No U Turn was an independent recording studio and record label devoted to the encouragement of mainly young dj's to express themselves in the then relatively unknown world of jungle / drum & bass. Many good people gave their time and energy to help make No U Turn what it became and still is. Those who've recorded in the studio or released on No U Turn, Saigon or Nu Black
What really made No U Turn work was the drum and bass scene's support. The buying and sharing of music that came out of the studios via vinyl records, the parties that were organised, promoted and danced at, the pirate radio organisers, the record shop owners, the labels, the distributors, the dj's and their supporters, the writers, graphic artists and so on, all made up a scene that No U Turn could join and contribute to. The No U Turn sound became part of the fabric of this scene.
The No U Turn sound is known throughout the drum and bass scene was the culmination of a recording process, honed in over 4 years from 1992 in a studio on the third floor of an old industrial building in Acton, West London.
The repetition of DJ's making tracks at No U Turn, often cutting them as exclusive dub plates and then playing them out in clubs, seeing the audience reaction before returning to base to try out another idea, led to the creation of a new bass sound.
This essentially involved adding distortion to an already popular bass sound used in Jungle/Drum and Bass. Nico got the idea of adding distortion to the bass from Larry Graham, the great American bass player. By adding a little distortion to often deep bass lines, the bass could now be heard on even the smallest speakers.This bass sound made No U Turn records stand out from the rest. You could hear a No U Turn release in a genre where a lot of records often sounded very similar.
Another feature of a No U Turn record was the final mix down, which was always a live recording of the computer playing back the track whilst Nico dubbed at the desk. Minimal flicks of eq's and mutes, reverb splashes and sweeping of the bass frequencies were all done live during the final mix down.
This is why the end of No U Turn record often sounds different from the beginning. Things have changed along the way. The dubbing process, added a dimension to these drum and bass records. It made them a bit different.
All the No U Turn records were completely inspired by the great records of the time, Doc Scott’s records in particular.
Nico: “Ed Rush grew up across the street. His parents had jukebox and encouraged Ed’s love of music. One summer Ed started playing me all these crazy records, unlike anything I’d ever heard. These were UK hardcore records. He had two turntables? I thought it was weird. I’d knock on Ed’s door and his mum would say: “He’s upstairs….he’s in the mix.” This must have been 1990.
Ed Rush: “I just want to play out to a live audience, but it’s so hard to get a booking when no one knows who you are.”
Nico: “How about you have a record with your name on it? People might get to know you for the music you make and then you’d be nearer to getting a booking because people might have heard of you.”
Nico: “I’ve made records before but never this sort thing! Let’s give it a go. I’ve just bought a sampler.”
We made our first record. Our third was a tune called Bludclot Artattack. The plan worked.
Ed Rush released several collaborations with Nico that were released on No U Turn during Eds early career. In 1996 Nico introduced Ed Rush to Optical with the suggestion that the pair make some music together. Ed Rush went on to form his own record label, Virus, with Optical.
Today, Ed Rush is a successful independent music artist having made a career of doing what he loved most as a teenager, deejaying music.
Dj Fierce, who was given the job of assisting in the studio due to his clear passion for deejaying and music, has been heavily influenced (both good and bad) to maintain his spirit of independence and has over the last 20 years worked as professional dj/producer and running his own drum & bass label Quarantine.
Many people Ed or Fierce's age, in the early 90's had the idea of deejaying as career but maybe not the support around them that Nico and No U Turn could offer and did offer to anyone that came through the door with an interest in music, particularly drum and bass. This was the 90's!
The No U Turn ethic was, and still is, about the power of effective collaboration.
Nico: “It's just more fun and often turns out better to make music with other people and a computer, rather than alone with the machine. “
Many others were encouraged to pursue their musical visions if they happened to visit No U Turn. Independence was the message. It still is.