Luna-C sold Kniteforce Records in 1997, and the label stopped releasing records, but Luna-C resurrected the label as Kniteforce Again (KFA) in 2001, bringing back Kniteforce Records and all its subsidiaries. An internet forum and online store propelled KFA back into the spotlight. The label has maintained niche market popularity in the hardcore scene among dedicated followers and breakbeat hardcore fans. DJing at raves and clubs worldwide, Luna-C has become well respected in both his native United Kingdom, and many other countries including Germany, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, Japan and Poland. His name has become synonymous with a versatile and varied style of mixing, incorporating breakbeat hardcore, freeform, happy hardcore, old skool hardcore and drum and bass into his sets.
His use of unreleased dubplates and DJ tools which he produces for the purpose of playing live, is considered unique. These planned, but innovative sets have been released free online, in a series called the "Supasets". Many of his releases on Kniteforce Records and sister label Remix Records have received wide airplay amongst hardcore DJs. Some like Piano Progression or Take Me Away and Six Days (as Cru-L-T with fellow producer Jimmy J) have been considered classics of this style.
In more recent years on KFA, tracks like My Angel have received critical acclaim from the UK music press. Luna-C's other aliases include Cru-l-t, The Timespan, Krazy Fresh 2, A Thief A Terrorist and A Lunatic, Tailbone, Psycangle, Garion Fey, Eko, U.T.I, Hired Gun, Ax-Is, U-Clan, Reptile, Cut Loose, Loose Cutz, Shive, Careful Gray Area, Curve, Kerve, Dj Flayme, and IsIs. He has also recorded in many group projects, originally with Smart E's and then most notably with Jimmy J, as Jimmy J & Cru-L-T. He is also part of 2 Croozin' (with Poosie), The Trip (with Spennie and Bull-E), Toxic Avengers (with Alk-e-d), Decay (with Cold Fire), Destroy and Demand (with Def Wish), Refuse and resist (with Def Wish), and Blunted (With Def Wish). Many other white labels and one-off releases were also produced by Luna-C. One of Chris Howell's first passions in life was skateboarding. As a youngster he was a junior champion in a major competition, and has continued to skate as a hobby ever since.
As far as music goes, at school he was told by his music teacher that he would never make a career in music. He was a huge fan of hip-hop music and DJ'd in his spare time well before he experienced the UK rave scene and hardcore music. In fact, he has said that he and his friends would ridicule hardcore music when they first heard it, especially as much of it sampled hip-hop and sped it up. He was persuaded however to go to the hardcore club Labrynth in 1990, and it changed his view of the music and the scene forever.
He soon began buying hardcore music in Music Power Records in Ilford, London, and Boogie Times in Romford. It was here that he met fellow record buyer Tom Orton, who he also worked with in a supermarket. Tom DJ'd as "Mr. Tom" and helped run a weeknight rave called "Ultimatum".
Chris began DJing alongside Tom at these raves, and the two of them continued to buy records together in Boogie Times. Boogie Times Records also had its own record label, Suburban Base, and through talking to the shop owners, Chris and Tom decided to make a record, purely for fun. Tom had a friend, Nick Arnold who had his own studio and had some experience in music production. The three of them decided on the name Smart E's and set about making a tune. The first tune Smart E's released was on Boogie Times Records, an offshoot of the parent label Suburban Base Records, and was called Bogus Journey. It was a simple hardcore track which featured samples from the film Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.
It only sold a few hundred copies which wasn't unusual for a first release on a small hardcore imprint. They decided to make another track, and this time produced a track sampling the theme from Sesame Street. At the time, many hardcore tracks sampled what could be considered silly things, and as Chris recalls "the hardcore scene had a sense of humour". By this time the Boogie Times Records label was no longer used, and so this track would appear on Suburban Base.
A number of promos were pressed up and quite unexpectedly for the Essex trio, interest in the record rocketed. Steve Jackson (not to be confused with the Steve Jackson who founded Games Workshop with Ian Livingstone) hosted a house music show on London radio station Kiss FM, and he had begun playing the record every day. Suburban Base and Smart E's saw an opportunity, and realised that the record had the potential to be a big seller, and so drafted in Steve Jackson to do a remix for the main release of the record. The record was being played at all the raves and on all the pirate radio stations (which were the main channel for hardcore music being played on the air - the commercial stations, other than a select few like Kiss FM, chose to ignore underground dance music entirely).
The number of copies of the record which the distributor requested shot up from 1000 copies, to 10,000 copies, to 50,000 copies. When the record was finally released it reached number 2 in the UK pop charts, which at the time was the highest debut single entry ever. The success of the Smart E's track thrust Chris, and the Smart E's into the media spotlight. Many dance music magazines panned the trio as a joke, and at worst, money grabbers who only came into the rave scene to jump on the bandwagon and make piles of money. Neither had really occurred to the three Essex lads when they went into the studio to make Sesame's Treet but Chris freely admits now that the tune and the onslaught of copycat records sampling a whole array of children's television themes, computer games and old songs, did hurt the rave scene considerably, though that was certainly never their intention.
Many have argued that in retrospect it couldn't really be said that they were a rave artist who had "sold out" as their first and second records were novelty records of sorts. Sesame's Treet was picked up for distribution all over the world, and the Smart E's were signed up to Atlantic Records in America and toured the states, doing 29 live PA's in 32 days. Luna-C felt that the group were ripped off by many people during this time, and although the Smart E's produced one album for Atlantic Records, he didn't feel that he could continue working under the Smart E's name. After some time, Chris decided he wanted to continue making music, but have control over it, and therefore he bought a studio, and founded Kniteforce Records. His ethos for the label was and always has been that the label belonged to the Kniteforce crew - who were a group of friends Chris had skateboarded with for many years before the formation of Kniteforce.
The first release on Kniteforce Records was produced by Luna-C, The Luna-C Project 1 - Edge of Madness, but was in fact engineered by Austin Reynolds, the studio engineer at Suburban Base Records, as Chris hadn't yet taught himself to use his studio. The first release entirely produced by Luna-C in his studio was The Luna-C Project 2 - Mission of Madness which was the second release on Kniteforce Records. Kniteforce continued to release records, some predictably sold better than others. A good release would sell 5000 copies, and an even more successful track would sell much more. The label had its own artist who designed all the logos, the label artwork, and the covers.
Many of the tracks were played by DJs in the scene at the time, and Chris produced tracks under the aliases Luna-C and Cru-L-T, and as part of the groups Future Primitive and The Trip. He also took engineering duties on all Kniteforce releases, until a bit later on when label signings DJ Force & The Evolution and DJ Ham were so confident in the studio themselves that they presented tracks to Chris ready for release. During this period Luna-C very rarely DJ'd out live, instead preferring to be behind the scenes producing tracks for other DJs to play. Kniteforce Records sold very well in Germany as well as in the UK.
In 1995 Chris formed another record label, Remix Records with happy hardcore DJ Jimmy J, who owned a shop with the same name in Camden, London. The label and the shop shared the same logo, and the shop became a front for the Kniteforce label. Kniteforce and Remix Records promos adorned the shelves, and many Kniteforce Records artists could be seen there. Chris produced tracks for the Remix Records label under the name Cru-L-T with Jimmy J.
Jimmy J & Cru-L-T found success in the hardcore scene with the high sales of their tunes Take Me Away and Six Days which both sampled house tracks but reworked the vocals with piano riffs written by the hardcore duo. Six Days sold very well in Australia, and Chris and Jimmy travelled to Australia to promote the record. They DJ'd and did live PA's and this gave Luna-C a renewed taste for DJing live. Kniteforce records were selling but not in the numbers that Luna-C hoped for. His artists were pushing the boundaries of hardcore and some tunes were receiving significant play at raves, but the records were selling in relatively small numbers.
Chris decided that to bring more sales to the label, he needed the "big name" DJs of the hardcore scene, namely Slipmatt, Sy, Vibes and Ramos to get involved with the label. He commissioned a series of remixes from these DJs and this move did indeed sell more units of those particular releases. The DJs played their versions of the tunes out, and the record buyers bought them up. During 1995, the hardcore sound had begun to change, and more and more tunes were coming out with a heavily distorted kick drum riding over the well established breakbeats.
Some of Luna-C's productions mirrored this to keep up with the sound, and in 1996 he even set up a sublabel of Kniteforce, Malice Records to cater for the hard edged gabber sound which was being mixed with UK happy hardcore in sets up and down the country. The first release on Malice Records sold very well, but later releases didn't quite keep up the momentum. Luna-C also started a sublabel called Knitebreed, which was originally intended to release more records by up and coming producers, however he found that very few producers who sent in tapes impressed him that much, and he ended up releasing tunes on the label under his own variety of aliases. By this time Chris was recording under the names "The Timespan", "Eko", "Garion Fey", "DJ Psycangle", and as part of "2 Croozin" and "2 Xperience", as well as the usual Luna-C and Cru-L-T monikers.
This way of producing tracks under many different names allowed Chris quite a lot of anonymity while many of his tunes were widely recognised. As Luna-C, Chris's productions were quite different to the bulk of what was being produced in the hardcore scene, and although these tunes were Luna-C's passion, they still weren't selling well enough. Luna-C had become disenchanted with the hardcore scene in general, and the label had started to run into financial difficulty. He had also got into trance music by the time Kniteforce 037 came out, and had even started a trance label called "Strange Room" which was completely unsuccessful.
Reluctantly, Chris halted production on the label, and for a while lost interest in making music altogether. DJ Brisk, who had released tunes on Remix Records formed Next Generation Records with Kniteforce stalwart DJ Ham, DJ Force & The Evolution started UK Dance, and split into the two duos DJ Force & Styles and New Motion. The tax bill for Smart E's came in, and Luna-C found himself in a lot of debt. Regrettably in 1997, Luna-C was forced to sell Kniteforce Records to pay the bills.
Luna-C recalls that it was a heartbreaking decision for him to have to make, as himself and many of his friends had invested a lot in the label, but was the only way out at the time. Luna-C sold Kniteforce Records in 1997 to Death Becomes Me, Ltd., who owned Rogue Trooper, Happy Trax, Punisher and a few other labels. He continued to engineer for the label, and produce tunes under yet more guises, but Kniteforce stopped releasing at number 60. Remix Records stopped its first run under Luna-C's direction, but the name was bought up by another company who released records under the same name and logo. That company in turn sold it on, and the label has continued in one form or another, on and off for years, but no longer has any association with Jimmy J & Cru-L-T. After losing interest in the hardcore scene, Luna-C was looking for a music which made him feel like hardcore once had.
He found this feeling in a drum & bass tune called Tower Bass by DJ Aphrodite. It was the first tune which had inspired him in a long time, and he decided he wanted to learn how to make drum and bass. Using Aphrodite's style as a template, Luna-C started Influential Records. He had once produced a jungle style tune on a one-off release on JFK Recordings as "Hired Gun", and under a variety of different names again, Chris started to release tunes on the Influential imprint.
At first, these were collaborations with DJ Influence, and later, when DJ Influence left the label, with other friends. A couple of the Influential tunes were released under the Infiltration Records banner, which was resurrected later on in 2001. Influential Records had pushed the Jump Up style of drum and bass, and as this style featured less on the scene, Luna-C founded another label in 1999, Dyne, for a darker style of drum and bass. After the label was sold, and Luna-C started to recover his finances, he married a Japanese woman, and began DJing in Japan a lot during 1998. He forged a set which included a set of custom made dubplates that he created which mixed many old skool hardcore classics with more recent happy hardcore.
This was Luna-C's first sign that he was edging back into the hardcore scene. He also released a couple of tracks under the "Keep It Fresh" label, which were old style breakbeat hardcore, but these sold under 500 copies. Luna-C later divorced his wife, and finally cleared his debts in 1999. Over the years Luna-C had many requests for represses of Kniteforce back catalogue (which was unfortunately more difficult than was perceived as the original plates from which the vinyls are pressed had all been destroyed when the pressing plant Kniteforce used to use went bankrupt). In 2001, he decided to release a record on a new label called "KFA Recordings", which was essentially a new style hardcore remix of both Six Days and Take Me Away by Jimmy J & Cru-L-T.
As Luna-C no longer owned the rights to those names he renamed them Sicks Daze and Hand of Destiny. Around this time, a long time Kniteforce fan DJ Deluxe had approached Luna-C about creating an official Kniteforce Records website. This website was launched and became the hub of all Kniteforce related activity, including a forum where a small community of hardcore Kniteforce fans soon formed. Luna-C released the second single on KFA, Luna-C Projects 8 & 9, and then got many of Kniteforce's original artists like Future Primitive and Alk-e-d back on board to release new material.
KFA reintroduced the breakbeat sound to a hardcore scene which by now was dominated by the trance influenced freeform style. Despite being alone in this at first, KFA releases sold quickly and on May 10, 2002, Luna-C bought back the Kniteforce Records label, all its subsidiaries and all the rights to the music and the logos (with the exception of the Remix Records logo which had been sold along with the shop in Camden). The KFA label created a real buzz around it especially on the internet, and Luna-C introduced an innovative idea called the "Executive Edition" whereby the first 100 copies of each release sold by Kniteforce's official retailer (at the time an independent online outlet called "i-tunes" - not related to Apple's mp3 store of the same name) would include a free gift of some kind - sometimes even a free record unavailable elsewhere. In 2002 demand for Luna-C's DJing grew, and he began touring extensively all over the world. KFA continued to do well, and Luna-C released tunes as Cru-L-T, and The Timespan, as well as releasing The Luna-C Project X (11 Reasons Why) (number 10 in the series) in October.
By 2003, Luna-C's popularity as a DJ had rocketed and he split his time between managing the label and DJing at raves in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and in Europe. As well as releasing records on KFA, demand for his remixes increased, with his remix of DJ Skywalker's Killerwhale a notable example from 2003. In October 2003 he released the album 11 Reasons More which covered a wide range of hardcore music styles, and experimented in styles of hardcore production which, it could be argued, had never been tried before. He began DJing a planned set which he dubbed the "Supaset" which incorporated every style of hardcore music and varied in tempo throughout with the aid of Luna-C's self-produced "DJ Toolz".
In April 2004, Luna-C released My Angel, along with a special video produced for the tune on DVD. The single gained wider play than anything previously on KFA, and received positive reviews in UK dance music magazines. After the success of the first "Supaset", which was recorded and released as a free download on the Kniteforce Records website, Luna-C released a follow up, and then after touring that set for a number of months, a third. The sets gained legendary status among followers of hardcore music, and Luna-C's released material displayed a harder edge and skipped wildly between frenetic breakbeats and gabber. German producer Panacea, who Luna-C became friends with, started to release material on KFA in 2003, and his influence on Luna-C's direction in production was evident on 2004's Victory, a split single with Panacea's Winter Mute.
October 2004 also saw Luna-C's first venture into event promotion when Kniteforce's 12th Birthday Party was held at the Electrowerkz in London. By 2005 though, sales of KFA Records had started to wane. Luna-C had already established an online Kniteforce Store after their previous outlet i-tunes (not related to Apple's mp3 store) closed down, and much of Kniteforce's revenue had actually started to come from merchandise sold on the site. Luna-C saw an opportunity to collaborate with some of the other like minded small hardcore labels which had started since Kniteforce's return to the picture, and formed All-4-1, a collective of labels all sharing a similar philosophy on how to continue to push hardcore music forward.
The Kniteforce web shop morphed into the All-4-1 site which also became the main outlet for the other labels, and the entire back catalogue of Kniteforce and its related labels and releases became available through a Create Your Own CD feature on the site. At the beginning of 2006, Luna-C announced that it was unlikely there would be any further KFA releases on vinyl due to rising costs and relatively poor sales. However, soon after this he announced his intention to change direction in producing and to go back to old skool style breakbeat hardcore. This was met with a mixed response, but when some new productions were previewed on the internet, feedback was very positive and Luna-C had a change of heart. He stated that he will continue to release vinyl as long as he possibly can, and he will produce both old skool style breakbeat hardcore and the new style he has been pioneering.
In May 2006, KFA released two more vinyl releases, one of which was a Luna-C release which did indeed hark back to more familiar breakbeat hardcore territory. These releases coincided with a new KFA CD album of unmixed tracks (including the tracks featured on the two new vinyl releases) which also had an enhanced section for computers with many added bonuses. May also saw the release of the awaited "Luna-C FM" set (also known unofficially as Supaset 4). This was sent to all buyers of an executive edition of a previous KFA vinyl release, along with a DVD which featured the mix with visuals created by KFA to go along with the music.
The mix was then released as a free download. It blends commercial pop music with Luna-C's own brand of breakbeat hardcore, drum and bass, and gabber, and plays in the style of a live radio show. On June 11, 2006 Luna-C married fellow KFA artist Bexxie. In the latter part of 2006 and early 2007, many new KFA releases came out, both on vinyl and CD, including new Luna-C productions. After meeting the band Keane at a gig, Luna-C was asked to do an official remix of one of their songs for a future release.
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