4 years ago Peter Costigan set off with his film camera on a series of transAtlantic journeys between his native Canada to the UK to interview some of the luminaries from the jungle / drum and bass scene. The drum & bass documentary he made “The Rest Is History” got its premiere last year in an independent cinema in London & has toured the film festival scene.
It’s now been nominated as a finalist for yet another award at the New Filmmakers NY festival. We decided that LoveThatBass needed to find out more…
Firstly tell us about your own history in drum and bass, how did you first discover the sound?
In 1994 my good friend, and co producer of the documentary, Eric Tesainer brought me to a rave in Toronto called “Syrous: Empire Strikes Back”. DJHype and Phantasy were the main acts on the bill. I had no idea what was in store for me, but after hearing the huge bass and banging drums I was hooked!
I’m guessing it had a big impact as you started DJing, moved into production & have had a few big tracks released?
It completely changed my life. With my parents thinking I was sleeping at a friends house I would sneak to jungle events in the city almost every weekend. Two years later I convinced my Mom to let me buy my first set of belt drive Gemini turntables. Being a drummer & guitar player I picked up the art of mixing and blending pretty quickly. Within a few month my brother had managed to get me on the bill to a few local parties! Everything grew from there. I always had the itch to produce music but I didn’t have any idea where to start… I didn’t even have a computer at the time!
It wasn’t until 2003, when I was 23, that I decided to give producing a shot. In a time when youtube tutorials didn’t exist it was no easy task. A lot of trial & error, trying to figure out why my drums didn’t sound like Pendulums. Eventually by 2006 I started getting some releases.
Let’s talk about the film, where did the idea come from?
When I first started production on the documentary there really wasn’t much information out there in regards to the history of drum & bass or jungle music. I had met a lot of the original pioneers of the music over the years from promoting events. Being a graduate of film school I felt I could use my access to the DJ’s and my knowledge of film production to put something together. A film that would educate the new generation of junglists as to where the music came from. It was a huge lesson for me too as I really didn’t know much when I started the journey!!
Do you have a background in the film industry? The footage I’ve seen so far looks great, so I’m guessing you didn’t go into this blindly?
I’ve always been a lover of the movies. When I was a young boy I saw a friend of mine on a tv show which made me realise that that was possible to do more than just watch. For the next few years I bugged my parents every day to put me into acting classes. Eventually it worked and my teacher took a liking to me and offered to be my agent. Soon after I landed some major roles in some Canadian productions such as Robocop: The Series and Goosebumps! After I finished high school I quit acting and went to the Toronto film school to pursue my dream of being a film director.
How did you fund the project? Crossing back & forth between Canada & London couldn’t have been cheap, did you do any sort of crowd funding to get the film made?
The project was completely funded by myself and Eric. We both had some money saved up over the years and we felt it was a good way to spend it
Maybe people need time for their interest in a subject to develop?
There have been a couple of Drum & Bass documentaries made recently, the infamous D&BArena one, and Terry Turbos ‘United Nations’ film which has just popped up on Netflix in the UK. Why do you think the drum and bass scene went so long without any coverage of this type, then suddenly 3 come along at once?
That’s a good question. My doc in particular looks back at the late 80’s and the 90’s era of the music. Perhaps there is an element of nostalgia? Maybe people need time for their interest in a subject to develop? Or perhaps people were just tired of the lack of information there was out there?
If you’re making a film about the jungle scene, you must have caught up with some of the original foundation artists. Give us a taste of who features in ‘The Rest Is History’ documentary
We were lucky enough to talk to some of the original drum & bass / jungle music pioneers such as Micky Finn, Kenny Ken, GQ, Jason Kaye, Ragga Twins, Phantasy, MC Fearless, Flux and Ray Kieth to name just a few. I also felt it was important to talk to some of the unsung heroes and relatively newer artists to get their point of view as well. You will also see people like Uncle Dugs, DJ Chef, DJ Ollie and Jayline contributing which I think adds a lot to the film.
Was it hard tracking down all those artists? We’re constantly chasing people to respond to written interviews for this site, you must have had a dramas tracking them down, getting them in a room & filming them during your brief visits to the UK?!!
To put it bluntly, it was a nightmare! Sometimes my whole day would be planned around one interview, then the artist would cancel. When flying from Canada and only having a limited amount of time in the UK that can be very costly. It was quite the roller coaster ride. I remember we lost our first interview with the Ragga Twins simply because they couldn’t find parking around our flat! But these things happen, and we just had to roll with the punches.
I had no idea how valuable they would end up being when I took them!
I’m guessing footage & images from the scene back in the day were a bit hard to come by as well? This was a time before everyone had a camera phone in their pockets
Luckily I was such a huge fan of the music and the DJ’s that I brought a small camera to almost every party I went to back in the 90’s and early 2000’s. I would also take pictures of places like Blackmarket Records. I did manage to get some old photos from people like Micky Finn (who I can’t thank enough for all his help on the project), but most of the pictures you see in the film are mine. Which is quite serendipitous as I had no idea how valuable they would end up being when I took them!
Were there any nuggets of information that surprised you when talking to people?
One of the most interesting things I learned during the filming of the doc was that Eastman, from Kool FM, was the first jungle promoter to put multiple MC’s on the bill… Prior to that you would have one MC hosting all night.
The Rest Is History has been touring the film circuit, and getting rave reviews, are there any plans for it to go onto a Netflix, Amazon or YouTube type service so we can all see the full film?
We are still working on getting some kind of distribution deal. Hopefully once theatres are open again we can continue touring with the film & it will get noticed by Netflix or AmazonPrime… Until the Covid issue is over, like the music industry, the film has Unfortunately been put on hold.
Have you decided what your next project is going to be? Another adventure into music documentaries perhaps?
I’ve been writing a lot lately as I’m planning on producing a short film as my next major project. I’ve also been back in the studio working on music again.
Any shouts or people you want to mention?
Whenever I get the chance I always like to thank all the artists who sat down with me to make the film possible… They took the time out of their busy schedules to make this fanboys dream and vision come true so I really can’t thank them all enough! I’d also like to thank Laura Young and Toomas Peters for all their support and help with the project. It would never have been completed without them.