20 Years Later

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Happy 2b Hardcore Chapter 1 was released 20 years ago, January 1997.

I can still remember the first store I saw it in for sale. A Virgin Music in Vancouver. I was on my way to Los Angeles for the official launch party with my best friend, George.

Seeing it, with the big smiley faces, calling out from the middle of the “Electronica” section, it’s no surprise it was an immediate hit. Many people wrote to me after that they bought it on a whim.

Hard to think back to those days before MP3s and internet streaming, that often you just bought CDs in the store trying your luck and hoping you liked it.

We arrived in LA, and went to see the Moonshine office. They had modest hopes for the CD. It certainly wasn’t planned to be a series, more just a shot in the dark because the owners of Moonshine came from the UK themselves and liked “rave” music and hardcore. Jungle was represented on their label, but not the evolution of happy hardcore so that was where I came in.

As we met with their staff, they ran over the publicity they would be doing for the CD. Magazine ads, posters, I would be appearing on various radio stations, media interviews, a publicist would be taking some photos. I was now plugged into their promotional machine. My friend George turned to me and said “I’ll always remember you, Chris”.

The big dance station in LA at the time was Groove Radio and I did a guest DJ mix for them in studio. This is where things started to get real, real fast. This wasn’t a hole in the wall radio station, but a full-on one. All day they were promoting my appearance as we listened on the car radio. I started to get real nervous.

Fortunately I nailed the appearance, did an interview with them, and promoted the rave I’d be playing at that weekend for the CD release party.

Up until this point I was just a small DJ, playing small local raves, but certainly not on the level of doing international appearances and promotion. So it definitely felt like a whirlwind ride.

The one thing I was was passionate. I LOOOOOVED my music. I had already made the decision to start a business importing vinyl from the UK, and between that and DJing, that was how I made my living. I’d be a full-time DJ for over the next 10 years.

At that time I had no idea where this was all going to take me. The success of Happy2bHardcore caught everyone by surprise and it would go on to sell over 100,000 copies, which was in incredible number for obscure music.

The success of the CD emboldened me. I knew the audience was out there, but rave promoters at the time didn’t know how to book it inside their events. Hullabaloo would be born June 1997 as a direct result of me knowing there was an audience that wasn’t being catered to. “Hulla” was an immediate success and went on a rocket ride of its own.

But today I reflect on what started it all…. Happy2bHardcore.

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