G - So, to start with, who are you?
A - My name's Alice, I'm a 23 year old North London girl. Some of you might know me as one of the resident ATG DJs..
G - North London, where abouts?
A - I live in Kentish Town and crew up here for most of my life as I went to Camden School For girls. But only moved here 2 years ago with my family.
All my teenage years were spent growing up in Camden/ Kentish
G - Ah ok. My mate comes from round there and she's bang into her UK hip hop and shit. Is that the same for you?
A - Yeah definitely, when I started buying vinyl the UK Hip Hop scene was thriving. That was the time of Jehst, Task Force, Klashnekoff, Rodney P. Kung fu was the night that you had to go to, the place to be! I would go to a lot of nights that would make me excited about music.
Sarah Love was instrumental in my DJ career. Seeing her at all the UK HH nights in Camden really pushed me to stick at it.
G - So what about Sarah Love inspired you? Did you know at the time that's what you wanted to do?
A - At that time, I was a bedroom DJ and wasn’t very good. I saw it more as a hobby and just enjoyed buying music and digging in the crates. I didn’t take it that seriously and would go through phases of practicing loads and then would stop. But when I would go to shows and see Sarah play it made motivated to get to that level. She really set the bar, I've got a mixtape of hers that she did years ago and can still listen to it over and over.
To be honest only about 2/3 years ago did I start to get good. I bought my first pair of decks when I was 15.
G - It's funny you should say that. I did a similar thing, but more tied to garage. I got decks when I was 15 and was fucking awful. I only just bought decks again recently and started doing it properly.
I think with girls it's a lot easier to get distracted. Men seem to work really well on one thing. If it's DJing they will go all out till they get it, same with making beats etc. Girls are a lot more, flirtatious shall we say!
So how did you actually start DJing? When did you first pick up a needle?
A - A youth project organization called Bigga Fish used to come to myschool and do after school DJ workshops. There were a few places left so they asked my year if anyone was up for getting involved. We would mix a lot of garage, so that's what I actually started on. We alsodid the dance classes and would then dance on stage at the forum in Kentish town where they would hold under 18 raves. Very funny when I look back now, there was a crew of us and we thought we were so bad! Those were the days when I was verging on rude girl!
A - When I think back, it actually shocks me to think what would go on. Girls and boys having competitions to see how many people you could pull, dressed up in themed outfits – “We’re the angels ‘cos we’re so sweet!”
G - haha, I think we've all been there! Under 18s raves...
Oh the shame!
G – Cringe!
A - But back to the comment that you said about boys sticking at things better. It would frustrate me that my boy mates would pick up skills like that a lot easier than me. Maybe it’s the way our brains operate. My friend learnt how to DJ in one day, who was a boy.
G – Wow.
A - Whereas for me it took years to get good and have the confidence to play out. I was having a conversation with someone about this the other day, I think men think in a more formulated way. That's why there are fewer good female producers.
G – How do you mean, formulated?
A - In a sense that men think in a more logical way. For example some men are good at making things work and filling in the gaps, not that women aren’t.
We're both made in very different ways and some things just come easier to men, the same with women. Maybe that's a reason why there are fewer female DJs, producers. Although they are out there and more are coming though, and the ones that are, are smashing it, take Ikonika for example. She’s headlining most nights now, and she’s good at both Djing and making beats. Not just OK, but good. That's where I want to see myself as a DJ. If I'm gonna do this I’m gonna do this properly. Not just be OK, be really fucking good.
G - All girls I have spoken to, and my opinion also, is that if you're a girl in music you need to be above your game. You can't just be ok as everyone's gonna expect you to be below par.
A – Hit the nail on the head. So true.
G - Although in fairness, I've never had anyone be too badmind. Most guys have been ridiculously supportive.
A - Yeah completely, never had anyone be rude to me personally although have heard some stories. Something Ikonika told me once when i was interviewing her a while back- someone came up to her and said all women should play in their underwear, just some stupid drunk man. That’s the only negative response I’ve heard. But I think for both men and women it's programmed that girls are gonna be crap at DJing, so when you do a standard mix, even that’s impressive.
G - I just find that guys think it's ok to come up to the booth and make requests, or ask you to play 'good music'. I don't think they'd do the same if it was a male DJ cos they know they'd knock them out.
A – Haha! Really you've had someone ask you to 'play good music', char!
G – On more than one occasion! I mean, I thought everyone like Shaggy – Boombastic ;)
Anyway, you're kinda proving them all now. What’s going on at the present and in the near future?
A - Well right now I'm juggling a few things but for this year I need to concentrate on finishing my final year at uni. I also do a club night called Deviation with Benji B and our colleague Zainab. I really wanna get into making beats but need the time to get into it, and want to perfect my DJing first. Most things I’ve wanted to achieve I’ve managed to, I think if you work hard enough the time will pay off. I would love to let DJing help me travel the world, that’s ideally where I’d like to be in a year. International bookings baby!