From making his debut at a uni club night in 2017 to going b2b with Denis Sulta in 2019, Macka’s story is one many DJs hope to replicate. He discovered his love for mixing when he was helping out at a club night. “I remember thinking, this is class.”
He set up a collective, Hometown alongside his childhood friends Joe Loughrey, Justin Bickler and Alan Petticrew. “Things quickly snowballed for us. People were coming along because we were playing.” The collective obtained a residency at Sneaky Pete’s and Cabaret Voltaire.
They established Edinburgh’s premiere student party. With regular weeknight gigs, Macka struggled to commit to his 9-5. “I was DJ’ing and working at a bank. Playing parties until 3 am and then going to work in a suit 5 hours later was awful. So, I quit.” Hoping to put all his time into music, he moved to Glasgow with one goal. “If I leave Glasgow having played Sub Club then I will leave happy.”
Four weeks later, he accomplished this. “One night in the smoking area Rory Masson asked if I wanted to play. I was holding my excitement in like a wee kid.” He believes that your aspirations will come to fruition if you focus. “If you want something to happen, then there are ways you can do that for yourself. Make sure you are going down to club nights and speaking to the right people. I was going down at least once a week.”
After making his Sub Club debut, he captured a residency for Rare Wednesday, warming up for Skream and Éclair Fifi. Through his slick productions and wild mixing, his club sets are notorious for creating a rambunctious crowd. He played alongside Robert Owens, in Soho House. “It was like something out of a movie. All of these rich folk were jumping about the place.
It got even more surreal when he told me that Kanye West was partying on the floor above us. We went out that night and ended up at Robert’s studio at 8 am and made a track with him.” His raw talent and networking skills have allowed him to build a rapport with selectors.
After warming up for Denis Sulta at Sub Club, he supported him in Aberdeen. “I was bricking it before the set. It was surreal. Back in the day, whenever Sulta came to Edinburgh I was always scrambling for a ticket, and now I am here DJing with him.” He dropped two outstanding EPs within the last year, on We Are Nothing and Fresh Take Records.
The latter a collaboration with Joe Loughrey. The duo produced an EP remotely over zoom, the outcome being three exquisite compositions consisting of breaks, M1 Piano and acid synths. Macka describes both pieces of work as “club-ready but easy to listen to.”
You can catch Macka performing at the return of the Slam tent. “It was the first great experience for me as I wasn’t old enough to be in clubs when I was at T In The Park. Playing there with the rest of Scotland’s insane talent will be biblical.” His upcoming release, Blush, a bouncy and energetic track, will be out this summer on Good Trax
Within Edinburgh’s renowned Cabaret Voltaire, jawless ravers boogie as Conor and Sean perform in FLY club. Filling the intimate underground cavity with their groovy melodies. Five years later and LF SYSTEM have now secured a residency at the very same club night they began. Conor and Sean, both 25 and from West Lothian, grew up surrounded by electronic music.
Over the years, the boys have let their passion proliferate by growing up listening to Motor City Drum Ensemble, Detroit Swindle and Daft Punk. They joined forces in November 2019, after regularly sharing tracks and projects between one another, playing back-to-back as individuals, and the fact that they’re best mates. “We became used to always doing it together, and it felt right.”
LF SYSTEM has shined over the last year as they have had more time to focus on their music. Despite not being able to go out to clubs where they find most of their inspiration, they have collated a ridiculous amount of music, just in time for the summer of 2021.
Their self created concept People Want Music, 17 tracks across five EPs over five consecutive weeks, will be dropping this June. One of the tracks Dancing Cliche was named Danny Howard’s Friday Fire on Radio 1 last month.
The concept is a series of groovy disco edits the duo have collected and waited for the perfect time to release. Radiating a summer sound to boogie in your garden too. Expect nu-disco edits with a little Chicago-house twist.
After reaching back into their backlog of old experimental tracks, they produced, Sean explained that “It felt right to collect them all together and release them for people interested, hence the name People Want Music.”
Their first two EPs exude disco tracks like ‘People Want Music’, a unifying, upbeat disco anthem that echoes the likes of Mojido and Folamour, and Let’s Go, which holds a much more groovy jazz sound. The following three EPs combine silky vocals with melodic strings and brass elements, fused with that classically consistent kick reminiscent of Chicago house.
The duo’s array of creativity shines through in these tracks, ranging from the dance-inducing jumpy beats in ‘Be My Baby’ to the smooth kick in ‘We Made It’, which sensuously fuses velvety low vocals over sharp zingy sax. Claiming that these EPs mark the end of an era of disco editing, Conor believes their sound is evolving. “We still love disco and all the edits that come with it.
However, we’re moving on to our sound and where we want to be in the future.” Their five new EPs include bonus tracks from Theo Kottis, Ewan McVicar, and Elliot Adamson. Over the last five years, the duo pushed themselves. Having played their first club night together in Cabaret Voltaire, alongside Solardo, they claimed that it’s now like a home to them. Sean reminisced about how “we would go as punters almost every Friday night.”
Having played in a whole host of different Edinburgh clubs such as La Belle Angele, Mash House, Sneaky Pete’s, Liquid Rooms, Bourbon and the Leith Theatre, they hope to extend their repertoire of venues to DC10 in Ibiza one day. It is no wonder how diverse their tracks have become, basing their inspiration on such a vast variety of artists and club nights. Conor said that “going out and listening to different DJs across different venues gives us massive inspiration.”
Scottish nightlife has always been important to Sean and Conor, as regular attenders of club nights across Scotland. Conor remarked his favourite after parties are “anywhere there’s booze and a good time.” They’ll go anywhere that will have them, although according to Sean “Conor is usually chucked out quickly.”
The boys have let their sound evolve and like to stick to what sounds right to them. In the same vein as the likes of Loure, Loods and Kornél Kovács, the duo mirror that classic Chicago house style, with care-free, melodic synths and energising kicks.
Sean feels using retro hardware can bring new sounds to life. “It’s good being creative and seeing ideas come to life and just jamming on synths and making things happen.” Their music channels their blasé and playful attitude towards producing.
Without taking themselves too seriously, Conor and Sean seem to just enjoy what they’re doing. The response to tracks such as ‘Bourgie Bourgie’, has been incredible. Sean said that “we just made an edit for a bit of fun and to play out,” turned out to be a club hit.
‘Bourgie Bourgie’ has also been awarded BBC Radio 1’s BBC Music Introducing Tune of the Week. They also produced a remix of Barry Can’t Swim’s ‘Some Day I Will’. The remix echoes acid techno with the bubbly synths and high BPM.
Conor said, “he’s a lovely guy and we sent him pair of armbands to say thank you.” Not only can the pair produce sick tracks, but they have a witty sense of humour. After playing alongside Big Miz, LaLa, and Denis Sulta, Conor revealed if they had the chance to collaborate with some local talent “it would be Liam Doc. Doc if you’re reading this.”
However, Sean said, “in a dream world it would have to be Mr G so we could pick his brains and he could teach us a few things.” There’s hope yet, selector. Continually pushing themselves and grafting, their music is constantly evolving, and they hope to eventually be signed by labels such as Kalahari Oyster Cult, Shall Not Fade or Craigie Knowes.
Conor feels that “the sounds on these labels are always incredible, and it’s a sound we’re really into.” The duo prefer production to live DJ’ing, Conor and Sean are well-versed in production techniques. The duo combines both hardware and software, to produce music. Sean highlighted “the Roland TR-8S, the Behringer TD-3, the Juno-6 and the Juno-DS” as some of their favourites hardware.
Experimenting with this hardware helps the duo create a unique contemporary nu-wave disco. Quite rightly being named Danny Howard’s Future Fire for 2021, the duo is raring to get back into club culture post-lockdown. They will be playing at the return of the slam tent this summer. With their 17 new tracks released this year, the pair have shown their talent.
When you put your stuff out there, and with perseverance, anyone can let their creativity flourish. Conor remarked, “just wing it, work hard, and enjoy it.” After over a year without clubs, LF SYSTEM are giving the people what they want, and the people want music.
In late 2012, a young Rosie Shannon bounces amidst the vast, echoing underground cavern, deep within The Arches. Green Velvet’s Flash reverberates around the club, bounding between the tireless mass of dancers and the brick walls.
Engulfed by the kaleidoscopic lights, surrounded by euphoric dancers and consumed by Green Velvet’s surging techno. “It helped solidify how much I loved music that felt like you were on a roller coaster ride.”
AISHA has plunged into Scottish techno culture, creating a splash with her heavy, fast-paced tracks. She described her production as “Heavy rapid music to drop acid to.” Her speedy, eclectic tracks contain powerful kicks, BPMs highenough to send any crowd into a frenzy, and are mottled with bubbling acidic synths.
The 28-year-old is a regular attendee of events in European cities at the forefront of techno culture. AISHA feels that the “fast-paced, long hour, hedonist nights in cities such as Berlin, Paris and Copenhagen” creatively motivate her.
Equal opportunities are also important to her. She currently helps run Soma Skool, an enterprise that encourages young aspiring DJs to learn and develop new skills. She wants to inspire young DJs, to immerse themselves in club culture. “There is no time like the present. If you want to buy decks, start saving now. If you want to learn, get someone to teach you the basics, and remember even the biggest DJs make mistakes.”
She has developed her production over the years. “I like to make tunes without being pretentious about it.” She began working for Soma records in 2015 and then built her production repertoire over five years and released her first EP under Soma’s label with Quail in 2020.
This led to her tracks getting played by Amelie Lens and Charlotte De Witte. Leatherbound, her latest EP release alongside Quail, contains satisfying, hypnotic tracks with relentless, rapid BPMs, synths that cut through you and intense builds on tracks like Hidden Form and Leatherbound. AISHA has worked with Quail to produce several other records, and they have played b2b numerous times in clubs. The pair will be playing Riverside Festival
in Glasgow together in September. She describes their musical relationship as being interdependent. “He has more experience with production and DJing so he can teach me new things and I keep him youthful” she joked. AISHA revealed local talent she wants to collaborate with, such as Neoma, Lisaloof and Vreeland once things are back up and running.
Glasgow’s renowned club culture was the catalyst for her expedition into the industry. AISHA moved from Aberdeen to Glasgow when she was 14. Like many teens, growing up, she embraced local youth culture. “I was drinking bucky at the Four Corners and going to the Sub Club unders.”
This set in motion her exploration into the depths of the Glasgow underground. Her involvement in club culture was fuelled by her cousin Zac’s passion for electronic music. “Without him, my musical journey in Glasgow wouldn’t quite be the same,” after he introduced her to La Cheetah, and helped her make connections.
From PR’ing for Pressure to experimenting with Ableton, it wasn’t until her first live set at Lunacy that AISHA solidified her reputation as an emerging techno queen. AISHA fondly reflected on Glasgow’s infamous Lunacy. “Anything goes inside those walls. Those who have been will know what I’m talking about!” Her classically high BPM, acid madness, fits perfectly into ‘Lunacy’.
Her last club set alongside Quail in Stirling was followed by a set at Lunacy for an Animal Farm special, and since then AISHA has adapted to the lockdown lifestyle by “DJing virtually to people’s living rooms for 1 year.” For some DJs, their creativity has wavered by the lack of inspiration without clubs.
However, her creativity flourished behind the scenes. Not only has she produced new tracks such as Leatherbound, but she has also played live online sets for Soma Records and Animal Farm, where she holds a current residency. Creatively thriving in isolation.
“The pandemic has made me listen to faster, harder but more uplifting techno. Once the pandemic is over, I doubt I’ll be playing anything under 145 bpm.” Fortunately, now that restrictions in the UK are beginning to ease, AISHA is set to play several gigs this year, Riverside Festival with Quail, and multiple sets in SWG3.
After producing under record labels such as Huntley + Palmers, Hilltown Disco, and Soma, she has breakneck beats up her sleeve. Her debut solo EP is coming out in June under the German label, Drec. “An independent label pushing new talent in techno.”
A remix by techno producer Joe Farr will also be out this year. The tracks are a distinct ode to 90s acid techno and industrial techno with their gratifying fusion of consistent kicks, distorted repetitive drum machine beats and stimulating synths. AISHA encapsulates her listeners through the variation in these tracks, from the hypnotic, spiritual vocals in Ethereal Elevation and Twilight Zone mixed with the almost threatening kick in Wingz 4ever.
Her raw cutting edge sound will echo through Glasgow this summer as will her opinions. In a predominantly male-oriented industry, AISHA has not let her gender hold her back. She has previously spoken out against sexism and inequalities in the industry. She claims it’s not about having enough female DJs and that we should be asking another question. “Is the scene doing enough? So women, trans and non-binary people feel welcome to bring their music and talent to Scotland.”
She is starkly aware of the gender and race inequalities within the industry but reminds us that this is not limited to Scotland and extends to “a worldwide societal issue with deep roots.” She believes that the required changes lie not in the electronic music industry but within society itself.
She believes that we can achieve this. “By putting a stop to enforcing gender and racial stereotypes as soon as we are born. This has a knock-on effect in every aspect of our lives.” Perhaps with educated selectors such as AISHA leading the charge, Scottish club culture can diversify and grow.
After a 5-year hiatus, the SLAM TENT is returning this summer.
One of the biggest dance tents on the European festival circuit, is returning at the perfect time.
Glasgow’s Slam Events are joining forces with Edinburgh promoters FLY to create one of the greatest dance floors Scotland has ever seen.
Each day of the three-day summer festival in the original Slam Tent will welcome crowds of 5,000 in front of some of our nation’s finest DJ’s, with the line-up curated exclusively from Scottish based talent.
Slam duo Stuart McMillan and Orde Meikle said: “Scotland’s clubbers are desperate to reunite and will finally come together again to celebrate freedom, unity & togetherness. It is that same feeling that existed in the early days of rave. We’re bringing it back. This will be very special.”
Tom Ketley, Director of FLY said: “The Slam Tent was Scotland’s mecca of clubbing. As we are now finally looking forward to a return of dancefloors this summer, it seems like now is the right time to bring it back.”
As Eddie Amador’s 90s anthem goes: “not everyone understands House music. It’s a spiritual thing,a body thing, a soul thing.”
Brought up around House music-lovers, it’s no surprise that Dundee DJ Hannah Laing would grow up to not only understand the power of House music but channel her deep connection with the genre into a successful DJ career. Earning herself live slots around the globe supporting renowned headline acts.
All while running her events and podcast series ‘Hannah’s Choice.’ “The soundtrack of my childhood was the likes of Roger Sanchez, Paul Oakenfold and Sasha.” On reflection, it’s clear those early influences have had a lasting impact on Hannah’s musical identity to this day. She accredits her technical form behind the decks to House icon Roger Sanchez.
“On a technical level, his style of DJing is different from anyone else and brings so much energy. I still to this day watch videos of him playing to learn tips and tricks.” Another significant influence on Hannah’s development is DJ and producer Hannah Wants. “Besides her amazing musical talent, her work ethic and positivity inspire me every day. She has also given me multiple opportunities in Dundee and Glasgow to warm up for her over the years. I will always be grateful for that.” Hannah herself exuberates dedication and a fighting spirit. Like many DJs and music industry professionals, the effects of the pandemic hit her spirit hard.
“Djing every weekend for eight years religiously to absolutely nothing. You feel like part of you is missing. That’s what you have put your heart and soul into. Working so hard to not be in a dead-end job.” Since the first lockdown in March 2020 Hannah has used her platform to share an honest window into the pandemic’s devastating impact not only the nightlife industry as a whole but the individuals within. “I had to get a full-time job at Tesco dealing with complaints as I have no income from gigs. I then lost that job and tried my hand at Hermes and the Chicken Factory.”
She spoke openly about the negative effects this had on her mental health and motivation to continue creating music. Hannah proclaims what most artists can relate to. “I felt like I lost myself for a bit as I had no motivation or inspiration to get in the studio for months. However, I’m getting back into the swing of it now and becoming more accepting of the reality at the moment.”
A successful string of mixes and track edits would come from her downtime. Some of which even caught the attention of Joel Corry and Jaguar. Hannah let us in on the creative process. “The edits that were picked up were only supposed to be tools for my sets. I wanted to create a different version that would fit into my sets. I used only the vocals from these tracks but created a whole new track for them. They worked and gained so much hype.”
Despite the circumstances, Hannah secured an impressive support slot alongside Solardo in Croatia last summer. “I had already played on the same line-up as Solardo at Hï Ibiza, and their manager contacted me to join them in Croatia.” After six long months of not playing live, she jumped at the chance. “It really did hit differently as that was the longest I had gone without DJing in eight years. I had so many friends from home supporting me. It was class.”
Although international jet-set crowds are somewhat of the norm for Hannah Laing pre-covid. She’s defiant that nothing compares to a home gathering. “I’ll always stand by that nowhere in the world will compare to a Scottish crowd. We are so lucky to live in a country full of mental ravers. Don’t get me wrong I love playing abroad but I feel it’s a more reserved vibe in comparison to Scotland.”
During her travels, one destination stands out as pivotal to Hannah’s journey as a DJ. Ibiza. Having spent three summers working on the island immersed in the music, she stated that “It gave me a boost of confidence to network with lots of people. Networking is a major part of an artist’s career and now I have the experience to do this because of going to Ibiza on my own so young.” Moving to the White Isle at just 19, Ibiza is still a summer staple for Hannah. It’s where she first experienced club culture in it’s purest form in the breathtaking island.
Now Hannah is embarking on her new role as Dundee Area Manager for MADE Academy. “MADE academy is a DJ school based in every major city in the UK. Students can purchase different packages depending on what their end goal is. Some of the opportunities included in the packages are gigs in Ibiza etc.
It’s a great concept for people learning to DJ by giving them something to work towards. Students are taught everything from DJing to how to handle marketing themselves.” When asked to share her best advice for budding DJs, quite simply Hannah says “you have to put the time in and practice. If you want to play an event make sure you attend as a raver first so the promoter can see you’re also supporting the event.” But, above all “enjoy the journey and have fun.”
2021 is in full swing, and things look promising for the selector. Hannah has even returned to her previous job as a dental nurse. However, reuniting on the dancefloor is still very much at the forefront of her mind. “I am praying to get DJing again more than anything. I can’t wait for that feeling of getting booked for gigs, being able to put on my own events with other DJs so we can all be together again.” Until that day comes, Hannah teased her remixes have been granted clearance for official release. “These will be out in 2021. I’m so happy about this and I can’t wait to share them with the world.”
In the 80s Maya Medvesek listened to electronic pop. “My parents listened to disco, funk, and jazz.” She isn’t the only artist in her family. “My Dad is a musician so music has been a part of my life since day one! His band’s stuff was electro so it certainly had an impact.” She was born in Ljubljana where she spent her childhood.
“I grew up in communism and remember the transition to independent Slovenia and the start of the war.” Maya had a fascinating perspective on the Slovenian War of Independence. “I lived in Switzerland during that time for a while but was lucky enough to return home as our war didn’t last nearl yas long as the horrors in the rest of ex-Yugoslavia.” I
In the early 2000s, she moved to West London before settling down in Glasgow in 2009. “It was a great time with a buzzing and thriving scene and exciting new producers coming up. LuckyMe and Numbers doing big things, infamous parties with really interesting music.”
Maya believes club culture in Glasgow is superior to London. “Some of my most memorable shows are Movement Detroit, Sonar Barcelona and Tokyo, plus every night at La Cheetah and Sub Club of course.” When she was first trying to establish herself Maya was influenced by Jeff Mills, DJ Deeon and Dance Mania.
Today she adores the sounds of Special Request, Jensen Interceptor and Nite Fleit. “I’m always experimenting and exploring new directions but there’s usually a common theme of fun and high energy.” Her productions send a dancefloor into a euphoric frenzy.
For some artists the lockdown has accelerated the production process but not for everyone. “I had periods of not being able to open Ableton, it almost made me sad as it was a reminder of not being able to see people and share the joy.”
She practised guitar every day. “It brought me so much happiness and it’s the best therapy.” Despite at times struggling with inspiration, she remained active. “Managed to release a couple EPs, a few singles, remixes, charity compilations, lots of streams. I always feel I’m not doing enough but I guess I was quite busy!”
She even played a role in a movie which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. Last September she launched the Love Amazonia charity compilation, raising money for indigenous tribes in the Amazon rainforest. It received a great response.
“I’m planning Vol.2 and find this so I exciting as a small contribution really makes a big difference.” Nightwave has multiple releases planned for 2021, expect powerful rave tracks. “If last year has taught me anything is to not be too hasty as things can turn on its head in no time. I haven’t decided which record to go ahead with first but it’s all pretty ravey stuff.”
Life has undoubtedly been challenging, she remarked that “it was brutal at times and very challenging but you have two options, sink or swim. Deep down Nightwave is an optimistic soul. Maya believes the solitude allows us to self reflect so we can better ourselves. “I try to stay positive. I do think these hard times are an opportunity for proper transformation and I hope good times are not too far.”
Dripping in sweat, he reached a monumental moment as he was spinning tracks. The club was packed and, the atmosphere was exceptional. It was a surreal moment supporting Mall Grab and Loods alongside All Good, Salary Boy and Chris Boyle.
Kai realised that creating and sharing music was his purpose.“It was a surreal experience playing outside, everyone was just having a good time. Massive shoutout to All Good for allowing me to be a part of it.” He has also supported Hammer, Patrick Topping and
Folamour. The German-born producer spent his coming of age in Springburn. His production is advanced considering his unknown status. He has been DJ’ing for four years and has been producing for half a decade just before he left high school. He is heavily influenced by Palsm Trax and will be releasing two remixes in 2021.
Kai grew up listening to Rock and Indie before his little brother introduced him to electronic music. It took him some time to acclimate to the sounds. “I’ve become more in love with the sounds of electronic music.” He always had a penchant for music growing up, playing the trumpet and bass guitar.
He remarked his parents have “always been supportive” and encouraged him to pursue keyboard. His parents were subjected to bigotry during his childhood living in Barmulloch. The discriminatory experience resulted in “verbal abuse by people and being nearly deported.”
However, noted that “facing these challenges made us stronger individually and as a family.” What won’t kill us only makes us stronger. “My mum and dad are originally from Sri-Lanka. A small country just underneath India, but I was born in Germany, which shocks people.”
Society has built up attitudes where they assume minorities aren’t born in Europe. There are misconceptions surrounding minorities which circulate in social circles. Minorities are unequivocally underrepresented which is why Kai believes there is a lack of Black and Asian residents.
“Once there are more opportunities for people of colour then you’d see more people like me getting into DJ’ing and producing.” Minorities are more likely to relate to people with similar cultural roots. “The crowd will always be there for anyone who puts on a good show. It should be about talent, not race or gender.” Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
“I’d love to play in Glasgow, that would be special.” Despite the fact he has yet to make his hometown debut it won’t deter him from expressing his opinion. “I think promoters and clubs need to take responsibility to promote a more diverse line-up. They decide who plays, no one else.”
He would love to see a “more ethnically diverse line-up” contemplating how refreshing it would be rather than repeating the same artists. “For people, there are so many white DJs they can look up to and want to be like but when it comes to Black and Asian people there are not that many. You need to have someone that you can look up to and aspire to be.”
Black and Asian up and comers need someone to look up to which shows they could achieve something in the industry. Perhaps one day Kai Kaspar will be the one inspiring the next generation of Scottish selectors.
It was dark as he skated through the streets of Glasgow, his heart racing. He swerved around the corner and reached his destination. It was his Boiler Room debut at Sub Club, a month after the release of his debut EP Good Thing.
“I went straight from the skatepark to Subby. I remember skating down across the bridge over the motorway and down to the club. It was a mental night.” However, he encountered a peculiar issue that distracted him. “My needles were skipping on my records, I couldn’t work out for the life of me what it was. My ex-girlfriend and her pal were both hammering the table with the decks on, absolutely buzzing, which was making my needles skip.” After the release of his Boiler Room, his career skyrocketed. At the time he was relatively new to the game
“When I got my first record out on DABJ and they asked me to do the Boiler Room it was one of my first gigs on my own. Before that, I was just running my club night DJ’ing with my pals at La Cheetah.” When young Miz and his squad of House and Techno loving selectors were coming up they built a reputation for their outrageous and fierce club nights.
When they first began their club night Offbeat, they were buying lots of records and mostly DJ’ing at house parties. “The older house and techno crew used to call us the young team. We used to go to them with our list of artists to book and it would be people they had on their lists for years.” They hosted Jackmaster and Bake for their launch party in 2011. Skatebard, DJ Funk and Lory D supported their parties. Miz recalls hosting some of the most extraordinary sets in his career there
“Had some of the craziest nights in La Cheetah DJ’ing, with my mates Joe McGhee and Jordan Coleman.” They tended to perform on the last Friday before Christmas for the birthday. “That was always a mad one. On the 5th Birthday and final party, there were literally two layers of people. One on the ground and one on the shoulders, it was crazy.”
Back then he was a young bam waving a bottle of tonic. Now he is a deadly proficient producer and sampling wizard. The next release, Coming Up Roses, will be out in February. The breathtaking four-track EP is composed of energetic House, Garage and Acid accompanied with exquisite vocals. “Four tracks I’ve made with my pal Michael, a singer who goes under the name Bodega.”
Miz describes Bodega as a “talented singer and songwriter.” They have been friends for a few years and regularly spoke about collaborating. “I had these tracks sitting and asked if he wanted to put vocals on top of them.” It’s something that he’s wanted to do for a long time. “I’ve always wanted to make tracks for singers. I made the tracks with nice simple but interesting chord progressions that would be easy for a vocalist to write melodies over.”
Due to the current economic climate and lack of income, he needed to source other revenues. “With coronavirus, I don’t have a lot of spare cash but ideally, I would have pressed them on to a record. That’s just not viable at the moment, unfortunately.” This motivated himto plan the release around Bandcamp Friday, which has significantly supported artists during the past year. Last year, Big Miz released a stunning EP ‘Cartha Cuts’ on DABJ.
He shared some of the other tracks he has in the pipeline and said: “I’ve got another two tracks I made in Devon Analogue Studio and a remix with Dart from Ireland that I would like to get out at some point.” His production is extraordinary, as his versatility is unparalleled. He decided to try something different by making four heavy techno tracks and began learning music theory.
He has a remix of the classic Kariya ‘Let Me Love You for Tonight’ coming later this year. Big Miz shares a studio with Kenny and Dan, the legendary duo behind DABJ. One of Glasgow’s elite record labels and promoters. “I met Dan from going into Rubadub buying records when I was younger and had just started my club night.” Kenny and Dan used to run a night called Monox. Miz and his mates booked them to do a reunion night at La Cheetah.
His first release was supposed to come out on La Cheetah’s label although it fell through. Despite this, things worked out for the best. “Dan emailed me and said right let’s do it, and that was that.” After they put out his record and performed together, he built a relationship with them. As he described their bond, he candidly revealed his perception. “They have been my family all through my career so far. They released my album and a few of my EPs.”
As a self-taught producer, Big Miz believes you get settled in your own routine and find out what works for you. Although he appreciates getting a second opinion. Last year he produced multiple tracks with Liam Doc in Devon Analogue Studio. “It was good because we both have a different way of working. When that comes together you come up with ideas you wouldn’t normally come up with yourself. Two heads are better than one.”
Before the recent restrictions, Big Miz was working on a collab with Jasper James. They had been planning on getting together in the studio for a while, having previously produced tracks before COVID. “We have tried to make tracks at parties and I went up to his house a few times. I asked him to come down to the studio end of last year and we got 2 finished. It’s always good working with Jasper. Hopefully, we can get a collab EP rattled out.”
During the lockdown, he began a new business. “During the lockdowns, I have been providing a mixdown and mastering service. It’s aimed at up and coming producers, who don’t fully know their way about compression, limiters, EQ and things like that.” He has enjoyed this as it gives him a reason to go to the studio. “People send me the stems of their tune and I would go through it and make sure it’s sounding polished and ready for the club.” He has also been passing some on to other superstar selectors.
“I’ve been sending a few to La La for her label. I’ve been getting some absolute belters that I want to keep for myself.” He has considered starting a label to release some of the music he has discovered. Without regular income from gigs, he has occasionally picked up on delivery shifts to get by during the pandemic. DJ’ing was his life and the pandemic took that away from him.
“It’s been tough, that was my life and my full-time job before, but I’ve just got my eyes set on the light at the end of the tunnel. Waiting for that vaccine to get rolled out, waiting to get back to it.” When clubs return the prodigal son of Scottish club culture will be the one hammering the decks with sheer joy.
Words by Eva Mckenzie, Rachel Flint, Ciara Vernon, Fran Blairand Jo Dargie
To celebrate International Women’s Day our writers wanted to share what the day means to them. Meet the women, behind the decks.
As we mark International Women’s day, we should take time to listen, learn and understand the plight of women in 2021. In the industry, women have perennially been reserved for the sidelines, had their achievements undermined and had their styles capitalised upon by their male peers. As a young woman trying to navigate life in the creative industry, it’s a common occurrence to find yourself being ignored, cut off and mansplained to. Today, like all days, take time to support and listen to women. Here are some of my favourite female creators that you should stream today: Hannah Diamond, Wendy Carlos, Ellen Allie and J.Phlip.
International Women’s Day provides a spotlight for women working across the industry. I uncovered my love of music at 14 through messy DIY raves in fields with tunes like Crystal Water’s Gypsy Woman, all before I could legally buy the bucky I brought. Soon after, I found drum n bass, deep house, and retro trance, all of which wouldn’t hit the same without the Scottish crowd.
This freedom to choose is what pushes for inclusivity, not only are the DJs aiding, but you can make a difference too! It is not just women we are pushing to get out there and make a difference. We are pushing the whole LGBTQ+ community as well as Black and Asian artists to enter the industry.
As a 20-year-old student in Newcastle, I love the Geordie club scene and the brilliant women I encounter on nights out. For me, International Women’s day is all about building up other women, and appreciating how strong and beautiful we all are- coincidently something which I often hear girls telling each other on the dancefloor or in the club toilets. I can’t wait to get back to the dancefloor and rave to techno and house with the girls all night long.
If you look back 30 odd years, the landscape of electronic music was completely male dominated both behind the decks and behind the scenes. We absolutely still face sexism across the industry, along with many other prejudices, but we have come a long way and in some cases have been miles ahead in comparison to other genres. For me International Women’s Day is a chance to reflect on how far we’ve come and in doing so, become inspired for how far we can still take it. All of the fucking amazing female producers, DJs and industry go-getters that form the dance community today should be so proud that by simply chasing their passion for music they are helping to diversify and better an entire global industry. That’s pretty fucking cool if you ask me.
Jay Celino is one of Glasgow’s most underrated selectors. His selects are renowned and have been praised by Artwork, Skream and Jasper James.
The 28-year-old used to playalongside his friend Jon Jose. They had a radio show on Groove City, where they became acquainted with Attic Room Session owner Jay Gunning. Through the shared love of electronic music, Jay earned a residency with Attic Room Sessions.
Jay has been DJ’ing for 5 years and is a resident for EZUP at La Cheetah. He has supported Robert Hood Jamie:3:26 and Eats Everything. He has been exploring electronic music since he was 17. Jay grew up in the West End of Glasgow and attended school with Jasper James.
Jay lives in the Southside of Glasgow in Shawlands. He has cultural roots in Africa and Italy, although he has never visited, he loves to travel. His father influenced his sound. “That’s why I’ve got such a broad taste in music.” It was loud and sweaty one night at a Glasgow after party.
Jay was amongst some of the UK’s greatest DJs. “Artwork was there. I was playing tunes from my phone and he came over and said, in 2 months I’m running a night in Dalston and I want you to come and play for me.” Jay was shocked.“I’ve never even looked at a set of decks in my life. I do not know how to DJ. Artwork said, ‘you have 2 months’ to practice.”
Jay assumed it was a drunken conversation. “The next day Jasper called me and said ‘Artwork wants your number.’ I was like he is actually being serious.” With only a few months to prepare for his debut, he was terrified. After two months of grafting, he travelled to East London to play in The Nest in front of a sold-out crowd.
Naturally, he was nervous but calmed his nerves with alcohol. “I was on first. I wasn’t going out to a full nightclub. It built up, so it’s not as intimidating as you would think.” He admitted he was ill-prepared. “I was not ready for it. People seemed to love it because the tunes were decent, but I still cringe to this day about the mixing.”
Jay isn’t well known internationally, but he is respected by some of the greatest DJs to ever step behind the decks. He played in front of 4500 people in East Electric alongside Skream, who praised his music taste on Twitter.
Despite the impressive resume, Jay has remained humble throughout his career. “It’s important to remember why I started this because I love music. I want to do this for as long as I can.” Good thing because this is just the beginning.
Frankie Elyse is a BBC Journalist and DJ who also performs alongside her twin sister, Jozette in the DJ and Violin duo KINTRA.
The 26-year-old is a trailblazer as she pushes equality within Dundee club culture. The twins formed the Polka Dot Disco Club in Dundee, a women’s only DJ collective. “A series of workshops to encourage and support females looking to DJ.” They noticed similar initiatives were set up in Glasgow and Edinburgh, however, there was nothing similar in Dundee. They created it to “challenge the industry’s gender imbalance.”
The workshop serves as a platform to express their creativity through music and develop their technical skills. The Dundee University Student Association kindly allowed the twins to use their space for free. “It was important that the workshops were accessible to anyone regardless of their financial situation.” The twins did not get paid to teach. It was their choice. To enforce equality by bringing change to the disparity. Frankie noted it is intimidating forfemales to find their place in an industry which is disproportionately full of males.
She discovered how gratifying it is mentoring women and developing their skills under her tutelage. “Proud of how far our girls have come and love the bond that we have all formed as not only a collective but as friends.” She wants to empower the women under her wing. “We wanted to make it available for anyone no matter who you are or where you’re from.” The twins created an equal application process for females or female identifying people to apply.
The twins selected enthusiastic women who demonstrated passion but didn’t have the experience. They wanted to give opportunities to women who don’t get them enough. “I was struggling, it’s hard to break in especially for me trying to be pals with guys. It’s quite difficult to become pals with them. A lot of gigs in the underground scene it is pals booking pals. I didn’t have many and struggled to get booked in certain places.”
She recognised how daunting it is for women to make a dent in a male-dominated industry. “I felt If I had a group of girls, it would make more inclusivity.” Dundee lacked diversity according to Frankie as there are not enough female artists. Frankie understands how critical it is for young women to build confidence. “Once I got into the swing of things I loved it.”
For her, It was a strange sense of responsibility. She commented on how unfamiliar it initially felt, to teach six strangers. Young women that admired her andshared her flair. “I felt that I wanted to do well by the girls. I wanted to teach them well. I think I did, and I loved it.”
Frankie has a fondness for disco because it embodies the equality she pushes. “We wanted to provide the girls with a chance to inspire others, create a support network for women to share ideas and meet like-minded music lovers.” For four weeks, with 3-hour sessions, Frankie and her sister tutored young women in the art by developing their talent from scratch. During the first lesson, Frankie doubted herself. Jozette reassured her.
Despite the momentary lapse, Frankie managed to overcome her uncertainty. She knows how critical it is for women to build confidence. Throughout her final year studying Law with Spanish at The University of Edinburgh, she had her own radio show where she realized that she wanted to be a DJ and work in media.
After graduating, she travelled to Ibiza to do a DJ course. “It was great, the course was amazing. That gave me confidence.” Frankie recalled one instance they were performing, and Jozette whacked her with her bow. They received superstar treatment when they played in the Czech Republic. “The best way to stand out is to be unique. Stay true to yourself by doing what you enjoy.”
The twin’s collaboration is unparalleled, and they will be releasing their debut EP soon. They play melodic techno because it works in unison with the violin. As she laughed and reminisced, Frankie explained how amazing it was seeing the collective evolve.
“I’m grateful to the girls and Dundee Union.” She expressed gratitude throughout her moment of self reflection. “It was good seeing them start from nothing and improving. There is a few of them that weren’t sure of themselves but by the end, they were smashing out belters.” The Polka Dot Disco Club played their first set together right before the pandemic cratered through the industry. The concept was praised yet there was a minority on social media questioning her decision.
“I don’t think anyone has the balls to say it to my face.” The fact critics attacked her on social media reflects the issue at large. Men demeaning women by trying to bring them down. That won’t stop her from fighting. “I wish we didn’t need a collective, but we do because it’s not just about making a group to DJ together. It’s about giving women the confidence.”
Solving the gender imbalance within the industry is challenging yet she is doing an admirable job. Her message to men is to make women feel more comfortable and be more inclusive towards everyone. “The scene has improved immensely in the last two years.” It’s refreshing to see more women showcase their skill and sound. However, Scottish promoters have a long road ahead if true 50/50 equality is to be achieved.
An exploration into the lack of racial diversity within Glasgow club culture through the lens of Groove City Radio Resident Sean Muyaba.
By Bill Rah
Sean Muyaba has been spinning records for three years in Glasgow. The 27-year-old is ready to make a statement within the cities highly competitive landscape. He spent his childhood growing up in the stunning tropical Republic of Zimbabwe. That time helped shape him into who he is today.
He spent his coming of age in Scotland, moving to Glasgow in his late teens.“I’m sane with a moderate grip on reality which is good these days.” That’s how he described his mentality during the pandemic that has crippled creatives. It’s difficult being in this situation. The industry is collapsing, but it will not deter him from working at his craft.
Sean truly has a diverse taste which explores Acid House, Techno and Italo Disco. He adores old school Chicago House. “I listen in awe because a lot of the songs have now been remixed so when you hear the original, you’re just blown away.” He is right, elusive Chicago sounds captivate our eardrums. “I dabble with other genres. I’ve been known to play funk.” He also enjoys a melodic sound.
According to Sean, “the deeper, the better.” His tight mixing is seamless, sharp and energetic. He has been featured on Groove City Radio and Clyde Built. Sean is a skilled producer, creating slick and bouncy energetic House infused rhythms.
He has a monthly residency on Groove City Radio. He has played in small local venues in Glasgow but has yet to achieve his dream of playing in Sub Club. No one is going to hand you a gig in Glasgow. You need to fight for it. “It’s hard for any DJ to stand out because of all the high-quality work people in Glasgow are producing, however, it is criminal we don’t have more diversity.”
It’s difficult for a black man to break out in the electronic music industry. He attended a Black Lives Matter protest in George Square during the height of the pandemic. “I was quite hungover at the time. Physically I was rather hollow but seeing all the people that came out in support was so refreshing and just gave my soul a hug.” The landscape has shifted in recent months as BLM protests have erupted across the globe in response to police brutality and systematic racism.
Society is becoming more aware and educated, or at least that’s what social media could fool you into thinking. Racism exists in every single facet of every industry. There is a lack of Black and Asian Resident DJs in all Scottish clubs. “I personally don’t know any non-white residents in the bigger clubs in Glasgow.” That needs to be addressed.
He feels when clubs reopen, we have an opportunity to right the wrong by ensuring diversity is reflected within lineups. “Diversity encourages innovation and since the pandemic clubbing is going to need to be innovative when they reopen, or they aren’t going to be relevant.”
As a multifaceted DJ and producer, Sean is an innovator. His ideas could lead to diverse progress within our culture. Organisations need to address the lack of diversity within their hierarchy. Black creatives need to breakthrough.
Especially in an industry which claims to be progressive. That is what the industry needs to kickstart a new era. Club culture in Scotland was built off the music Black LGBT producers in Chicago and Detroit created. We should respect this. “The diversity you see in club nights isn’t reflected in the people our institutions are giving exposure to and that’s just a shame as it paints our scene in a narrow light.”
Sean explained why music is a platform to make politically charged statements. “Music’s ability to invoke a strong emotional response makes it the perfect tool.”Music can be utilized into a powerful and influential weapon to bring forth social change. Although Glasgow could improve the diversity of club lineups, Sean praised the cities vibrant industry. “I don’t think it’s all bad, it proves we have a healthy scene and often some of the best events and nights are the smaller ones.”
He adores parties in intimate environments, which a safe space for many clubbers. In response to the overarching vileness of racial abuse, Sean was naturally livid. “We really need to stamp that shit out because hate is very parasitic and only serves to infect and ruin everything.”
As he pondered whether the movement will result in real changes within society, he exclaimed, “the optimist in me hopes it does!” Sean elaborated and candidly shared his thoughts. ”We as a species have more in common than we do differently.” He is right, humanity, should not be fighting forsupremacy because of skin colour. “The more time we spend fighting
because of ideology from a bygone era that was driven by greed and ignorance. The less we are working on all the many other issues we have as a species.” Sean is not fearful of ignorant bigots. “I’m scared of having to fight for a bottle of dirty water in 2 decades than I am of my neighbour because he doesn’t look like me.”
In terms of personal experience, he has been quite lucky and has not been subjected to the brutal side of racism. “I’m fortunate that this isn’t an issue in the circles I move in. I have friends that have shared stories you wouldn’t believe happened in Glasgow and sounds like something that would happen in America.” Scotland has a progressive façade in which we masquerade as a left-wing country but below the surface lies racial bigotry.
Seven years ago he sparked a desire to turn his hand at DJing with the hope of bringing a new sound to Ayr. Now, he’s ditched the makeshift decks balanced on an ironing board and released with respected underground labels. Meet Ewan McVicar.
He started out experimenting with flavours of Hip-Hop “before naturally progressing into House music.” Early musical influences included The Game, Dr Dre and Kanye West.
A few years down the line, and in collaboration with Steven Simpson, came the creation of Granary 12. An Acid duo formed in the way that all best ideas are formed, “absolutely wrecked one night.” Ewan explained the conception of the collective. “My flat was in a place in Ayr called The Granary and I lived in number 12, so us being the mangled masterminds we were we just started shouting GRANARY 12 at each other and the rest is history!”
Recalling the pair’s first live set at renowned La Cheetah for Electric Salsa x TEN Crossover, Ewan hails it as one of their best to date.“TEN was a night I started with my mates in Ayr and I made Steven a resident. We grew closer from there and I can honestly say if there was no TEN there’d be no G12. It really was the catalyst for most of our music!”
Fast forward to the final months of 2020. The year where hot and sweaty club nights are illegal. Ewan looks back fondly and beams a real sense of pride in his incredible achievements over the last 12 months despite the challenging circumstances. “My whole year has been a highlight, to be honest.”
He’s enjoyed numerous plays on BBC Radio 1, signed and released with Patrick Topping’s label ‘Trick’, released on Nervous Records, nominated for DJ Mag’s Breakthrough DJ 2020 and built his own studio. As for playing live, Ewan still managed to secure some seminal sets throughout the year. Including Bangface Weekender in March where he played alongside Steven under G12.
Then in September Ewan made his debut STREETrave appearance at their live stream event. Joining Dream Frequency, Michael Kilkie and the legendary Carl Cox. A line-up that Ewan says put him alongside many of his “original heroes.” In summer Ewan celebrated his debut release on Patrick Topping’s label ‘Trick’ with the 3-track ‘Street Rave EP.’ A title that pays homage to the iconic club night associated with his local clubs.
Ewan explained that he sent in what is now known as ‘Dorian’ as a demo and was asked to send over more. “From there I sent tonnes of tracks and Street Rave was one of them. Patrick loved it and said I should meet him at Creamfields as I said I was already going as a punter. I got security checked and eventually got backstage in my camping gear. Met Patrick for the first time in person, genuinely the nicest guy about!”
The meeting was about to get even more memorable for Ewan. After quizzing Topping on whether or not he’d spin ‘Street Rave’ in his set. He alluded to being uncertain but only a short while later Ewan’s track would open a set at Creamfields.“To this day the most memorable, surreal moment of my life. It was like everything I’d worked for came to that point!”
This year Ewan was scheduled to play alongside Topping at ‘Patrick Topping presents::Trick Terminal V All Nighters.’ However, like many other live sets Ewan had planned for 2020 such as ‘Radio 1’s Big Weekend,’ he’s had to postpone. “It is gutting but if you dwell on stuff like that you never progress.” For everyone in the nightlife industry, we can only hope for live events to return in 2021 after the treacherous year that the pandemic brought us.
In a pre-Covid world, being a DJ at times could feel like you were in fact on top of the world. The connection with a buzzing crowd. The radiating energy of hungry ravers hanging on your every beat. Surrounded by like-minded people, simply there for a good time no matter how messy it gets. Something which is prominent in Ewan’s attitude when he’s behind the decks. “G12 played Corsica Studios in London and I was on top of the decks pouring bucky into folks mouths then the bouncer told me to get down. I said naw and he ran round to get me so I swan dived into the crowd to get away from him. It didn’t work! I was out the front on my back in a matter of minutes.”
G12 partner Steven shares the same high energy as Ewan recalls another personal highlight. “Steven got panelled before a set in Glasgow and genuinely couldn’t see what he was doing. I played a tune and it went down well, he got too excited, jumped on me and I fell over and cut all the music out. Some buzz man.”
In the studio, Ewan’s writing process mirrors his ethos of there no rules. “I use everything across the board, samples, vsts, hardware. I enjoy making my music so much because I have given myself the freedom to express myself.” Taking the same hedonistic approach when it comes to genres. Ewan’s expansive tastes shine through in his tracks and sets.
Over the years as we’ve watched him develop as an artist, Ewan’s own personality has become a pillar to his production style. “Emotion, passion and energy is something I always try and portray in all my tracks. Comparing his music to a personal journal of memories and moments in time, he claims that “as soon as I put one of my tracks on it takes me straight back to how I was feeling when I made it. It’s a class feeling.”
Expect Ewan to take the next step in 2021, climbing the ladders of elite Scottish producers. “I’m not even sure I’m allowed to tell you most of them but fuck it.” In the early months Ewan will be releasing a Minimix with Annie Mac and providing that live events get the go-ahead next year, expect to see him taking Glasgow, Dubai, and Budapest by storm.
Along with a long list of new releases coming our way. Including UTTU EP, a Trick remix and new EP, a release on Food Music and “hopefully Mele’s label Club Bad. It’s looking class, I’m so happy!” There’s one thing playing on his mind more than anything. Getting back on the dancefloor.“My goals would be to play Subby, do my own show, and run an all-day summer event in Ayr down the beach with a stage near the old Pavilion. That’s my Madison Square Garden!”
Overall, it can’t be denied that Ewan McVicar is carving himself a legacy within club culture. Showcasing to aspiring DJs that opportunities are out there if you “stick at it” and that “the only person that needs to believe in you is you.” He’s the type of figure that the industry needs. Someone who not only forges a path but turns around and helps others to follow. Ewan believes strongly in sharing advice where he can for the sole reason that he was in the exact same place not long ago. Contacting DJs and labels, waiting for the right one to take a chance on him.
When prompted to talk about his own future as an artist Ewan added: “Decades from now I want to look back and know that I did everything I could to get to where I wanted to be as a respected DJ and producer whilst staying grounded and humble.”Through his stylistic production, he has established himself within the industry. However, it’s his attitude that makes him unique. “Aye that Ewan McVicar, what a sound cunt – if folk are saying that about me when my career is over, I’ve done everything I wanted to.”
The duo COUSN from Bristol comprises of cousins Alfie and Billy Goffey. They are among Bristols finest and most unique artists. Their electric production ranges from House and Acid to Disco and Punk. Through their production they have managed to elevate their reputation. They have played in prestigious events such as Glastonbury, WHP and DC10. The duo provided an insight into their life.
How did you guys get into music?
We’d been in bands and around music our whole lives, but started making electronic tunes together when we were 16 after an eye opening weekend at Glastonbury. The first time we touched a set of decks to a crowd would have been the Pioneer DDJ-Ergo at our mate Fat John’s 16th birthday party. We called ourselves A2B and opened with a birthday tune we made for the man himself, followed by the almost self titled tune ‘The A the B’ – a staple in A2B sets for the next few months until we changed our name to ‘Caped Crusaders’ and always wore sparkly capes. The first proper DJ set we got booked for was 2 years later at the Rabbit Hole at Glastonbury so it was mad it went full circle.
To those who might not know, how would you describe your sound and style of production and DJing?
Our DJ style is consistently erratic, we don’t have the biggest attention spans so we like to jump around between genres, styles and tempo depending on how up for it the crowd is. This definitely reflects in our production as well as it also jumps around a lot of different styles, it’s always been hard to pin point the Cousn sound but we feel it is live, punky, analogue heavy dance music.
Who have been your major inspirations over the years?
We like all things renegade, the people who’ve inspired us the most have always done things their own way, you can tell there’s no label calling the shots on their look or videos, it comes straight from them as artists such as The Chemical Brothers, Daft Punk, Leftfield, Burial and more recently acts like Snapped Ankles, Lynks Afrikka, Giant Swan have been inspiring us.
Did the music production come earlier/later, or did you find the two went hand in hand from the get-go?
Music production came first, we started making sort of slow trip hop tunes in the beginning then as we got older and started going out and experiencing more DJ sets our sound became more club focused. Then when our mates parties started getting more freaky we started DJing at them all and playing out the tunes that we’d recently made, so DJing and producing did eventually go hand in hand.
Although undoubtedly there will be huge changes and challenges to overcome, it feels as if the world is returning to somewhat of a semblance of normality. Looking back how have the last few months treated you guys? With stellar multiple back to back releases it seems you have been busy boys!
It’s been a strange few months, but we’ve been making good of a bad situation. Just getting our heads down and taking the time to make tunes, experiment more and really work out where we want to head as an act. We’ve spent the last few months bouncing around different flats and houses like stray dogs, every place we’ve lived in recently has given us different inspiration just by the space of the room and the surroundings, whether we’re working in a open space with windows or a dark dingy dungeon-like bedroom. At the moment we’re living in a place that has no internet or hot water so we’ve been filling up the kettle, and pots and pans on the hob getting just enough hot water to wash ourselves with a flannel.
Your production style has been hailed as being analogue heavy. Which pieces of hardware have become staples of the cousn sound?
We’re really glad our sound has been coined as analog heavy, we’ve always wanted our music to sound real and raw even when we had barely any equipment. Now our setup consists of, the Micro Korg and Bass Station II which have featured in pretty much every Cousn tune. Recently we got a Behringer Poly-D to make some lovely jubbly chords and a Behringer TD-3 which is a 303 emulator for some juicy acid wobbles. For the drums we’ve got a Roland Tr-8s which we put our own samples in and manipulate the sounds and always use our drummer Tom to add live drum layers on top so it’s always got a live edge to it. We’ve also got a Minilogue and an old Korg keyboard which has a real secondary school music class sound to it. “D-D-D-DJ!”.
Since Mixmag’s premiere of ‘Brain Ticker’, and its success in the summer of 2019; you’ve gathered serious momentum with your subsequent releases, which are consistently dripping with juicy acid melodies. The much anticipated ‘are you with us’ is no different. Do you feel this will become a staple of future cousn productions?
Yeah we’ve always been bang into acid, we grew up in bands so have always wanted Cousn to sound punky and erratic but there’s something inherently anti-music theory about dirty acid lines that syncs well with our punky side. Acid is wrong but so right, it’s never strayed far from where it was originally intended and there’s something so nostalgic about an acid line. Our dads grew up in the Second Summer of Love and through the acid era and used to play us tunes like ‘Higher State Of Consciousness’ and ‘Rockin Down The House’ when we were younger, so been we’ve been drawn to it ever since, and it’ll always have a place in the Cousn sound.
As you commented on during the release of ‘ritual’, even the simplest of our daily routines have required adaptation. With a new show on the prestigious Rinse FM, how have you found the “alternative means of DJing”? How does it compare to the real thing?
We absolutely love doing the Rinse radio shows, it’s the only way we’ve been able to flex our DJing triceps since COVID stopped all the fun, genuinely think we’d have gone mad without them. However since all gigs have stopped we’ve really missed having the energy and interactions with sweaty ravers, there’s no feeling like it. We’ve actually stuck a picture of a crowd on the wall in front of our decks to make us feel more at home.
How has the scene in Bristol faired during lockdown?
Same as everywhere else really, fucked. But Bristol’s always been at the forefront of new exciting music and parties so I’m sure if anywhere manages to weather the storm and come back strong it’s gunna be here in the south west.
Both locally in Bristol and in a more global sense, can you envisage any major changes to the established status quo happening once clubs reopen?
Yeah, to be honest we were feeling like the established status quo was getting really stale, music made from Loopmaster packs and the same rehashed ideas over and over again. One of the positives we feel will come from this pandemic is a huge amount of creativity, and hopefully with that a massive new wave of young producers ready to disrupt this status quo, we can’t wait. We also feel like clubbing and dance music will veer more to the fun side, everyone and their nan is gunna need a huge COVID-safe boogie when this is over.
Edinburgh is a city flourishing with talent and LF System are waving the capital’s flag into the new decade. Conor Larkman and Sean Finnigan comprise of the prolific duo.
Conor and Sean, both 24 years old, grew up just miles apart in West Lothian. “There’s not much happening here, so there’s nobody interested in electronic music. It’s a quiet place” said Sean, as he reminisced about his younger days in Winchburgh.
Sean’s curiosity began after listening to Daft Punk in high school – “I wondered, how do they make that sound? I went down this rabbit hole trying to figure it all out when I was 13. Production came first, and DJing sort-of stemmed from producing.”
Conor, who hails from “The mighty Fauldhouse” as he proudly dubs it, took a different route. “I was at my pals, and I used a DJ app at a gaff playing EDM. We were all steaming, and I was like ‘Fuck it, I’m getting decks. I started using Traktor DJ with a wee controller, and I thought I was the dug’s baws like. Finally, I got CDJs and went into production.”
The blending of their taste allows them to produce exciting and energetic rhythmic house music. Sean discussed using anything as a source of creativity. “It’s all inspiration” as he spoke about his music taste ranging from soul & disco to pop & hip-hop. “I was always listening to a wide range, and I think that’s good for ideas in electronic music where you can make anything happen.”
Conor agreed with Sean’s ethos on inspiration and recalled how his taste has evolved. His father was into disco, and his sister’s boyfriend introduced him to house music. “That got me into the mindset that EDM’s shite. I just loved house music.” Amen to that.
After his sister’s boyfriend visited Sub Club to see Detroit Swindle, Conor grew more intrigued. “I asked for an ID, and it turned out to be Floorplan. I was right into techno from then on.” This amalgamation of tastes leaves the boys with innovation-on-tap; a never-ending stream of ingenious artistry.
The duos first venture into club culture came in the form of the collective: HYBRiD Events. The group put on some of the most unique events in Scotland; events which were compared to illegal 90s raves in the UK. “We used to put on events everywhere – once at an abandoned Victorian swimming pool. We tried to do things differently” said Sean.
HYBRiD was never about making money, as the two made clear. “We just wanted to get playing and get steaming!” added Conor. “The way I see it: do you get paid to play football with your pals? You just do it and enjoy it. They ask me all the time if I get paid, and I argue with them ‘cause that’s not what it’s about.”
Unfortunately, the story of HYBRiD events came to an end, and the group went their separate ways. However, this wasn’t the end. It was merely the beginning. The two praised FLY Club’s Head Booker Fergus Myer, who brought them together. Sean said: “He’s been there from the start, and he’s one of our best mates. Our manager, our agent; just everything rolled into one. He pushed us together to become a duo.”
LF SYSTEM are FLY Club residents alongside Scotland’s most prolific DJ’s. Their first residency night in January 2020 invigorated the duo. It helped them realise how far they can go. “Seeing LF System main room at Cab Vol for FLY on a poster is insane” laughed Conor. Sean still seemed in awe of how far the pair had come from their early days of mixing at gaffs and producing in their bedrooms. “It felt at the time, if we can keep pushing it, this might happen.”
The pair also revealed their pre-gig superstitions that they follow to calm their nerves. “We have a bite to eat, and a glass of red wine. We tell ourselves ‘we’re not getting steaming’, then we get there, and we’re fucked,” laughed Conor. Sean added, “We always have tequila before the gig!” They both erupted into a fit of guilty hysterics as they recognized the true reason for getting rowdy. “Sometimes we get into the mindset where we say we won’t, but you get carried away. If the DJs aren’t the life of the party, then there’ll be no life at the party at all.”
LF SYSTEM are highly talented producers, with their featuring on three different BBC Radio 1 shows. Sean explained “We sent the tracks out, around five or six to Annie Mac and Pete Tong. They responded saying we had a good chance of getting played.” Their tracks were played for five weeks straight over the airwaves. “It was surreal, and it all happened so fast,” said Sean in disbelief.
One of the tracks that played, ‘Feel It’, was only finished within a week before being sent. Sean stated, “It’s crazy that you can sit for weeks and get nowhere, and that only took a week, and it was live on air.” If anything, that’s a testament to their amazing work ethic. “We’re sitting on a good number of tracks, we’re speaking to labels, trying to find something that fits. We’ve also got plans for self-releases” Sean exclaimed.
Sean was quick to tease another announcement as well – “We’ve got a Radio 1 thing happening in August, but we can’t say anything right now.” Excitement is an understatement for what these boys have in store for the future, and as for a potential spot on one of the FLY Weekenders abroad? “Definitely something that might happen.” With new releases coming soon we will be seeing a lot more from LF SYSTEM. Quite frankly, we are ecstatic at the prospect of more music from the duo.
Modula Records label boss and FLY Club Resident Jezz Simpson is one of one Scotland’s unique producers exploring the Minimal House sound.
Jezz grew up in Leith, a popular port district in the capital. “It was quite a dodgy place to grow up in.” he remarked before commenting on the current state of the area. He noted it’s transformed into an up and coming area.
“It’s quite cool Leith because you’ve got all that going on but you’ve still got the ‘old Leith’ as well with Junkies kicking about so it’s pretty fucking mental.” Growing up in a sketchy area didn’t hold him back from doing what he loves.
He first purchased decks when he was only 14 however admits that he only serious invested himself in DJ’ing at 18. He recalled his first ever set which was in a run-down bar in Stirling. “I drove out there fucking shitting myself.” Natural for anyone’s first set. It was his mother’s friend who arranged the gig. “It was sketchy as fuck.” That probably added to the nerves.
He had to bring along his own decks because they didn’t have their own. Quite an inconvenience. When the set kicked off it led to a memorable affair. “I just finished my set and came off and the cunts who were on at the back came in and they were going mental. Next thing, the music got cut off and the promoters got caught in the toilets taking gear so they fucking scrapped.”
After that first set Jezz slowly established himself as a high caliber selector in Edinburgh. He is predominately influenced by Minimal House. “I like to think that’s my signature sound when I’m playing my sets. I’ve kind of got my own wee sound going on in Scotland.”
As a DJ he used groovy minimal selections to soundtrack his sets and has built a reputation in the capital through his unique style. That style is showcased in his production. “I’ve been producing for 7 years. But I’ve been on and off, so I’ve probably been doing it properly since about 2014. It’s only now that I’m starting to be happy with the shit I’m making.”
He commented on how he invested himself into club culture. “I got into DJ’ing for the love of the music, so I decided to stick to my guns and luckily for me Fergus and Tom at FLY Club appreciate what I do. They put me up in the café and it kind of sets the bar for the café.” Jezz appreciates the opportunity he was given to become a resident in the cafe for FLY Club.
He reflected on how he became involved with FLY. Five years ago, Jezz ran a night alongside his close friend Gave Miller. “We ran a night in Hanover street called citizens disco. That’s where our friendship kind of blossomed.” They know of each other before this however this helped strengthen their relationship.
Gav asked Jezz to play Room 2 with him for FLY. Gav normally played Hip-Hop which Jezz wasn’t accustomed to. “We decided to play disco and it was absolutely rammed.” After a couple more sets Tom Ketely offered him a residency at Cabaret Voltaire. “Shoutout to Tom and Fergus for giving me that platform to showcase my sound. If it weren’t for them I would be sitting here doing fuck all.”
Jezz progressed and is now one of the most revered local residents in Edinburgh. “I did the residences in room 2 and gradually got moved upstairs. I was kind of scared that I was going to be tagged as a disco DJ which I really wasn’t, so I started playing my own kind of stuff in the café and it just started going down well.”
He will be playing at FLY Amsterdam Weekender alongside his Leith comrade Gav Miller. When they play together it’s usually an impromptu set. “When we come together to play there’s no doubt in my mind how it’s going to go down. We don’t have to tell each other what we’re going to play. Just fucking play it and it works.”
DJ’ing comes easy to veteran selectors such as Jezz. It’s running a label that presents challenges. Jezz struggles to stay on top of his DM’s and emails being flooded with music. It’s difficult to narrow down selections and choose one for release.
He collaborated with Joe Wheeler to establish Modula Records. They gravitated towards each other as they shared a love of minimal groove. It took them years to establish the right contacts and gain the knowledge to release Vinyl. “It took us two years to get the foundations in place and get a team to work with us It was 2 years ago that we released our first record MR001.”
That first release went better than anticipated. “After we first released Jamie Jones was playing it at Kappa Future Festival and It just went fucking off. Our record sold out instantly. That’s kind of when I realised that although we’ve got no clue what were doing, we’re doing it fucking right.”
When he isn’t spinning tunes behind the decks he works as Head of Maintenance in a care home. Fortunately they didn’t record any cases of COVID-19. For Jezz life in lockdown has been a challenge. Modula records began as Vinyl only however switched to digital in order to survive the current economic climate.
He misses the dance floor especially the community aspect of club culture. “Seeing those faces that you wouldn’t normally see outside the clubs. You know you’ve got those people that you’re really close with but you wouldn’t go on a walk with or any of that shit.” One of the hardest things for him was missing out on an opportunity of play Boiler Room alongside Gav Millar.
Despite the lockdown Jezz has been occupied with his production. “Solo release on distinct and a collab with Gregg Dunsmore which came out on Lacuna recordings, been working on a lot of stuff with him lately, he’s a wicked producer and one of my good mates.”
Jezz is one the real ones. Constantly scouting for talented producers to feature on his label and grafting to ensure his production remains on an upward trajectory. He has managed to build a reputation throughout Scotland by keeping it real.
Eva Crystaltips, the French Disco DJ was once a protege of Artwork. In the wake of COVID-19 she began preparing for her next step. Moving to Berlin.
In a city dominated by industrial Techno, Eva wants to bring something different to the European epicenter of club culture. “I’m aware it’s going to be difficult to impose myself as a DJ over there but if I don’t try how will I know.” She understands the competitive landscape of the industry yet that won’t stop her from trying. Eva holds a deep affection for Berlin as she has visited her sister who lives there many times.
“My sister was telling me people are bored of techno. They are asking for something else.” Eva wants to bring in a Disco revolution to Berlin. She noted that morning, afternoon and night DJ’s are performing in Berlin. “At some point you want different music. I’m the French Girl. I bring you the disco.”
Growing up in Normandy she listened to Psychedelic rock however when she invested herself in DJ’ing, she developed a taste for Disco. In 2015 Eva began her DJ’ing career in the Bongo Club in Edinburgh. “I used to go to the same night for a year every month so I approached the DJ’s asking them if they needed help to do some PR. After a few months they were like do you want DJ.”
Eva had never stepped foot inside a club until she turned 24. However, once she entered it was difficult to get her to leave. Eva initially learned behind the decks from Steve Austin and Trendy Wendy. They run a night in the Bongo Club and pushed Eva towards pursuing her DJ’ing career. That isn’t the only person who taught her about DJ’ing and the music industry.
The fierce and talented French DJ applied for the Smirnoff Equaliser Programme. An initiative that promoted equality in the industry. The winners were given the opportunity of performing at Lost Village, Printworks and other prestigious events. They were also given the chance to be mentored by their choice of DJ.
Between Honey Dijon, Peggy Gou, Nastia, The Blessed Madonna, and Artwork. Eva selected Artwork due to his style and sound. “I choose Artwork because of the music he played. It was the closest to what I was doing.” At that time Eva had never heard of Artwork. However, after watching one his sets on YouTube she was enamored by his skillset and style.
“It’s not about DJ’ing it’s about the industry and life.” That’s why she selected Artwork over the other high caliber selectors. Artwork helped mold and craft Eva into the sharp and witty DJ she is today. He spent 3 hours teaching her Ableton although she noted that production isn’t her more refined skill. As she reflected upon her early career, she stressed that she didn’t plan on becoming a DJ. “I never wanted to become a DJ. I was a dancer.”
Every DJ needs their sound identity and for Eva disco is what gets her grooving. “It’s the way people dance. People dancing together and singing along with hands up in the air.” That’s what she truly adores. Nothing puts a smile on her face than watching dancers enjoying themselves to her selections.
However, there is more to DJ’ing than shit hot tune selection. According to Eva you need the confidence to go out and ask for gigs. It’s not easy “finding the guts to show that you can do it.” She acknowledged some women may find this difficult due to a lack of confidence. You need to be able to go out and say to promoters, give me a gig.
“I don’t think there is less women DJ’ing there is just so much pressure on women. A lot of women don’t try because it’s asking a lot to be able to impose yourself in such a male dominated industry. Not everyone has the confidence to do so.” This is an interesting analysis by Eva and she shared her thoughts on the disadvantages women face in the music industry.
“If you’re not wearing certain clothes, makeup or posing and showing you’re a cute woman, you don’t get followers and gigs and that’s a major issue.” In the age of social media, Women face intense scrutiny on what they wear, say and act. Now that’s wrong but it won’t stop people from being judgmental. “You can be a man and wear whatever you want.”
In the music industry it’s much more difficult for women to get their name out there. Unless you are a pretty white boy. Sex sells. “You’re not going to get booked because you’re not showing yourself wearing a bikini on a boat. Promoters won’t book you because they think you won’t be bringing the crowd. I hate Instagram.”
Promoters are for the most part greedy people obsessed with making money. They care about how many Instagram followers DJ’s have and who will attract a crowd. That isn’t right and all promoters should take note. Scottish promoters need to offer residences to more women and minorities.
Fortunately for Eva she has never experienced sexism within the music industry. “I think I’ve got an attitude of don’t mess with me.” She said in a stone-cold voice before chuckling and exclaiming how approachable she is.
Eva is serious about furthering her music career and anyone who has witnessed her sets will understand how skilled she is. Eva has the mental fortitude to thrive in a highly competitive industry. As she prepares for her move to Berlin, she understands she will need to work twice as hard to make an impact over there.
The gender disparity needs to be addressed and that’s exactly what Edinburgh based collective Miss World are doing. They have built a strong reputation off the back of their EHFM radio shows and residency at Sneaky Pete’s
Gender inequality is an issue that requires attention. A 2018 review by Pitchfork analysing 20 major festivals found only 19% of DJs were female. Albeit a 5% increase from 2017, the fact that only 3 of the festivals reviewed achieved a 50:50 line-up shows imbalance. On average, only 10% of performers at music festivals are female.
Julia aka Aphid described their mission “our aim is to promote women and trans/non-binary individuals. We aim to run nights and book these people to give them representation.” The importance of female representation within electronic music is a critical factor in generating future interest. As Feena explained “It gives a platform of expression to people. I met all my female DJ friends through Miss World and EHFM. The scene can be intimidating when it’s full of guys.”
On top of providing opportunities for female and non-binary artists, Miss World supply a welcoming space. With certain clubs sometimes feeling hostile. Gemma aka Iced Gem states “We’re always looking around from the booth to see if everyone is safe.”
Eclectic and diverse selections drive the collective’s sound. Gemma immerses herself in a wide variety of rhythms and vocals from across the globe. Julia and Feena base their style around break beats, bass and techno. Julia candidly admits her early days were influenced by 80s synth and new wave.
For those interested in electronic music but feel apprehensive, Feena recommends “try and find a group of people who are supportive and encouraging because there are so many people out that have similar mind-sets and want to help.” Gemma added “for me just going out and talking to people was a good starting point and exposing yourself to clubs.”
Gemma explained how difficult it is for women to get invested in DJing. They might feel intimidated by the equipment. For women it’s harder to find female collectives to help. Access to equipment is a major barrier for aspiring DJs, Julia explains “to help combat this we run workshops.” Julia formerly offered workshops to people in the Wee Red Bar as she works at The Edinburgh College of Art.
The collective emphasized how hard they are working to enforce equality in Edinburgh. Gemma highlights “It’s a very close-knit group and it’s special. You get to know people and there is a great sense of nurturing. When you do a good job you’re also rewarded with opportunities. It gave me confidence in a way that I wouldn’t have otherwise.” It’s comforting to know that there is such a strong sense of community.
Many promoters with unbalanced line-ups may argue they select bookings based on talent. Gemma argued “I would say that promoters have become lazy. It’s important to look into community radio and integrate the local scene into bookings.” Julia added “If it was a true meritocracy based on talent, it would represent equality. It’s because there are so many systemic issues at play such as racism and sexism.”
Actions as simple as choosing what to wear for your set present added complications for women, who face increased judgement and pressure. The group described the sexism female DJs deal with. Gemma shared “someone reaching over the decks to grab my waist, a guy pulling off my record. It’s constant microaggressions”. Julia experienced sexism more frequently in bars when exposed to crowds.
After building a reputation in the capital Gemma explained “I was a bit naive and I thought now people know who I am, and I feel more respected this won’t happen as much. It’s just not true”. Julia agreed saying “I naively thought as I became more experienced and more confident it will go away.”
When asked why this might happen, Gemma explained “I’ve seen it happen to guys definitely. But the confidence that they seem to have when it’s a woman is just so high. Why Is there that lack of respect? Their conversation is just way more like they’re trying to assert themselves on you”. There should be mutual respect between clubbers, DJs and promoters, regardless of gender. However, often this isn’t the case.
To combat this the group are active within the crowd, making sure everyone is safe. When somebody steps over the line Feena says “I Just don’t tolerate it at all, like leaning over the decks or touching equipment.”
The best ways to support progressive movements in Gemma opinion is “being a good ally and giving space to women, non-binary and POCs. I think the best allies are those that follow and don’t try to lead minorities.”
Julia added “I think supporting just by showing out for people as well. If you see a night where women or people of colour, or a trans person is DJing, just showing up to listen. Equally just calling someone out when you see it.”
While a difficult subject, calling out friends and family will help combat inequality. Feena articulates “what you want is people to later challenge and think about what they’ve said by themselves. It’s important to call out your mates. If you want change, start in small circles. Maybe if someone says something you disagree with just stand up”. These things can become heated therefore Gemma adds “Calling them out in a measured way not in an angry way or on social media. Just face to face and try to be constructive.”
Everybody makes mistakes, sometimes we say things without truly realising their implications. What’s important is to realise that progressive thinking is the way forward. This will help enforce changes within society and help make our culture more beneficial for women and minorities.
The collective is busy rescheduling bookings impacted by COVID. They are converting their 5th birthday party, originally scheduled for August to an EHFM radio show. Julia continued “I hope we can just pick up where we left off and keep the momentum going.” As a society we must support local DJ’s and stand up for social injustices.
Club culture is engraved on the heart and soul of Ibiza. Ravers have travelled from all across the globe for generations to experience the magic of the White Isle’s clubbing scene. Put simply, there is no party island quite like Ibiza.
Over the years, the island has faced its hardships for various reasons, but it’s always had its loyal party-goers to rely on each summer. Flocking in their millions to hit up top clubs such as Hï Ibiza, Amnesia and the legendary DC-10. That is until 2020. For Ibiza, the pandemic presents the unimaginable: a summer with no clubbing. At least not on the phenomenal scale that it’s used to.
With rumors and clickbait headlines rife, we wanted to delve into the reality of how Ibiza’s 2020 summer season is shaping up. So, who better to speak to on the matter than Dave Browning? Once the catalyst behind Carl Cox’s iconic 15 year Space residency, Dave remains a highly respected figure in Ibiza’s clubs scene. Now channeling his energy into Game Over; a joint promotions venture which hails itself ‘by clubbers, for clubbers’. Along with WILDCHILD, Ibiza’s slice of nostalgic fun.
Hey Dave, thanks for chatting to us. How’s lockdown been treating you and what’s the atmosphere like on Ibiza at the moment?
“I think that the best way to describe the atmosphere on the island is confused.”
‘’The information that filters down from the government is confusing. The information that you see everywhere is confusing. I think more and more people are getting a bit pissed off with it all. From the research that I have read, and I’m no medical expert, this whole lockdown was a stupid thing to do. For a lot of people, it’s ruined their whole livelihoods and it’s going to take a long time to recover from.’’
“My office is about a kilometre from here and I’ve been going in just for my mental well-being. I’ve been stopped three times by the police saying, ‘what are you doing?’ I’m going from my apartment, into my car, into my office. All on my own, without coming into contact with anyone else. Where on earth is the problem with that?”
“We’ve broken the system financially and severely impacted many people’s mental health and well-being”
Moving forward, can you see good can coming from the effects of the pandemic for Ibiza’s clubs scene?
“At the end of the day, in the face of adversity lots of creative things happen. For anyone who does events, it’s now about looking at other options. We still want to run events and people still want to go out. However, the whole situation is changing people’s perceptions. It’s putting into people’s minds that going out is dangerous. It’s insane.”
‘’On Ibiza we were locked in our apartments since the 14th of March. No plans, no events, no DJ’s. It’s a crazy situation and now they’re trying to backpedal as rapidly as possible with the government starting to realise that a huge amount of the GDP comes from tourism. They’re trying to welcome tourists, but the damage is done.’’
From your perspective as a promoter, what does the overall landscape of the 2020 Ibiza season look like?
“From a business end, the economics of it have to make sense otherwise there’s no point in hosting events. There will still be parties on the island. People will still party in their villas. Why would you want to stop the party? I think as citizens of the world, we’ve been far too apathetic to let ourselves get pushed around. Nobody stood up. The idea that we can’t all gather in a hot and sweaty room because it’s my choice to do so, is ridiculous. If I choose to go into that club and take that risk that someone might be infected with the flu, I’m going to do it.’’
The last few summers have seen more restrictions put in place around Ibiza’s nightlife from the local authorities and there’s talk of more to come. Do you think that the 2020 season, running without some of the biggest clubs, could sway a new perception of how important the industry is to Ibiza’s economy?
“It’s true, for a certain amount of time the authorities have been wanting to get rid of the lower end of mass tourism. The working-class club enthusiasts, the people that originally brought the colour and the flavour to Ibiza. If they don’t come here, then it’s going to cause an absolutely massive hole on Ibiza financially.”
“Now they want people to come here, stay in a nice villa, go to a nice restaurant. Maybe go to one of the superclubs, then go home and behave themselves.”
“Mass tourism has been coming to the island since the 80s and it’s very short sighted to think ‘we want to get rid of them.’I get that nobody wants a load of drunken Brits making a mess everywhere but young people want to drink, party, do drugs and get loose. It’s part of growing up.”
“So, in my opinion, the best thing to do is let them do it in a safe environment. Educate them about behaviour and what they can and can’t do. Beating them with a stick doesn’t work. It has never worked.”
“The idea is that people go out, bust themselves and go home with not a penny in their pocket thinking ‘that was worth it.’ For me as a promoter, that’s alway my intention. If you see someone walking out of a club in the early hours of the morning without a penny in their pocket but a huge smile on their face. Then we know we’ve done a great job as a promoter.”
What about Ibiza itself as an island, I know for one I fell in love with the place instantly. Do you think that a new kind of season could highlight lesser known parts of the island to visitors, away from clubbing?
“Probably. Speaking to a lot of villa rental owners this ‘experience’ type of thing is going to be what’s more popular this year.”
‘’Everyone who lives here is going to be looking to see how they can get some kind of revenue stream. People will discover all of the beautiful parts of the island that are generally only known by residents.’’
“Before we lived here I used to always say that when you come down the steps of the plane you could feel that little bit of magic. If one day they squeeze the magic out of this island then we’re screwed because you can’t get that back. Even during this crazy time, the magic is still here. You walk along the beach and it’s just beautiful.”
You’re right. The magic of Ibiza is what has brought tourists back year on year but money is an ever growing factor on the island now.
“They need to understand that the streets aren’t paved with gold. The prices need to come down. It was pricing itself out of the market. It’s beautiful, it’s amazing but the costs are going through the roof. People that come on holiday have a certain budget and the majority of people don’t have 5000 euros to spend on their week’s holiday. Why should they?”
“This place doesn’t warrant spending 5000 euros to have a good time. I’ve had some of the best nights ever where I’ve not even known who was playing. If you’re with the right people and the sound system is good then it’s amazing.”
“As an industry we made the mistake a few years ago where we slowly started to put DJs higher and higher on a pedestal. From a marketing perspective I kind of get it but now it’s come to bite us on the arse. It’s primarily driven by the agents rather than the DJs. People are booking people by how many followers they have on Instagram these days. I couldn’t give a shit how many followers you have. I want someone who’s going to come down and do the job.”
Looking back on your early days clubbing on Ibiza. What are the main differences now and what key things will always remain the same?
“Good music will always be good music. I hope that the reasons people go clubbing remain the same but it seems to be changing. There’s a new generation of people who are going out for different reasons than I did. I went to a club because the music really drove me there. Now, the way things are heading, the most important thing is to get in there, get your shot and get the fuck out of there. They get their ‘Instagram moment’ and off they go.”
“We tried out a rule a few years ago of ‘no phones allowed on the dancefloor.’ It’s quite a difficult stance to adopt but for me it was perfect. It had gotten to the stage where Carl (Cox) would come on and there would be this sea of phones in the crowd. It really was like the Pope was coming to give a sermon!”
“They were in that moment and they lost it because they were so intent on getting that shot to share with their mates. That’s one of the fundamental changes. It’s more important for people to say that they were there, than actually being there.”
“The backlash of this is that it’s very difficult to develop an underground scene because as soon as everyone is in that scene, they want to tell the world about it. The underground scene is the foundations of it all and if we squeeze the underground scene too hard then this whole building is going to collapse
Jordan Alexander Wyness aka Van Damn is the 31-year-old MC we never asked for but always needed. The All Good Dundee chief is a veteran of Scottish club culture as he has been spinning tracks since he was 15.
During the lockdown he has delivered hilarious drunken live streams. Berating fans begging for tune requests live and direct. The Dundee Don is at the forefront of electronic music culture in the city. His tracks have been featured on BBC RADIO 1 Introducing by Jaguar. He is rising the ranks and might be the funniest DJ in Scotland.
In order to understand how he arrived to where he is today, we must look backwards. He reminisced on his childhood sharing fond memories. His mother was into proper old school retro 80s classics. His aunts on the other hand were a lot more invested in partying. “They were heavy into going to all the rumbas and illegal raves.”
There was one occasion when his aunts were babysitting him during a fried affair. “I’ve got photos of me being dropped off by my mum to an afters they were hosting.” Van Damn was raised in the den. Although he noted “Nothing bad or anything, but it was mental.” Family is important to him. During the lockdown he has went back to the basics by helping his mother run her cafe in Arbroath.
Jordan is a single father and holds a close bond with his son. However, at first, he was frightened by the prospect of parenthood. “When I got told I was going to be a dad, I total shat myself.” At the time he was 24 in Aberdeen living the life and doing what he wanted.
However, the reality check of fatherhood helped him realize how important family is. He candidly reflected as he overcame the absence of his father. “I never really knew my biological dad, I never met him before growing up. I just wanted to fill the gap that he left.” Thats exactly what he did by being a good father and supporting his son.
Now in order to support a family you need to put bread on the table. Now how do you do that. Well DJ’ing can pay the bills. How does one learn in the early 2000s. At 17 Van Damn burned tunes onto CDs and played at The Reading Rooms. Considering the circumstances it was impressive. “Only had 1 CDJ and a mixer. I was mixing tunes from garageband onto CDs.”
Jordan remarked one of his mother’s friends had decks, but he wasn’t allowed to touch them. However, nothing would stop Van Damn from crafting his art and refining his skill. He got his hands on a controller. Then discovered a set of technics in the basement of his work.
“They weren’t in great condition, a bit cracked. I told them they were fucked and they just gave them to me, they’re the ones I still use today! Turns out they were completely fine, the guy cleaning them said he found nails inside. They’re total workhorses, still work today.”
In high school Van Damn was a baller helping lead the Arbroath Musketeers alongside his teammates. “Dundee were shite we used to pump them all the time.” His team were going up against Glasgow, Edinburgh and others.
He then went on an exchange program to play basketball in the United States. “Took my little controller across with me and played a couple wee parties” Frat parties with Van Damn spinning tunes sounds wonderful.
“Lived in Maddison, near Cleveland, Ohio. I visited Cleveland, DC, even played a gig in Detroit, well Ann Arbor just outside it’s but I can still say I played it.” He has had an interesting life and he remains humble in his journey as a DJ.
Jordan has build up his brand All Good Dundee by throwing some of the best parties outside of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. Alongside his close friend Scott both started gravitating towards DJ’ing. “We wanted to do something together because we had a good following of people in Arbroath and Dundee.”
“I was getting gigs but I never had my own thing. I tried to do a couple of club nights myself, but it just never felt right. I didn’t put my all into it. We banged heads together and came up with the name. Tried to put on a couple of nights but it was hard because we were fucking skint.”
They were able to secure Jackmaster for a gig where he brought Denis Sulta. That party propelled his brand and gave them the funds to function. However unfortunately shortly after Scott passed away in a car crash. Before Scott passed away him and Jordan made a list of dream bookings. Within 5 years Van Damn ticked them off the list. Paying homage to his friend in a unique manner.
Despite the loss Van Damn remains resilient. Transforming All Good into Dundee’s top collective with high profile bookings. “We’re lucky that we’ve got really good relations with DJs like Jack, Hammer and Jasper. For me their fees could be much higher because they attract massive amount of ticket sales without charging us as highly as they could. They do us a favor.”
This camaraderie between artists helps the industry function. The collective All Good is made up of Ethan Bell, Nairn Spink and Head Booker Scott Forrest. Van Damn remarked how lucky he is to have them alongside him. “They usually warm up for me and are so good at building up a room when I get on, I can usually play whatever I want.”
Expect a banging house vibe all the way though Van Damns sets. Regarding his weekly live streams on twitch it was his answer to the lockdown. He felt All Good needed an outlet however he didn’t want to make mixes as they didn’t feel personal enough.
“The weekend before the lockdown I just had a complete stomper in my house. I put the cameras up and everyone was in the studio and yeah it was a total nonsense.” Van Damn started to MC during lockdown live streams. “Oh mate its just cause I’m pished. All I’m doing is getting total pished and doing stupid shite.” Well keep up your pish big man.
Quenum has been behind the decks for 30 years playing the sound he loves, Techno. He has gained the respect of legends such as Derrick May and Robert Hood, played alongside Carl Cox and travelled the world in his storied career. The underrated legend sat down for an exclusive interview with Behind The Decks.
There was always music playing in my house. We had parties every weekend. I spent my childhood in Ivory Coast. You could play music as loud as you wanted. My father put the speakers in the garden, for all the neighbors to hear. If they heard there was a party going on, they would just show up. It was like a contest of who had the most powerful sound system. My father was a huge influence. He listened to Caribbean music, salsa, soul, French and Nigerian music. Every weekend he would take me and my brother and would let us pick two records. My family’s love of music had a huge effect on me.
Tell me about the first time you touched a set of decks?
In the early 1980s I got together with some of my friends and we formed a breakdancing crew, we ended up being one of the best and performed all over France. One of my mates had two turntables. He showed me the basics and he let me keep them for a few months. I spent hours practicing and mixing. At the time I started realizing that dancing as a career was just too tough. I started going to clubs to watch the DJ’s. It all came together, and I started getting gigs in clubs.
How long have you been producing and DJ’ing for?
I started DJing in the 1980s and my career as a producer really took off once I had moved to London, in 1993. I started working in a studio in Brixton, that’s where I met Paulo Nascimento, who would become my partner. We set up Access 58, the band and the label, and established our own music studio in Bethnal Green in 1996.
Tell me abouthow you first invested yourself in electronic music
It all started for me in the early 1990s, when we went from classic clubs that played all kinds of music, to clubs playing only house music. Once I was in London I started working in studios, first for a promoter who had a studio in Brixton. That’s where I met my future partner, Paulo Nascimento. We spent most of our time smoking joints and eating pasta -the promoter was a great cook. Then Paulo and I decided to get serious and have our own studio in Bethnal Green. From that day onwards I never stopped producing music.
What was it like living in London in the 90s?
Living in London in the 90s was amazing, especially if you loved music. There was so much going on, parties, record shops, everything. You could go out every night of the week and find a cool party. You could hang out at any party or record shop and meet interesting people, the business was much more low-key, and it was easy to hook up with other DJs, even the big names. I used to spend so much time in record shops, meeting great people, some of who are still close friends today -I also spent a fortune over the years!
Best set you have ever played?
This was a long time ago in Zurich, my best friend Goswin had invited me to an underground party. I played 7 hours, it was just perfect, great vibe
What was Switzerland like?
Life in Switzerland is peaceful and quiet, very different to London. I lived and still spend a lot of time in both. There are advantages and disadvantages in each place. My best friend Goswin is in London, but I have more friends in Geneva. The funny thing with Switzerland is that it doesn’t change much, you could leave for 10 years and when you come back everything is still the same. I’m addicted to running, and I have to say it’s great in Switzerland, nature is never far.
What was the music culture like there?
Geneva was always interesting, and there are great DJs and music producers there. One of the long-standing supporters of the scene is Dimi3 who runs the club Weetamix. So many great and innovative DJs have played there, so much quality music over the years. There was also a great record label and shop called Mental Groove. Lots of people gravitated around these places and started their careers there, people like Miss Kittin, Cassy, Luciano. There’s also great DJs in the area like Reas, Dachsund, Ripperton.
Tell me about your studio in Geneva
My first studio in Geneva was in a squat called Artamis. It was managed by a very cool group of music producers. Then when the city reclaimed that area to build apartments, it re-housed the artists in a beautiful old factory and I’m still there today. It’s called the Kugler art collective. The good thing about Switzerland is that you have this public support, and at the same time great communal feeling among artists.
What was it like to gain the respect of techno pioneers from Detroit?
Artists from Detroit have been an enormous influence. I’ve been lucky to meet and play with many of them. In the 90s I organised a party in London with Robert Hood, he played a unique live set at The End, with his wife singing. It was beautiful. I’m quite close to Derrick May, I’ve released tracks on his label and played with him too. He’s great fun to hang out with. Derrick is very open-minded, and we have a great time talking about our families, politics, being black in the US and the rest of the world, my roots in Africa. I hope one day we can visit my father’s country Benin in West Africa together.
How would you describe your upcoming EP?
I’m very bad at describing my music in words, because the way I express myself is through music, I’m not good with words. I was a crap student! I work according to my emotions, and I don’t know how to explain that. All I know is that I’m super-happy. This EP, as with all my music, is an expression of my emotions and how I felt when I was creating it, and at the same time I wanted to do something for the dance floor. I’m especially fond of the track Valley of True People, because I put a lot of emotions in the harmonies.
Tell me about the inspiration behind the track Rebellion?
For me that is the most dancefloor-friendly track in the EP. I wanted to create something that would captivate people’s attention. That’s what I tried to achieve with the loop, that has this vocal from beginning to end, which is a way to put listeners on alert throughout the track.
With the current global BLM movement do you think things can change?
For many years in France I was the only black child in class. I know this feeling of always having the attention on you, the impression of being constantly judged. From when you are a small child you learn how to deal with this. I want this weight to be lifted for all people. I try to put out this message through my conversations with all kinds of people, many of whom do not realize how widespread racism is. I’ve never been part of a political group but I admire those who do. I deeply hope that BLM and other groups fighting for human rights will be able to change things.
In the east-end of Glasgow lies a historical and cultural landmark.
In the center of Glasgow Green the Nelson Monument is an obelisk pillar that stands at 144 feet. It dominates the park skyline and is a common place for demonstrations. Anti-War protests were held here in 1914. The Suffragettes marched outside this monument. It was a fitting location to protest against racism and bigotry.
Glasgow is a city littered with the names of slavers. This dark truth casts a shadow over the cities progressive facade. The global movement occurring is a reaction to thousands of years of enslavement and abuse. The Black Lives Matter movement in 2020 is a monumental shift in the geopolitical landscape.
The sun was shining as noon crept closer. The far outreach of the global movement entered Glasgow Green. Crowds gathered, masked waving signs protesting oppression, discrimination and social injustice.
Thousands gathered to stand together against racial prejudice. There were an estimated 8500 people in attendance according to Black Lives Matter member and DJ Barrington James Xavier Reeves. Black Lives Matter Glasgow and Magic City, a collective of hip-hop DJ’s help organise the protest. The collective set up decks and speakers for the keynote speeches.
The atmosphere was peaceful and tranquil as the collective shared their love of music with protestors. There is a deep connection between music and politics. Barrington stood behind the decks as he discussed his aim. “It’s time for reform. We need reform in policing, education and hiring. We want to send a very clear message.”
The time for legislative reform is overdue. If appropriate legislation is applied there is a chance, we could see a decrease in social injustices against minorities. “I think with right reform and right restructuring and addressing the right issues we could see a significant decrease to systematic racism.”
He remains optimistic in his odyssey as an activist. Yet he acknowledged the harsh reality. “I think every ethnic minority in Scotland has suffered racial atrocities. It’s a shocking fact we need to live with.” The reality is Scotland hides behind a progressive facade.
Despite racism having a negative impact on his state of mind Barrington remains tough. “Racism has made me very resilient and aware of things that need to change and other people’s attitudes towards me.” He is hopeful for the future and he has a dream. That one-day future generations won’t have to deal with racism.
Barrington wants to turn this into reality. With reforms in education, health and employment minorities can succeed in a multitude of industries. If the education system is reformed to teach children about colonialism and the genocide committed by the British Empire. Perhaps people wouldn’t grow up so ignorant.
There is so much brutality behind African history. Muslims have been subjected to racial abuse for hundreds of years. We can educate society to try and extinguish the radical right-wing beliefs that are prominent within white social circles. There is so much history that has been overlooked.
He candidly discussed the history behind his name during his key-note speech. “A lot of people say to me Barrington is a posh name.” The Barrington family once owned a plantation where Barrington Reeves family were enslaved.
In a poetic turn of events his family bought the plantation where they were formerly enslaved. They reclaimed the Barrington name after purchasing the plantation. Now it is passed down to the men in the family as a mark of how far they have come. It was a gut-wrenching origin story behind the name of one of Glasgow’s most prominent activists.
The speeches throughout the protest were emotionally devastating, powerful and educational. The experience was touching. Make no mistake this was not a day of celebrations. The atmosphere was remorseful. There were times it felt like a funeral for George Floyd.
Some of the speeches felt like eulogies. It was difficult to remain composed due to the high velocity of racially bigoted anecdotes that speakers shared. Director of Black and Scottish Stewart Kyasimire shared a heartbreaking tale. “My daughter said to me. Daddy. I wish I was white.”
It is hurtful to know a child had this thought. Racially motivated verbal abuse caused her to think like this. One of the keynote speakers, Tatana contemplated that she doesn’t feel comfortable bringing children into a world with such hatred.
Tatana is an Actor and South African woman. Like many she has experienced racism in Glasgow. She demands change. “I come from a history of freedom fighters. We have to use our voices to create change. Our grandparents did the work and we have to carry on their work.”
George Floyd has become a symbolic martyr internationally. His violent death sent millions into mourning. The subject matter cut deep within Tatana’s heart. Her voice crackled as her composure withered. “It’s a pain that I cannot even put into words.”
There must be ground breaking changes in policy and society. “Change has got to come.” As an actor she immerses herself into her research to fully explore and understand her character. With her knowledge she understands that change must address socioeconomic inequalities and injustices
“White people need to educate themselves. There are books to read, podcasts to listen to. Have those awkward conversations with family members and friends. I feel they need to educate their children on racism.” There is a mountain of barbaric history to study.
Godwin, a 3rd year Environmental Management student shared his opinion. “It’s good to get thinking about the past and acknowledging the history of slavery and colonialism.” Godwin accepts the racism he has experienced has not been as cruel as previous generations.
“I feel in Britain it’s more subtle and polite racism, growing up you do notice it and it does shape your views.” He has an optimistic outlook on the future although he remains uncertain. He discussed if racism could be vanquished. “I want to be hopeful and say yes but I’m unsure.”
Maxi, a London born African woman expressed her goals. “For the government to hear our voices and start implementing punishment for police that cause harm to black people.” When pressed on if racism would end, she was remorseful. “Sad but I don’t think it can.”
The presence of George Floyd and countless others was felt among the peaceful protestors. One protestor who wished to remain anonymous shared his pain. “It’s been a long time coming.” He grew up in Africa before moving to Glasgow and has suffered through physical and emotional abuse.
“I was born, and I had a knee on my neck. I was raised and I had a knee on my neck. I went to school and I had a knee on my neck. I still have a knee on my neck.” It was hard for him to contain his anger. Despite this he remained strong and demonstrated the mental fortitude and intelligence that ignorant racist people lack.
“I have to show my anger. People need to listen. We can end it through our actions and the way we lead our society. No one is superior.” He is right. People need to listen to the protestors who are risking their lives to fight for what is right. Government officials should start listening if people are willing to breach lockdown protocol.
We must bring forth societal changes in institutional and systemic racism. Africa must be given reparations for having their countries wealth plundered by the British Empire. The British Empire, one of the most murderous civilizations in global history looted Africa. The reason the continent isn’t as advanced is due to past oppression.
Agatha runs a charity that focuses on the mental health of the black community. Her charity also supports single mothers and children in Africa. “My message to black people is we need to unite and come together and support each other.” Giving back to her community is her mission in life.
She moved to the U.K when she was 9 years old. “I didn’t know about racism until I came to the UK. It is something we are not taught in Africa. We don’t experience it.” Throughout her childhood she was subjected to micro aggressions. Polite subtle British racism that is embedded in our society.
She has acknowledged that people are taking advantage of social media. “I don’t want this to be another hashtag or trend.” Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened. We have looked at the data and the results were striking. There is a glaring discrepancy in the number of individuals sharing Instagram posts and those who have signed the Justice for George Floyd petition.
Over 17M have signed the petition on Change.org. However there has been 29M Instagram posts with the hashtag #blackouttuesday. Furthermore, the hashtag #blacklivesmatter has 21.5M Instagram posts. There is a clear correlation that indicates people are posting forsocial media clout and perception.
The statistical information presented to you does not add up. Why is that? Well it’s because there is a segment of society which feels social pressure. They care more about how they are perceived but that black square won’t change anything.
There are millions of people who care more about perception from their peers than the reality of racism. When you overlook racism, you are guilty. Because you shared something on social media doesn’t absolve you. Ignorant white people need to understand our skin color is not a crime.
“My question for everybody is what happens after this trend of BLM is over. What are you going to do as an individual to make sure you’re helping your fellow humans?” Agatha has every right to be concerned for the future of the movement. People need to support Black Lives Matter until the day they die.
A sea of protestors knelt in honor of George Floyd and every African who was brutally slaughtered by the hands of white oppressors. Thousands kneeling in solidarity. It was magnificent to see society this united.
This isn’t a nice story. A man who was brutally murdered. A race subjected to centuries of oppression. A revolution has started. All around the world minorities are coming together. When you call for solidarity Glasgow will answer. The city despite being littered with street names dedicated to slavers will stand together. As a city we will fight social injustice.
“I can’t breathe” The last words uttered by George Floyd. The same last words of Eric Garner. The words have echoed across the world. The two men suffered horrific deaths by cruel and calculated racist bloodthirsty police officers. Millions of African American’s and minorities have been butchered by slavers, white supremacists and law enforcement. Enough is enough.
Social changes are critical towards policy shifts to limit police power. There needs to be new policy enforced with rigorous background checks and vetting for Police Officers. In the US, UK and around the world. Studying to become a police officer should be as difficult as becoming a lawyer or doctor.
In this world where police brutality is common, White privilege is powerful, influential and dangerous. White people in positions of authority have abused their power from law enforcement to the music industry.
Police killed 1,099 people in 2019 in the US. In the UK Police have killed 23 minorities in the last decade. This isn’t as bad as the US however in the UK progress must clearly be made. In 2017 the Lammy Review showed that black people comprise of 3% of the overall population in England and Wales. They make up 12% of it’s prison population. 48% of under-18s in custody are ethnic minorities.
According to the Home Office. In 2018-19, black people were more than nine times as likely to be stopped and searched by police as white people. They were over three times as likely to be arrested as white people. They were more than five times as likely to have force used against them by police as white people.
The last time a police officer was prosecuted in the UK concerning the death of somebody in custody was in 1969. In 2015 in Scotland there was a disturbing incident.9 police officers restrained Sheku Bayoh in Kirkcaldy. He died in custody after he was restrained by up to nine police officers using pepper spray and batons.
There are millions of cases in which white people have unlawfully murdered and abused minorities. The day of reckoning is coming for those who have committed racial crimes.
For eternity black lives matter. Black voices matter.
We can pay homage to George Floyd by supporting his daughter’s go-fund me
The Polish born artist GIGEE has previously been supported by Charlotte de Witte and has an upcoming EP out June 5th on Mobilee Records.
Paulina Gienlniewska grew up in Warsaw. In 2011 after moving to Paris she immersed herself in the cities underground electronic music culture. “Melodic techno is my soul.” Her flare for melodic techno helped her discover herself.
The underground sound of melodic techno is a major aspect of her artistic identity. “It was something that was growing inside of me day after day.” This made her explore unique sounds and selections. “My love for electronic music started to explode. I was curious at how it all worked. I started to learn how to mix and produce.”
Melodic techno has been the driving force behind her blossoming career. She represents a new wave of talented female DJ’s relying on techno sounds to showcase their creativity. GIGEE belongs in the same breath as Amelie Lens and Charlotte De-Witte though her production alone.
Her upcoming track Lullaby on her new EP evokes shakes of Solomon. Her original creation was written during a perilous period in her life. Like most of society GIGEE has experienced challenges throughout her life.
During her Asia tour she had fallen severely ill. Unfortunately, she had to cancel her remaining tour and was admitted in hospital. Her condition became serious, and she had been diagnosed with Malaria.
The life-threatening disease weakened her but never broke her spirit. After her solitude in hospital, she discovered her inspiration. “I looked deeper into the track and rewrote it. It is both sadness and happiness.” The emotive opposites contrast and demonstrate conflicting emotions which was the basis for this exquisite track. “I wanted Lullaby to be like a composition.”
“I was lucky enough to recover and that was a sign to look deeper into what I am doing.” Alone and scared in a hospital on the scenic Ko Pha Ngan Island in South East Thailand she overcame Malaria. The ordeal taught her a valuable lesson. To appreciate what we have.
She contemplated she was very fortunate growing up and was lucky to have a happy childhood. However, her parents challenged her to be something she wasn’t. “There was always pressure because they wanted me to be someone more.” Paulina had a clear objective. To become an artist and to share her creative talent around the world.
However, this didn’t align with her parent’s ideology. They wished she committed to economic studies or architecture. GIGEE had other plans. They wanted her to do something serious. “They haven’t treated my music seriously.” Despite their lack of faith, she managed to sway them by demonstrating how impassioned she was about her music career.
She remarked it was exceedingly difficult for her. However, was finally able to alter their perception. “After a few years, they noticed I’m really devoted. They started to follow my ideas. Now they are really supportive.”
Although initially her parents didn’t support her aspirations to become an artist. “I’m the only one who had artistic spirit in my family.” They had good intentions as they wanted Paulina to achieve something great with her life. Despite their doubts she has achieved something great. Just not in the way they had expected.
Her release on the legendary Berlin label Mobilee Records is a remarkable accomplishment. It is a testament to her artistic dedication. It’s not easy getting a release on any label. To be featured on a high caliber label for electronic music’s rising stars proves she has achieved something great.
GIGEE is part of a wave of elite female techno talents that are explosive and passionate. Her career is on an upward trajectory. Her unique sound of beautiful melodic techno will be a pillar of electronic music culture this decade.
Get to know Dina Celina. The Nutritionist and DJ from Norway co-founded her own clothing brand. She is also one of the most charitable artists in Edinburgh.
Dina moved to Edinburgh six years ago to pursue a degree in Nutrition at Queen Margret University. She now has a new objective which is to establish herself as one of Scotland’s elite DJ’s. That isn’t her only goal as she is one of the most charitable artists in Scotland. “I’m very lucky with my life. There are so many people less fortunate. I think it’s really important. I believe in karma. What you give out, you will get back.”
Her beliefs are a reflection of her strong moral compass. She has goals and nothing can stop her from achieving them. She stands by her principles. “If I can DJ for a couple hours a week which will make me happy and it will also help someone else that’s a win win situation.” Her philanthropy is inspiring. In Edinburgh some DJ’s play for the money. Some play for the Instagram pictures. Few work in service of others.
Recently she co-founded a clothing brand called Sound Advice. The brands aim is to raise mental health awareness within the DJ’ing community. Somehow she has managed to combine music fashion and health. Not even Dina knows how she managed that. She collaborated with her fellow Scandinavian comrade Erik Stenersen. The duo rigorously brainstormed before forming the idea.
“I wanted something that was in your face.” This was a reference to her design “Don’t be a dick”. For some it’s human nature. Everyone has the potential to be good or bad. It’s a matter of ensuring the positive aspect of your character is on display more often than the negative. Dina has remained committed to her charity work just as relentlessly as her music career. Some of the proceeds from Sound Advice have been donated to the NHS. She laughed as she lamented that she has the longest CV out of anyone you know.
“Every time I tell people I’m a nutritionist and a DJ they say that’s the weirdest combination ever.” The unconventional combination gave her a unique outlook on life. With a strict diet, ensuring she receives all her nutrients and vitamins Dina has found a balance. “I don’t suffer from hangovers. I think I balance it quite well.” She manages multiple careers which is a testament towards her work ethic.
She isn’t just a DJ, nutritionist and entrepreneur. Dina is an activist. As a member of The Edinburgh Disco Lovers, she has established herself as a force to be reckoned with behind the decks. There is a false perception that Dina is a Disco DJ. “A lot of people see me as a Disco and House DJ but I’m not.” Immersing herself in a Melodic Techno sound. Dina wants to take her music in a underground direction. Rarely has she been able to play the sound she loves. Before the lockdown her last set in Sneaky Pete’s with Ryan Fyvie gave her the opportunity to explore melodic techno.
Despite only performing for two years music is embedded in her nature. As she plays the ukulele, clarinet, trombone. Throw in the guitar and keyboard as well. The first time she stepped behind the decks was an after party. A place where many vibrant careers started. She is still building her clothing brand as well as her music career. However this hasn’t been an easy journey for her. Like all stories there was inner conflict within her.
“I was diagnosed with depression when I was 15.” Her candid honesty conveyed her mental fortitude. Accepting and revealing her diagnosis to a stranger demonstrates her willingness to fight the stigma. She noted that in Norway, people are a lot more open to discuss mental health in comparison to Scotland. Although society has become more accepting there is still a stigma attached. There was one similarity between Norwegian and Scottish people. “We want to go out and get absolutely fucked up.”
Doing anything in excess can have a negative impact on our state of mind. Around two years ago Dina was simply unhappy with her life. As someone who has previously been diagnosed with depression she stated she was not depressed and was significantly unhappy. Too much partying. “There was a time 2 years ago I didn’t feel well at all. I wasn’t depressed but I was not happy and that was due to too much partying but now I’ve learned how to balance it.”
As she regained focus on her health, her happiness evolved. Although she still has a taste for fine wine she has discovered a way to keep herself in check by using music as an outlet for stress. During the lockdown she has released a healthy dose of live-streams, developed her brand and focused on nutrition. A diverse skill set. Diversity is important. There is not enough women resident DJ’s in Scotland. Something we as a community must address.
When pressed on the diversity of Edinburgh’s music scene she bluntly responded no. In response to questioning regarding if Edinburgh’s music culture was diverse enough. She feels that it has improved recently for women. “I think it’s getting better. When i first started DJ’ing I found it quite hard to get on the scene.”
Some people have to work for it. Not everyone can have a set handed to them like local Edinburgh spice boys. Dina found it difficult to get her name out there before she aligned herself with the disco lovers. However she has become more prominent in Edinburgh within the last year. With a diverse repertoire of track selections expect to see more of Dina Celina in 2021. Through her charity work she is more than a DJ, she is a philanthropist.