Earlier this year Manchester DJ Indika received a text message that was so out of the blue and next level she threw her phone across the room in disbelief. That text was from Chase & Status.
They were inviting her to play at their RTRN II Jungle launch party and everything for Indika changed from that moment. But if you were paying attention to her Bloc 2 Bloc mixes in the 18 months running up to this moment, you got the impression it was only a matter of time something big would happen. A savage selector who’s guaranteed to slay you with dubs you’ve never heard and just as likely to cut you in half with a scatty jungle track as she is with a heaving halftime cut, her energy and passion for the music she was already turning major heads and causing hype. Now she’s unavoidable… And all eyes are on her to see what she does next.
We won’t have to wait for long. Next year is already stacking up with many more phone-throwingly high profile shows and tours. She’s also busy in the studio. But don’t expect anything to rush out on that front. You’re not going to hear an Indika production until she’s happy with the sound she’s carved and she’s 100% happy with her own work… And not anybody else’s, as she explains in this feature.
Fiery, frank and fiercely realistic about how things have accelerated to the big league so quickly this year, and the pressures she now faces, Indika does not hold back. Her story captures some of the best things about 2019 in D&B – the rise of female artists, the crucial role Bloc 2 Bloc plays in breaking new generation talent, the impact of Chase & Status’s work this year and the zero-fucks fusion of styles available to play right now – but best of all it captures the start of her really exciting career. This is how 2019 has been from Indika’s razor sharp perspective…
You’ve had a mad year…
Mad mad. If I’m honest it’s been the last six or seven months that’s been proper mad. The start of this year and the end of this year have been completely different.
Take me back to the start of things. I first became aware of you through Bloc 2 Bloc. I’m sure a lot of people did.
Yeah totally. I got to big up Bloc 2 Bloc. Jack never stops! There are some people who graft don’t they? Like I’ve just winged it but Jack grafts his little ass off from the minute he wakes up to the minute he goes to bed. I’ve got maximum respect for that man. I feel like he’s made drum & bass a bit more real, you know? In my perspective I’ve found drum & bass a bit snobby and cliquey but Bloc 2 Bloc is just real. You know what I mean? Anybody can get on it. It’s open to anyone who wants to do it.
Have you had experiences with cliques or snobbery then?
Nah, I just see it a lot. The scene’s been alright with me. I mean people have underestimated me a lot but I love that. That’s my superpower. I love shocking people.
Underdog vibes. I guess that’s down to the fact you’re female?
100% mate but you know what? I think it’s a good time for females. In this generation we’re in now there’s more of a gap for a female to come through who’s got talent than ever before. I don’t play one female’s music, that speaks volumes to me. Females say we don’t get enough opportunity, yes you do. You’ve got to do everything that’s in your power to make it happen because the opportunity is there. Just look at what happened to me; I was getting shoved on line-ups before I could even mix.
I’d ended up speaking to Jack [Banner] online because I’d bought a controller, I knew what I wanted to do but I had some questions about the controller and before I knew it he had me on the stream. He does that kind of thing. I didn’t expect it to happen so quickly, I just wanted to learn to mix a bit. My dad is a producer and DJ. Not drum & bass, just house and bounce.
So you’ve grown up to the backdrop of DJ culture?
Oh yeah, I was helping him with the rigs when I was a kid. He got me on the decks at 10 years old but it didn’t stick on me because the music didn’t stick on me. It was all kinda donk and bounce and things like that.
Did you think you’d go in this direction at all then?
When I was growing up I didn’t think I would at all. But when I started going raving I experienced the different side to things. I went to a lot of free parties, I was 14 going out raving so I could only go to places where they’d let me in. Then I started going to drum & bass nights with my older mates then came of age and just started going fucking everywhere. Then I went to Boomtown, I was at Sector 6 and it all just clicked. I was tripping my balls off, if I’m totally honest, and it was one of them moments like ‘I don’t want to be down here, I want to be up there spreading the vibe. I know these tunes, I could probably play better tunes, what you fucking doing?’ I got home, told my dad I wanted to be a DJ and he put me I the studio and told me to download 30 tunes and got on the decks. He let me do my thing and told me to practice every day.
The best DJs come from the dancefloor!
I feel like you have to. People feel the passion. I’m not the best DJ in the world, I don’t make my own music, but people enjoy my sets because I got the passion. I love the music from the rig side. You need to know what a raver wants.
You need to look them in the eye!
Yeah I love those sets when you’re close enough to do that. The bigger sets put you further away from the crowd and that changes things the communication a bit.
But you have played some massive sets this year!
Yeah trust me man haha
This kicked off with the Chase & Status booking didn’t it?
Yeah. I was doing a couple of bookings, I was warming up for guys like Andy C and Randall. It was good but nothing was properly kicking off yet. Then around June I was chilling at mine and I got a text message off Chase & Status. Me and my mate Kas were sitting there pissed off at the time. I’m fucking skint, I’m fucking hungry, might as well spark up another fag. One of those moany days. Then I picked my phone up, read the message and threw my phone across the room. She was like ‘what was that?’ I told her to pick it up and read it because I couldn’t read it again. She said ‘you jammy little cunt…’
We couldn’t cope. I was fucking buzzing. Next thing I know I’m playing in London, some mad little warehouse. It was such a vibe. It was very different. When I got that booking people were saying ‘it’s funny how a girl can put on a belly top and get these bookings I’ve been trying to get for years.’ Bare people commenting on it. But a lot of people – people I don’t even know – were fighting back saying ‘mate she’s harder than most these men in the dance’ I was crying. It’s not my fault innit. You go and wear a belly top.
Hahah. I guess was there an instant reaction to this?
It blew up in the same week and I had loads of bookings coming in. Lots of bigger nights and higher slots on the bill. It’s been a bit of a blur because it’s been a lot of pressure so I’ve just tunnel-visionned to focus and shut out a lot of what’s going on around me to stay on top of it.
You’ve obviously not shut out the music though because you’ve got tunes! How’s 2019 been for you musically?
Right now it seems like there’s a lot good shit about but there are also a lot of samey foghorns. That’s why I’ve been playing a lot of halftime and scatty jungle shit. You go to a night and it’s the same tune over and over.
The beauty of a foghorn was they come out of nowhere and took you by surprise…
Now they’re bloody everywhere. But producer-wise there are some wicked producers making amazing tunes full stop. Chimpo, Sam Binga, Saxxon, Serum obviously. Stompz is a proper underdog too. He’s got jungle tunes which he’s never put out and they’re sick! Metalheadz would want them. Hedex’s rollers are the same.
I’ve heard. So I gotta ask the obligatory question about production. Guessing making music is on the agenda in the future…
100% I’ve been invited in the studio with people but I’m not ready for that yet. I’ve been producing for six months and I’m only just starting to feel happy about what I’m hearing but I know I’ve got a long way to go. You can’t rush this shit and because of the pressure people are putting on me I’m not going to rush it. It’s a lot to deal with. And because I’m female, as much it’s not judgemental it kinda is. If I put an EP out and it’s using sampled loops then everyone will say something about it. But a male artist in the same kinda hyped position as me can put a fucking looped break on something and it pops off with no one batting an eyelid.
That’s sad but true. That does put extra pressure on…
I’m very picky about things anyway and I know I can do this off my own back. I won’t be pushed in the studio with someone. You know how many man have offered to ghost-write for me?
As in ‘yo, I’ll do you a beat and you can put your name on it’?
Exactly that. Big artists too.
Proper dark. People who are supposed to be mates, too. It’s like ‘okay mate, I see you shining.’
Not into that. I’ve been writing about this for a very long time. The people who last the longest are the ones who’ve done things by themselves and on their own terms…
Yeah that’s it. I’m not jumping to anyone else’s tune. Even close mates and my girlfriend have said ‘why not ask someone like Bou to make you a tune.’ But that defeats everything I’m working on. Plus people can hear other people’s productions. You can hear a good producer’s tune. I’ve made tunes with people and they’ve said for me to put my name on it but I’ve said no because I can hear it’s their tune. It’s not my sound yet.
Those sessions are more about absorbing the process and learning
Yeah totally. Every time I do a session I learn from it. But I’m not putting my name on anything because people will only use my name as clout. They’ll earn from it more than I will at this stage. People want to hear what I’m capable of. I want to hear what I’m capable of but it’s gonna take me some time and we’ll all have to wait a bit.
Plus you don’t have to release or upload everything you make!
Yeah I learnt that this year. To begin with just putting out good content is the best step in the right direction to get yourself heard. But once you’ve established a name you can’t do that anymore. Like I can’t do Bloc 2 Bloc every week like I used to.
It devalues things a bit if it’s on tap I guess
Totally. Plus things should never be samey same.
More of the same next year though?
There’s some mad stuff in the pipeline. Summer next year I’m going to be touring New Zealand and Australia. I’m doing another tour in Europe and loads of other stuff I’ve been told I can’t talk about yet. I’m just buzzing mate.