Gauchoworld for Frequent Players | Jjess

15.04.22 Frequent Players


JJESS’ music has been making waves for many reasons. Her DJ sets feature musical transitions that feel more like spatial shifts, spanning geographies and genres. These mixes create a sonic crosshatch, weaving techno beats with Afro house, big name artists with avant-garde sound. 

This multi-genre trademark is the offshoot of creative ingenuity. But it’s also a reflection of Jess’s interdisciplinary approach to work and life, an unwavering tenacity to find her place within a variety of spaces, even those that might feel inaccessible. 

Growing up in east London, Jess established her DJ career after leaving university in 2017. Since then, she’s navigated the music industry from all angles, working in radio production, playing clubs and festivals, and curating a professional identity online.

“My background’s in radio,” Jess tells me. “That’s actually how I got into DJing. I was working with [people] that played so many different genres of music. It opened my ears and my mind to all the different sounds out there.” 

Despite early exposure to the industry, Jess tells me a sense of belonging took time; “I always wanted to DJ, I just didn’t really know how to start. I still didn’t feel like I could call myself a DJ […] for a few years.” This separation came from a feeling of inaccessibility. As a Black woman navigating a predominantly white cis-male industry, Jess recalls feeling anxious in certain spaces: “It was as though I didn’t really belong [in them].”

But a deep love of music pushed Jess to make accessible what had previously felt exclusive. “I’d never seen [music] as a career […] but I’ve always been surrounded by it. My dad was heavily into collecting CD’s and buying sound systems”. 

Starting work in radio production for the BBC was a way in, though Jess describes the constraints it had on her creativity. This encouraged her to navigate the industry on her own; “I wanted to explore how the different sounds in my head could sound to others […] explore my own avenues and work on my own terms.” By carving out spaces that once felt unattainable, Jess has found creative agency and a stronger sense of identity.

“That sense [of not belonging] can sometimes consume you […] but I just remember why I started. I wanted to be the DJ that elicited that same feeling I felt when I was listening to a set.”

Since the pandemic, the spaces which Jess moves in have shifted. Clubs have closed and digital platforms are taking over, forcing creatives to navigate more uncharted territory; “Social media is tricky, because it feels like so many opportunities come from [these spaces],” says Jess. “It’s just another place where I need to present a certain image of myself, and you can get lost in that”.

But despite these shifts, Jess takes new spaces in her stride. I ask her where she feels most creative – playing out in clubs, recording in a studio, or sharing her work online. She tells me she likes a balance. Playing out allows her to build a community: “I want my shows to be […] a place to discover new music”. And in the digital sphere, she cites playlisting as another means of sharing with that audience: “it [allows me] to be that kind of discovery platform for others”. 

This open dialogue is something Jess treasures in her work with the Girls Can’t DJ (GCDJ) collective, an initiative showcasing women and non-binary artists by giving them the platforms to network and perform. “Jords, who runs GCDJ, has been amazing at giving women the space to have certain conversations about things we all go through [in this industry],” says Jjess “Having that [space] to share things, it’s super important. It’s just made me feel like I’m where I’m supposed to be.” 

Jess recognises the importance of these outlets now more than ever, with the post-pandemic landscape favouring mainstream venues. “Spaces for women, for people in the LGBTQ+ community, it’s just almost non-existent. I’m hoping small clubs will start re-opening but it all comes down to funding”. 

We talk about stagnant discussions to this effect. Every year within the music scene, Jess tells me, “We have the same conversation, that there’s not enough women on festival lineups. But nobody’s doing anything about it”. 

Despite her evident frustration, Jess maintains a calm demeanour as we talk. I’m struck by this pragmatic sense of hope, a sign Jess hasn’t simply found her place, but is becoming that space for others. “I’ve always said, if anyone has any questions, just ask me. Slide into my DMs. I know that’s really scary, but I want people to feel comfortable enough to talk about these things”.

In this way, JJESS’ music becomes a conversation. Despite the divisions between Jess’s physical, digital, and sonic environments, she’s found ways to bridge the versions of herself that inhabit each space. 

“It’s a very interesting thing, the different versions of yourself that exist in different spaces. When I’m DJing, I feel more confident. Whereas day to day, I think I can be pretty reserved.” This confidence ripples into all aspects of Jess’s life, “It affects your day to day mood. Just knowing that you’re talented, you can transfer that into other things.”

“Certain spaces can feel very intimidating. I think there’s still a lot of work to be done for women DJs, unfortunately.” She recalls being typecast as a Black woman, with bookers often expecting her to play rap or R&B. “After a while, you think ‘maybe this is what I’m supposed to play’ but I’ve realised I only want my set to be booked in spaces that will accommodate my sound.”

It’s inspiring talking to Jess, witnessing her steadfast response to adversity. But it’s also a reminder that, in exclusionary spaces, the burden of creating change often falls on the shoulders of those marginalised people. DJ training programs aimed at women and non-binary artists – like Mix Nights in Bristol – are positive signs, but they remain few and far between. 

I ask Jess if she thinks industry leaders are doing enough: “Definitely not. Booking agents, the people in charge of festival line-ups, they’re the gatekeepers. They’re the ones who have to be willing to make changes.”

Rebuffing the borders erected by these gatekeepers comes back to JJESS’ multi-spatial, multi-genre sound. She pulls inspiration from everywhere she can, telling me her home city of London is unmatched in its diversity and creative opportunity. And it’s not just music she turns to for motivation; “People who’ve started a brand, and built a community around that brand, I think that’s so cool. I love when people think outside of the box to elevate other projects.”

DJing is ultimately a way for Jess to express herself – in the many forms that entails. “It’s like music. It has different genres, and those come from certain subcultures with their own way of dressing, their own way of living. DJing is definitely an extension of myself, my creativity, and how I portray myself.” 

Perhaps most overtly, it’s her upcoming project, ’Code Switch’, that unravels this multi-faceted identity. Spanning various mediums, it’s a reflection of her transcendental sound. 

“I wanted to connect to my Nigerian background. I went every year as a kid, but I wanted to find my own way there as an adult. I’ve started going quite frequently by myself.” ‘Code Switch’ draws on this experience of diaspora and identity through soundscape, music and film. Jess describes it as a research project, seeing it as a chance to explore the backstories behind our musical identities. It highlights an inspiring truth: that Jess’s capacity to weave spaces together exists in each of us. 

“I’m speaking to people who live in lots of different spaces. Talking about growing up in a certain city, the music, sound, smells that describe that space, and how it’s shaped their creativity.” Jess says completing the project is her biggest goal this year. It certainly feels like a natural next step.

“Everyone’s a DJ” she tells me. Despite my lacking musical talent, I’m inclined to agree. Because for Jess – whose navigated a rigid industry by pushing a composite sound – DJing is more than a technical skill. It means trying to embrace the many versions of yourself that grow from different spaces, and filling those spaces unapologetically. If you ask me, she’s certainly succeeding. 

Editor – @igweldn

Photography – @stuartnimmo_

Photography Assistant – @rhysbawilliams

Words – @flobellinger

Styling – @rachel.parisa

Design – @jack___sharples

Production – @pifivy

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adidas NMD S1 ‘Ice Mint’ with Saint Ludo

01.04.22 Frequent Players

Where to start with our latest Frequent Players guest mix… High energy maybe?

Stepping up to take us on a journey through a variety of genres that’s cemented with a mix of underground club music alongside a playful blend of hard-hitting rap classics that feeds off the energy she brings to her nights out.

Now just in time for the weekend and to celebrate the recent launch of the adidas NMD S1, the London based, Californian born DJ brings her flow to Frequent Players.

Footpatrol: Ludo, it is always great to see you! On this occasion though we are putting all the focus on yourself, so before we get ourselves into everything we always like to start off with a nice and simple, how are you? 

Ludo: I am wonderful. The sun is shining and I’m feeling mad grateful for the things that are happening in my little ecosystem. With all the chaos that comes with being alive in 2022, I’m trying to practice gratitude and recognise how lucky I am.

FP: Kicking things off then, could we get a bit of insight into who you are and what you do? 

Ludo: I am many things, like a lot of people in the music industry. Initially this mix was caused by not fully knowing what my main interest was, combined with the need to have multiple streams of income to get by. I am an artist manager, record label honcho, music marketing consultant for labels and brands, radio and club DJ, host and presenter. These days I’m focusing especially on repping the Keep Hush crew by day and club DJing by night.

FP: Anyone that has seen you host on the Keep Hush channels and also in your sets know you bring the happiest energy that rubs off effortlessly with the crowd. How did you get yourself into DJing? 

Ludo: I always try stuff out on a whim. I see things or activities that I find cool, interesting, challenging or edgy and i’m like – let me see if I suck at this or not lol. And that ranges from painting, different sports, skating, languages, music production, at one point I was even writing bars (no I will not share them with anyone lol). More recently I started going to comedy school just to train my brain to think in a different way. So the same thing was for DJing, I wanted to see if it was something my brain could work with. I also particularly love picking up activities which I predominantly saw guys doing – it made the challenge even more interesting.

FP: What was it like coming up as a young, female DJ within the industry? 

Ludo: With all the challenges and bias I faced, I still was and am privileged to be a white woman in an industry full of racism. Having said that, at the beginning of my career I was getting loads of token bookings to be  ‘the girl on the lineup’. I also had promoters assume or publicly state I was queer because of my work with the label I used to run, all so that they could tick multiple boxes in one booking – mental. These days it feels like things are changing, promoters seem to actually care about change (or maybe i’m in an echo chamber?). We’re lucky to be blessed with so many amazing selectors in the scene who are non-male and single-handedly pushing sounds forward. Look at Mixtress, Manuka Honey, KG, Nia Archives, DJ Priya, Giulia Tess, Chloé Robinson, Sherelle, I could actually go on forever.

FP: We know you do a lot for upcoming artists and DJs, why is this so important to you? 

Ludo: I think sometimes humans can be inherently flawed by greed, having this instinct to accumulate resources when by sharing them, there is more to gain for everyone involved. This is why it’s so important to open doors and share opportunities, resources, contacts, knowledge, education – because it pushes us forward as a community and individuals both.  

FP: Could you tell us some of the ways you have been able to do this over the years?

Ludo: The whole reason why I wanted to run a label was to push forward thinking sounds & talent and I was lucky enough to work with incredible artists at earlier stages of their career such as Ariel Zetina, India Jordan, Ehua, LCY, Anz, Badsista and more. It was and still is important to me to showcase someone’s art by using any of my tools or experience repurposed for someone else. It’s all circular. What I learned or physically own can help progress another person.

Same thing at Keep Hush, our motto is ‘back the underground’ – meaning every initiative we do has to spotlight artists and create value for them.

Finally with DJing, my radio show is very much focused on talent I am a fan of, at whatever stage they might be. And whenever I speak to promoters for my own bookings, I have the habito of sending over lists of DJs who should be on their radar. And it’s usually very well received.

FP: One thing we love about you is the amount of work you do behind the scenes to help upcoming talent make their way into the industry. What made you want to do this?

Ludo: It’s the future of culture and the future of our planet. A stagnating culture is saturated, bored, tired and bitter. I don’t want that. 

FP: Is there any advice you would give to the next generation of DJs/artists to help make their first steps?

Ludo: Treating everyone with kindness and having zero snobbery, such a vanilla answer but I think what’s helped me in my career – and also made me thoroughly enjoy it – has been creating meaningful connections with staff at any level and at any stage of the music business. Example – whenever I play a gig I make sure I introduce myself to anyone that’s at the venue – from bar staff to gaffers. Sound engineers to runners to security to promoters, everyone has a story to tell, and often they’ll let the booker / promoter know how great it was working with you. But if someone is a dick by all means let them know or ring me up, i’ll come and slap them up.

FP: It’s a pleasure to be interviewing a Saint such as yourself! But before we let you go, we like to allow our interviewees the chance to sign off the interview in any way they please. So without further ado, Ludo is there anything you would like to share?

Ludo: Real Gs move in silence like lasagna, but also IG is life, so check out all these talented individuals:

@d.lish_, @emmakorantema, @myamehmi_, @taliaadarling_, @freshta, @helenastardj, @deejaypri, @gaia_ia and @jjess.mp3

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Frequent Players Meets Girls Don’t Sync | Guest Mix 29

23.12.21 Frequent Players

For our return of our Frequent Players Guest Mix Series, we enlisted the help of all female DJ collective, Girls Don’t Sync. Having come together over the last 12 months or so, Girls Don’t Sync is the creation of four friends, Matty Chiabi, G33, Sophia Violet and Hannah Lynch. Together, they’ve been hosting their own events and parties that have seen them thrown into the limelight and they’re taking it by storm.

Cleverly curating nights out that heavily focuses on a blend of dancehall, afrobeats and UK garage, Girls Don’t Sync have are here to stay!

We recently sat down with them to discuss how they all found each other and how they’re enjoying this rise! Check out the interview below as well as checking out Guest Mix 29!

Footpatrol: Welcome, welcome! It’s so good to finally meet you all face to face, how has everyones day been?

All: Amazing!!!

G33: A little bit chaotic because we just played at Somerset house and had a bit of a rush this morning but that is basically the epitome of how we move constantly – always in a rush. We try not to rush but we are just trying to do as many things as possible, we are at a stage now where we say yes to pretty much everything and just enjoying it! Late nights, very early mornings, like we were saying to you before we started this interview we wouldn’t want to have it any other way. 

FP: Starting from the beginning then. Could you each give a little intro on yourselves and who Girls Don’t Sync are?

Hannah Lynch: My name is Hannah Lynch (DJ Hannah Lynch), I am a resident club DJ in Liverpool, teach from my home studio in the week and then DJ throughout the weekend. 

G33: I’m Gaia, I am originally from Brixton like Matty. I went to uni in Liverpool and just stayed. From there my work mainly consists around community work, youth work and also for a club/music venue. I try to bring all these things together, it’s something that as a collective we feel is really important trying to champion young upcoming talent, especially women. Matty does some similar stuff in her work too, it’s something we find really transcends with what we do as a collective. Our work and exposure it’s primarily club focused but the connection with people, especially young people, teaching them is something that is very integral. 

Sophia: I’m Sophia but my DJ name is Sophia Violet. I am from the South West but I go to uni in Liverpool which is how I met everyone and became part of the collective. I am currently studying Law right now, so hoping to take that somewhere but at the same time hoping I can do the same with DJing! 

Matty: My name is Matty Chiabi. I am a radio presenter and DJ. Born and bred in Brixton went to school with Gaia. She begged me at a party in year 9 and ended up going to the same 6th Form! We have been friends ever since. I went to uni in Manchester and with Gaia going to Liverpool, there was a lot of back forth between the 2 cities. I am always in Liverpool! That’s where I got to meet Sophia and Hannah, which of course led to the creation of Girls Don’t Sync. On the side, I work for a Brixton based creative arts and music charity for young people and also teach a DJ course for women! 

FP: It’s nice to hear that you guys do more than DJ and see a much larger picture with how you can support others. Has that always been the initial goal when you came together as a collective?

Gaia: It just is! 

Hannah: Having the 4 of us together is almost like a safety net. 

Matty: We all started somewhere as well. I picked up DJing in lockdown and that was really hard. There was a lot of thought put into how you get these opportunities and what is going to happen when the world reopens. I didn’t really have that safety net and wasn’t sure who to go to find these opportunities. We want to make sure that other women have that support to help them. 

Sophia: Yeah exactly. If it wasn’t for people like Gaia, Hannah and Matty who gave me a lot of confidence I wouldn’t have got to where I am. 

Hannah: When I started DJing 5 years ago there was no other DJ I could go to. 

G33: Especially in Liverpool. Our love for the North is very deep rooted for all of us! Liverpool was the first place we played together as a 4, we have a base there. London and Manchester as well, hugely important to us. Manchester is interesting to play in as a city musically, I feel like our sets are different according to the city we are in. We never want to play the same set twice, if you have a listen to our sets which you have! We have a set of go to tracks which make our sound as a collective. For me though, being a good DJ is also about crowd consciousness and exposing them to new music. There is no better feeling than having someone walk up to you and being like – what was that track? What Genre is this? I think that’s what makes it so nice!

Sophia: I feel like as there are 4 of us, there is so much new music we can show, we can adapt ourselves according to the crowd. 

Matty: We all like different things too. Yes there are tracks we all like but for example, Gaia is gonna bring some Punjabi Garage, Sophia is gonna bring some madness, Hannah is gonna bring some Bassline and I may throw in some Afrobeats. It just works, we kind of cater to everyone because we represent everyone. We are all so different but when we come together it’s just like, wow. We are 4 individuals but together just make sense. I think that’s why people are attracted to us. 

G33: The support we’ve had has been amazing, even at Somerset House! Sorry to sound like a broken record but, women coming up to us and being like WOW! Even after a set when we walk around and talk to people, there is just a warmth in the room that we get. With there being a decline of female DJs in Liverpool it’s really nice to see how much support we get. 

Sophia: The crowd has such an amazing energy that makes you want to just be yourself. I think that is different to anything I have ever experienced before with crowds, just becoming one. That’s also one of the things that makes being a 4 so good, as one of us DJs the others are interacting with the crowd.

FP: That’s a really nice touch to bring into everything! 

Sophia: I think the first time we really noticed that was Baltic Weekender, we were all dancing on stage. 

G33: Inviting people up to dance!

Matty: Pouring gin in peoples mouths! 

Hannah: Every time we do a DJ set we want it to feel like a party!

G33: My mum always says where do you get this energy from, I feel with all us putting that energy out it’s then reciprocated by the crowd and we get it back. We just have fun whilst we do it! It works. When it comes to respect and payment, as 4 women within this industry, navigating that and having those conversations to make sure we are being treated with respect. 

FP: And getting your due dividend.

G33: Sometimes we feel people just see 4 girls jumping around on stage but we are dedicated to this and it is important to us. 

Matty: On top of that though…. We can actually DJ! When we first started there was a lot of ‘mmm can they DJ though?’ We can mix and blend! When you see the Insta highlights of us jumping around and doing cartwheels, just know there is always one of us taking care of the blend! 

FP: When people see you guys obviously they notice you’re a team of 4. What’s it like doing a b2b2b2b every show, it must be chaotic at times?

Hannah: We keep things to 2 tracks each to make it a bit less stressful. 

Sophia: It just feels natural a lot of the time.

FP: What was the first show like?

Matty: The first show was ‘Return to Rave’. 

G33: Which was the first time the clubs reopened on ‘Freedom Day’ on the 19th July. Baring in mind we formed together during the height of covid during lockdown. We already had done some sit down events for people. Going from that to a rave type setting. 

Sophia: It was the first time I played to a crowd that was standing up! 

Matty: It was my first time too! Return to Rave was the first one and it just felt natural. People always ask if it’s hard? Do you know what each other is going to play before? The answer to all that is no! We don’t know what’s coming next, even when I play I don’t know what it is I am going to be playing! 

Hannah: There’s no rehearsals, everything is just go!

G33: We all have different schedules in life too, our timetables are crazy! So when we do get to play together there is a sense of relaxation. 

Sophia: If we do make any mistakes it makes it easier having everyone around you too. 

G33: Mistakes are going to happen, sometimes the decks don’t do what you want them to do. 

Matty: Sometimes you just get too waved and the beats don’t seem to want to match up hahaha! We have fun though and everyone picks each other up! 

G33: At Keep Hush I even pressed play on the wrong deck and all the music stopped! I think I turned around and my lip just quivered haha! If I was by myself it would have got to me a lot more but having everyone put me at ease. 

FP: Well I can tell you from our side that the Keep Hush was class! Human error is a natural thing and not something worth worrying about. 

G33: We want to be creative in the way we mix, loop and chop. I am going to take risks during my set to push myself and try new things. 

Matty: I don’t think we play it safe, we try to get creative. I want to master the technique, whether that be loops, chops, effects it doesn’t matter. We are always watching and learning from each other also when we perform! It just means that when we next perform, I want to try that new technique. 

Sophia: The best place to try new things out is live with the crowd!

FP: I guess it’s the only way you are going to get a reception and real feel from people. 

Sophia: Exactly it’s one thing practicing on your own at home but it’s another story live. 

G33: That’s what I mean about crowd consciousness. There is no better feeling than playing a song that people know, when I am out and it happens to me I can’t help myself but to sing along! Playing things that are nostalgic that have been spun into different edits it just gets people going. 

Hannah: It’s a case bringing familiar sounds together in one place. 

Matty: For me when I first started DJing, I wasn’t really into Electronic music. The stuff I play now, once upon a time I would have listened to and said no. Whereas now the harder the better! That’s one of the things I love about DJing, there is so much music out there. We want to expose people to that but also offer a bit of comfort at the same time, we will give you Destiny’s Child but we’re gonna make it jumpy! 

G33: Even after the last 5 months just playing harsher Afrobeats or Punjabi Garage the world of music, is the world! There are so many producers that send us stuff as well which I think is such a nice relationship to have. That idea of playing stuff by people that you know to crowds and sending them videos showing them how much they loved it is something special. Sophia and I were producing in lockdown and Matty played one of Sophia’s edits recently!

Matty: I even had people coming up to me asking me who it was! I told them ‘That’s my giiiiirrrrllll!’

G33: That’s something as we progress I would like to get back into. You need to be in the mood to produce but it’s worth it. I am a perfectionist! 

FP: Moving slightly away from you DJings then. Where did the name come from?

Matty: I am going to take full credit on this one! There was a situation where we had to change the name last minute, which we won’t get into. I was in the shower (where I get my best ideas) and thought, what can we call ourselves that’s smart? I ended up thinking about the sync button on the decks and next thing you know ‘Girls Don’t Sync’ came to mind! 

G33: We were thinking about the stigmas behind women. There have been times where I performed in London at one of my first sets and they let me through a separate door because they thought I was working behind the bar. Another time I had a sound engineer walk me through on how to DJ, made me feel really patronised and undermined. It’s even happened to us as a 4 with attitudes towards us. When we are talking to people I feel like I really have to overcompensate, if we as women are seen to be too direct it will then create a negative stigma around female DJs but if a man is direct it seems to be fine. It was just a case figuring out how we can imbed these stigmas into our name. 

FP: The things that we have already spoken about on the outreach and support side of things will also help break those negatives down further. It’s a mad thing to hear the way people can treat you when you have world class female DJs in the world. To think up and coming artists like yourselves aren’t seen in the same light is rubbish.  

Matty: Yeah! It’s down to everything from gender all the way down to how we look. I may want to wear a dress and heels one day and then maybe be playing some heavy Bassline set the next, people just go off your appearance. If I do want to dress up or look a bit glam like our lovely Hannah Lynch who always does! You then don’t expect us to play certain types of music. 

G33: It’s when people ask what you do, you tell them you’re a DJ and the response you get is ‘oh you don’t look like a DJ.’ You are then thinking what does a DJ look like? I was talking to a friend of mine because she was watching old videos of me and mentioned how I used to dress very boyish during my sets. The mad part about that was that subconsciously I was wearing t-shirts to my set because I didn’t want to be sexualised. Now that’s gone I wear what I want. 

Matty: I thought the same, now I don’t care. How I look does not matter at the end of the day, it’s about the music. I like to think that once you meet us, we give off good energy. Unfortunately the industry has some questionable characters, at the end of the day we are trying to do some good. Like you said, the bigger picture is to help support other women. We want to start an ongoing thing where we can help pave the way for upcoming female DJs giving them the platform we didn’t have. 

FP: Well that leads perfectly onto the next question, where do you see Girls Don’t Sync going?

Hannah: International! 

G33: Getting out of the UK, we were supposed to be playing in Amsterdam last weekend! We would have been playing on the last day of the event and that would have given us time to enjoy the city and experience club culture out there. We want to bring that essence of connection and community to any place we go to. 

Sophia: Like I was saying earlier our sets are more like parties and I would love to do that at a big festival! Loads of people, a whole new crowd! 

FP: I have no doubts that is on the horizon for you all! 

G33: Workshops as well! We all teach in our own ways and we would love to do that on a larger scale! Ideally we would like to make them free for people so would love to work with an organisation or something to run it. 

FP: What got you all into DJing then individually?

Sophia: So my mum is a DJ. She stopped after having 4 of us but recently picked it back up again. I always wanted to learn and used lockdown as the opportunity to do so. I started on House but later discovered that UK Garage is my one true love! I started connecting with people from Liverpool online before I went back up and got involved with an event called Pinnacles of Garage where I am a resident and help organise the events. Being with Girls Don’t Sync has definitely broadened out what I play now though. 

Matty: Same as Sophia really, I started in lockdown after I lost my job. My older brother is also a DJ so it runs in the family! Going back to the party element of Girls Don’t Sync, we have all been so into the party side of things. When we were younger we would just watch DJs thinking wow this is interesting! Gaia only got into DJing over the summer. 

G33: Because of a DJ course they got me for my birthday! The day after I had that course, I loved it so much that I went out and bought a controller that same day! 

Hannah: I didn’t know that! That’s so cute! 

G33: This was the mad bit. Before I even met Hannah there were literally no other female DJs in Liverpool, so I messaged her asking if I would be allowed to shadow her and became friends after that! We used to do DJ workshops at our local community centre in Liverpool so we would meet up to plan what we were going to teach the kids that day! 

*Hannah starts crying*

Matty: I can’t believe you’re crying! 

FP: This just shows how close you are. 

G33: We were saying the same thing. You hear about us as a collective or as a group but people don’t see the other side to it. When we aren’t working we are all going out, we are really good friends. We spend a lot of time together. I feel that separates us from a lot of people. The love we have for each other really resonates. 

Hannah: My dads a DJ so music has always been in my household. I started DJing when I was 20 and I’m 26 now. So 6 years! I always had the equipment in my home but never got into it. We had a family party once and I started messing about on the deck and after that I was like yeah this is what I want to do. 

G33: There is this girl called Jade who is from Liverpool and comes to pretty much all our sets. She even came up to us and said – stuff it I am buying a controller and now DJing! Posting things on her IG and all sorts! 

FP: How would you go about getting sets when you start out?

Matty: It’s just a case of putting yourself out there on instagram or whatever and having fun whilst doing it! Good things will follow, trust me!

Sophia: People ask this quite a lot! You need to put the effort out there, Instagram is great for that. You need to post and also support other DJs, putting effort into going to other people’s events showing love. More than anything though it’s a case of not caring what you look like and just doing it. 

G33: Use Instagram as a CV! 

Matty: And bigging up other people, if you got something going on we want to be able to share that. 

FP: It is a community at the end of the day so that makes sense. Gotta show the love to those who need it. 

Matty:  Exactly! Even when we organise our own events, we try to get people involved and show support to both men and women. 

G33: Protecting our extended team (our friends) is something that’s really important to us too. We all work together, they are just as much part of GDS! Phoebe shoots all of our shows, Nas will do our admin bits, Kolade will dance as part of our set. Also protecting and celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community will always be something we fight for, we’ve got 0 tolerance to anyone who threatens that. We did have one incident though that he was subject to some nasty homophobia, Matty had to even get on the mic and say something, we refused to play until it was resolved. Security were refusing to remove the person from the crowd, they wouldn’t even let Kolade come on stage with us even though he was part of our entourage. Some people aren’t safe in these crowds and we wanted our friends on stage so that they can be safe and freely express themselves. He is an incredible dancer! The fact Matty had to get on the mic was silly, we refused to press play until this person was gone. We don’t tolerate behaviour like this and we will call it out live if we see it happening, it’s hugely important to us that everyone feels safe and free in our space. 

Matty: If you think we are being divas then that’s your issue. We are here to fight for people to be treated equally. 

G33: We refuse to play at any venue that doesn’t follow that same idea…… Hanger 34.

Sophia: We are now barred there. They said that we kicked up a fuss and we weren’t welcome back all because we tried to make sure our friend wasn’t going to get abused. 

G33: Fortunately enough after posting about that a lot of promoters in Liverpool have said they aren’t going to work with them anymore because of it. 

Matty: There are a handful of people within this industry that have really supported us since day one – shout out Conducta! He listens to everything we say, he supports and gives us the time of day. 

G33: We aren’t afraid to call something out! To have other promoters stand with us and listen to what we have to say really does make a difference. 

FP: Before we let you go we like to ask all of the people we get to interview if there is anything that they would like to share with the Footpatrol community to get them excited or could even be a message of positivity?

All: Support others around you and you will be supported, that’s what we live by and be yourself! It’s so easy to think that you need to be someone else but you just need to be the most authentic version of yourself. You will flourish because there is no one else like you! Your individuality and sexuality is your superpower! 

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Rasharn Powell | Frequent Players

05.12.21 Frequent Players

Rasharn Powell is the man of the moment. An emerging R&B star pioneering his own adaptation of R&B, soul, alternative, Hip-Hop and jooks of rhythm. 

Still in the early stages of his career, Rasharn Powell has been making his mark on the music scene through his soul inspired beats and conscious wordplay as an honest depiction of his life.

Celebrating this year’s success with the R&B EP ‘Dusk & Dawn’ garnering over 2 million streams, we reached out to Rasharn to talk about all things music, positivity and how style has inspired his musical journey. 

Read the interview below!

Footpatrol: Rasharn before we get into everything! How are you?

Rasharn Powell: I’m a good man, I’m blessed. How are you?

FP: I’m good, thank you! 

Tell us a bit about yourself and how your upbringing was. Did the place where you grew up shape who you are and how your music is voiced?

RP: I am Rasharn Powell, 26 years of age originally from Redbridge. Some might call it East London, others may say Essex, It’s just IG4 to me haha! 

Single parent household, I was raised with my sister by my mum and a lot of strong females within my family, my aunties, cousins and my grandparents. I would definitely say where I am from helped shape me into who I am today. I have lived in a lot of places in my life and I think the knock on effect of being in those spaces and the people I have met have helped shape me. So in answer to your question, yes. 

FP: Would you say that’s down to the diversity of the areas you’ve been to or more to do with the people you have immersed yourself around?

RP: I would say more so the people. For the most part, when I am in certain areas I try to take in everything around me, but it’s the people that you come into contact with that help push you in those directions. For me it’s mostly the people that I have connected with that have helped shape me into the man I am today. 

FP: At what age (or how early) did you realize that you had “that voice” – was it a family member, a friend, a stranger or just self proclaimed?

RP: When I was in school I used to love playing rugby but I also used to love singing. In school if you didn’t know my name they would just call me singer boy or the kid that dances haha! In year 7 I was singing in school assemblies, it’s always been one of my main passions. I found sport though, specifically rugby –  as a positive outlet especially for things like mental health. I remember being 16 ready to go to college thinking, am I going to pursue rugby or am going to dive in with singing and which made me feel the most alive when I did it. It turned out to be music. I couldn’t do both as no one would want to see a battered face sing to them. I decided from that point to really hone in on singing. 

My mum really helped along the way – and prior for that matter – to put me in singing lessons or with different people that she knew who knew more about singing and the industry itself. She used to say that she knew I was talented but needed to hear it from an unbiased view to make sure that I was as talented as she thought. Those different people help me get to where I am now. I feel it was mainly my mum and myself that really gave me that push to go for it. 

FP: Were you classically trained when it came to singing lessons?

RP: No. Mainly for me I didn’t want to eradicate the feeling that came across when I was singing. I wanted to make sure I knew how to control that. When it came to singing, it was more focused on breath control and being able to project your voice without doing any harm to it. I was trained by people who were classically trained but I didn’t want it to be as strict as that. For me if you attach something so strict to something so emotive like singing it then becomes almost feelingless. That’s not the case for everyone but it was so for me. 

FP: Who were your musical influences growing up? Was it a mix of older generations to the current artists/groups at the time and has that changed over the years?

RP: Growing up I was raised in a very musical household. Not that anyone played themselves but, when I would go to my grandparents they used to love throwing parties. They had a sound system that would run through the whole crib, so when it came to birthdays or whatever we would just be out in the garden setting music alight! Artists like Gregory Isaacs, Feris Hammond, Marica Griffiths would just play throughout the house. In terms of reggae being Jamaican it was something I was already very rooted in. At home though it was more those pop/r&b centred artists that my mum and my dad play all the time. Being at home with her, she would be playing the Brandys, Usher, even people like Westlife and Blue! My Dad on the other hand would play artists like your John Legends. I would have my ear like an applaurer of music. Once I grew up and started going to college and uni I made friends that introduced me to genres like Afrobeat and artists like Fela Kuti, Arctic Monkey, Ben Howard, Banks, Coldplay – essentially artists that are more focused by melodies or song writing. The focus is all about storytelling. With that I loved r&b but just wanted to make sure I was saying something within my music and construct it so that it tells a story or in a way that was clever.

FP: When writing a song/s, do you have someone in mind or do you tell it from someone else’s perspective? Is it based on past experiences or do you like to create and tell a story?

RP: I would definitely say that everything that I have written is based on past experiences. Everything that is on ‘Dusk till Dawn’ are my own stories, anything from past relationships, my view on the world and people that I have been in touch with who have affected me in some way. There are times when making music that hasn’t made it out, where I want to talk from another perspective. Those are the things that I develop a story around someone’s experiences in some way. But for the most part it is a depiction of my own life. 

FP: Are you the type of person to write your lyrics in a notebook?

RP: I don’t write my lyrics in books but I do journal. In terms of my thought process and what helps me have a cathartic moment everyday, that is something that allows my thoughts, worries, great ideas or things to reach towards come out. When I’m in the studio though I need something quick so that’s when I usually just use my notes on my phone or anything I can just get things down quickly on. Sometimes though when we are jamming I need to hear it back and write down the lyrics and piece them together so that they make more sense.

FP: Congratulations on 2 Million streams on not just one but two tracks off your mixtape ‘Dusk & Dawn’ (Smithereens and Warm In These Blue Jeans – the latter which was a single from 2019). Did you know that songs like these would take off or do you just create it and let the songs take their course?

RP: I wish I could have said yeah I know this one will take off. I don’t feel like you ever know, you get a bit of an incline but that may well be down to it being a special track for you. Sometimes the tracks that I get gassed about aren’t always received well instantly by people. That’s just how it is. I am just grateful regardless. The music that I put out I’m very intentional with what it is I am saying and releasing to the world. So whatever one it is that takes off, I am just grateful as it still represents a part of me. At that point it’s just allowing whatever takes off to take off. 

FP: When choosing the right beats to lay your creativity on, is there a certain instrument or chord that catches your attention? Your versatility is evident on songs like Warm In These Blue Blue Jeans which is a groovy take with baselines and spotty synths to Smithereens and Joyride which are more of a slower pace but head-bobbing side of things.

RP: Not really to be honest. What I go for is that feeling that when you play a beat makes me want to write. If it doesn’t make me want to write straight away, then it’s not right. Music to me should be easy. Of course writing and enveloping the story and all these things can be tough, trying to get out what you are trying to say. But, in terms of melody and what I am searching I expect it to just come like that! *click* 

FP: With some of the lyrics you have already pre written then what is it about the beat that helps you match it together with the lyrics?

RP: I always say, I am going to create because I have an urge and intention to create. Any time I go into the studio I have that same intention, so when I hear something that makes me feel inspired then I am going to attach whatever it is to sit on that. It doesn’t matter if I have used it on something else that was never released. It’s about getting the best out of what you are trying to say. That could be however many takes it needs to be as long as you’re happy with it. The song is before the beat for me, it’s the thing that comes first, I want to be able to sing it completely acapella and make sure everyone else can do so also. If that isn’t happening then to me it’s not a great song. It’s the excitement that comes with it, if Sam or Niel play me something or any of the producers that I have worked with play me something and it gets me excited then I just feel like I need to share something and it just happens.

FP: I hear that, if the moments right , the moments right. 

RP: Exactly. For example when we played you some of the new stuff I wrote that – Niel what was it like 30mins?

Niels: More like 30 seconds! 

RP: Other songs though I sometimes need to come back to. I could have written one part or the main aspect but need to return to complete it fully. Sometimes you need to take yourself away from the situation to come back with fresh ears and go again. Imagine all the ideas that just die. 

FP: Just left them to do nothing. 

RP: Yeah and they weren’t inspired enough to want to do anything with it. In comparison to the amount of songs that are constantly coming out which is like 60,000 songs coming onto spotify everyday. It’s endless. 

FP: Do you have any artists that you would like to collaborate with?

RP: Andre 3000!

FP: Let’s take a little side step into your style and interest for trainers. Do you think your style was inspired by your musical journey or has it been something you have tried to immerse yourself of your own accord?

RP: Definitely my general interests, where I’ve been and what I have been affected by. I feel that people in general for the most part, if you are going to tap into that side of your brain. You are always going to be trying to search for inspiration in some way. That’s just what I am like. Anything that I decide to wear on a day to day basis is based on the reference points that I have collated in my mind. That’s why I chose these Asics besides the fact they are curated by Kiko. I knew it was the type of shoe I would want to wear based on my style already. That attention to detail is what plays in every single part of my life, whether that be my interior design interests, music I make or clothes that I wear. That is something that I think is very intentional, at the same time by chance too. You never really know what you’re going to end up falling into! My whole family dresses in a different way to how I dress. They always say that they never thought I would have dressed like this, but I wear it proudly knowing that this is who I am. You don’t feel like what you dress is weird until you’re in a situation where other people are wearing the same thing as you, that’s when you start to think that standing out is weird to some people. Just own it! 

FP: Before we let you go! Rasharn we like to ask our guests if they have anything they would like to share with the Footpatrol community and readers. Whether that’s something to get people gassed about or just a general message of positivity it’s up to you?

RP: I would just say go after what it is you’re inspired by and what makes your heart, mind and body feel alive. If you’re young and have no responsibilities go after what it is you want to do and if you’re older and have responsibilities still go after what it is you want to do.

There is also a lot of new music coming soon to watch out for! Otherwise, I am Rasharn Powell and that’s it! 

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