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Voracious desire: Mixtress’ frenetic sets are creating a new generation of rave lovers

today09/11/2022 1

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What appeals to you about hardcore, jungle, footwork etc, whether it be sonically or contextually?

For me, I spent so long listening to 4×4 and that era of lo-fi house and stuff adjacent to that. It was like the dance music equivalent to shoegaze! But things like footwork, hardcore, and jungle were that it was faster. You can dance freely and crazier to it and it’s not about looking cool or a certain way. You won’t hear this music on a yacht in Ibiza – there’s a context to the music. It’s political and it’s always been about fuck the system and fuck the police. It coerces people with the same political views to come together. It happened in 1994 with the Criminal Justice Act and Public Order act, we can see it happening again now. That on a non-sonic level, that’s what it is. On a sonic level, I like that it helps people not take themselves seriously and I see people laughing and happy when I play it.

How’s the Rinse FM show going?

It’s good! It’s so fun because it’s no longer just a hardcore-specific show anymore. The last one I did had some techno and drill and I did it b2b with Tom Jarmey who is a great producer. I like exploring different genres like techno and dubstep. I had Mella Dee on the show, which is such a great crossover. I’m excited to play more things too.

What does community in this industry mean to you?

Well, there are so many not-good people in this industry. So being around good people is crucial. I found community over lockdown, especially with Team Woibey. With OBFC, we have a 17-person group chat, it’s all of us and our friends. It’s a support group and you know that when you go to a new city a couple of people can roll through so you know you’re not alone and it won’t be shitty. Throughout the pandemic, the others in Woibey would rely on each other throughout all the in-betweens of the lockdowns. Daisy and I already knew each other a little bit through a Facebook group called Hard and Nasty where we posted tracks that were above 150bpm, but not techno. We had a cute little community, I think SHERELLE was part of it.

Cute! I mean your friend Nia Archives invited you to do a Boiler Room with her.

Yeah Nia and I have been friends since before she, deservedly, blew up. She wanted me on her Boiler Room, which was great. We were on a train together to We Out Here Festival. She opened for the first Keep Hush that I did. Imagine that, Nia Archives was the opener! She had just learned how to DJ and I was like “mate!”. It was such a good night and I stayed out until 6:AM just to be with the vibe of the night and she told me had just learned a month ago. I’ve done a few streams, but that Boiler Room was so good – I kept it selection heavy to keep people on their toes. I even had Pete Cannon tell me he almost didn’t know what a tune was. If Pete Cannon doesn’t know, I’ve done my job well. But usually I give track IDs out, but there were a lot of “you had to be there moments”.

Do you have a favourite set you’ve done this year?

Leeds Festival. I was shook afterwards. I had so much imposter syndrome. Jossy [Mitsu] was with me and she was also shaken, and she’d played big festivals before! She just told me when I got there to not look up on the stage, and I did look up and it was a sea of 12,500 kids. The night we played was one in one out, it was filled to the brim. You couldn’t see the end of the people. I also knew that these kids would have been about 16 and on their first pinger. It was a lot of responsibility! I don’t think I’ll have an experience like that again – not in a bad way – but just because for a lot of these kids it was their first time hearing jungle, ever. And I know they’ll listen to it again because of me.

The next day I was getting a train to Manchester and these kids were on the seats opposite me and they were looking at videos they took at Leeds festival. It was like Megan Thee Stallion etc, and suddenly me. I heard them say “oh yeah that girl the last one, is it like drum ‘n’ bass?”, and another kid replied “nah but it’s got too many drums in it” and then another said “it’s called jungle”. They were watching so many videos and they didn’t stop talking about it. These 15 year olds were born in 2007, that’s not a real year! They were scratching their little faces over it. But genuinely, what an honour to play jungle to the next generation – and they were moshing away. All of the imposter syndrome from the day before washed away.

What are you like as a punter?

I love going out and I make a point that I go on one night out a month, which doesn’t sound like a lot but I keep it separate to the gigs I’m playing. And I do it as I used to at uni, which is to buy the ticket weeks in advance and gather a crew and plan it out and get gassed about it. I always want it to be music I don’t play – I don’t want to go to a jungle night. I don’t want to know half the music. I like going out to 140 bpm and things I don’t normally listen to.

I heard on the grapevine that Mixtress is getting into production. Talk us through that.

Honestly, I’ve been making tunes for a few years. There are some tunes in my sets and people ask for track IDs, but really they’re things I’ve made and I’m too shy to put anything out! I don’t want to put anything out until I’ve felt like I’ve figured everything out and that everything is of quality. I’ve made a lot of bootlegs and stuff, which is I guess what most people start off with, like making remixes. But what I’ve not done yet is send anything big to friends. When I put things out next year, I want it to be a bit of a surprise.

I dropped the first work of progress in my Boiler Room set, Pete Cannon and I made the tune drinking builders’ tea and getting excited over hardcore. The concept is around one of my most seminal albums, The Streets’ 2001 original album, and I’ve had this recurring dream that ‘Blinded By The Lights’ should be a happy hardcore or jungle tune. It’s been living in my head as a jungle tune for months and it was really bothering me. [Pete Cannon] had these crazy samplers and had these analogue pieces of kit and we kind of made it in a whim in two hours. That’s what I played in my Boiler Room and I instantly got hounded for the track ID. I was like “hehe, wouldn’t you like to know”. But yeah, messing around on an analogue kit is my favourite thing to do.

What else is next for you?

Label. That’s all I can say. You know how back in the day it used to be the garage room for the girls, which is so sexist? But there’s room for chill and experimental jungle. Soft vocals and more innovation. Also, I’m thinking of possibly starting a podcast on the history of rave and dance music – so that may be on the cards next. Also, hopefully, a stream with two CDJs! Basically, for both Keep Hush and Boiler Room I played tunes on one deck at some point. In Boiler Room the room was so sweaty that the drip from the room caused one of the CDJs there to malfunction permanently. They had a guy mopping the ceiling through the entire set. They put a broom and a Boiler Room towel and were trying to keep it all going. I was doing an Indian dance and had one hand up to protect the CDJ from breaking while beat matching with the other. Tash LC was on the mic and was amazed at how I was keeping my cool!

To finish, tell us about your Impact mix.

The idea behind this mix was to emulate my night out — starting off with bass-y and breaks-y rave music but getting quite intimate and soulful in the end, like we do when we go back to the afters with far less people and much worse conversation. I’ve gone from bassweight-y dubstep to some classic hardcore, contemporary breaks and then into some more meditative drum n bass. Trying to emulate the genre- I think hardcore is more about an energy and of love for everyone and the dancefloor to me, than a certain set of years or bpms or amens. I also like to mix the older more euphoric sounding breaks with more contemporary tracks so I’ve got an Intense tune from ‘93 mixed into some Brazen records. I think some of the older 93 tracks I’ve picked transport you into this dreamlike state, because it was made pre having the luxury and constraints of the internet and accessibility to DAW’s so it’s a bit alien sounding. I wanted to feature music that I listen to at home that’s a bit weird and cross genre – there are a few leftfield IDM backpain-relieving sound design dreamboats, all with a warm jazzy hug.

I ended with quite deep and more soulful dnb cuts. I love them all, if not more now – things like Calibre Sunrise, or Gusts from a very, very important label, North Quarter (big ups Amsterdam), and Vanguard from Alix Perez. Bit of a challenging one to get everything I wanted in this hour but hopefully it’s got just enough nostalgia for my millennials and gen z’ers to smile alike.

Aneesa Ahmed is a freelance journalist, follow her on Twitter

Tracklist

Orbital ‘Chime’ (Live Style Radio Mix)
DJ Swagger ‘Confu’
6Blocc ‘Any Colour You Like’ (6Blocc Breaknology Edit)
Addison Groove ‘Brand New Drop’ (Nikki Nair Remix)
NRG ‘Trip Switch’ (New Decade Remix)
Luke’s Anger ‘Lyn Track’ (Original Mix)
Machinedrum ft. Freddie Gibbs ‘Kane Train’
Boards of Canada ‘1969’
Slow83 ‘Photan’ (Caitlin Medcalf Remix)
B-ahwe ‘Closer’ (Breaka Remix)
Goldfrapp ‘Black Cherry’ (Lawrence Remix)
Alex Reece & Wax Doctor ‘Frequency’
Skanna ‘All You Wanted’
Chaos & Julia Set ‘Atmosphere’ (Sub-Base Field Mix)
Intense ‘Paradox’
JANAWAY & Cheetah ‘On Tha Block’
Missing ‘Known Around the Hood’
Voyager ‘Hypersleep’ (97 Revamp)
Year 2000 Problem ‘unreleased’
Etch ‘unreleased’
Influx Datum ‘unreleased’
Krust ‘Jazz Note III’ (Total Science RMX)
Boards of Canada ‘Olson’
Koop ‘Waltz for Koop’ (DJ Patife Remix)
Alix Perez ‘Vanguard’
Tokyo Prose ‘Gusts’ (Original Mix)
Nosaj Thing ‘Nightcrawler’

Written by: Tim Hopkins

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