I would look at the colour of my skin and think 'I'm not black, I'm not white, I'm not anybody, what am I? These aren't my parents, who are they?' I'd always have a picture of my father in my head, my father with a receding hairline, remembering all these little flashbacks of trips I'd made with my father. It was like 'Total Recall', the older I was getting the more recall I'd be getting of what I'd been through. I remember taking a long trip with my father on a motorway, my dad holding the steering wheel and clapping and losing the wheel and me laughing my head off - he's driving without his hands on the wheel! I remembered those things so vividly.
I was starting to get older - 15, 16, 17 - and going through my adolescence, and I started really trying to work out what had gone on in my life. I got into rollerskating and started going to the skating rink in Wolverhampton. I used to go every Wednesday night, but if I was a bad boy, I couldn't go, and it fucking hurt me, it was the only thing I could get out of the home to do. I got really good at skating, and I joined the hockey club and got into roller hockey and I was keeper, I played for England B team.
Then it was a matter of playing up and moving around places. I found out where my mum was and I'd visited her a couple of times. I remember going to see my brother for the first time, seeing him at the house, my social worker took me on a visit. It was weird, I was so bubble-wrapped in the care situation. I felt so uncomfortable being in a real home. I felt so mad with it - someone takes you to see your mum, who's living with another guy, and there's your brothers and you're staying for two hours and having a cup of tea and trying to talk to your brother. It's the most fucking awkward shit, like trying to put a square into a circle.I'd gone through a lot of shit and finally said 'fuck it' and run away. I didn't have a great time in the home, the first couple of years were great, the last part was hell. People there were nasty to me and really treated me like a cunt. I dealt with it. I ran away. CID caught me at the skating rink after a couple of weeks, I was staying with my mum in Wolverhampton. That was the age where - I didn't know this then - but they didn't really have a hold on me. I was becoming 16, I could officially leave there if I had a guardian. It was always held out like they were doing me a favour. In the end I fucking broke out and went to live at my mum's in Wolverhampton, Heath Town. My brother had locks and had a girl who was pregnant. He was younger than me. It was really weird, going back to real life. I was getting into little petty crimes, fucking about with my brother. My brother and me were always fighting. How can I blame him? I was a brother he never grew up with, I was the guy who couldn't take a younger brother knowing the score more than I did.
Then the hip hop thing started and that's when we started breaking. I saw a Rock Steady Crew video and it blew my mind, and the graffiti in the background blew my mind, because I'd passed my 'O' level in art, and it was the only thing I had. I was the class fool, I was the joker at school, I was the one who made everybody laugh and got thrown out the lesson. I was half-caste in a school that was all white with a few black people, I had to try and be a bit more than everybody else because I was a fucking nigger. They used to say 'Goldie, you're a fucking Paki' or 'you're a nigger', I had it for years.
"I just started getting into hip hop. I used to go to the youth club and we had a crew, the West Side Crew. B-Boys were the breakdance crew in Wolverhampton, they were the best in the country, even coming to London to battle London All-Stars. And you had Rock City Crew in Nottingham, Breaking Glass from Manchester. I used to watch B-Boys, I fucking envied them, they were so bad. I just got so into it because I'd found something that I could really get into my art with. I used to go out racking with my boys, see who could get the most paint.
I was learning all the moves, learning to break. I formed a crew called Wild Criminals and started pieceing in Heath Town. I was breaking but I wasn't the best in the crew, I was average, but when it came to graffiti I was getting really good. I had my little wardrobe converted into an art studio, started painting jackets. I was putting up more and more pieces in town and it was getting really serious.
Then they had the auditions for B-Boys and I luckily got in, and the new B-Boys formed, which was me, Birdy, Bubbles, etc etc. We started practising, learning routines. We'd go out and get tracksuits, we had the best shit. Then we started doing shows like Electro Rock in the Hippodrome. By this time you had the all-dayers. A couple of people from each crew would make it to an all-dayer, they'd go up into the jazz room practising al day, then it'd go off. The buzz from that for me was the fucking best.
All these things that I'd taken in that I was brought up on, because I never had a place that was my home, I'd always been used to picking up my shit and walking, going anywhere. It's almost like you can appreciate things a bit more. I'd been inspired by a lot of things and subconsciously collected them. We went though all the all-dayers and had some mean battles with the Rock City Crew. They were our allies and we'd come down to London to battle the London crews. I'd come down to London to see the graffiti - I'd been doing a lot of graffiti and when I got down there it really freaked me out because they were better than me. Fuck! Back to the drawing board! I went back and got into it with a vengeance. Shaw Theatre was happening at the same time, when Afrika Bambaataa came over here. I met Brim in Shaw Theatre, and I connected with him, there was something there I knew would last. He was going to come over and do this film ['Bombin' for Channel 4].
The cool thing about Brim as a writer was that he knew he wasn't the best writer in New York. We just hit it off and arranged a big event in Birmingham, with 3-D [now of Massive Attack], me, Mole and Pride. When 'Subway Art' came out, I opened the book and thought 'I've got to meet these people'. I was so obsessed with it. 3-D was the first writer to do illegal paintings in the country. 3-D came to my estate and we did an illegal painting. Bristol had the parties, Wolverhampton had the breaking and so did Manchester, London had the graffiti. Then we did the film and we went out to New York, hooked up with Henry Chalfont who did the book 'Subway Art', stayed with him in his studio, which was a mindfuck, it was opening the Bible. You'd got an art that had been developed from the youth up for the first time. I'd always been conscious, I'd never want to go and write my name, Goldie, I'd always want to go write about something. TAT crew [Brim's crew] was strong. I started tagging up 'TAT' and I was thinking 'Fuck! Wicked! They've given me the blessing to go ahead and write TAT'. For me to come back to this country and do that was fucking wicked.
I'd already hooked up with the Wild Bunch - 3-D, Nellee [Hooper], Milo - and we'd partied with them a few times, then Nellee moved to London. We went to check out Nellee in London. Nellee was the ultimate B-Boy - long hair, sheepskin coat, fat sneakers - and we went to Heaven for a night, which was wicked. It was Rage then. I remember Brim standing on the podiums, out of his nut, having it away!
Then I was staying at home, had a couple of flats, had a car, a Rover 35 V-8, no license, no tax or nothing, and it was like, 'Do I want to remain and artist and paint? Do I want to be a pimp? What do I want to do?' Because it was like that, that's all there was to do. I got my own flat, next door to a gambling house. I was smoking weed, then I got into Rasta, I was a Rasta for a couple of years. I read 'Revelations'. I learnt a lot through that, the whole thing of being correct and not eating animal fat and all that, but at the end of the day it felt like I was getting put into a corner, I couldn't move any more. Cornflakes have got animal fat in, you can't eat them, you can't do eat that, do that - so I cut my locks off and thought 'fuck it'.
Then I went back to my dad's in north-west Miami, which was like the underground, the ghetto, and started hanging out in the flea markets which was where all the niggers would go. I saw real players there, people with crazy rides, young guys. I got into life-death situations with people, guns, crack, all that shit. Then I had a letter from my mum saying my step-dad had cancer, I'd got to come back. I'd built myself up into a heinous graffiti writer, the best airbrush artist in Miami. It was like, what do I do? So I finally made the decision that I was going to come back. It fucking broke my heart. I came back like the mack and opened that shop [Try 1, selling customised gold teeth] in Walsall.
I finally came to live here [London]. I started getting back into seeing Nellee and meeting people, and started a new life. I kept doing a lot of artwork, I slowed down on the illegal paintings and got more into doing canvases and doing bits of jewellery and gold.
Then I met Kemi who was working in Red Or Dead. She's got blonde dreadlocks, you can't miss her, I thought 'I've just got to get this chick, man, she's out of this world.' I got together with her and she took me to Rage at Heaven on Thursday. It was the best. She was the first person to introduce me to Fabio and Grooverider. I started hearing this sound I was really into. It was underground. I just got so into it, finally there was something I could get into that was underground. I had my first experience with E.
The music then, I started hearing a few breakbeat tracks which really freaked me out - 'man, that's fucking serious' - 'Derek Went Mad' and that. They were really fucking my head up. Reinforced were coming out with a few tracks and I got so into it I said 'I've really got to meet these guys'. I went to see a PA at the Astoria; Manix and Nebula II were on stage. That was it for me, I said, 'this is it, I've got to do this'. I knew it was niggers doing it, I just knew they had to have some kind of black influence with the breakbeats. I started approaching them, saying I'd do some artwork, and started getting into label design.
I was still on the West End tip, seeing Nellee and that, but I had this urge to sneak off and go underground. They weren't into it at all. They were all, 'Goldie's got into raving! The old B-boy's got into rave culture, what's going on?' But I'd seen what was going to happen with it. I thought to myself, I've got enough of a B-boy background, I'm into breakbeats, I can think of a few tunes. I was inspired by Fabio and Grooverider. That's what really made this shit happen for me. Fabio and Grooverider as black DJs really did it for me, it was like a whole other thing. I wanted to make music then, I thought 'I've got to have a go at this'. I met Fabio and Grooverider briefly a few times and never even got to say hello. In the same way that all those graffiti writers were to me, they became the same thing: 'I've got to meet them; one day they'll play my record.' I used to go and look at them. I watched them play.
I was going out and seeing what the climate was like. I used breakbeats from my old breaking days, I had this influence in my head, so I brought breakbeat tracks out that were a bit way ahead. Different. Grooverider and those guys started paying me a bit of attention. From then it started exploding. I started to get to know everybody. I started hearing stuff by a guy called Doc Scott, I thought 'with this b-line, this guy has got to be black'. But I was told he was a white guy with blueeyes and long hair.
The euphoria on Es that these DJs in silhouettes up there would create was massive. I used to go up and talk to Groove, going 'fucking wicked, man' and he'd give me the time of day, say 'yeah your tune's wicked'. And he was younger than me, but because I had this respect for him, I'd be humble to him. Then I'd think, 'Fucking hell, they really like me, I'm really in here, fuck this, I'm really going to help them out, really make this work.' I wanted that big piece, that 40-foot masterpiece. That was the birth of 'Terminator'. I really put my all into 'Terminator'. The engineer turned me onto certain machinery, a few pieces of equipment, and that was the breakthrough. I started fucking around with this equipment and realised I could change the music, I could take a breakbeat, make it seem like it was speeding up and changing tone but it was actually still at the same speed. I finished the project and EQ'd it on E. And you know what Es do to you, you start hearing shit that no-one else is hearing, and I really used it as an artist. I pushed myself to the limits artistically.
Suddenly 'Terminator' was the biggest thing. I remember hearing it at Rage, when Groove used to bring it in I'd think 'fucking hell, man!' Goosebumps. Everyone used to turn round and look at me and I'd have such a buzz. I'd finally done it! It was the most beautiful thing that ever happened.
'Angel' was to prove to all those people like Nellee and Mushroom [now of Massive Attack] that it was different, it was cutting edge. It was hard but smooth. I'm not into Joey Beltram, I'm not into Sven Vath, because for me it's been done. It's not expanding anything.
Fabio was the first person to ever mention the word jungle. He said 'it's inner city jungle music, sounds like it's an urban jungle'. Now that urban jungle isn't black or white, it's everybody below a certain level that has socially been fucked by drugs or living in the inner city. So I am making inner city urban music. When you say jungle you can't just say it's ragga. We were making that music before it was called jungle. In the same way if someone says, 'Goldie, is that graffiti?', I could turn round and say, 'Yeah, it's graffiti in the embryonic fashion, what it is now is an art form. It was graffiti. It has now grown.' The music has grown.
My music is rough, but a different kind of rough. It's not soft. It's fucking hard. It's a wolf in sheep's clothing. Taking it so far, to the fucking limit. If it crosses over, it'll cross over for the right reasons, not because I've signed to a major and changed my style.
You've got to know the history and what we've gone through. You can't just dismiss the rave culture. I've been through punk, jazz and hip hop, I've learned a lot and that must come out in my music. Now, I've blown the dust off all my old music - George Benson, Pat Metheny, Miles Davis, Art Blakey - now I can understand it and get ideas from it. You can be in this music and go and do any other sort of music now. A soul person can't come and do a hardcore breakbeat track because they could do the technique and all the fancy shit but there'd be something missing. They're forgetting the art of what we do. I can take breaks and fuck with them so much that you couldn't tell me what I'd used.
`Timeless ' [on his forthcoming LP] is a classic for me now, it's proved what I can do, it's an achievement for black music. If this deal [with ffrr/London] falls through, if everything falls through, I don't care because I'm an artist who's expanded another avenue. In `Timeless' is everything I've learned, everyone I've met, everything I've experienced, and a lot of other pressures that are going on socially, like girls having kids young, guy's left them, no money, guy's doing drugs, no way out of it, the whole pressure you're living with in that whole inner city situation. It is breaking down, there is a drug situation, in the darkest corners of our dances we are in some serious situations. In the same way we imported shell-top Adidas we have now imported crack. If akid's coming into a dance now and he's buying crack, trips, whatever, how can I philosophise, how can I say it's wrong? I've learned what I've learned, but how can I dictate to him? If the major labels are going to exploit this music, they've got to how the down side to it as well, why people are making this music. They can't have one without the other.
Boneheads who've been around for six months had better understand that this scene is a lot deeper than they suggest. I've jumped on this train, I didn't make the train. It took a lot of underground people to make it. Grooverider, Frosty, Fabio, Peshay, Ron, Hype, Bukem, Randall, everybody, the list is endless. I don't remember all these early tracks, so how can I speak about them? How can I say I know all about that because I don't? I came into this sound; my heroes were Nookie, Doc Scott, Groove, Fabio, Gerald, all these people who I can now make music with and socialise with if I want. That's it for me, that's what being an artist is.
I never had friends that lived next door. My friends have always been all over the place. People I've grown up with, like my classmates, I could never really get on with. These people are friends and I've joined them in a situation, and now we've made this happen, all of us have made this happen. It's not like any other business, it's a culture. I feel a part of it because I love it, I love it so much and that's why I'm ranting and raving about it. I love it to the bone."
[Interviewed October 1994, London]