By Ciara Vernon
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.