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.
Louise Chen the French and Taiwanese DJ is a pillar of Parisian music culture. She is an ultimate variety of a DJ, collective founder, fashion icon, record collector and an all-round kick ass female within the electronic music industry.
With her adoration for music beginning from an early age growing up in Luxembourg, where she would create mixtapes for her family in Taiwan, Louise has been bouncing within her busy schedule of NTS radio shows, DJing at fashion parties and running a female music and arts collective. As the lockdown is slowly being lifted, Louise is in the middle of moving from Paris to London.
Growing up in Luxembourg, Louise spent a lot of her childhood backstage at TV shoots due to her aunt being a singer and actress and explained how that felt very normal for her. Another major part of her childhood was receiving mixtapes from her dad. “That was my way of having him around even though he was physically away – and so very quickly that fed my passion for music, because all of a sudden that was connected to feelings of love and longing and wanting to be with your family. So now, I just equate music to people.”
After being shown how to record her own mixtapes, Louise described how it was ‘game over’, as her obsession with music began. “Because in Luxembourg, you didn’t have the spice girls or whatever big group that were touring, they would never come there. That’s why it felt like everything I’d see on MTV or on television or hear on the radio felt so out of reach – but in some ways, I’m really glad that I had that because it just made me more obsessed! It just made into the collective that I am, the hoarder!”
At the beginning of 2012, Louise started up her own club night, in response to the lack of females DJing and being in clubs within Paris at the time. To put it into context, Louise mentioned that she rarely saw women DJ, and it was the likes of Miss Kittin and Ellen Alien who were around at the time. “Even then, it was too few, and we never really felt that we could look up to anyone except dudes which was really frustrating.”
Louise commented on when she did go out to clubs, she felt no sense of belonging, and that the guys thought she was there for them – not because she cared about the music that was playing. “Back then my boyfriend was a DJ, and he was always saying to me ‘You don’t come see me play!’ And eventually I had to explain – ‘Well, it’s not exactly for me is it, if you look around you, it’s a bunch of dudes playing to a bunch of other dudes, and there are absolutely no girls around you – the girls that are around are backstage.”
After starting up the night and DJing a couple of times, Louise noticed that it was the same group of girls that were returning, they knew the music, and they were dancing and singing along to the tracks she was playing. “They created the identity of the night, they were the crowd I wanted there, they were the crowd that other people wanted to come see. I guess very quickly I just offered to them, would you like to make this a collective and this way everyone has a role to play and can have input, and that’s how it started.”
Eventually becoming a music and art collective with the name ‘Girls Girls Girls’, Louise was relieved at how she had finally found her people, sharing the love for music instead of being assumed that she was in the club to find guys. “It was more of a like, this is me and my girlfriends, almost like the party was a call to arms – and then whoever answered the call, was like oh my god I’ve found my people!”
Having played one of the Girls Girls Girls parties, NTS Radio’s beloved residents since day one Moxie and Louise soon became great friends. “She invited me on to her show a couple of times, then when she went to tour Australia for the first time she asked me if I’d be up for covering her radio show for her.” Louise now has a monthly residency at NTS, where her shows present every music that has stemmed from jazz and Afro-American music. “It’s a lot of gospel, disco, boogie, soul, house, techno, and everything in between. in my head, it’s all connected, it just makes sense. NTS radio has been my favourite radio show since day one, so it was an absolute honour to be covering for Moxie – when that ended NTS very kindly offered me a monthly show.”
As lockdown has ensued over the globe for the past four months, almost everybody can relate to feeling in and out of their funk, adapting to what is now known as the new normal as we experience a strange, unpredictable time. It is obvious that the lockdown has caused either a spark in creativity, or the complete opposite. “I felt with isolation at any time I’d be a little blue or down, it just took ten times longer to get out of my funk – whereas on a regular day, I’d just be able to go out and see my friends or do something like see some art to cheer me up. But there I couldn’t even escape my own self, I hate it!” Louise exclaimed.
Facing a few obstacles, which is understandable during the lockdown period, Louise spoke of the struggle with artistic expression. “Mixes kept me busy, but in terms of music production, it was a dry spell. I just couldn’t do it – like any kind of obstacle became unbearable, like unsurmountable. Every time I got frustrated, it would just last for way too long, but it just wasn’t worth it.”
Keeping yourself occupied throughout the day whilst isolating is key to keep yourself in check. It’S easy to lose yourself, especially when you’re spending every second with yourself, sometimes alone, and in one place day in day out. As mixes were her form of escapism, Louise had recorded more mixes during the lockdown than she would have usually done within a year. “I think that’s probably because now, in hindsight, I was isolating completely alone and I think for me, that was a form of escapism, so I wouldn’t have to feel lonely or scared or any of the negative things, so I would make sure I’d be really busy every day.”
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.
Behind The Decks caught up with Macka during the lockdown to see how he is dealing with his life in isolation. During the lockdown the Sub Club Resident has become a key worker. When he isn’t feeding the nation he is hammering out production. Expect to see a new release later this year. Like millions his career has been put on hold. Which means he has nothing but time on his hands.
How you been keeping during the lockdown?
Life and music prior to the shock of the pandemic crisis was really on an up for myself personally and with everything being grounded to a total halt so quickly, it really did lead to a massive change in my feelings and plans for this year.
What have you been working on?
I’ve been investing into my production and really enjoying having the time to sit and work on different aspects of my music. I guess a plus side has been all of the fantastic music coming out of lockdown, especially out of Scotland recently.
How much do you miss being behind the decks?
Wish you hadn’t of asked. It’s left a really big void in what I get up to and look forward to constantly. I guess it’s just going to be the norm for the time being.
Will you be dropping any new music later this year?
YES. I’ve got a load of stuff I’m really excited to share with everyone in the near future as well as some collaborations I’ve been planning.
As someone who DJ’s regularly how much has COVID impacted you financially?
This is a difficult question as It’s more of a hobby rather than a job really. To be making money doing something I love so much is a total bonus. Having said that I hope I’m back at parties and not delivering takeaways as soon as possible hahahaha.
Hold up. Who you doing deliveries for?
Big up Soul Sushi in Edinburgh. Best sushi in the East Coast. Quote that
Have you discovered a lot of new music during lockdown?
As I’ve said the music coming out of Scotland at the moment is great. Shout out to LF System, Testpress and Jezz Simpson.
Who have been you been listening to the most during lockdown
I’ve been listening to a variety of stuff during lockdown and I don’t tend to stick to electronic music either. There’s too many choices to pick one.
What’s something that not a lot of people know about you?
My uncle is a massive influence to me and my drive for electronic music. In the 90’s he DJ’d under the alias “The Waxman” and is really clued up. It’s great to be able to chat about how it was back then. Also my wee brother Rory is a shit hot dancer and is going to do big things, check him out.
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.
Introducing Josh Kilimanjaro, DJ, producer and creator of lifestyle brand IN SZN. His love for Hip-Hop and Afro House has inspired him to bring something fresh to Scotland.
The London born Zambian artist grew up in Dundee before moving to Glasgow. Music has been a staple of his life since he was 12. He and his older brother were both part of electronic pop band Our Future Glory.
“We were very into Bloc Party, their transition from their first record Silent Alarm to their second record A Weekend In The City was quite massive for us.” This inspired the band to evolve their acoustic sound by incorporating samplers, drum machines and synths.
The band played many gigs including T in the Park. Impressively, they were also invited to play at the International Music Summit in Ibiza in 2016. Not only was this the highlight of the bands career, it was also the first time Josh got behind the decks.
Josh played his first set at an after party for the event and began his career in one of the spiritual homes of house. “Our label at the time were basically like can any of you guys DJ and none of us could, so I spent that first chunk of the year just practicing and building my tune library. Then I came back to Scotland and started picking up gigs.”
Josh got a taste for mixing records and became a regular at The Reading Rooms in Dundee, “I was definitely underage but that was where I really experienced that side of electronic music.”
The Reading Rooms brought many amazing artists up to Dundee as well as nurturing local home-grown talent but sadly it closed its doors in 2019. “It’s a shame, I was at the art school up there and I know that a lot of students came up to Dundee because it had that electronic music outlet so it’s a shame to lose such an institution.”
Since leaving Dundee, Josh has truly made his mark on the Scottish scene. DJ’ing in iconic venues such as Sneaky Pete’s and headlining Fly Club after the Fly Open Air weekend, Josh has distinguished himself as a talented artist with major potential.
Josh has crafted a unique and distinctive sound that is heavily influenced by his background, “I like to reign back to my African roots.” His first track Niger Tornado blends intricate percussion loops with a captivating vocal sample demonstrating his raw talent and technical ability.
“House music obviously came from the struggles of black culture in the States and I love that I’m able to fuse that with my love for my continent and my country Zambia. All the richness of both cultures come together and I’m able to express that through the thing that I love. You can’t really ask for a much more beautiful harmony.”
Loving his debut track? You’re in luck. Josh is bringing the same energy to his first EP which will be released this august. Featuring a collaboration with Dixon Avenue Basement Jams. It’s worth getting excited about.
“I’m a musical person. I couldn’t just box myself in to just playing Afro house and party tunes, I needed a Hip-Hop outlet because Hip-Hop is a massive part of me and my life” and so in August 2019, IN SZN was born.
“Apart from Magic City and Peach, a lot of the Hip- Hop night’s across Scotland you hear the same music, it’s like Single Ladies by Beyoncé which is a banging tune don’t get me wrong but when you hear it every night it’s a bit peak.”
Josh wanted to create something original, he wanted IN SZN to be more than just a club night. The brand has thrown vibrant parties in Glasgow and Edinburgh and catered a street food day party with a Jamaican jerk pit barbecue in The Locale. Josh hopes to expand the brand to international soil with talks of boat parties and festivals in the future.
On top of this, IN SZN is also soon to be a clothing brand featuring collaboration’s with other Glasgow designers. “IN SZN is an outlet for my other creative aspects. It’s amazing cause it means that I can work on my fashion, business, food and my label through that whilst also still being able to make and play music through Kilimanjaro.”
In light of the Black Lives Matter movement, the history of insufferable inequalities that members of black and minority cultures have faced and continue to face is in the spotlight. Josh was heavily involved in the protest held in Glasgow Green on the 7th June this year.
“Being able to be the guy who was leading the chants was amazing. It’s something I’ll never forget. We’re doing this not just for us but for the future generations so that our kids have got a better world to live in.”
The root of all music stems from black culture, “it belongs to that group of people but it’s been shared, which is what everything should be. It’s not for a group of people just to hold for themselves, it’s to be shared, it’s to be celebrated and enjoyed by everyone.”
However, “a lot of people who enjoy the music, even a lot of people who play the music don’t know where it stems from and its history and that’s something that the individuals need to take on and really appreciate and respect if we’re going to see any change.”
For Josh IN SZN is “an extension of me and everything I love about my culture and our music.” While we must educate and inform ourselves about the past, brands like IN SZN are paving the way for a new and positive future.
By providing spaces to celebrate black music and culture in a creative and progressive way, they are at the forefront of the biggest civil rights demonstration the world has ever seen.
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