A Female DJ’s health and history
by Holly Fairgrieve | May 13, 2019
H: How did you get into DJing?
E: I was living at home with my parents and my two sisters who are much older than me and when my parents would go on holiday they’d throw these ridiculous parties. They were a lot of fun and their boyfriends at the time would bring decks round to the house and play really good house classics and I would watch they mix and was intrigued and one of them started showing me how to do it. So from the age of about 14/15 I started doing it. And then I started going out with a boy at school during my GCSEs who was really into raves, so we would go to the raves right, really crazy raves in the mid 90s where you would just get a text message on an old Nokia phone and then get a location and have to go there. We lived in a small village outside Oxford and we’d literally just get in our cars and drive to these parties under bridges off the motorway. So from quite a young age I was a part of all of that. I was so exposed to intense but amazing new music from that extreme rave culture. That was liked to my sisters going to Ibiza and listening to Danny Rampling and Karl Cox. So like Rave and House were the genres. Then for my 18th my sisters bought me some decks which I’ve still got. So yeah, that’s how I got into it.
H: Do you have any stand out memories from those raves?
E: I really remember the first rave I went to with my sisters, Exodus, and just standing in a field and watching the sun coming up and being like 15 and just feeling so free. It was really overwhelming but looking back, it’s like, that was really cool and yeah, that was kind of a foundational moment for house music in this country.
H: So your sisters were really important to your music, but did your parents influence you at all?
E: Not really, just my sisters. But they also played a lot of 80s and 90s stuff. They loved Oasis. My parents loved music too though. They still have a jukebox which we had growing up. So they used to, and they still do, go and dig through their record collection from car boot sales and they’ll play blues and jazz, they love the Contours.
H: I bet between you and your family you have an amazing record collection.
E: Yeah we do. It’s really nice because my mum has passed on a lot of her collection to me, like really old rock and roll, like 70s, 80s. I’ve got a lot of Pink Floyd from her and the Stone Roses. My sisters also went through this real stage too and started listening to a lot of Primal Scream and all that. But I think that early rave music was my favourite. That was a way for me to carve out my own music taste, because I remember being able to introduce them to new stuff when I got into it and that was really fun.
H: Who are you listening to now?
E: So I’m listening to a lot of artists who play at the Simple events I have been helping run. But I’ve recently moved to Bristol and the music scene there is amazing. There is a guy down there called Syz, his production is amazing. Also DJ Hodge, DJ Calton, Peverlist, Ben UFO, Helena Hauff. My friends Daisy Moon and Danny Shake are amazing too, their production is fantastic. It’s a great melting pot in Bristol.
H: How long have you been doing Simple then? Has it changed a lot over the years?
E: It’s the same! We used to do it in The Cellar, but since we’ve kept it really organic it’s the same kind of outcome because it’s always been about the music. It’s in the back of a pub, obviously Oxford is quite restricted, so it’s just, we try and keep it really low key and really accessible for people. Oxford’s so fluid with so many students coming through but I think because Nick, who I run it with, and I have been here for this amount of time we’re able to provide this space for people to come and enjoy it and it has become a regular stable thing. I think that’s important. If we’d have moved on after a few years I think that would have been a real shame. We are just really passionate about it. And I think Oxford really needs it. To just let loose and dance every once and while, it’s important.
H: Have you seen Oxford change a lot?
E: In the last few years the city has changed a lot and it’s really kind of upsetting. There are no independent shops here anymore, especially in comparison to Bristol. There are so many there. I don’t know if it’s because everything is so fluid here in Oxford and everyone is coming here to study, which is great, but they use it as a stepping stone, as a place to move on from. So I don’t really know how that landscape can change in Oxford. I feel like it’s only getting more… I feel like the divide between students and residents is only getting bigger. But that’s why we really try with Oxford to try and have a regular event that’s really organic and that people can get involved with, and get them playing sets for us.
H: Do you have any highlights from Simple over the years?
E: There have been loads! But DJ Bone was a real highlight for me. And Stingray was great too. When you have legends like Stingray or Bone playing at the back of a pub that’s amazing. That’s a real highlight.
H: What’s your opinion on the female DJ scene?
E: So I help run a collective in Bristol called Mix Nights which has been going for about 3/4 years now, with the idea of trying to address the lack of female DJs in clubs, festivals and line ups. We offer a space for women to come and we run weekly teaching lessons and workshops and it’s been great. We’ve seen 100 women through our course already this year and we are now setting up an intermediate course because there is such a demand, we currently only have a beginners course. We’ve seen some of our women in line ups at Fabric, on radio shows, and some have even set up their own nights in Bristol. It’s all been really positive, and we are just trying to address the situation and trying to get that balance right.
H: How much are you DJing right now?
E: It depends, it’s either one or two nights a week. I have residency in Bristol at a club called Motion, and I obviously come back and do Simple, and I do quite a lot in London, and festivals like Gotwood.
H: Are you going to any festivals?
E: Free Rotation in Wales, really intimate, set in this manor house with a great live up.
H: Do you have any good hangover tips?
E: I don’t drink! I was diagnosed with kidney cancer a few years ago and have just come out of remission. So I have basically been on this massive kind of holistic detox.
H: I am so sorry to hear that. Is it okay to include in the interview?
E: Yes, please do. I try and talk about it as much as possible. People ask me all the time if I drink and I always use it as a way to talk about it. So, I chose to completely stop drinking when I found out that I had it. So I just tried to give my body the best chance and got really interested in holistic treatments.
H: Did you do chemotherapy as well or just holistic treatments?
E: No, just holistic which is a massive taboo. Cancer is still a massive taboo subject itself for people. It’s this massive awful disease that so many people are affected by but we still can’t talk about and I really feel we need to normalise it and not be scared about talking about it. But yeah I’m healed now and I don’t drink anything apart from lots of kombucha and club mate! Kombucha bottles conveniently look like beer bottles and club mate is great, it’s green tea so it keeps me buzzing all night! But yeah I’m just so happy to be out of remission.
H: Yeah congratulations! That’s really amazing. That must have been so hard and how it affected you and your family and not being able to do music…
E: Thank you so much! Yeah, I had an operation and then wasn’t able to do music for about a year which was really tough. But everyone around me was amazing and really built me back up. I feel really grateful for everyone who saw me through it. It was very emotional when I started DJing again. But it was really empowering starting again. Sorry, we’ve gone really off tangent.
H: No not at all! Just another quick question for you. What are your favourite places to hang out or eat in Oxford?
E: Any veggie or vegan cafes! Alpha Bar in the covered market. Or the Magic Cafe down in Cowley. There are vegan and veggie places everywhere in Bristol though. Oxford really needs to catch up! Do you have any recommendations for cafes or anything?
H: I love the Colombian coffee place in the covered market! The dark chocolate covered coffee beans, they’re something that will keep you up all night!
E: Oooh amazing! I’ll have to check that out! They sound great!
H: I think that’s all the questions I have for you! Thank you so much!
E: Aw no problem, thank you.
Interview by Holly Fairgrieve. Illustration by Kathleen Quaintance.