and wistful beauty on it too.
Having signed a major deal with Higher Ground in July 1997, making her label mates with legendary Grooverider and Leftfield, DJ Rap is about to come into her own.
Her first release is 'Bad Girl', taken from her debut album 'Learning Curve'. This album combines her knowledge and instinct for making music, fulfilling every brilliant expectation we've grown to have for DJ Rap; optimism, passion and lush orchestration that's gonna blow the world away.
Like I said before, forget Girl Power. You ain't seen nothing yet.
** Courtesy of the official website **