Known to her fans and friends alike as Reid Speed, the bass music producer, DJ, and all-around badass has made her mark on the ever-evolving bass music scene, with her Play Me Records imprint achieving legendary status along the way. From humble beginnings in New York City on the drum & bass tip on through to her multi-tempo dominance of the bass scene in its current form, Reid remains a fan favorite behind the decks and on the charts.
Fresh off the 21st edition of her Speed of Sound podcast mix series (check it here), we touched down with the Los Angeles-based cat lover to reflect on the tracks that not only changed her life but continue to inspire her ongoing love of all things that go boom in the night.
Nirvana “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (Geffen Records, 1991)
I had gotten a little into Nirvana with Bleach, but when Smells Like Teen Spirit dropped, it flipped my world upside down. I was an angsty, emotional adolescent, and finally a piece of music spoke to me: a bullied nerd from the suburbs just trying to understand the world. Its sheer force catalyzed a movement to turn the tables on the supposed powers that be and allowed us to break free from the conditioned societal norms and saccharine monoculture that had been saturating the airwaves.
Foul Play “Music Is the Key” (Moving Shadow, 1994)
So much happened in just one year for me. I’d been asked to leave school, put in a hospital against my will, Kurt Cobain (my self-appointed hero) had died, and then my parents had made even more terrible choices that led to me running away from home, living on my own, and finding the rave scene at 15. Soon after that adventure came to a close, I came home and started attending raves in the NYC underground. I think I first heard this at the NASA reunion party at Vinyl—maybe it was still called Shelter then. I had been too young and unaware of the rave scene to attend NASA in its time, but when this song came on it stopped me dead in my tracks. I was instantly overcome with emotion and tears just poured down my face, reflecting on the past year’s insanity I had lived through. This song made me absolutely certain that the path towards a life in music was meant for me. I still get choked up even just reflecting on this beautiful anthem of hope today.
Tori Amos “Professional Widow” (Armand’s Star Trunk Funkin Remix) (Atlantic Recording, 2003)
This was my introduction to a genre called speed garage, though the term didn’t really exist yet and this is really just bassed-up house music. Up to that point I was committed to playing jungle/drum & bass exclusively, but this took the best parts of jungle—the fat basslines and fun samples—and slowed them down to a house tempo without losing any of the energy. It was one of a few key tunes at this time, which helped convert me to being a multi-genre DJ long before it was cool.
Pendulum “Hold Your Colour” (Bi-Polar Extended Mix) (Breakbeat Kaos, 2005)
Pendulum burst on the scene trailblazing this amazing line between dance and rock that hadn’t been seen in such fine form since the Prodigy. I was a huge rock and metal fan as a kid, but had turned my back on non-dance music after discovering raves. Something about Rob Swire’s musical chops combined with technical wizardry opened my heart back up to the possibilities that the two could thrive together in harmony. Pendulum were light years ahead of the pack with their sound and raw energy. Precise, aggressive, and undeniably hook-ridden, it was stadium rock to a dance beat, minus the cheese. Hold Your Colour is probably their most emotional song and definitely the one that most intensely resonates with me.
Dirtyphonics “Quarks” (Audio Porn, 2009)
This was both the first real tempo-change tune I ever found and one of the first big breakthrough instances of a full-on halftime drop in a dance-floor/jump up D&B tune. Prior to this song, when I wanted to switch tempos mid-set, I’d have to play a song with an ambient breakdown or crowd noise in the middle, where I could hit the 33 button to go from drum & bass to breaks or house, or the 45 button to do the reverse. Otherwise I had to make my own edits, and always run the risk of clearing the floor because multi-genre sets amongst drum & bass elitists were generally unwelcome. This song helped kickstart a more widespread acceptance of multi-genre bass music sets, after eventually winning over the multitude of haters with their aggressive yet dancefloor-friendly sounds.
Rabbit In the Moon “Out of Body Experience” (Distance, 1997)
Another record released before my time, but in 2005 or 2006 I was asked to play “the set you’ve always wanted to play but never had the right opportunity to” at the Los Angeles Natural History Museum, in the African Mammal Hall. Mid-set I dropped this classic and became so choked up with emotion I had to shut my eyes. When I opened them, Bunny from Rabbit in the Moon was standing in front of me with a lighter in the air. I cried my eyes out in full force for a good five minutes in front of a thousand people while continuing my set after that. I was absolutely overwhelmed and have never had such a touching musical moment of connection like that before or since.