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Rob Tissera

Rob Tissera is the most affable and gregarious DJ you'll ever meet, with a smile that starts somewhere behind his eyes and then erupts across his entire face, which usually precedes him grabbing you in the biggest bear hug you've ever experienced. 

Perhaps it's Rob's exotic ethnic mix of a Sri Lankan, Portuguese and Irish heritage and an honest devotion to music, that Rob learned from his father:  "He was always into recording LPs in a different order - he used to get tape recorders and make compilation tapes, rather than listen to a whole LP... then I started to do that."  It's a strange beast, music.  While some people are prepared to merely sit back and let it be the soundtrack to their lives, others have to get right inside it, and that fascination in mixing and meddling with music has become the essence Rob's life.  At 13 he was playing bass guitar, at 15 he was in a band and at 16 he was on the point of being signed to Polydor, but was soon turned on to his disco destiny by the early M25 raves, where he discovered what he had to offer the global dancefloor.  "I'd always been into all sorts of different music," he enthuses, "but I really got into house music - that harsh, electronic sound - stripped down and bear, but with some kind of soul to it."

 It almost seems there was a day in the late 80s when everyone lay down their guitars and invested in decks:  "I just started to buy records again... instead of spending my money on guitar strings and going down the pub," Rob recalls.  "We'd play records, mix tapes into them, play things off CD - I didn't realise at the time but it all came from seeing my Dad do the same thing."  Like many people finding their feet, Rob would play anywhere that would have him - anywhere from weddings to warehouse parties - but even at the dodgier gigs he would use the experience to sneak in some of the good stuff, hits of the 70s followed by what Rob calls "all the house music hits of the day.  It became quite a thing - you'd have two different crowds in the pub, the early evening drinkers and then the kids."

A chance visit to Manchester also led to a night at the Haçienda - that was enough to persuade Rob to move north, quickly finding his way to the early Blackburn raves.  Unlike the well organised parties in the south, full of clipboards and speeches, these "acid-house parties" were much less salubrious but jammed wall-to-wall with energy:  "The reason why everyone went at it so hard was because the chances were you'd only be in that warehouse for two hours - at any given second it was going to be over, so people partied as much as they could.  There was also that lawlessness - getting one over on society - that heightened your excitement as well.  And of course the music was fucking awesome."

Rob sunk inevitably into the northern scene, announcing the location of the illegal parties on the amusingly entitled BBC (Blackburn Buzz Corporation) pirate station (a love of radio that would ultimately lead to a show on Galaxy radio).  Indeed he was so involved, that when the police raided one party where Rob was DJing, he felt compelled to grab a mic and scream "if you want this fucking party to continue, you've got to keep the bastards out!"  At that point a drinks lorry was pushed in front of the doors to seal everyone in... including an undercover cop who filmed the entire thing.  The biggest mass arrest since the Peterloo riots saw Rob charged with section 2 violent conduct, one below incitement to riot, and a spell at Her Majesty's pleasure.  This was at a time when rave was a rage against the machine, an attempt to change the world:  "But we did though.  From doing that it actually did change clubbing legislation - it did accelerate the process and change things quite dramatically."

Although dance culture may have lost a little of that political edge, Rob's strength is that his energy remains unchecked, his love for the scene undaunted.  "Throughout the years I've always moved with the times," he agrees.  "I'm not ashamed to say that because that is how you stay fresh."  Although he points out that some of the people he plays to at Sundissential were seven when "Take Me Away" originally came out, he wants to play to that new generation of clubbers, rather than the people who are now in the process of hanging up their dancing trousers and taking up gardening.  And those new clubbers will come out and see Rob every weekend - at his residencies at Sundissential and Slinky and every other club worth its Technics.  That popularity derives from a unique style - instead of going pneumatic for two hours, his set builds - he may layer vocals over a trance bed, or go on tangential journeys before returning to that tough foundation.   "I have got this style of contrasting things, often by being dramatic in how much I change it," he says, suggesting his style derives from the days when things were so damn hard to mix, there was no option but to drop brutally between one track and the next, using the space to create tension.

All of these factors contribute to the reason why Rob is so often invited to finish a night, notably at Sundissential, perhaps his spiritual home.  This love affair has also been cemented by the inclusion of one of his tracks on the new Sundissential album, a track that will also form the soundtrack to the TV advert.  That track, Take Me Away by the RT Project, is just the latest step in a long and successful recording career, dating back to his teenage band.  Tracks were released via labels like Ark Recordings and Eastern Bloc before Rob really shook things up with Kick Up The Volume and then the massive The Day Will Come, as the earth-trembling Quake.  "It was a brilliant experience to have done that," says Rob, still warm with the memory of it all, "because that was right at the birth of trance."  The track went top 40 and led to Quake contributing four tracks to the Human Traffic soundtrack and to remixing a host of big artists:  "We became the remixers of the trance era, really," Rob points out, "we were the people the record companies called if they wanted a trance hit."  One detriment to hiding behind a pseudonym is that many people didn't realise Quake was actually Rob Tissera, which has now inspired the creation of the RT Project, and the establishment of Rob's own label, Queue Records.  Rob has re-released The Day Will Come, and continues to feed the hungry beast that is the dancefloor with a chunky selection of music. 

In the end it's all down to that talent and good humour:  Rob Tissera is a DJ, a producer, a remixer, and a permanently positive individual:  "I don't have many things I regret," he smiles. "I actually think some of the best things are yet to come... "



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