20th anniversary – DJ set
More than 18 years into their musical journey, The Herbaliser just keep getting bigger, stronger and better. It all began in the early 1990s when West London duo Jake Wherry and Ollie Teeba discovered a shared passion for hip-hop, rare groove, funk and jazz. James Brown, DJ Premier, Lalo Schifrin, Pete Rock and David Axelrod were some of the heroes from their formative years.
Both avid vinyl collectors, Jake and Ollie began using the freshest sampling techniques, coupled with Jake’s musical knowhow from playing guitar and bass, to create the early demos for fledgling label Ninja Tune. These tracks formed the core of their first album, Remedies, released in 1995. It offered an emphatically London-centric take on funky beats packed with samples, scratches and chopped-up rhythms. It remains an influential underground classic from the urban flipside of the Britpop boom.
The second Herbaliser album, Blow Your Headphones (1997), was a more meaty, increasingly vocal affair. The US rock bible Rolling Stone praised the album’s “smooth, nimble rhythms” and called it a “a textured, experimental valentine to US hip-hop”. Most notably, Jake and Ollie discovered the mesmerising talents of underground New York rapper and storyteller Jean Grae, then performing as What What, who has gone on to become one of the most revered rappers working to this day.
Expanding their live line-up to a nine-piece in the late 1990s, The Herbaliser became acclaimed festival favourites around the globe. Playing to increasingly large and appreciative crowds also helped Jake and Ollie broaden their studio working methods.
On their 1999 album Very Mercenary, they began sampling their own playing partners to produce a more organic, full-bodied sound. Having revealed the talents of Jean Grae to the world, Very Mercenary also helped cement their uncanny habit of working with future rap titans such as the UK’s Blade and Roots Manuva. “While it’s always good to have a really hot MC from the States, we also think it’s important to represent the UK” says Jake.
Ollie and Jake proved their DJ skills with the acclaimed 2004 mix album Herbal Blend for Solid Steel and their 2006 mix for Fabric. In between, they returned to the studio with Take London, released in 2005. A multicultural manifesto celebrating the UK capital’s unique mix of soul, funk, hip-hop and reggae, it featured the Notts-based Cappo, plus the triumphant return of Roots Manuva alongside Jean Grae, who by now had left her What What alias behind. A rave review on the BBC Urban site described Take London as “tailor-made for cruising over Waterloo Bridge at midnight, preferably in a blacked-out mini with a Union Jack painted on the roof.”
Fast forward to 2008 and The Herbaliser decided to delve back to their funk roots, crafting songs featuring singer Jessica Greenfield, resulting in Same As It Never Was. Glossy and gritty, organic and eclectic, Same As It Never Was was a timeless soul record for a scrambled musical era. However, Jake and Ollie soon realised that what they did best was based around a harder, darker sound. Which led them to create their new album: There Were Seven.
More than 18 years into their musical journey, There Were Seven marks the start of a whole new chapter for Ollie and Jake. The Herbaliser have never sounded better.
Social Media Links:
- REMEDIES (Ninja Tune, 1995)
- BLOW YOUR HEADPHONES (Ninja Tune, 1997)
- VERY MERCENARY (Ninja Tune, 1999)
- SESSION ONE (Department H, 2000)
- SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES (Ninja Tune, 2002)
- SOLID STEEL PRESENTS THE HERBALISER: HERBAL BLEND (Ninja Tune, 2004)
- TAKE LONDON (Ninja Tune, 2005)
- FABRIC LIVE 26: THE HERBALISER (Fabric, 2006)
- SAME AS IT NEVER WAS (!K7, 2008)
- SESSION TWO (!K7 2010)
- THERE WERE SEVEN (Department H, 2012)