From pinching DJ Ron records from her dad’s record collection to travelling Europe mixing house and garage in a choppy double-droppy drum & bass style; rising new-gen D&B DJ Harriet Jaxxon has been studying deep D&B craft pretty much since birth. And it’s beginning to pay off.
One of Ram Records’ main residents of choice, and recently announced as one of Andy’s guests for his sold out second series of XOYO, Harriet may be a new name to the game but she’s come up the old fashioned way…. Fake IDs, weekly residencies and a deep passion for the whole genre, both its many subgenres and its rich history.
With 2019 shaping up to be her busiest and most high profile year so far, we caught up with the professional dancer-turned-selector to find out more…
Take us back to early times. Where it all began….
Super early on, like earliest memories, are my dad with his record collection. He had some Jungle records and I remember picking out a few records of his at the time by Roni Size and DJ Ron. So it’s always been there. Then, as I got older and into my teens, it was Chase & Status’s More Than A lot album. That really grabbed my attention. And from there I got involved, sneaking into raves underage whenever I could. I would get jobs giving out flyers and once I hid in a broom cupboard to sneak in through the smoking area to get into the club.
Yeah! I actually got caught adding numbers onto my passport once haha. That was around 2009. I spent a few years giving out flyers for clubs locally then started going to Fabric and Matter, for nights like Ram and Hospitality. I was still underage at that point.
What was the stepping stone from straight up raver to DJ for you?
I did a music tech course at college. Through that I started hanging with local promoters who were putting on dubstep and D&B events at the time in Whitstable. They showed me the ropes and how to DJ and that was my training ground.
Cutting your teeth!
For sure. I spent quite a few years doing local stuff and experimenting with different styles. Even though my first interest was D&B I was playing trap, old school hip hop and moombahton. I especially love playing hip hop. The classics are an ongoing inspiration.
Do you do you do any turntablism?
I have a pair of 1210s that I mix on but have never properly delved into the skill of scratching I spent a year or two mixing hip hop and then found myself mixing more house and UK garage but I do a lot of chopping and double dropping in my house and garage sets. I was mixing a lot of old school UKG when Ministry Of Sound noticed me. They got in touch and asked me to be one of their tour DJs.
When was that?
That was two and a half years ago and it took me around Europe for a few years. I was playing in the London club quite a lot and did most cities in the UK.
That’s a proper schooling. Having to be ready for any mix scenario wherever they send you…
Oh totally. It was such a good lesson. I had to improvise. Sometimes I’d play a Uni freshers crowd, the next week it would be a techno crowd in Austria, the next it would be like a wedding with people twice my age expecting classics. It made me expand my library and really think on my feet. At the start I’d panic and think ‘shit no one is feeling the vibe’ but now I know it will be okay, because I’ve learnt how to work my set differently on the fly.
So when did the switch back to D&B happen?
I got booked to play before Shy FX one month and decided to play straight D&B and loved it. It reminded me of the energy you get that’s unique to drum & bass. At the time, I was mainly recognised for playing House and UKG, but personally the energy and feeling you get from D&B is very unique. I put a few mixes up and Ram got in touch. That was about a year ago and it spiralled from there.
Sounds like you’ve always been mixing it. A good blend of classic reference points, 3 decks blends going on…. D&B has its own unique style of mixing doesn’t it.
It’s funny, what would get people’s attention at that time, was the fact I applied a D&B mixing style to other genres. I quick mixing and double drops, which was unexpected in that environment. With the older tunes I’ve just been really interested in the history and reading about the culture and movement. I collect vinyl and books about it and that’s how I’ve discovered tunes and play tunes from before my time.
Do you still raid your dad’s collection for classics?
All the time. Latest thefts were Frankie Knuckles – Beyond The Mix LP and Stone Roses – One Love 12″. I buy a lot of used vinyl for myself too, my favourite record shop right now is Flashback on Bethnal Green Road.
If you could go back to any period of dnb for just one rave when would it be?
There’s a lot… But Metalheadz at the Blue Note in the 90s would definitely be one. I’ve heard stories about icons like Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and Noel Gallagher rolling through and I love that supermodels and traditional rockstars from a more mainstream culture would cross over into an authentic, underground drum & bass context. I do love a warehouse rave, but I also like the idea that drum & bass is diverse enough to provide a more sophisticated vibe too.
Speaking of parties, what’s been the craziest gig you’ve had so far?
This year, for the scenery alone, playing outside 7000ft up the side of a mountain in St Moritz for Ministry of Sound was pretty epic. Everyone there was going IN and losing themselves… In a good way! It was quite a surreal evening. Probably something to do with the altitude also haha. Crowd-wise, Southbeats festival in Kent. Crowd reaction, the production and being on a vibe behind the decks… All on point.
Seems like music takes over every aspect of your life, but what’s happening when music isn’t the focus?
Before I was mad into music, I was a dancer and training at Pineapple Dance Studios in Covent Garden, maybe that’s where I got my rhythm from ha ha.
That’s a famous dance school so you must have considered pursuing that as a career?
Oh yeah totally. I was with an agency and did it professionally for a while and I actually had a place at the BRIT School and was ready to go and do just that. But I randomly got diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Having that and doing a very active job is very complicated, so I had to let it go. By then I’d got deep into the music so it didn’t feel like a hard decision to make.
Yeah I saw an Insta pic of you in hospital. How much does this affect your role as a travelling DJ?
That photo was from when I was first diagnosed thankfully, so I’m lucky not to have spent any time in hospital because of it since then. It actually affects everything I do every day; more than most people realise. But eight years on it has become second nature to just do my best living with it in the best way I can. I’ve come to an understanding that the only way I will learn about what I need to manage it is by making mistakes. So there have been many ups and downs, which is difficult when away from home, but I am always observing and researching how to stay aware of how it affects me personally, physically and mentally… This probably isn’t the easiest lifestyle considering, but I’ve also learnt along the way, that everyone has something they are dealing with in life and it’s all about perspective.
Amen! What’s in store for 2019 then?
I’m excited to be performing at Snowbombing, Rampage and Andy C’s XOYO at the start of 2019. It’s a first for me on all of these shows and can’t wait for all of them. I’ve also got quite a few festival announcements happening around this time so I’m really excited for 2019 as a whole…