“Mollie Collins has risen quicker than anyone I’ve seen in my career…”
The words of none other than Mampi Swift on this site last September. He wasn’t lying.
For a DJ who first played out in May 2015, and has yet to release a single tune, 20-year-old Mollie’s rapid game elevation is pretty rare. Tearing her way into the genre with impressive energy and an eclectic style that’s rooted in jump-up but resonates across the board, in less than two years Mollie has gone from local club resident to a key name on major rave line-ups across Europe, playing to crowds of thousands. Last year alone she played over 100 shows, 10 festivals and continues to hold down a weekly Monday residency in her Kent hometown.
This year looks even crazier with some of her biggest shows to date lined up in the coming weeks alone. It will also be the year she develops a discography. Having done things the classically trained ground level way – quitting her job and immersing herself in club culture in every possible way as a DJ, a VJ, a street team trooper and an event promoter – she is now ready to drop her first production: A collaborative bootleg of Ed Sheeran’s Shape Of You with Rushmore.
Originals are expected imminently after. But first, she’s playing at one of our biggest UKF events to date: London’s brand new venue Printworks alongside Sub Focus, Feed Me, Dimension, Netsky, Friction and many more on February 11.
But before that… This is where Mollie is at right now. And the highs and lows of how she got here.
I’ve been called everything, I’ve had everything people can say to me flung at me. It was upsetting at first but now it’s just like ‘hey I’ve heard it all before, there’s nothing you can say I haven’t heard’ I just use it as inspiration to go back on the decks and have a mix.
Let’s go back to the start… Your first D&B experience were squat raves, right?
Yeah. That was an eye-opener! Mad parties. Jayline and guys like that were playing, it was the first time I’d heard like proper serious jump-up through a system and it blew me away. Before then we used to go to BPM under 18 raves but this was a whole other world.
How did you get into that world?
We went to a BPM rave in London but it was cancelled. We’d made the way to London so thought ‘fuck it, let’s party anyway!’, met some randoms and went with them to this squat rave. It was proper weird but we went to quite a few because we were all too young to go to big raves so this was our alternative.
Didn’t you have a sketchy experience at them?
Sketchy as hell. One of my mates got beaten up and that was our last one. We were all old enough to go to proper nights by then. It was a mad entry point into the music though.
And explains your signature jumpy sound too!
I was really into jump-up for a while then started going to Ram nights and raves like that and got really into the mainstream and harder sounds. But one day I was having a mix and playing around with Calyx & Teebee’s Elevate This Sound. I really love the vocals but wanted something dirtier so mixed it with a jump up tune. It worked really well and I’ve been mixing the two sounds a lot more ever since.
I call that DJ Hype school of DJing. Melting pot vibes – no worries about subgenres!
Definitely. I love every subgenre – if it’s in the right key and it sounds right then it goes in the mix. I think some DJs get a little cautious about breaking out of subgenres too much because they’ve got really loyal and supportive fanbases. Plus there’s already a lot of DJs in that subgenre they might want to explore so they might be a little nervous to try and establish a sound in that style. I see it with quite a few jump-up guys and it must be quite a strange position to be in.
Is this something you’re aware of as you start to release productions yourself?
Yes. I think people might expect more jump-up stuff from me but I’ll produce what I want at the time just like I play what I want at the time. That’s the style I’ve developed as a DJ.
Quickly too – your first set was less than two years ago. I heard you quit your 9-5 and worked in a club to study the art and be involved in the scene as much as possible?
Yeah I did. I quit my job and started working in a club called Mojos in Kent. This was a good year before I became a DJ. I started street promoting and then did the lights and visuals. That’s what really sealed it for me – being in booth watching all these sick DJs like Jack Frost, Frankee and more. It was so wicked to see close up so I bought decks and have annoyed my mum ever since!
Is this the club you’re resident at now?
No, that’s Tap N Tin in Chatham. I’ve been there nearly two years. That’s a weekly Monday thing with a lot of students. It’s practice time for me, trying out different things and testing new records. Kent is very jump-up oriented so the crowd is open to some underground stuff – with a few big bangers along the way of course.
I want to talk about mixing styles. You’ve got a sharp and cutty signature. Do you ever wonder if we’ve lost the art of individual mixing styles because everyone just double drops the shit out of stuff?
It’s how I mix naturally. I can’t just have two tunes running along together and leave them in the mix. I have to be doing something, I want to play around. I’m still learning all the time, looking at effects and what you can do creatively. But double drops? There are people like Mampi who can double drop all day long and I’ll never complain.
He’s the double drop don!
Exactly! So for me to double drop just doesn’t even compare. Maybe the odd one but I’m focussing on my own style and working out how I want to play.
How did the Mampi connection come about?
I used to run a few drum & bass nights and I booked him for a party. He came down with IC3 and saw me play and invited me on to Charge. He’s an inspiration – we speak every week and he’s given me a lot of advice.
Who else has given you advice?
IC3 has been there since day one. I met him when I was working in the club, not even DJing, he’s been a mate from the start. High Contrast gave me a phone call offering advice and I’ve had support from guys like Macky, Phantasy and Turno, too… All semi-local guys who I’ve met through promoting, warming up or working in the club.
People who you now share line-ups with…
Yeah, it’s mad. I’ll never forget Warning coming on after Mampi and Crissy Criss did this crazy six deck show. It was a mental set and the crowd were fucking mad… And I had to go on after them! That was probably the most nervous I’ve been. Mampi said ‘just do your thing, you’ll be alright’ and it went really well. Still scary as hell but it’s part of the buzz isn’t it? I’ve had it a few times like my Innovation debut or Colourfest in Cardiff to 3000 people. Scary but a vibe.
It all sounds like a DJ’s dream come true. But there’s a darker side sometimes isn’t there? I’ve seen some nasty stuff thrown your way on social media.
Yeah man, I get a lot. There’s been days when I can’t pick up my phone it’s going off and off and off. It’s annoying to see it spiral when someone says something and a lot of people come to my defence and try and help but it’s just adding to it and makes it worse. I’ve been called everything, I’ve had everything people can say to me flung at me. It was upsetting at first but now it’s just like ‘hey I’ve heard it all before, there’s nothing you can say I haven’t heard’ I just use it as inspiration to go back on the decks and have a mix. I’m not going to sit and worry about it, I just flip their negativity and use it for something I good.
I do get it, too… I appreciate some people are angry that I’ve done all this in a short space of time and they’ve been working twice as long but I’ve been in the right place at the time and taken opportunities when they’ve come up. Anyone else would do the same. It is what it is, though. It’s a downside of an otherwise dream job.
So what opportunities are we talking? All I can see is someone who quit their job, worked in clubs, entered DJ competitions, promoted nights and thrown themselves into a genre they want to be part of?
This is how it is but what people think they see is different – they see a mate of Mampi or a mate of Macky just getting a leg-up because she’s a girl or whatever. But I never met them until I was DJing and doing this already. We’ve met through work and they’re supporting what I do. No one’s pre-planned my sets. No one mixes for me. No one has told me how to do anything technical. I’ve read so much stuff like ‘Mampi’s telling her how to mix’ and we just sit and laugh at it. Our styles are so different it’s untrue. It’s all bollocks, I love what I do and that’s all the matters.
Are you loving being in the studio?
120 percent! And it’s great to say that things are finally ready to roll on the production front. The first tracks are all collaborations with Rushmore. It’s a cool way to help each other. He’s helping me in the studio and I’m helping him raise his profile because he’s a sick producer and DJ. More people need to know about him! So the first thing we’ll drop is the Ed Sheeran bootleg then we’ve got two more ready to roll – one is a little more jump-up with darker drums and another one is a little techier. They’ll be coming on Charge when Mampi’s ready to drop them. The Ed Sheeran bootleg was quit mad because people were expecting jump-up track from me so it’s a cool way to introduce myself as a producer. It’ll be a while until I call myself a producer though, I’m a DJ first and foremost.
A DJ with some major sets ahead… Fabric, Motion and Printworks with us!
Yes! I love clubs. That’s been something I’ve enjoyed the most about the last year… Playing all these different clubs around the UK and Europe and feeling the different vibes and playing on different soundsystems. This is going to sound a bit nerdy but when I started DJing I started a list of every club I’ve ever played. I still add to it now. It’s a nice feeling to look back over it. Quite mad, too – even now during my short career so far I’ve played a few clubs that have since shut down. Wicked clubs, too. I was worried it would happen with Fabric. That was such a feel good story at the end of the year wasn’t it? Any clubs are special but Fabric was an example for the whole industry. Such a vibe to have them back… And get to play there. Yeah, I’ve got some amazing shows coming up. See you at Printworks!
See Mollie Collins @ Printworks, London, February 11 w/ Sub Focus, Feed Me, Dimension, Netsky, Friction, Holy Goof, Taiki Nulight, Audio, Alix Perez, Technimatic, Fourward and many more. Tickets.