DJ Billy Bunter Profile
Billy Bunter was responsible for changing the direction of happy hardcore when he set up his GBT label, releasing trance core and forward thinking techno numbers. Billy Bunter released a load of hard house under his Hardtrax, Up For It and Honey Pot labels. In those days Judge Jules, Tall Paul, Peter Wardman and Madam Friction were among his supporters.
The fusion of hard house with hardcore continues. But Daniel “Billy” Bunter’s move from the glow-stick waving happy hardcore scene to that of energetic hard house is by no means sudden. Secured neatly under his belt is a successful GBT label which was launched at a time when the happy hardcore scene was at it’s peak.
The original purpose of GBT was to eradicate the cheese which had slowly crept into the happy hardcore scene. The clean, sharp and futuristic sound of GBT not only impregnated itself into the hardcore scene but spread further a field, gaining a following from Tony De Vit, who cut dub plates as soon as the tracks were available, Pete Wardman and acid techno maestro Choci.
GBT has went as far as Daniel could possibly take it. The label has had a big influence on the direction of hardcore.
Billy Bunter Interview 1997
So what finally convinced you Billy Bunter to move away from happy hardcore?
“For me, it was a natural progression. If you look back to the GBT releases of early 1997, you’ll hear elements of hard house in them”.
Emphasises Daniel: “I didn’t just suddenly think, ‘Oh, I’ve got to stop being a happy hardcore DJ’. It took three or four years to finally produce the sound of GBT as it is today. And that sound feels right. After all, GBT was a cutting edge hardcore label. Yet even when happy hardcore was booming, I was moving away from it. I started GBT when happy hardcore was at its strongest”.
What attracted you towards hard house above all the other scenes?
“I became attracted to hard house because it is so like the early nineties stuff. Hard house captures an old hardcore feel but in a current style. As a DJ, I like pumping, bouncy music. However, as a music lover, I’ll listen to anything”.
How do your fellow happy hardcore DJs feel about your change of musical direction?
“I don’t really know. A lot of the DJs didn’t quite understand what I was doing. Maybe they didn’t want to understand. A few years ago, a handful of happy hardcore DJs would keep asking me why I was making trancecore, saying they didn’t like it. But the good thing about trancecore was that it enabled me to avoid using the rip off piano melodies and high speed vocals that were becoming too popular and far too over used by many producers. Two or three years later, when I’m not playing trancecore anymore, these very same DJs are making and playing trancecore”!
“I think I was way ahead of my time and that’s why certain DJs from the happy scene didn’t like me. But what can I do? I just say ‘fuck it!’ to people who are determined to resent me. Any hard house DJs and producers who continue to look down their noses at me, thinking I’m not good enough because I used to be happy hardcore DJ, well, bollocks to them! I respect anyone for doing what they really want to do and I hope others will give me the same respect because I have genuinely followed my own tastes”.
Was it difficult to get accepted by hard house DJs?
“Actually, no, it hasn’t been bad at all. When GBT first started making hard house, Tony De Vit cut a few dub plates of some of our stuff, I think people looked at me more like one of the inventors of trancecore so I managed to avoid being tagged as a happy hardcore DJ"”
“Last year, I didn’t really give away the identity of GBT’s hard house offerings. We released most of the material on white label only. A lot of people probably didn’t even know it was Billy Bunter behind some of the stuff they were playing. But now I’m confident that 99% of what we are doing is good so I’m willing to raise my hand and tell people who’s responsible for the GBT releases”.
What influences your current productions?
“We’re still influenced by Tony De Vit and you can easily hear his influence on our Tasty tracks, as well as the Hardtrax material. We also like the Tidy Trax, Friction Burns and Tripoli Trax labels. Basically, we try to keep our music DJ friendly, pumping and very crowd pleasing. Some of them are tongue-in-cheek because the crowd loves tracks of this nature. Our hard house is not like our trancecore material, where we were hell bent on producing something serious. It’s at the opposite end of the scale – it’s much more fun and it gets the crowd going. It’s real party music”.
Tell us about the labels you’ve set up over the years, apart from GBT.
“Up For It was a fun hard house label. The other, Hardtrax, releases nu-nrg material. Neither were set up as serious labels. I saw them as my apprenticeship in the hard house scene, if you like. We stopped using Up For It when we realised we could set our standards a bit higher. So we started Honey Pot recordings instead. We’ve got five fresh artists. Right now, Honey Pot is my pride and joy”!
Who have you been working with in the studio recently?
“There are two main artists working on our various labels and they have been with me since we moved from happy hardcore into hard house. There’s Darren, who used to be known as D-Zyne and Anthony Atcherley. Rob Vanden did some early hard house with us, as did DJ Lick but he’s now producing fro Tripoli Trax. Tasty incorporates Darren, Chris C & myself.
The track you did with Choci was a large leap away from the hard house you’ve been doing recently. How did that collaboration come about?
“In the early nineties, I DJ’d with Choci at Desire. Choci used to sell a lot of GBT material and we’ve been planning to work together on a track for absolute ages. I did a track early last year, ‘Your Mind Can’t Work’ and Choci loved it as much as the hard house DJs. I’ve always liked the acid techno sound”.
Who’s supporting what you are doing now?
“People like Tony Price, Steve Thomas, Ian M, Andy Farley and Madam Friction. Judge Jules and Tall Paul have also played some of our tracks”.
Are you now getting a lot of bookings outside the happy hardcore scene?
“I still get booked to play at Helter Skelter, Slammin’ Vinyl and Hardcore Heaven, where I play hard house. I also play every six weeks or so at The Country Club in Dorset. It’s hard to establish yourself in any scene. It was just as difficult for me when I first started breaking into the happy hardcore scene. Whether you have a big name or not, you’ll always have to deal with certain promoters telling you that they already have their team of DJs and that they don’t need any others”.
What can we expect from Daniel “Billy” Bunter over the new few months?
“I’m going to concentrate on the Honey Pot label and showcase some new artists, such as Eufex and Crash, on Honey Pot offshoot, Danger. I’ve also got a wide range of really exciting gigs coming up”.
And finally, do you feel that the happy hardcore scene you left behind is dead and buried?
“I thought it was dead four years ago when all the cover versions and fairground music appeared. Throughout 1995 to 1997, you had about five or six bookings every weekend all over the country, that simply doesn’t happen now. Happy hardcore has definitely decreased in popularity quite considerably. I don’t really have an opinion on it anymore”.
Get insider tips, offers &
event news. Includes our "Top Ten Best Rave..." series of emails