Last December Lady V Dubz celebrated 10 years of DJing in the best possible way…
She threw a massive free party with the likes of Brockie, Logan D and Jayline heading the bill simply to say thank you for supporting her so far, be it at her regular tear-ups at key raves such as Breakin Science, AWOL or Jungle Mania, Biological Beats events, her Girls Take Action movement, her regular shows on Rough Tempo…. Or any other show she’s played since she was scouted by local promoters for razing a house party so loudly they could hear her playing down the street.
You get the sense that this is just the beginning, too. One of the elite force of artists to exclusively rise through the ranks as a DJ without productions behind her, Lady V’s prominence persists… And is about to amplify even further with her own label co-founded with Macpherson (DubSon Records) and productions set to follow later this year. Fresh from winning the Best Female Artist Award at the Drum & Bass Awards (for the second year running and the second time in her career) last month, we caught up with her to catch her story and see where she’s at…
What was the very last tune you played?
Oh easy! That was Saturday night at Jungle Mania. A bootleg of Acen’s Trip To The Moon I’ve made with Rukkus, a producer from Canada who’s worked with the likes of DJ Fresh and many other big artists. MC Enamie also had some input. We’re not sure if it will ever get released but it goes down a storm.
Okay how about the first tune you ever played out in a club?
Oh, harder but I’m pretty certain it was John B Up All Night. In fact I know it was. I can remember my first proper live gig, I’ll never forget it. Me and my mate used to do private parties in Bexleyheath where we grew up and these promoters Sub Species heard drum & bass from the street because we were playing quite loud and they followed the music upstairs to the flat to see who was playing. We got talking and they offered me a warm up set for their night. I think the night was called Jump Up with Logan D, Darren J and myself a few other warm up DJs. It was Bexleyheath at a bar called Play, which is no longer there. It was quite mental, because I was local and all my friends and family knew how important this was to me they all came along. So I must have had 100 people in just with me. I don’t think the promoters were expecting it to be so busy for a warm up set. It was really cool.
How did you get into doing private parties before that?
I had some decks, my mate had some speakers so any time anyone was having a house party we’d get a call! They went on for a year and a half, they were great days.
These are great days for music! We’re in a good place right now aren’t we? Slap bang between jump up and jungle which is where your sound has always been.
Definitely. I think stylistically we’re in an exciting place but also production wise things are really high. I think when digital took over vinyl it lowered the quality control. You couldn’t put any old rubbish out on vinyl because it would cost you. But digitally you’ve got nothing to lose. So there was a bit of a time when quality control wasn’t as great but in the last six years things have turned around again and there’s so much good music out there now. Too much!
Which artists are you drawing for the most?
DJ Limited is just smashing it. I think he’s quite overlooked right now and he’s such a good producer at every style he touches. Lots of Serum, of course. Lots of Voltage, lots of Jayline. Also Ultrah Brothers, Bou, Simula, Maji. Traumatize is one to watch out for too. I just love a bit of everything to be honest. Too many to mention.
Ah now Jayline was on the line-up for your celebration of 10 years party last year, right?
He was! Jay and I have worked together for years.
Really cool way to celebrate 10 years in the game…
Yeah it was an amazing night. I wanted to celebrate the best 10 years of my life and have as many of my mates down as possible. It had to be free, it wasn’t about making any money or anything like that, it was about saying thank you to everyone who’s supported me and I was honoured that all the DJs could come and play, too.
Can you pinpoint any particular level-up moments during those 10 years?
Yeah I’d say in the last two years to be honest. It’s hard for a DJ to just DJ and get to where they want to be. You’ve almost got to be a producer now, and you have to have a product to sell. But since winning the awards there’s definitely been more progress and feeling of new levels. It’s a constant journey though isn’t it? You don’t notice things until they’ve happened.
Do you think people are appreciating good DJing again? Like what you were just saying about quality control…
No I don’t think so. There’s still a lot more interest in DJ/Producers. You don’t see just DJs on big line-ups. I’m very fortunate to be in the position I’m in without releasing any music and that’s just through almost 11 years of pure determination and love for the art of mixing and of course drum & bass. I get why it is; it’s a selling point. If you’re making good music then people want to see the producers making the music. Now, nine times out of ten, most DJs on the main line ups are also producers but it doesn’t necessarily make them technically good DJ’s.
There’s not many DJ’s that just DJ who have made it big. Two I can think of off the top of my head are Bryan Gee and Frost. But they’re responsible for V, a highly respected label, and brought up so much amazing music and broke so many legendary artists. Not ‘just DJ’s’ then I guess. Logan D’s another one I can think of off too actually who’s not produced or engineered solo music but has progressed massively over the last 10 years and runs a very successful label, Low Down Deep. He’s given me some really good advice the last year or so.
Speaking of movements, you started your own concept early on in your career with the Feminine Takeover project with MC Lady Blazer.
Oh I look back now and cringe a bit at the name, to be honest! But yeah it was me and Lady Blazer just trying to create a space for ourselves and any other female artist in the scene. Back then in 2009 there was a huge gap. There were barely any women DJs or producers and we wanted to show we could work as well as any guys. It started to pick up pace a bit but then Fatman D signed me to Biological Beats so I put it on a back burner for a while. Then in 2014 I wanted to start a radio show and thought I’d start up the collective again but this time call it Girls Take Action (GTA). It’s not about taking over, it’s about being equal and we’re taking action to make things work. It started as a radio show but has progressed into something much bigger and we’re getting some really cool bookings. It’s developed much faster than I could have dreamt of with support from the female originators who pushed the music we know and love, DJ Rap and MC Chicaboo. DJ Storm’s also been very supportive too.
Awesome. So drum & bass has been way too male dominated, more so than other genres, and it’s great to see things beginning to change. But how about when the #metoo revelations came about? Like I know D&B has been too macho and boys club but I really hope that there aren’t darker secrets like there have been in other genres.
No you’ve got a point actually. The artists and the people in the industry have always been super supportive and never untoward in any way. I wish you could say the same for people on social media or people locked into a stream, there’s still some pretty toxic stuff on there. But among artists? There’s just really good support and I’ve never experienced any negative behaviour or attitude or anything bad from any male artist regarding the fact that I am female. Everyone knows the score, we all just want things to be equal.
It’s about making sure that next generation knows everyone is welcome, there are no closed doors…
Yeah. And the amount of female DJs and artists and MCs we’ve had get in touch saying they’ve been inspired to get in the studio or get decks or write bars is amazing and inspiring and makes me feel proud of how far we’ve come. Things are changing and there’s so much positive feedback about females in the industry in general. There are at least 10 times as many female artists than there were 10 years ago. That’s only going to increase. It’s really exciting.
How about your productions?
They’re coming! I’ve always been musically minded and played piano, guitar and drums when I was younger and I knew I’d eventually pick up production but it’s finding the time to do it right. I don’t want to rush things, either. I want to know exactly what I’m doing. So I’ve been working with Rukkus and picked up loads of things from him and have just engineered my first solo track. So yeah, they’re on the way.
Do you reckon they might be on Biological Beats? Or would you add a label to Girls Take Action?
I’ve got my own label with my good friend Macpherson, which we’ve just launched called Dubson Records. So I think a lot of releases will be on that but I’ll work closely with Fatman D or be open to talking to other labels. Let’s see what happens!
Actually let’s biggup Fatman D for a final salute. Signing a DJ to the label is a cool idea that representing the whole other side of the craft. Not sure how many DJs are signed to labels in this way.
No me neither! But Fatman does so much for artists that people don’t know about. He’ll never blow his trumpet about it but he’s such a big influence for a lot of people and has spotted a lot of big talent that are now making big moves. He’s got Biological Beats and Young Guns for brand new artists. If I can help as many people in as he has in my career I’ll be very happy!