Having grown up with all sorts of musical influences in my childhood from classical to rock n roll, in my teens I found myself drawn to the early sounds of dance, electronica and new romance pop in the 80’s as Hip-Hop evolved to the first sounds of house music.
I was wired for sound at most available opportunities, music was my safe place and escape from the bullies. I used to feed my headphones from my Sony Walkman (with the latest recordings I’d made from the radio from dance music shows) up my jumper and into my ears carefully hiding them with my long hair so I could work away in class with my latest soundtrack playing in the background. I was the only girl at school that used to arrive at house parties with a tape, armed and dangerous, waiting for an opportunity to hijack the sound system from the Kylie and Jason that was being played to replace it with some underground dance tracks! It was around this time that I bought my first 7″ and 12″ singles.
The first album I bought was Culture Club – Colour By Numbers and Phil Collins & Phillip Bailey my first 7″ after that it was more dance orientated…
I was also a Madonna fan and I loved Prince…
My dad was and still is a huge collector of music, there was always music being played in the house, never silence, even the cats and dogs were left with the radio to listen to when we were out! Dad was a huge Elvis fan, Beatles, Shadows, Duane Eddie, Bill Hailey and The Comets, The Beach Boys and other rock n roll greats. My grandparents played classical music and had an Yamaha electric keyboard and a grand piano. From the moment I could, I was down on the bass pedals on the Yamaha, dropping basslines on one of the mambo or samba pre-recorded beat loops! I remember my gran playing a lot of Bach, Strauss, Williams, The Glenn Millar Orchestra and certain pieces I know when I hear them.
This one particularly reminds me of my grandparents…
I grew up through the early days of 80’s soul, hip-hop and the residue of 70’s disco, into the pop of the 80’s, new romance, electro, and all the tangents of dance that were born from the rave scene, acid house, deep house, Balearic beats, early hardcore etc.
Tracks like this…
Love the news report footage clips on this…the house music phenomenon hits Chicago!! lol! 😉 …I still know most of the words to “Yo Yo Get Funky” …not just the chorus! lol!
Loved the Hip-House vibe….bring back that fusion I say..there’s not enough of it about these days!
…oh yeh! and I used to try and do the footwork like this on the dancefloor!
Those were the late teen years for me in Glasgow…Joe Paps, The WareHouse, Furry Murrays, Tin Pan Alley and the SubClub…some of the haunts back then…only one still stands strong and remains with the same cred! The Sub Club!
In 1991, at 19 yrs of age, I moved to London with my fiance and got captured by the sounds of the underground house scene I could hear on the pirate radio stations. Whilst working in Camden, back then, as a dental nurse/receptionist, one day on my lunch break I went for a walk around Camden Market. I could here some thumping deep bass lines coming from somewhere in the stalls and followed them to a record/clothes stall run by two very charismatic tall Jamaican guys oozing chat and charm. Dez (Bionic) and Horace didn’t have to coax me into purchasing their mixed tapes, I was already a fan from the moment I heard those beats rolling through the air that day. I became a regular customer and enjoyed the banter with them which eventually lead to me being invited to join them and their mates in “The Market Bar” on the corner for some drinks where I got to meet all kinds of characters, DJ’s and party people. It was through these connections and some others I had made along the way that I was educated in the deep sounds of the London underground, these were the ones that my soul seemed to really feel and connect with. Back then it was a lot of US house imports, rareties that only a few people managed to get there hands on due to the small numbers of vinyl presses available. Strictly Rhythms, Nervous, Murk, Todd Terry…the b side Dub mixes on R&B tracks…all had the flavors that I was feeling…
Tracks like this were the kinda grooves we were dancing to!
Remember this mix off the double pack…boy when this dropped! Good gosh!!!
…and this one!
…oooh and this one takes me back to a Christmas warehouse party…
…what a vocal…what a track…what memories!!
…and this one…just to give you a few tasters…
…and this one…gosh there were just so many choooooooons back then!!! 😉
…Frog N Nightgown/Futures anthem!!
So there I was, a wee girl from Glasgow slap bang in the middle of the London Underground House Scene in 1992, hanging out with loads of cool DJ’s and deep musical people, many who were older than me and had been through the dance scene there from early rare groove days, through 80’s soul, into the “Summer Of Love” and raves like Biology and Telepathy.
Being around DJ’s gave me a chance to have a try at mixing and I definately had a natural ability from the start, all I had to do was get to grips with the pitch control, the rest of my timing and dropping was already there. At this stage taking it seriously was not something I had done, I was having too much fun going out from club to club meeting loads of people and dancing! I loved the music, I loved it so much that I gave up my day job and started working on the scene. Firstly doing PR and bar work for Happy Days Promotions at The Arches run by Timmy Ramjam and his collective and then onto doing cashier work at the famous Gass Club on Leicester Square. In those days the Gass Club on a Sunday night was the place to be. It was the night when the music was heaviest and deepest, DJ’s came with their white labels and fresh tracks to drop them on this critical crowd, MC Creed kept the place bubbling with his original and pioneering style on the mike and the place was alive with colourful dancing people with the infamous Glenn Brothers on the horns that could be heard floating above the music when they felt the urge!
The Sunday Gass Club originally began in The Fitness Centre in South London, this was actually a gym in the daytime, but at night the place held a different kind of physical activity. I can remember being there on one Christmas eve (just about!) and trying to leave the dance floor to get to the ladies loos. The problem was that the main room was walled with mirrors and dark! If you’d had a few drinks and things, finding your way out could be a challenge. I think I must have circled the room dancing with people along the way in a ring around the room at least 3 times before I finally found the small corridor out! There were loads of after parties running after the clubs closed, The Frog and Nightgown on the Old Kent Road, Futures, Deptford, Grays Inn Road, The Silverfish on Tottenham Court Road, Back To The Manor, to name but a few, and I was always there till the end of the weekend with the hardest core of ravers from the scene, still listening to tunes, still dancing and still wanting more! All this experience gave me a huge musical education and after that summer I gradually went back to a more regular lifestyle and work as a dental nurse but still spent my social life and weekends emersed in the music and people of the scene that I had grown to love.
An opportunity in ’95 came up to buy a set of decks and mixer from a mate, so I went for it and started to collect my own 12″ and practiced for hours on end till I got my mixing tight! I started playing at house parties in Harlesden, Neasden and Wembley alongside Jon E Tu Bad and Desperado Promotions. Jon was a huge inspiration and influence to me getting into production. Watching him twiddling nobs and buttons in the studio made me want to know more. He was put an AKAI sampler in front of me one day, ran through how to make a beat and said make one! I did, and he could see back then that I had the ability, it was later after I moved back to Glasgow in 2002 that he introduced me to Reason and my journey into music production really began.
Around the same time I started playing at these house parties , another DJ friend Dave B, who was playing on London’s Chicago FM invited me onto his show as a guest and around the same time another mutual friend Deejay Touch also did the same. She pioneered the first all female DJ room at the SW1 Club with Pure Silk Promotions and gave me a residency there with the other girls on rotation. At this time the scene had evolved and diversified from house, to house and garage and “speed garage” and the first sounds of “2-Step” were beginning to be heard.
I embraced it all, loved all kinds of garage music and the many tangents of it that continually developed from the fresh underground urban energies! I loved bass, crazy bass, crazy beats and off key sounds, it was all there for me in these tunes.
I secured a slot on London’s Mission FM where I usually did a Sunday afternoon show as DJ Essence! I was never a primetime DJ due to the music I prefered to play, not the top ten, more the B’s sides, the deeper grooves for the connoisseurs and fresh experimental beats. This was probably largely due to the influence of my earlier days on the scene where my ears were spoilt in clubs where the crowds appreciated the underground cuts a lot more. I played at quite a lot of after parties, got the occasional club and bar bookings but never took to many main stage events largely due to my refusal to play the same old rinsed out top ten that everyone else was playing!
Now as a producer, all these influences and a love for playing with and experimenting with musical performance is the what helps me create my music. I don’t follow a trend, I follow my inner world and allow my creativity to be guided naturally with whatever comes from a session in the lab. I have collected a heap of samples, have a selection of VST’s and plugins, a DAW (AbletonLive), a midi keyboard, a mic, my voice, my emotions and my words. These all combined give me my output, never just one style, always ebbing and flowing in new directions, going with the flows of me as a dynamic artist. I don’t pre-plan what I produce or try to copy the latest sound that everyone is jumping on, as an artist for me that is not what it is about much as many people say I should do that to make money. If someone wants to take something I have made and do a remix, they can put a commercial take on it if they wish, but my creativity can only span what my soul and ears are tuned into and feel passion for.
Although I have always written poetry for self expression I only recently managed to find a way to combine this with my music. Previously I could write instrumental tracks but never the vocal expressions, preferring instead to use acappella samples. Towards the end of 2012 I began to find my voice and i’m enjoying this new aspect and challenge.
So there you have it, my sound, my vibe, a culmination of influences that fuse together with my state of emotions to be expressed naturally in a feeling that comes together in the end as some kind of dance track. It is a journey…to be continued…who knows where it will take me…that is the beauty of it for me…I love the not knowing and just going with it to see what flows next…and just like it was in the beginning…it is still my safe place.