a few months ago i tuned into mixmag’s weekly friday broadcast, initially to see huxley and george fitzgerald, knowing very little of the third act, moxie. turned out, she was the best of all: starting with a classic record by the detroit experiment, ‘think twice‘, she seamlessly snaked her way through more jazzy house grooves from the likes of moodymann, before making a coherent detour into grime, bassier stuff and finished up back in some locked 4/4 grooves. as impressive a dj set as i have heard in a while, it had me googling the name immediately.
seems moxie is a rare thing; someone who is primarily a dj and happy to stay that way. far more importantly than impressing me, swamp81 boss loefah was equally impressed when he first heard a moxie selection and, as such, invited her to be the first female to play his now legendary dmz party. since then, the londoner has returned many times, and now also runs deviation with radio 1′s benji b. the rest of her story i got from the woman herself. so, dive in, then check out any number of moxie mixes over on her mixcloud page.
how are you, what have you been up to?
have just got back from djing at outlook and dimensions festival out in croatia which was great fun!
what music did you grow up around, and is that what formed your long-term musical make-up, do you think?
both my parents were really into music and we would always be listening to cassettes in the car or radio at home. lots of aretha franklin, b.b king, bob dylan and annie lenox. also me and my friends were always swapping tapes, mini discs and cds. when i was a teenager i was heavily into my rnb, hip-hop and garage. those were the foundations of everything and what i started buying when out record shopping.
how did you get your first break djing having started as a youth? were you handing out tapes or anything as old school as that?!
i didn’t hand out any mixes of mine till i was about 20, i was really shy and was a bed room dj for years. i had my first gig when i was about 17/18 which was at a spot called bar vinyl in camden. they had a dj competition that was hosted by normski funnily enough and i entered. i was so nervous but all my friends came out to support and the crowd were really into the tunes. sadly i didn’t win but i had so much fun playing out and that’s what got me hooked.
how important was it hooking up with benji b to start deviation? what brought you to the decision to start the night?
benji originally started the night a year before i became involved and for him the premise was to have a mid-week party that was about the music and would host guests that you wouldn’t usually see on a line up together but somehow they would always compliment each other. i had heard about the night for a while but didn’t have anyone to go with so i went down on my own to check it out. after that night i wrote benji a message on myspace and asked to get involved and almost 4 years later here we are! the night is run by benji, myself and our third partner in crime zainab and it’s very much a love project. the hours we spend putting line ups together can get ridiculous at times but it’s something we all care a lot about and try our hardest to keep up the same standard from the very first session.
you were famously the first woman to play dmz – did you feel a lot of pressure that night or did it feel right? were the crowd accepting?
the first time i played dmz i was incredibly nervous as i had loefah standing behind me and my hands were shaking like crazy! i had only found out the night before i was playing so didn’t have much time to prep so had to just concentrate and get my tunes together. i started with an empty room and finished with it going off, which was an amazing feeling. then of course the 6th birthday about 7 months later which will always stay with me as one of the most important sets of my career. the crowd were great and a few days after someone sent me a link to a dubstep forum thread, which was all about my set from that night. crazy to think i’m that girl but it’s something that i will always keep close to my heart.
i think maybe dubstep (as it was a couple of years ago) is one of the first electronic genres to be owned by woman as much as men – people like you, ikonika, cooly g, subeena etc – first of all is that fair, and second is there any reason why, do you think?
definitely, i think that’s what got me back into djing as there was a point where i had stopped for a bit as i was playing out a lot of hip-hop and the scene had started to die out. hearing people like mary anne hobbs on radio 1 and then seeing djs like ikonika play fwd>> for the first time was really inspiring. i think dubstep was a genre that so many people could be apart of as it drew from so many sounds and textures and so anyone could have a go.
have you any desire to produce, or have you tried or…? why/why not!?
in the past i’ve dabbled but nothing too serious. sometimes i go through phases and get really into it but at the moment i’m just concentrating on djing and my radio show on nts.
you’ve been collecting vinyl years – what are your most prized slabs and why? any you don’t take out of the house?
all my records are really important to me, i was never one of those people that would spend hundreds of pounds on wax. as long as i had the tune that was the most important thing, be it a re press or the original.
i was hugely impressed with your mixmag lab set – is that a fair snap shot of what you play, or do you tailor each set to the venue/context?
thank you, glad you enjoyed it with every set it always depends on where i have been booked and for what time. but yeah that set was a lil taster of what i might spin.
playing such a wide span of music, do you ever wish you could focus on one style?
there are so many genres and sounds that i’m into so being able to play a bit of everything is what makes me happy. and the challenge of piecing it together is what excites me.
do you play off vinyl all the time? is it not limiting in anyway as to what you can and can’t mix together?
i don’t really spin my much vinyl anymore as i now play via serato. it’s made my life a whole lot easier and means i can play something out instantly. occasionally i’ll bring some vinyl out with me but the majority of what i play is all via my laptop with serato vinyl.
you have a regular show on nts, right? what does that mean to you? what are your aims with the show?
i love doing my show and especially being apart of a station like nts is something i’m really proud of. femi who started the station just over a year ago has done amazingly well and works incredibly hard so to be involved with someone like him is an honour. he gives us complete creative freedom and so having that you know you can go in any direction and find new ways to challenge yourself.
in fact what are your aims when djing? to amuse yourself, educate the crowd, simply to make people dance or…?
quite simply to make people dance and have a good time.
ever worry about alienating a crowd when spanning things as diverse as soul, grime, detroit techno etc? has that ever happened, or do you find yourself having to reign yourself in ever?
i think as a dj you have to have the confidence to take risks otherwise it becomes stale. i would much rather listen to someone that tries something different than does what everyone else is doing. in my opinion a dj’s job is to introduce people to music that they don’t know and if they’re not into it, then all good, it might not be for them. for me as long as i know i dig it then i know i’m only being honest with myself. if everyone played what everyone wanted to hear we wouldn’t progress.
do you have any long-term goals, or any hopes for what you’d like to achieve?
radio is what i love and that’s something i want to develop at. also first and foremost being a club dj and pushing myself as much as i can to achieve the best i can.
will you/do you ever put to use your surface design degree at london college of communication? what even is it, in fact?!
surface design is basically print making but for any surface so its very broad. since graduating i’ve done some artwork for the eglo label and have been doing the deviation flyers for just over a year now.
what else you got coming up/are you looking forward to?
djing around europe and building on my radio show. i also have some other projects in the pipeline but for now they will have to stay secret!
what do you like to do away from music?
i like to go running around the streets of london and am actually running my first half marathon in october! i also run with run dem crew which is great fun and we’re all going out there together, i can’t wait for that! fingers crossed i come out the other end alive haha