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Who the hell is VXRGO

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Who the hell is VXRGO

With a prior interest in interior architecture, it’s clear to see that amassing aesthetics, whether that’s sonics or physical textures, is integral to Monique Wilson aka VXRGO’s very being. Anyone that has managed to catch her on one of her many radio show appearances in only her first year on the scene will know; a deep-rooted love for all things bass emanates from every pour. With an undeniable presence that has turned the heads of many of the scene’s heavyweights, you can expect to see VXRGO continue her meteoric rise in 2023 and beyond. 

At the beginning of her twenties and at a time in her life when most of us are fixated on the next party and to escape the 9-5, Monique is bringing the party with her wherever she goes, immersing herself in every aspect of dance music. Hailing from the south of London, the city has become her playground and the last 12 months have been a series of adventures as she utilises networks to map out her journey and better her skill set in the process. 

Catching up with her ahead of what promises to be a summer to remember, we looked at what life is like right now for VXRGO, what she’s got planned and her ambitions for the future. 

How have things been for you?!

Yeah, things have been absolutely insane. Just trying to process it really, it’s all happening so fast.

I can only imagine! So, let me start by asking, what sparked your interest in collecting music to mix with?

I come from a very musical family, there was always music playing in the house. My mum would have Lilly Allen on and I would be skipping around the front room, but that changed when I turned 10. I started making mix tapes, just ripping tunes off YouTube and burning them onto a CD. They weren’t good, but it was about the mood! 

Yeah, you don’t care at that point, do you?

Exactly, I mean it’s fun, it was a different way to share music too. I kept this up through my teens and then when I was studying interior architecture and I saw an advert from Community Music who were running free DJ workshops. A friend of mine had heard my ‘Junglist’ playlist that I had on Spotify, she said you would play a great drum and bass set. I thought maybe I should look into this and see if I’m any good. In the beginning, obviously, you’re never fantastic but there was something there so I thought I should keep going. Of course, I’m a raver first and just going to raves, I felt like it wasn’t enough. I wanted to be closer to the music! I wanted to know everyone, I wanted to know everything about it. It made me think; I need to be a DJ and this is my only way in.

What were some of the first records you picked up?

In the beginning, it was a wide range of things, it wasn’t just jungle. I was picking up disco and reggae, I mix on CJDs though so it wasn’t really records as such, but just buying online. I still have a few, I’ve bought Pete Cannon’s releases, AKO, those sorts of records. I then started picking up a lot of Tim Reaper’s records, and Nia Archives and Sister Sledge for the disco. I’d also pick up a lot of UKG; Future Underground Nation, DJ Luck & MC Neat.

That’s crazy, I knew you had a varied taste in music but that is so mixed! It makes for such a nice melting pot when artists have that sort of taste. Have you always lived in London?

Yeah always, I’ve lived all over southeast London.

What is it you love about the place and has it given anything to your career in djing?

What I love about London is just the fact that it’s a melting pot for diversity, culture, creativity and talent. You can walk out your door and find the most creative person and you wouldn’t know it. That’s what I love about London, it’s just so diverse. There are some really good opportunities here if you look very carefully. I can only speak for myself here but it was really easy for me to find free DJ workshops to go to. They had equipment for me to practice on so in the beginning it was relatively cheap, I just had to pay for travel to get there. I really felt like this helped because the places I would go to had links to more workshops and a lot of people in the scene live in London so I found that this made things a little easier, getting into that scene I mean.  

What did life look like for you before you got your head into mixing?

Well of course I went to a lot of raves but I was on track to become an interior architect so it’s a total 180 from being a DJ and a producer, but that’s what life was looking like. I thought this was going to be a side hustle, I was actually going to start it this year because that’s when my course ended but I just decided that it wasn’t for me anymore. I just had to go with music and now I’m here!

You said you started during Covid, how have you found the landscape post-lockdown in London with regards to people’s attitudes toward booking up-and-coming talent?

I definitely think it is hard for up-and-coming artists. I think promoters are quite hesitant to book them. In the beginning, I won’t say I had an extremely hard time. I was reaching out to promoters, doing the work, sending my mixes off to radio stations & uploading to SoundCloud just as a portfolio. I do think it’s hard though because artists starting out don’t have that solid fan base yet even if this doesn’t mirror their talent, they could be extremely talented but promoters don’t think they will bring in a crowd. Usually, they’re just really keen and eager to play out. I can’t speak too much about myself in this respect as I felt I was given a lot of opportunities and met a lot of people along the way like Verity Raphael from Rave Report. She’s in the scene and knows a lot of people who are DJs and producers, I felt like she was really instrumental in my career. I just feel really lucky like that.

With that being said, have you felt the pressure to release music at a time when it feels like just having a good track selection and mixing style isn’t always enough?

I definitely feel like it is a lot of pressure. I enjoy making music of course but I feel like being a good DJ should be enough. If you’ve got a good track selection and you can keep a dancefloor moving for an hour or two, maybe even more if you get booked for that, that should be enough. I used to think it was too much pressure but I remember this interview with DJ Flight from back in 2004 and she said that it was better for her that she became a DJ first. That it was just good for her to get her name out there and then start producing because she knew the people that were making records. So, this mindset definitely has taken some of the pressure off, but it’s still there. People kept asking but I had to just say that I wasn’t ready. 

I’ve seen you’ve got a track finished called “It’s Not So Bad” and it’s been making its way into your mixes, what has the feedback been like?

Yeah! When I was in the stages of making it, I sent it out to a few people like my friends Polyphemus and Mantra, they both took the time to listen to the track and give feedback which was so nice of them. Then I went back and worked on it and now, it’s ready! I’ve been playing it out and putting it in my mixes, people have really enjoyed it. It’s really surprising because I’ve only been producing for 8 months so for people to actually want to play my tunes and think it’s of good quality, is really rewarding.

When you do produce, is there a particular genre you lean towards? 

 Jungle mainly but when I started making music, I was accidentally making techno, which was really strange but kind of cool! I really want to get into producing garage though as I’m a garage girl before I’m a junglist.

A lot of this industry is word-of-mouth based, in regards to recommendations I mean. How do you think that your work with Reform Radio, Mode Radio and other community stations has contributed to your (what appears to be) quick rise through the ranks?

I feel like it’s helped as it just shows people that I’m consistent and serious about playing music, playing out to people and sharing my love of music with people. It just gave me a platform to show people my skills and just to show how passionate I am about it. 

Talking of involvement with radio, you’ve landed a show with Kool FM under the new revival. Can you talk to us about how that came about for you?

I have to big up Jess for that, she’s one of the people on the Kool FM team. She hit me up on Instagram a few months back, in January, I think. She had seen the mix I did for the Rave Report zine launch and was so supportive of it, messaging me to say she’s like to get me involved. I was just shocked; I don’t think I spoke for about an hour! I couldn’t believe it, I kept thinking “Is this real? Is this really happening to me? Me on Kool?!” Even up until they announced it I still didn’t believe it, I’m still in disbelief. It’s such a shock but I love it. I absolutely love it.

You’ve landed up there with some weighty names for sure, is there anyone on the roster you’d like to get involved with in particular?

I’d definitely like to play for Flight or with Flight again. That would be wicked, she’s so lovely! I’d also love to play with Sweetpea because of her track selection and the way she just mixes her tunes… impeccable! When she plays I keep thinking ‘How did we get to that tune?’ and it’s ten tunes later. I’d love to be on a bill with Nia Archives, that’s really far in the future but she’s one of the reasons I got into mixing in the first place. There are loads of up-and-coming acts I’d love to play with too like 2QUID & MIDRIBQsermon too, but that’s Birmingham way. She’s so sick!

It’s clear to see and hear that you’ve got a very eclectic style and taste, do you worry that this may pigeonhole you during the first stages of your career or find it a blessing?

I definitely find it as a blessing, I play garage as well which not a lot of people know, even though it’s in my bio, but when I got booked for it about a month back I was very scared because it had become essentially foreign to me as I don’t play it out as much as I used to in the beginning. It was very nerve-wracking. It did end up being a really sick night though, at the moment I’m also finding it a blessing to just focus on one type. It’s much less expensive too.

I suppose this would also support involvement with labels looking to showcase multiple genres such as Deep Medi and DJ Flight’s “Black Herstory” stage. That must have been a crazy life moment to get that call, how did it all come about?

So Sweetpea actually hit me up and asked if I had any mixes to send to them so I just sent her a bunch of mixes, not really knowing what it was all about. Didn’t hear anything back so thought maybe she just wanted to hear what I was about. Then I had my radio show at the end of February and DJ Flight and Sweetpea tuned in, after that, I got an email from Flight saying she wanted to book me, and I was thinking “Errr yesss, I would love to do that, this is crazy!” I had been going to their sets, going to Rupture, seeing them and speaking to them. Just trying to build a relationship. I didn’t really think I was doing well but when I got that email I literally cried, I couldn’t believe it.

It was an incredible bill, and since then you’ve gone from strength to strength with your bookings, you’ve just come back from Amsterdam with the legend that is Pete Cannon and the N4 gang! How did you find that experience and what was the reception like from the Dutch crowd?

I thought it was beautiful! The Dutch crowd, really know how to party! They are really open, they are really there just for the music. How a rave should be, you know? I was actually quite nervous but I got up on stage, started playing my tunes, and looked up and everyone was dancing and cheering. People were putting their hands on the speakers and everything, I was thinking ‘This is crazy.’ It was so rewarding because I was nervous the whole weekend until that moment. It was wicked.

A whole lot closer to home now, but you recently played one of the after-parties for the Project 6 Festival. The 23 Degrees collaboration. How did the opportunity come about?

So it was 23 Degrees that booked me, back in December they had booked me to close for Interplanetary Criminal up in Brighton. It was absolutely wicked! I thought the crowd was going to leave as no one really knew me at that point, but they all stayed and all partied. It was such a vibe. The promoter wanted to book me again and knew I played jungle too and so a few weeks later he emailed to say there was an event in May if I was free. I said ‘Yeah?! I’m definitely free for that!’

To be going from uploading mixes on Soundcloud in May last year to now supporting the likes of Coco Bryce and Decibella, that’s a meteoric rise by anyone’s standards, how are you finding achievements like these?

I know! Exactly a year later, the end of May marked the time I uploaded my first mix to Soundcloud. Of course, that coincided with playing at the Project 6 after-party, which was insane! 

In your bio online it says you play; “funky house, UKG and jungle” What is it that grabs you about those genres specifically is it the breaks? That broken rhythm?

Yeah, the broken rhythm. It’s very unpredictable. I feel like that’s what goes on in my head anyway so just to have that musical way to express myself, it just feels like me to a tee. I grew up with UK funky and garage, my sisters would always play it around the house so it’s what I became used to listening to. With the vocals on those tracks, they’re just so soulful and I of course grew up with soul so it’s all of that feeling into it too. With jungle, yes… it’s the breaks, it’s the bass, it’s everything. All those different elements are at work.

It’s interesting to see you mention “liquid” in your bio. Give us a favourite liquid track to finish with?!

It has to be Rain God by Dawn Wall. For sure. It’s Sinead Harnett on the vocal sample. I think the song is called “If You Let Me” but it’s a beautiful tune and of course has that soul.

Follow VXRGO: Soundcloud/Instagram/ KOOL FM

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