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Meet The Team: Ollie Rant

By Joe Brooke-Smith

Ollie Rant is a long serving stalwart of the Balamii stable. First gracing the Holdrons studio back in 2017, Ollie has held down a regular show ever since, serving up monthly slices of dancefloor vibes swerving though UKG, 2 Step, Grime and beyond. But while he’s an accomplished technician behind the decks his talents don’t start and end with DJing. As a producer he made his first excursions on vinyl in 2020 and he’s also a dedicated educator, holding down a job as a tutor at the London Sound Academy, spreading the knowledge to future generations of DJs and producers. With some hot new productions set to drop soon, it was a perfect moment to catch up with Ollie and dig a little deeper on one of our favourite selectors.

The spark that sent him on his journey into dance music came via the classic mix compilation Cream Anthems 97. “There was one mix by Paul Oakenfold and the other was by Nick Warren. I convinced my Mum and Dad to buy it for me because I saw “Breathe” by The Prodigy was on there. It’s a proper mish mash of whatever must have been popular in the clubs at that time. House, Big Beat, Trance, UK Garage.” And that eclectic mix of styles is still evident in his sound today, as he blends effortlessly between genres in his show. “Some of the stand out tracks I still listen to today are “Gunman” by 187 Lockdown, “Nineways” by JDS, “Plastic Dreams” by Jaydee and “Block Rockin Beats” by the Chemical Brothers.”

When it came to music, the urge to get his hands dirty came early for Ollie. “I was playing in bands through my teens and I started messing around with Fruity Loops when I was fourteen.” A couple of years after that he wanted to find a way to perform some of the music that he was making so he bought himself some Numark decks and never looked back. “I had just started getting into grime through some of the free magazines you could get at the time like RWD and Vice. There was a great monthly article called Grimewatch in Vice by this guy Prancehall I used to read religiously. I grew up just outside of London and it was really hard to find out about proper underground dance music so things that like were amazing.” And it was on some of his forays into the Soho record digging sites that he first got stuck into record buying. “I bought my first few records from Uptown. One Wiley + Rough Squad tune and IMP Batch - Bad To The Bone.”

Alongside his tireless work as a DJ and producer, Ollie’s also committed to sharing the knowledge he has gained over his years of experience. “I love teaching. Working at LSA I've met such a cross-section of people all coming from different places and looking for different things.” But when it comes to his work as a tutor the information sharing goes both ways. “I'm constantly exposed to new music and influences. It gives me a chance to really solidify my own knowledge base, constantly teaching the basics gives you a really solid foundation.”

It's been a difficult year for the scene to say the least, and this has made Ollie look at the music landscape in a different light. “The thing I really noticed over lockdown is how much dance music lives online. Ok we didn't have clubs but the music flourished, myself included.” But while the online activity has been an inspiration for him, the idea of dancefloors reopening is an exciting prospect. “I feel the response to us coming out of lock has been great. Loads of promoters are jumping up ready to get stuck in. I think we’re going to have a banging summer!”

Look out for his colab EP dropping in June alongside Lavonz, Ellen Murphy and Perception, and check his show that runs every 2nd Saturday here on Balamii at 7-9pm.

You can listen back to all of Ollie’s previous shows with us via the host link below:

Host: Ollie Rant