Muther has been playing regularly in and around London over the past couple years and if you're lucky enough to have seen her play, you will already know what she's about. If not, you're in for a treat. She stepped up and delivered a truly honest, dynamic mix that really captures the energy of a rave or club night. It's a brief yet beautiful preview of what to expect from her forthcoming sets and from Warm Up, the party and festival she co-directs. Have a read below of what she had to say about the mix, her favourite artists and her journey in the world of electronic music.
Before we get on to the mix, we would love to know how you started, a brief history of Muther. When did you first get into electronic music and DJing, and how was the transition from playing at home, to playing in front of pretty big crowds?
I got into electronic music in my last year of Uni when I started venturing out to clubs like The End and Egg. The End was especially formative as I remember being at a Border Communities night - an incredible label, headed up by James Holden - that made me feel something way beyond what I'd come to expect in your average night club. The music and artists captured my imagination, and my heart, I remember feeling totally energised and alive. For whatever reason, it really struck a chord. The End also had the Durrr night running at the time, programmed by Erol Alkan, and this hit the spot for me in more of a fun and liberating way, I remember the music having lots of character and attitude. Boyz Noize springs to mind as being one of the artists I first came across there.
I didn't start DJing however until much later, like fifteen years later! During the lockdown was my first opportunity to spend a dedicated amount of time playing around on decks and mixer. I'd always loved collecting tracks and building playlists for different moods and moments, and now I had the time that the lockdown allowed to play with mixing them together.
My partner, Aidan, who was with me at The End and touched by the same kind of electronic music, had been running Warm Up for 7 years by this point and although I had played a part in building the community and developing the brand identity, my only involvement with the music was enjoying it from the dance floor. The lockdown situation pushed DJs and artists online to share music and connect with their fans and communities, and he started running the Warm Up Lovestream. Weirdly, my first gig was an online stream for that series.
Do you get nervous before your gigs?
Yes, majorly, although I am learning to cope better which I guess comes with the exposure of doing it more regularly and building my confidence on the decks. I've had full on meltdowns in the hours before playing and those moments really did make me question if I was cut out for it. I'm a very private person, so putting myself out there is something I'm still coming to terms with. If it wasn't for Aidan, I would have given up already. He's been a great mentor in that respect and is probably my biggest fan.
Do you have a set that stands out in your head as a favourite? Not all gigs go well sadly, maybe the vibe is dead, maybe no one shows up, have you had any gigs you would like to forget?
I have a few favourites, my set at Warm Up Festival on The Annex last year was amazing. Running a festival and being a DJ at the same time is a lot, but those two hours on that stage just drowned out all of the outside noise an stress. The crowd was so up for it, it was a stunning evening in the forest and out of nowhere a whole bunch of 'We Love Muther' signs popped up on the dance floor. It was a beautiful, life affirming moment for me. Last summer we also did a Warm Up day party at The Cause, which is a venue and organisation I love. I was playing mid-afternoon, it was a beautiful day in a wicked location and I remember that being the first time that it felt like everything flowed for me and the vibe was care-free and easy.
And in contrast, yeh I've definitely got a gig I'd rather forget! It was a couple of years ago, I was invited to play at a gig in Hackney and my inexperience got the better of me. The set up was just not what I was used to and it brought on this huge cascade of anxiety. It actually triggered a flashback to a painful childhood memory that I had suppressed for a long time, and it was kind of a revelatory experience because I realised that moment when I was 6 years old is the root cause of all my stage-related anxiety, and why I have an almost constant voice in my head telling me I'm not good enough. The room started spinning and my body just shut down, I guess I was having a panic attack, and I had to leave after playing just a few tracks. Thankfully the promoter was really understanding and because I'd only been on for ten minutes the last DJ was still hanging around and very happy to jump on for me. Fortunately, I had another gig a week later, which at the time was my biggest gig to date playing at Village Underground, and so I was forced back on the horse straight away. That gig went really well and reaffirmed my love for doing it again. But yeh, I constantly have to overcome this deep-rooted memory that has totally shaped who I am, how I see myself and how I operate, in a big way. Enough time has passed since that gig for me to understand it was a really important experience, however mortifying, because I understand myself a lot more. But yeh, this childhood memory continues to be something I battle every time I play, and each time a set goes well it feels like a big 'fuck you' to that internal voice for a little while.
Over the past few years, what has your own musical identity & sound been? And how has it developed and progressed more recently?
Ah this is a really tough question to answer! I love and play a wide spectrum of electronic music, from leftfield house to gritty techno, melodic and groovy electronica, to breaks and dub. I think the main thread is attitude, I like to play music that makes me feel more confident and accesses part of my personality that I probably don't express in my day-to-day. What genre that falls into could be anything within the range of dance music, from 100bpm to 150bpm.
More recently I'd say I've really leaned into my love for acid house. I get to play at a lot of underground raves and I enjoy bringing that nostalgic rave sound to the contemporary underground scene, giving a little nod to the history of the culture, and there's some great new acid house being made at the moment.
Leading us perfectly on to the mix. Thank you for creating such a natural, honest, and down right brilliant mix for us. I do wish it was a few hours longer, but there's a good reason to come to one of your future shows. How did it come about? Tell us about some of the tracks in there and how the recording & track selection process was.
I love the Oleeva mix series and I'm so grateful to you for asking me to contribute. I wanted to put together something that allowed me to share music I love that I wouldn't usually play out in a club, or I'd find hard to shoehorn in to your usual Saturday night rave set. However, when I started building a playlist for this it kind of took on a life of its own, and I just followed! I'm really happy with it, I think it truly reflects all the shades of electronic music that I love.
With stuff like this I tend to play around a lot with track combinations, keeping in mind that I want it to have a beginning, middle and end. I see it like telling a story, initially setting the scene, teasing the listener to come into my world, and then building into more textures and energy, getting into the juicy bits of the tale, and then concluding with something quite emotive to leave the listener with a sense they've been on a real ride. There's a mix of deep stuff, jazz infused electronica, rap, techno and house, 'Disney' strings, some breaks because I can't help myself, a nod to my beloved rave and acid house, and lots of staccato and percussive beats and wonky sounds.
We LOVE your selections, always a few spicy vocals in there, curveballs and stompers. Please give us 5 names we need to check it out. Be it an artist, a track, a label, whatever. GO!
I'm loving an LA based artist called Choopsie at the moment, she's making some really nice productions, some quite minimal, deep house and melodic numbers. She produced 'Don't Let Me Down', the penultimate track of this mix. I played it on new years eve and it went down a storm.
I'm a big fan of everything Ashee makes, the tracks often have some weird, wonky element to them, and plenty of driving energy. I'd say he's one of the most original producers around at the moment, everything sounds fresh AF. I've included his track 'Shifty' in this mix.
Pantha Du Prince's most recent album 'Garden Gaia' is stunning, it's a real nerve-calmer! I've been listening to it a lot recently as we go through the stresses of trying to run a festival. I've just been asked to support him at E1 in April so I'm excited about this opportunity.
I've been following Jex Opolis for some time now and I buy everything he makes. I remember playing 'Soft Guidance' on new years eve last year and it just takes me somewhere. Stunning, layered, melodic acid house. It's got a great kick, amazing strings and a special kind of warmth to it. Absolute belter.
And finally, for the crate diggers, take a look at the Border Community label I mentioned earlier. They have a back-catalogue of absolute gold. Nathan Fake's The Sky Was Pink was released on there in 2004. They also released a track called I Need Medicine from 2008 by Fairmont, and it just takes me back to a very specific time and place in my life. I dropped it on The Annex set I told you about earlier, gives me goosebumps every time I hear it.
What are your hopes and dreams for the coming months and years as Muther, but also with your beloved Warm Up? (( For those that don't know, Warm Up is an incredible London based dance that you need to check out, ridiculously good! ))
I just want to get really fucking good at DJ'ing. I want to become a master at putting tracks together, creative combinations, quality selections. Beyond that there is no plan, the art of DJing is one of those skills that I think you can always learn more about, you can always get better at, and that's really my ultimate goal, to be come a master of the art.
With Warm Up, we're in our tenth year which is pretty mad! The raves and club shows are continuing to go well, although we're currently going through some serious challenges in regards to our annual festival. The scene is shifting a lot in this post-pandemic world. Ticket buying behaviours are changing, our crowd is evolving as a lot of our community got married and had babies during and just after the pandemic, and people aren't spending as freely on small, intimate festivals like ours while the costs of putting on a four day camping festival are sky-rocketing. This shift is putting our festival in jeopardy and we're just working through that as we speak. We're seeing if we can generate the tickets we need to make it happen this year. If not, we'll evolve and do something different, and we'll of course continue on with our regular club events, welcoming in new ravers and continuing to foster this special community.
This is probably a good time for you to let us know when we can catch you next. What do you have planned for the near future?
My next gig is supporting the amazing Gidge at Islington Assembly Hall on March 4th. I'll be digging into some deeper tracks, although I expect I'll end up playing some leftfield electronica as well and touching on all the genres I love in some way. My sets tend to end up being fairly eclectic in that respect.
Forgetting music for a minute. If you could be anywhere in the world now, doing anything you want, where would you go?
Probably California, I spent quite a lot of time there in my twenties and I love the Big Sur coastline, the desert, and even some aspects of LA city life. And I love the sun. I'm a different person when the sun's out and I can feel warmth on my skin, there's something freeing in it for me.
Back to music for the final question. It can be a little hard to describe, but sometimes you get in a zone when Djing, when you're so connected to the crowd and the music. When everything is just right, what is that experience like for you, how does it feel?
It's a feeling of disbelief and awe for me. Between enjoying the connection to the crowd and the music, and feeling the energy and vibe of a party or group of people, I have moments where I'm like, 'am I doing this, am I creating this vibe?'. And it's comforting to feel like you can bring value into the world through your very personal music selections and creativity.