Music / Interviews

Roni Size: ‘Bristol has this creative energy in the water’

By bristol247, Thursday Aug 6, 2020

Growing up in Bristol as Ryan Williams, the self-declared quiet guy in the corner later became world famous as drum’n’bass pioneer Roni Size.

So how did he get his name?

“There was a film called Babylon, and there was a guy in there called Roni and it just resonated with me,” he tells Becky Hill on the third episode of her podcast, The Art of Rave.

“It was always something easy, something to scream… The ‘Size’ (has) got an original story because I used to hang out with a friend of mine and we used to always go out to gigs and looking for a girl or whatever, and he’d be like ‘What about that girl?’ and I’d be like ‘Nah, nah, she’s too tall.’ and he’d be like ‘What about that girl?’ and I’d be like ‘Nah nah, she’s too small’.

“‘So what about that girl there? Now she’s Roni’s size…’ It was a bit of a dating game vibe.”

Roni Size & Reprazent’s debut album New Forms won the Mercury Music Prize in 1997.

On the 90s Bristol scene, Roni said: “Bristol is always been tarnished with this brush of having this creative energy in the water, you know they’re like ‘what’s in the water down there, what’s going on in Bristol?’

“It’s a small place. You had a lot of people that would go to the same record shops, they used to go to the same pirate radio stations, they used to rub shoulders in the same clubs and they basically used to hang out in the same cafes and everyone just knew each other, it was a very small city, there’s no secrets…

“And I put it down to people like Smith & Mighty… They signed the first major record deal, I think it was with London Records… What they was doing was really special…

“People like Portishead were doing their thing… Tricky was doing his thing. There was a lot of rock bands, and then you had people like Nellee Hooper who came from Bristol but he left Bristol and went to join Soul II Soul and so he was like the first person we saw on the TV and we was like, ‘yeah we know, him he’s a Bristol boy!’…

“For me, I had that vision of being able to watch everything happen. I had the perfect view: watching Wild Bunch grow into Massive Attack…

“I was always there in the wings – people were always like ‘Who’s this kid?’ I was the quiet guy, just in the corner, not really associating with anyone until I bumped into Crust and then bumped into DJ Die and bumped into Suv…

“It was on the streets. It was all just being on the streets… But then, we started raving and that is when it all started to kick-off.”

Listen to The Art of the Rave at play.acast.com/s/the-art-of-rave/episode3-ronisize

Main photo: Roni Size

Read more: Drum’n’bass don Roni Size on underground radio

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