Photograph credit: Dominique Murphy-de Neef
Since around 2018, Lauren Bentley – otherwise known as Yours Truly – has been rising through the ranks of D&B DJs. She brings an energetic blend of minimal, jump-up, and a particularly heavy dose of her favourite sub-genre; neurofunk.
Originally from Milton Keynes, Yours Truly grew up on tape packs brought into the family home by her older brothers. From jungle, through to that early Virus Recordings sound – you can hear the influences in her classic selections today. But her sets aren’t just a history lesson, a few minutes into the mix you’ll find they’re loaded with modern and fresh tracks, and she works through them with pace and precision.
This mixing style combined with her undeniable skill as a DJ has landed Yours Truly bookings across the country, as well as being asked to support some of her heroes in Audio, Ed Rush, and Camo & Krooked – checking off a load of her bucket list items in a short period.
Fresh off these career-highlights, UKF wanted to chat with Lauren to hear more about her journey, and what’s in her sights for the future.
What have you been up to recently, music-wise?
So the last thing I played was in Milton Keynes at Unit Nine. It was for one of the labels here called On The Decks, where I’m one of their resident DJs. The guys put on a night with T>I, Amplify, Gino, and Voltage. Prior to that, I supported Camo & Krooked back in March which was absolutely amazing – and Pola & Bryson in February.
But yesterday we (On The Decks) just announced a new thing called Battle of the Brands – which includes multiple local brands. For this one, I’m actually going to be representing my Phase family (I’m also a resident on Phase Records, which is run by one of my friends, Gifta). So I could very well be up against one of my On The Decks guys in one of the battles!
But other than that, nothing too drastic is coming. Especially because in 2 months, I’m going to be having a baby! So at the moment I just don’t really know where I’m at. It’s kind of like that with a lot of people though isn’t it, you get bookings and then you don’t for a while.
So how did you get into D&B and mixing in the first place?
I’ve always been into it since I was younger. My brothers who are 5 and 6 years older than me used to bring tape packs home from the Milton Keynes Markets, and so I was just surrounded by drum & bass from the age of 8-9 years old. It started off with jungle – there was a tape from there called the Millenium Jam with Brockie and MC Det. Then I moved onto Ed Rush & Optical – that sort of funky drum & bass, and grew up on that.
In terms of mixing, I’ve always wanted to own decks. But when I was younger, my brother owned some 1210’s and I think he really got on my Mum’s nerve with them, which didn’t really pave the way for me to go and get my own. So it was only a few years ago that I did manage to get my hands on my first pair. But since then, I’ve been on them all the time.
Who, or what sort of sounds are you inspired by?
So up until about 2004-05 I was listening to D&B all the time, but then the sounds started to change a bit. And it was only until a few years ago that I came back to it – completely and utterly in love with the new neurofunk sound. So there were two different sides to my tastes and inspirations, aside from that common thread of being into Ed Rush & Optical.
Tell me more about that difference in neuro…
If you listen to neuro today compared to back then… for me that’s a massive difference. The new stuff is much more fast paced, heavier, amazing sound design – it’s just mental and I love it. I’m really influenced by it, and you’ll hear that in my mixing.
But when I first started mixing, I was doing a lot of minimal – I was finding my feet with it. I didn’t think I was ever going to be good enough to mix neuro. But then one day during a lockdown live-stream, something just switched. I was banging out full neuro sets, and I was like oh my god I can actually do it! So now I eat, sleep and breathe neuro. The other day my partner and I were going somewhere at around 8.30 in the morning blasting it, and my other-half was like “come on, it’s too early for neuro”. For me, it’s never too early.
It’s the same story in this household… haha. So on those livestream sets – would you say that’s how you cut your teeth DJing?
Yeah I did them all through lockdown, starting off with a brand called Rinse in Oxford.
Katalyst was very involved with them, and just before lockdown, she introduced me to the guys who were running it – so I then got to play for them at one of their nights at The Bullingdon. Then, of course, the following week we went into lockdown. But that was at least enough for them to give me a spot on the livestream rotation – and the more I did those livestreams, the more my confidence came.
Good to hear you were able to make some progress over lockdown.
Yeah exactly, and another good aspect of lockdown: with everyone in the same boat, there were a lot of new DJs coming through. And now you’re starting to see some of those names on lineups.
Totally. Loads of fresh names and talent – yourself included – have risen up since lockdown.
Thanks! There was a lot of support – we had this WhatsApp group with pretty much every single girl in D&B at the time. There were loads of us in there and it kept us going – we’d see each other on live streams and big up each other. Having made so many friends on there is how I then went onto become a resident for all these places and get bookings. Gifta, on Phase records, we’re great friends and we developed a strong friendship during that time.
Big up Gifta! So moving onto your stomping group – give me an insight into the Milton Keynes scene. Is it big?
It wasn’t big. The original rave place was The Sanctuary, which got knocked down years ago, and ever since then there hasn’t really been a true home for drum & bass. But there’s a place called Unit Nine now, and they’ve really done well developing it. There also seems to be so many events on lately – a lot that On The Decks are involved with. They do a night called Future Sounds of Drum & Bass which involves a lot of up & coming artists. But then also we see some huge names come through – Andy C, AMC, Camo & Krooked. There’s always something different for everyone, if not every week or fortnight, it’s at least once a month.
I also think there’s a huge amount of people into drum & bass in Milton Keynes, lots of jump up fans out here from what I’ve experienced.
Do you think that jump-up presence has influenced your style much?
The new ravers coming through, they all seem to be drawn to that genre initially. But I think if you enjoy jump up, you generally enjoy neuro as well, so I can build a pretty good set using those two genres.
Yeah I agree – I think they’ve got a lot of similarities and you can do a lot with mixing those two. Where have you played outside of Milton Keynes?
I’ve played in Bristol, for two of Keeno’s Bristol Mix Sessions nights. One of them was my first set, at the Dynamics collab event. Dynamics, by the way, is an amazing database of woman and non-binary DJs – run by Enada, Kyrist, and Averse.
I’ve also played in Guildford at Thirty3hz. And in London I’ve played The Cause, as well as Boxpark in Wembley – this one was an ultimate fangirl moment… supporting Audio at his album launch. I play so many of his tunes in my sets, one in particular ‘Collision’, if you don’t hear that one then there’s probably something wrong with me.
Anyway, when I found out I was supporting Audio I was totally beside myself, in tears on the phone to my partner. And even better, a few weeks later I found out one of my good mates Rockall was also on the lineup – so we were having a proper little voice-messaging moment.
So a career highlight then?
Yeah for sure. I’d say that, and also Camo & Krooked. Which was another one I was so over the moon about. At the time, I was having abit of a down moment, feeling disheartened. I may not do as much as others on social media and things – I’m not one of these people that’s glued to Instagram and posting loads of content, even though that’s what’s expected now. So at that time I was wishing I could just get another opportunity, wondering how I could get there.I actually had it on my bucket list to support Camo & Krooked at some point, so for that to happen, at that time, so soon in my career, was just amazing.
What are your goals for the rest of this year and perhaps into next?
So my dream right now would be to support at a Virus event – if I don’t do anything else in my career, that would be me made. To be fair, I’ve messaged Ed Rush & Optical about their event at the end of the year – I haven’t received any word back from them but, guys, if you’re reading this… let me know!
But yeah, any future Virus event is something I’ve got on my bucket list, as well as Eatbrain and Blackout. And of course – festivals. Rampage and Let It Roll are on the top of my list!
Are you looking to get into production?
I’ve started to learn how to produce so many times, and then life happens, and then I’ve ended up stopping. Back at the beginning of the year I was really learning, and then I got Covid, which really threw me off. And I haven’t touched it since.
Balancing a job and everything else in life makes it tough. If I produce, I really want to do it properly and throw myself in. So I’m thinking… while I’m on maternity-leave for the year, while I’m not having the normal working week, I’m going to try and use that time to get my head around production.
Hopefully by the end of next year, I’ll have something out. But I also don’t want to put that pressure on, I want to really learn the sound design first, and avoid putting out generic or half-assed efforts.