Oh our collective gosh, it’s only bloody SHOSH!
Producer, DJ, broadcaster, 24 Hr Garage Girls founder and all-round UKG representer, SHOSH has a unique vantage point over the garage vista.
Not only is she an artist, champion and figurehead of the exciting new garage phenomenon, she’s also connected with some of the foundation pillars of the UKG movement such OG garage station KISS FM and original donnies DJ Luck & MC Neat who she’s remixed twice this year, including this killer 4×4 shakedown of seminal anthem Little Bit Of Luck just weeks ago.
Massive remixes aren’t even the tip of the iceberg for SHOSH this year, though. Fresh from a year of epic viral videos, international KISS broadcasts, huge compilation releases and major league releases, while 2021 will go down as one of the most wildly turbulent years of our time, she’s definitely made the most of it. We called her up to find out how things have been from her perspective…
A big growing year! I think a lot of people had no choice but to develop themselves and force themselves to grow or be left behind. It’s been brutal in that sense; many of us have had to push ourselves out of our comfort zones and put ourselves in different spaces. Personally, I’m a technophobe but I’ve had to overcome that in a big way. Obviously I love Ableton and my studio, but being online and creating content and using social media to maintain a relationship with fans and all of that type of stuff has been vital to continue doing what I do.
But change is important. It’s pushed the industry and pushed me and added a whole new load of skills to what I do. And that can’t be a bad thing. So I guess rebirth is the most positive vibe we can all take from this year isn’t it?
Definitely. It was last year too, wasn’t it? I know it was for you as you started on KISS last year, which I don’t think you expected to be doing. I saw an interview with you where you said you hated the sound of your voice!
Yeah definitely. It’s funny because I like the sound of my voice now, you can’t shut me up! KISS has been a saving grace in this madness. They’ve supported me so much I can’t begin to explain how much they mean to me and what they’ve done for me. Big shouts to Majestic, Rebecca and Andy for mentoring and supporting me. It’s not limited to radio, either. Through KISS I’ve made content, I’ve done major remix work for major labels, I’ve learnt how to produce a two hour show and all the background into content production. The whole thing has melted into a strong foothold for next year now.
That’s awesome. And you’re right; all these aspects do feed into each other. You mentioned productions just now, I wanted to highlight Girls as a massive thing you did this year with Charlotte Devaney. That went viral didn’t it?
It did a bit! We’re now almost on 2 million streams, which is crazy. What’s cool is that it was a track produced, manufactured and written by women, so it was grassroots, no management or labels involved. And I think because of those elements to it, it got us quite a lot of attention. It was so DIY, we produced that video for a grand and made it in four hours. Charlotte’s got an amazing team – big up The Wizard! – and we worked hard on pushing it from the ground up. It’s ours, you know? It’s actually being used on a Canadian TV show at the moment, which is pretty mind-blowing. So yeah that was a highlight of the year production-wise. And also remixing Jason Derulo, Shaggy, Black Eyed Peas… It’s been an exciting year considering what we’ve been through.
I’m a big fan of silver linings!
Definitely. There’s a whole spectrum of feelings about the whole experience. People feel blessed to have had the time they’ve had. Other people felt they had everything taken away from them. I think somewhere on that spectrum you have to find peace in what we’ve been through and capitalise on the things you’ve got. That’s what I’ve done with KISS and that’s what I’ve done releasing records.
And DJing when you could, too. Gigs since we’ve come out of lockdown have had serious 90s vibes!
It’s funny you say that. As DJs we’re in our own little bubbles and have our own view on things, but for the ravers, we’re their night out and their entertainment and we’re their expression. And I’ve definitely had that 90s vibe. From the ravers’ point of view there’s a sense of nostalgic revival. There’s a whole generation of ravers out there who spent that time at home looking at old rave footage and old documentaries and the free party movement and there’s been a sense of wanting that back now. Ravers are pushing for that raw rave energy again and the clubbing and music scene needs to adapt to that.
There are so many parallels with the 90s. Politically we’re in a similar situation and also garage was a product of the late 90s. Like the melting pot jungle was previously…
Yeah it had a little bit of house, jungle, r’n’b. It came through so many different genres. And right now there are a lot of new producers who are adding their own influences into the pot. So many people have come through in the lockdown with exciting sounds, but have yet to play in the club. We need them to be part of live events and I think it’s coming.
Another really exciting thing we’re also seeing is big commercial acts jumping on the UKG sound. Stefflon Don’s released two garage tracks in the last two weeks. One with Jax Jones and another with Clean Bandit. Rudimental have also done two garage records. Anne-Marie has, Mabel has, AJ Tracy, has. They’re all planting the seeds which will eventually erupt in a massive garage jungle. I can see the seeds being planted and I’m proud to championing that.
You’re foraging in the undergrowth! The music is in a very healthy place!
Definitely. And it can come at you from so many different angles – it can be sweet and sassy, hard and pounding and obnoxious and rude. I can play everything on the radio and in the club and keep the energy going. Some tunes are underground anthems, other tunes make a-list playlists, but everything has got that club energy. World domination for UKG in 2022. You won’t be able to escape it!
Ha! What have your radio highlights been this year?
One highlight was doing my first live show from Outlook Festival in Croatia. KISS wanted to get live events into the show, so they were like, ‘We’ll send you this equipment, some mics, cameras and everything and off you go!’ I had all this stuff I’d never used before! It was scary but such an honour to represent KISS and be out there and be responsible for bringing it back to audiences at home. And them trusting me to do that.
No crew, just DIY?
My best mate Morgan did it, she came out on a jolly and it was just us two. I’m raggo; give me the equipment and I’ll get out there and come back with something special!
I’d have expected a big sound and camera crew, but that’s more relatable to fans at home. A passionate artist capturing things people can relate to!
Exactly. I’m here for the realness. There are better reactions to you appreciating a moment and thanking people and promoting things being real. It’s really important to be real because there’s far too much smoke and mirrors around right now. And I guess always has been.
But on the other hand, we went up to Creamfields with a massive crew and we had the KISS Jeep and the camera crew and everything and the content from mine and Majestic’s set was incredible. It was like ‘was I really there?’ So we do it all; KISS can execute a very sharp and polished after-movie just as effectively as they can enable someone like me to capture something much more raggo from Outlook.
What was that first trip overseas post-lockdown like?
I couldn’t wait to get away! I felt like a caged animal that’s just been let out. Even at the airport me and my mate were getting shooters and champagne like, ‘Yes finally!’ But sadly I had to go into a 10 day isolation because someone on my plane tested positive on the way back and I was meant to go on a 12 city tour with 24 Hr Garage Girls, which we had to cancel. I was gutted and felt even more like a caged animal. But you’ve got to do it haven’t you?
Ah man. That’s a perfect example of the highs and lows of 2021!
Yeah it was painful . We have an amazing team, big up Leanne, Louise and Kelsie, they’re amazing women. We got choreo dancers, too, so it’s a big team that tours with me. But because I’m the DJ and it’s my brand, if I don’t go, nobody goes. It wasn’t just me losing out, it was promoters, it was the performers, the dancers, it was a whole eco system that got shut down. I feel like people were angry at me, but no one could say it.
Be angry at covid person on the plane!
Exactly! And I didn’t even catch it from them.
Well that’s good. 2021 actually started off with a massive 24 Hr Garage Girls compilation didn’t it?
Yeah we did! And we’ve got an even bigger one coming out at the start of next year, too! It’s got so many bangers on there, I can’t wait to show it off.
Any bangers from yourself on there?
Actually yes. Me, Louise and Leanne have a track called Just Words. It’s what you’d expect form us – loads of M1 organ, it’s got some pretty poppy harmonies, I’m very happy with it. I wanted to release it as a single, but what good is a compilation if you’re not putting your best stuff on it, right? I’m really excited about it.
I was pretty excited to hear your recent remix of DJ Luck & MC Neat’s With A Little Bit Of Luck. You also remixed Masterblaster earlier this year. How did you link up?
Me and Neat keep linking up. He’s such a joker, the energy between us is great. We’re very informal, like a family. I did Masterblaster for the love, I did both for the love, actually, because I think they’re great records. It’s jokes with those guys. What’s cool is that I’m a new garage artist, but Luck and Neat for me are the pinnacle of where we came from and I think it’s important to have that unity and respect between the old and new school.
Yeah we’re seeing that a lot in D&B and it’s really important to have that mutual respect between the different generations. What’s your relationship with A Little Bit Of Luck? Guessing you were pretty young when this came out?
I have a great relationship with it. I fondly remember listening to it on a discman that fit in my pocket in my ridiculously baggy jeans. I’d be on the bus with my day saver and be listening tracks like A Little Bit Of Luck, Sambuca and all those tunes that were popping back then. Joy by Ruff Ryder, Ministry Of Sound compilations, Pure Garage compilations. I think when A Little Bit Of Luck came out it was 1999 so I was a young teen at the time, busy arguing with my parents on how late I could stay out on millennium eve.
Haha. Was there any pressure remixing such a big record?
Not as much as you’d expect as there were no stems or even an accapella. So I didn’t have to over-think it or worry about not using the vocal enough or anything like that. I just went on vibes and made it in a day. I really liked what I’d come up with so I played it to 10 people. Seven people loved it. Three people hated it. It was a bit Marmite. So I chatted to Joel Luck and he said, ‘Go with your guts, fuck everyone else. If you feel it, you’re the one playing it and getting behind it, then go for it.’ You’re never going to please everyone, it’s such a big anthem that it means different things to different people. For me I’ve always loved how it’s one of the most perfectly written UK garage tracks so I’m not going to mess with that and make a two-step tune. That’s been done to perfection so I wanted to take it in a different direction!
Yeah very good shout. So what do you want to see more of in 2022?
Female producers please!
I’m glad you haven’t touched on it, because it seems like every interview I do I’m being asked about what it’s like to be a girl in the scene and I think there are other more important things to say.
Totally. It’s counter-productive. I don’t ask male artists about what it’s like to be male. Unless the article is about diversity then there are always more important things to talk about… Like the music!
I agree. It does have to be touched on, of course. I think the thing is we’re told to write bangers, write massive tunes that light up the dancefloor and you will get booked. Promoters won’t live without you or do a certain genre without you on it. That’s the rule of thumb for guys so why shouldn’t that be for women? I don’t want to see women getting pity handouts or political handouts. So we need to get into the studio!
It takes a long time, it’s not easy, it’s a skilled vocational career but if you don’t have those skills and that vocation then you won’t get past the glass ceiling. And even though my career has been slow, I feel the people who support me know it’s real. They know I make my own tunes and I’ve built my brand up from the ground up. I hope to see more people put in that time and put those vocation roots down.
The most important thing, I believe, is access. For example, I was looking for a laptop toy for my daughter. There’s a blue laptop and pink laptop – the pink one has less functions on it. That’s what needs to change, to make girls feel more comfortable or belonging in the studio…
Totally! The constructs and social conditioning are destructive and I think society is better than ever at opening that up, changing things and making things more androgenous between male and female spaces.
100% and allowing people to be themselves and not fit into these constructs
Definitely. And I think with music it’s very difficult because there are two very separate sides which you have to fulfil at the same time. There’s the creative, loving side of it and the business side of it. I’m a business woman and I’m also a songwriter. I used to be in bands and I’m used to being among men and putting my elbows out like ‘it’s my turn!’ Pushing myself into the situation and being like, ‘Fuck all you guys, I’m going to do it better than you!’ That’s in my blood, I’ve got four brothers.
Oh wow with that many siblings you’ve got to fight anyway, right?
Literally. The last biscuit in my house would involve fists! The same with playing the last tune! But I will say, it’s very easy to have a go at promoters for not putting on nice balanced line-ups. But they’re businessmen and, like I have as an artist, they’ve put their whole lives into this. I don’t want to see a festival lose money because they’re booking for equal or political reasons or because it looks good. Promoters need to make their money and crowds need to want to see a diverse line-up perform.
That’s back to the seeds isn’t it. The jungle of equality is growing and it’s not a quick fix. This is the foundations for next generation and things will be different when we do 2031 According to SHOSH feature. You are currently setting the example.
Haha. Absolutely. That’s the best thing about 24 Hr Garage Girls. Only having women on stage. As well as being killer songwriters and performers, these girls host and hold it down! They tell everyone to get down, they tell everyone to go nuts. It’s a gang, it’s women, there’s no sexuality about it, it’s just a full on rave, things are getting locked down, it’s popping off and it’s women doing that. And there’s nothing to stop that happening week-in, week-out. So it’s nice to see our diary getting fuller and fuller, and it’s nice to see people having faith in us to do that. The more that happens, the more we’ll see balanced line-ups for all the right reasons. Bring it on!