Wednesday, 23 February 2011

#014 MOXIE

With a growing reputation, infectious enthusiasm and a steely determination to succeed, Moxie is a name that should be on everybody's lips. Not only was she the first female ever to play the legendary 'DMZ', she is also the brains behind one of London's biggest nights, 'Deviation', alongside Radio 1's Benji B and her good friend Zainab. Her seamless mixing skills and enviable record collection, only add weight to the fact that she's fast becoming one of the most cutting edge selectors on the circuit. I caught up with her a on everything from a first case of shaky hands to playing with ATG and Swamp 81 in New York and LA over a few hot drinks and a pint at a cafe in Old Street:

"In the last 12 months or so I've really started to make progress as a deejay. I graduated from University last year so up until then it was a case of juggling all my work with my music - I was doing Surface Design at the London College of Communication. My main goal was to just get playing abroad and I managed to do that a few times - I played in Rotterdam and Iceland and then at Outlook Festival in Croatia which was amazing. I managed to play Glastonbury too! From there, I somehow managed to travel out and play with the ATG / Swamp81 crew in New York and LA which was just incredible. 
It all started when I did a mix for Kiss as part of an up-and-coming deejay thing slot they were running. I'd actually done a 30 minute mix for them about a year and a half before but this mix really showed off what I was about and what I was capable of. Off the back of that, Loefah got in touch saying he loved the mix and wanted to hear more and it all just snowballed! It wasn't until we were at Outlook that I had an idea that I might be playing DMZ though, and even then I couldn't believe it! I remember actually getting back to the UK and being at FWD and some guy coming up to me and asking 'You playing DMZ tomorrow?' and I was like 'What are you talking about?' -Turns out Loefah had told the guy I was on the line-up! I got up and called him the next day on the way home from Brighton and he was like, 'Yeah, I want you to play!" - I got home and literally had 4 hours to prepare for the biggest set of my career on no sleep after a terrible night at this shitty hotel I'd been at, it was madness! I had an idea of how I wanted it to sound and just went with it and it went really well - that set got me so much recognition! People now talk about me as a deejay as opposed to just 'Alice from Deviation' which is wicked!"
With 'Deviation' now in it's 3rd year and firmly on it's way to earning legendary status, the latest night saw arguably it's best ever line-up at Cable and one that Moxie was particularly proud of:

"I actually got involved with running it alongside Benji about two years ago, but it's been running for three now. I heard his assistant promoter was leaving so I wrote him a message via Myspace saying that I'd love to get involved and he replied, basically saying yeah! We met up about two months later and had a coffee and it turned out we lived down the road from each other and it all just made sense. The first night I was involved in was with Kode9 - Benji asked who I thought we should bring down and we were both nodding in agreement! It started off initially as a bit of work experience really but now it's run jointly by myself, Benji and a girl called Zainab - we've done parties in Madrid and we've got lots lined up for this year too! It's very much a homegrown thing though, just concerned with bringing really good music together you know? Our latest party on Saturday was the best one yet for me - the line-up was untouchable - nothing could have beaten that line-up because we worked so hard for it! What could be better than seeing a thousand people raving to what we think is great music? There was everything from Hip-Hop to Soul to Dubstep to House - it just made us think, 'Yeah, this is worth it'! We don't necessarily make a lot of money from it or anything like that - it's all about watching it grow and seeing people's reactions really. Hopefully one day it'll cement the same legendary status as nights like DMZ and FWD, that'd be sick!"

As one of the scene's few established female deejays, Moxie got into mixing purely by chance back at school:

"It all started with this workshop I did when I was 15 or 16 - it was run by a company called 'Bigger Fish' who were organising workshops around schools in North London. They came to the school I was at and were running a DJ slot for the naughty kids but not all the places got taken so my year got asked if anybody would like to go along - me and my friends thought, 'Yeah why not!' and went along. I didn't really take it very seriously but when it came to Christmas that year and my parents asked what I wanted, I went for a pair of turntables - I got a pair of shitty Numark belt-drives (laughs) but they got me started!  From there, I got into buying vinyl and I ended up collecting more than I was mixing for a while - I was always at 'Uptown' and 'Blackmarket' digging through records, it really got me into the environment. I was always one of those kids that loved having tunes before my friends too so the vinyl element just added to that! 
I went through phases of practicing my mixing a lot and then abandoning it for a while and that went on for a good few years. I was mixing UK Hip-Hop a lot then too, which had a massive scene at the time - I loved guys like Jehst and Taskforce. I actually used to hang around with DJ IQ, who's now Professor Green's deejay, quite a bit too - he was a DMC champion so he used to show me things and through him, I got a taste of what it was really like to be a deejay. 
I first played out at a friend's Auntie's 40th birthday (laughs) - I ended up playing a lot of old soul records that I used to collect and even though I wasn't mixing properly, I got really shaky hands a few times! It wasn't until i met my friend Elvee that I started getting really into things though - we discovered Dubstep together! She had come from a Drum 'N Bass background and I'd come from Hip-Hop but we started to dig out some of the earliest Dubstep vinyls and practice together. Before long, we discovered Mary Anne Hobbs and never looked back - we both just wanted to be a part of everything that was going on. I started to practice a lot more and realised I was getting quite good - both me and Elvee ended up meeting the ATG crew, guys like Klose One and RackNRuin, and they asked if we'd like to do a warm up set for them. Initially, we started out deejaying together but over the past few years, we've gone our own different ways but those early sets were brilliant! That's how I got my confidence really - we bounced off each other, we tune-swapped and just grew as deejays together! It did take a while for people to take us seriously though because people assume you're going to be shit as a girl! 
For me, it was just a case of doing that work shop but it would be nice to see more female deejays around. That's not to say there aren't any out there though - Ikonika is sick and Mizz Beats, who produces aswell, smashes it every time! Some of her new stuff is insanely good, like honestly Grime/Dubstep ridiculousness! One thing that does annoy me though is when people put swag female deejays on a line up for the sake of having a female deejay, as if it's an original idea!"
Moxie & Elvee ATG at Subway in Rotterdam

With that in mind, I asked whether or not she felt any extra pressure to perform:

"I did have to go that extra mile for a while - when I was first playing out, it was just 'Oh it's only Alice from Deviation' but I always had patience and trusted in my ability. People have to see you play out to appreciate you and when people started to see me more regularly, people clocked that I could actually mix! You've basically got a crowd of people and it's up to you to make them dance and have a good night and it's such a good feeling when you manage that. I remember doing a night only last week and the deejay before had kinda killed the vibe a little bit - I worked really hard for 90 minutes and by the end, everyone was up, hands waving and jumping about! I guess I'm now at the stage where I don't have to try and prove myself anymore but regardless, girl or guy, you've got to work hard to earn that recognition."

Despite deejaying at packed-out raves all over the world, Moxie still hasn't dabbled in production. Well, until now:

"I'm actually hooking up with guys that make beats at the moment! I want to learn as much as I can because my skills are really basic - I know a bit of Logic but I feel like it's definitely time to experiment. I think some deejays fall into producing where as others fall into pushing music in the right avenues via a label like Oneman for example, which is sick so I think I need to branch out and do one or the other! Guys like Ramadanman make me wanna produce if I'm honest - I like how everyone's now straying away from the tear-out Dubstep and making this more techy-house inspired stuff, it's just such a pure sound. These days the only Dub i'll play out is DMZ stuff really but having said that, I still love Dubstep - you just have to look a bit harder for the good stuff nowadays! Production is definitely something I'm looking to explore though."

With the fusion of different sounds now a defining feature of UK Bass music, Moxie feels that people are too quick to try and pigeonhole what's being made:

"Things are going in cycles naturally - Dubstep's a bit lost at the moment, besides the originators like Mala, Loefah, Coki and so on, who have carried on doing the same thing. I kinda feel it's like how Drum 'N Bass was a few years back, trying to find its way - the commercial aspect has definitely impacted on it as a genre. Younger kids are getting into it now too and making their own music which is cool because things have to evolve, but it seems to be losing some of it's original features. People are too quick to pigeonhole generally though - I can't stand people trying to 'define' a sound, just let it be what it is! It's been the same with Grime too in a way - it was an exciting genre a few years ago but sadly, the commercial aspect kinda took over and it lost it's way a bit. Having said that, Grime is becoming 'cool' again thanks to guys like Elijah and Skilliam, Terror Danjah and some of newer guys like Teeza which is good to see. People used to be confused as to what Grime was too - was it aggressive, was it pop? It's just nice to see it now being recognised for its merits."
Taking all of this into account and with production on the horizon, the future looks bright for Moxie:

"I basically want to do more of everything - more travelling, more deejaying and more radio work. I want to explore production properly too and i guess just grow and get better at every aspect of what I do. I'm never satisfied!"

Don't forget to listen to Moxie's latest mix on her mixcloud too:


1. Prince- Let's Work (Dance Remix) (Warner Bros) 

2. Simbad- Midnight Rhythm (Past Due) 
3. Osunlade- Pride (White label) 
4. Dobie- Refuse 2 Lose (White label) 
5. Jamie Anderson & Jesse Rose- Jack Your Body (Body Jackin') (Gigolo)  
6. Boddika- Soul What (Swamp 81) 
7. Roska- Error Code (Hotflush) 
8. Amerie- One Thing (White label) 
9. Gucci Mane- O D (Mosca Remix Instrumental) (Unreleased)  
10. Jam City- Scene Girl (Nightslugs) 
11. Mark Pritchard- Heavy As Stone (Deep Medi)

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