Sunday 8 November 2009

Byte presents B-Mix 001:
'This Is My House'
(Byte, 2009)

In a new mix series for Byte, we've asked some of the most creative and exciting local DJs around to craft upfront mixes which will be available for download as well as being in select Bristol shops and clubs as free, fully artworked CDs. First up, long-standing Byte resident Weasel has stepped up to provide an awesome, booty-shaking dancefloor inferno of a mix. Over a short few years, Weasel has evolved from a fresh-faced new DJ on the block to one of the hardest-working selectors around. Her quick, incisive mix style and impeccable taste in selecting the best in house, techno and breaks has seen her in high demand, lighting up club nights across the city and beyond.

This Is My House rips through seventeen tracks of high-octane house, techno and breaks all condensed into Weasel's quickfire mixdown style. Kicking off with some bubbling, wonky house beats before getting stuck into some hypnotic techno rhythms, the mix locks you into a persistent groove from the first bar. It's a testament to Weasel that her precision mixing and intuitive timing adds an extra element to the progression of the mix, complimenting the feel and sound of a selection that doesn't put a foot wrong. Right up to the buzzing crescendo of smash-mouth breaks and noisy rave action, the tempo and pacing is perfect, showing just how far Weasel has come as a DJ to watch in such a short space of time.

We caught up with Weasel recently to chat about the mix as well as cats, stoner rock and everything in between. Enjoy!

B: Evening Weasel, how are you this freezing winter evening?

W: Fine thanks, just scoffed some Ben & Jerry's and am chilling with the moggies. Rock and roll!

B: Moggies presumably is the name of your rock hard street crew?

W: Oh yes, by moggies I mean gangstas (of the four legged variety).

B: Weasels and moggies, who knew? So what's been happening in the world of Weasel recently?

W: Just the usual work, play, eat and sleep really. I've recently taken quite a big step back from the DJing thing for a couple of months, and I'm now enjoying getting back on it!

B: Any reason for the step back?

W: Well...I had a difficult start to the year, and it kind of got a bit much. While all that was going on, I was doing up to three gigs a week and I just got really jaded and apathetic. So I took a break to regain my lacking enthusiasm and get back on track!

B: What's your view on the Bristol scene right now? Up until recently you were one of the busiest DJs on the local circuit...

W: I love Bristol, and I love the fact it's so close-knit! But I get frustrated at how that can occasionally turn into clickyness...I think some really good DJs are possibly being over-looked because they're not with the in-crowd. Having said that, the DJs that are getting booked regularly are absolutely awesome and I am very proud to be part of the Bristol scene.

B: Very diplomatic! Obviously you have a slightly different perspective from a majority of the DJs out there, so do you feel being female in a male-dominated industry has helped or hindered you?

W: The girl DJ thing is always there, I know that those that haven't seen me play already and don't know who 'that girl DJ' is are probably thinking, 'oh, a girl DJ....lets see if she's any good'. But in all honesty I don't get worked up about it. What has helped me is that I've never played on being a girl DJ, I've never pushed the whole girl DJ thing to try and get gigs and I think that my fellow DJs and promoters appreciate that. They respect the fact that my mixing ability and hard work has got me to where I am, without ever playing the gender card. I believe quite firmly that it's only an issue if you make it an issue, and I choose not to.

B: So do you feel female DJs that do rely on their gender are letting the side down as it were?

W: No, because I can understand why they would do that. It is easier to do it that way! Sex sells! Unless they're really shit!! Seriously though, I do get why it's done that way, I just don't feel comfortable doing it. I feel like I'm cheating. I've just had my first promo shoot done and I had to act all serious and pouty because i know that a) it looks nicer, and b) for those bigger promoters out there, outside of Bristol.....the curiosity will make them actually listen to my CD rather than put it at the bottom of the pile of 100s of mix CDs they already have. The difference is now I feel like I'm sort of allowed to do that, I've worked hard to get the amount of gigging experience I have, and that counts for more than one photo shoot.

B: Speaking of which, you are definitely one of the hardest working DJs in Bristol. Do you feel you had to put extra effort in to be taken as seriously as your male counterparts?

W: I'm not so sure you know, there's some seriously hard working DJs out there. Gigs just seem to come at me and I say yeah! I was lucky to be given a chance by Byte, and at the time I remember feeling like I really had to impress you, that if I did well then this was the gig that could lead on to me getting noticed in Bristol, and it did. I'm always grateful for that chance, having Byte next to my name on flyers made me more credible, I'm convinced of that.

After that I think what helps is just being easy going, not having hissy fits, arriving before your set and socialising, hanging about after and watching the other DJs play, putting up posters for the night at my work (Chemical Records) know, those little gestures go a long way and I'm convinced people book me because they know I deliver, but also because I'm not twat!!.

B: LOL! You're pretty immersed in the culture - as well as being a DJ, you're also getting into production alongside your work for Chemical Records and LOT49. What's your opinion on the current state of the dance scene?

W: Ooooh, well...I gotta go careful how I word this! There's a lot of regurgitated shit out there. There's some music that seriously does my head in and makes me go: 'what?!?'. Working in a record store whilst DJing a lot AND working for a label makes me uber fussy! So I'm not sure if I'm the best judge on the state of music at the moment. I think dance music has evolved so much that not only are we blessed with some amazing tunes and producers, but we are also cursed with some absolute tripe! It's just the way it goes...I try to avoid what annoys me and embrace what I love. I've been pretty much avoiding dubstep for a year because many people's obsession with it and their reluctance to give anything else a listen is tedious. I love dubstep, I think it's great - but variety is good. I get annoyed when people act like there's only one genre in the world!

Photograph by Odissi

B: So where did the desire to start DJing stem from for you?

W: Well, it was quite a simple thought process really. I'd seen Diss Miss and Annon Lee play out and I thought 'Fair play girls'. I didn't really think much of it, but a week later I was driving in my car listening to one of my compilation cassettes and I clearly remember thinking 'I wish these tunes got played out'...and a split second later, I thought 'I know, I'll make it happen. I'll start DJing' - and a week or so later I had decks. Two weeks later I was playing my first set in The Croft.

B: When was this?

W: This was when I was 21, so about four or so years ago now.

B: So before that you'd been making compilations, you'd always been interested in music?

W: I didn't even own any music until I was about 13 or 14. I grew up in the countryside and made bases or rode my pony for fun! I then got into grunge and rock and started playing guitar. I was in a band and ran a rock night in my home town of Hereford when I was 16 and 17. I then started getting into DJ Shadow and DJ Food, and eventually came across the Plump DJs - my love for dance music started from there really. When I started DJing, I played funk and hip hop and had the odd Finger Lickin' record...but then I came across a LOT49 release by 30HZ and that was it....I'd found my niche!

B: That's a land speed record from deciding to DJ and then playing out though. Weren't you worried about messing it up on your debut performance with only two weeks of owning decks? Or had you been practicing on mate's set-ups beforehand?

W: I literally had about ten records when I bought my decks...and I'd never used turntables before! I hate practising in front of I sort of hid away and went through my tunes and made a set. There was no mixing...but there were fade-ins and outs and some drops! I was bricking it! I practised hard man! It was just a front bar gig entertaining the bar while the band was on...but I was f*cking nervous! Looking back I had no idea what I was doing. But it was well rehearsed and no-one complained!

B: Do you remember what you played?

W: God, it was so long ago I don't know. Without flicking through my records it's hard to say. Definitely a tune by the Propellerheads, maybe a DJ Shadow tune...I really can't think! All hip hop, funk and leftfield downtempo stuff.

B: What do you think it is about the tech-funk sound of labels like LOT49 that appealed to you so much?

W: I think it's just the 4/4 beat and the bass noises and squeaks....I don't know! It just kind of brings out a cocky self-assurance in me, and it makes me do gun fingers and bass gurns lol! I don't quite know what it is about tech-funk that makes me like it so's heavy without being too much, it's rave-tastic without being repetitive. I like the verse-chorus-verse structure to a lot of LOT49 releases, which probably links back to my love of band music.

B: Outside of dance music do you still find time to appreciate the music genres you enjoyed in the past? Are you still a secret rock chick at heart?

W: I will always be a rock chick! I have a KYUSS (epic stoner rock band) tattoo round my ankle and I religiously listen to stoner rock while bombing round the country in my GTI! I even like singing along to KT Tunstell while cooking (even though she's not rock). But you can edit that last bit of info out right?!?

B: LOL, never knew you were into stoner rock! Everyday's a schoolday. Seems to be a genre at odds with your vibrant personality!

W: I used to be a massive massive stoner! Listening to stoner rock is the only thing that makes me miss smoking weed! But it's still awesome even if you're not stoned. I just like that sludgey sound. I also like metal bands like Lamb of God, and I liked emo back in the day when it was all about tight black trousers and white socks! Original emo bands like Planes Mistaken For Stars and Last Days Of April...I sort of gave up on the band scene when being uncool became cool!

B: Ha ha, why you haven't done a metal set I don't know! What other influences do you have?

W: As cliche as it was at the time, I clearly remember being influenced by Courtney Love's attitude when I first got into grunge and rock. I just thought her sluttish style and raw aggression was amazing - and I was quite an angry teenager, so imitating her wasn't hard!

Plump DJs got me into breaks, 30HZ/LOT49 got me into the whole tech-funk sound, whilst early Herve productions influenced me to start playing fidget and jackin' house rather than just breaks alone, but then his music just went all 'epic synth breakdown every four bars' mad, so I no longer even look at his tunes.

My favorite producers include Zodiac Cartel whose sound is unique and amazing! People react really well to his tunes when I play them out, lots of bass faces! Daniel Steinberg too - the happy vibe to his tunes are infectious; his signature vocal snippets define his style and are one of the reasons I like his tunes so much, even if singing along makes me sound a bit demented!

And also 30HZ, I was gutted and gave him a lot of grief when he stopped writing tunes under this name! I still hold a vague hope that he will write another album (for me exclusively of course). I'm currently waiting for my delivery of tranquilizers and rope so I can do a 'Misery'!

B: LOL! So in little over four years you've become one of the best DJs locally, definitely one of the most technically proficient too...what's been some of the highlights so far?

W: Thanks! That's very kind of you to say. I think without a doubt my favourite gigs EVER have been: the Byte Xmas Party. I'd played for Byte once and you'd given me the 12-1 (or 1-2) set and I was bricking it! I enjoyed that set so much, as I hadn't yet played to such a going for it dance floor. DRAMA NYE (2009) was my best gig of 2008 and ended the year on a complete high. And another DRAMA in May 2009 where I had Frilla on the mic and we did a heeeeeavy set! It was sweaty, and I'd never seen the bar room at Timbuk2 so rammed! Also getting booked for Mooch and LOT49s party in London this year was a highlight as I was playing in the big smoke and out of my comfort zone.

B: DRAMA's pretty notorious now for being very very messy...

W: Oh it is! After parties are not for the faint-hearted, I call it the Rave of the Dead!. But we never have any problems down there, everyone is too wasted to get angry!

Photograph by Tula Blyth

B: LOL. You mentioned you recently took a step back from DJing, and you've been dipping a toe into the world of production too. So what's next?

W: Well, I'm not so sure with production! I have so much creativity bottled up inside of me that it could be put on tap! I made a tune with my mate [sic] and I enjoyed learning about Logic. Around him, I felt like I'd cracked it - but then I'd get home and try, then I'd hit a hurdle, and wouldn't be able to solve the problem! I was getting really frustrated! One thing I am not blessed with is patience. I didn't (and still don't) have the time or energy to dedicate my few spare hours to sitting in front of a computer making music.

I work with music and computers, so when I come home I just wanna chill with my moggies (and friends of course!). I guess what I'm saying is, that for now it's on the back burner until I am ready to hide away and slog it out. At the moment I'm happy just playing other peoples tunes, and will probably write one or two more with Dan to gear me up for going solo.

B: Production normally goes hand in hand with DJing these days though, especially if DJs want to get recognition and gigs outside of their home towns. Do you agree?

W: Yeah, it goes without saying that writing tunes is what can propel people towards being the all important BITG! But the ironic thing is, once they're there...they get booked to DJ, and then they play a set that consists of other peoples tunes! Obviously the fact they've released a corker is what makes them draw a crowd, but there are a select few DJs out there who draw a crowd because they are awesome tune selectas! I'd love to start writing music, and I'm sure when I do it will be the definition of awesome (jokes)...but I'm not gonna do it because I have to....I'm gonna do it because I want to.

B: So DJing is the main focus right now?

W: Yeah. During my time out I did a lot of thinking. I was so jaded, fed up and down in the dumps that I'd even considered giving up altogether (that thought lasted about 0.00003 seconds...but it was there!). I was trying to squeeze everything in - work, DJing, promoting DRAMA, training for the half marathon, going out and seeing friends, travelling to see both sets of parents monthly, doing LOT49 work....I'd had a rota written out and I was getting really stressed because my free time was scheduled to be sat in front of a computer trying to learn logic and make tunes.

It was forced creativity and I was starting to get really pissed off about the pressure I'd put on myself to start writing music. I decided that I'm more about enjoying myself and doing what I can, than forcing myself to try and do everything. I've basically decided to go at a slower pace (which is still pretty fast) and enjoy life. I don't react well to pressure.

B: So you're going to be pretty selective with future gigs? I see a lot of local DJs playing virtually every night and you can't help but think over-saturation like that is counter-productive...

W: Yes, I've taken the decision to be more selective because what I can provide is limited. While I do play mixed-up sets of breaks, house and techno, I am still limited to the vibe those genres create. Someone like my other half (Ewan Hoozami) can just about get away with it because he mixes it up with so many different genres, styles, and techniques and plays solo or as part of a collective. I think some DJs need to go careful as eventually people will go 'so and so's playing....but then, they're playing here next week, so shall we just go see them then?'.

The night loses it's appeal if the DJ isn't so exclusive. But it's not just a risk the DJ takes on, it's the promoters too. You can't blame a DJ for saying yes to a gig and money. Many would do the same so you can't really criticise. I've just made the decision to be a weekend-only DJ, my style does not suit school nights. I'm also more cautious of playing nights that I'm concerned aren't gonna be 'avin' it enough! I wanna play to busy bouncin' dancefloors and will have that in mind with every gig I am offered.

B: Speaking of which, the mix you've very kindly done for the new Byte series is pretty much a dancefloor banger all the way...

W: Yeah man, thanks! All those tunes I absolutely love! I wish someone would play that set for me while I'm out at a club! I like the progression...your groovin' to some deep house and before you know it TECHNO!!!!

B: This is a fair representation of your sets now?

W: I try and chop it up as much as possible, but it completely depends on the crowd and what they're feeling. I'm prepared to mix it up or keep it all depends on how the crowd react. Ideally I like playing progressive sets that cover all the genres I play, and I love quick mixes! No annoying breakdowns! But my number one rule fillers!

B: How much of this mix is upfront dubs? Or is everything out there already to buy?

W: Most of it is available to buy, but there's one dub in there by Dustbowl which is definatly one of my favorite tunes ever! There's also one tune I have edited ever so slightly and definitely some tunes that I've never heard played out before!

B: If people haven't heard you play a set or downloaded one of your mixes before, what would be your encouragement for them to grab this one?

W: That's a difficult question, as I find it quite hard to sell myself when I'm not on a street corner! I'd say that even if someone thought they didn't like house, or breaks, or techno, they'd definitely like some of the tunes on this mix. The boyfriend apparently HATES house...yet I catch him singing along to the openning tunes! I think the last few tunes have quite a heavy metal/rock influence too. I'd say that people who say 'I hate breaks' or 'I hate house' etc would suprise themselves by enjoying at least some of my mix!

B: Sounds good to me! Well I think that wraps up things for now, you and your Moggie crew no doubt need to shake down some OAPs tonight...thanks for chatting! Anything you'd like to add?

W: My cats are awesome!! That is all.

B: Weasel's cats will be playing live @ Ministry Of Meow next Friday....

W: LOL! An exclusive catstep set.

Byte presents B-Mix 001:
'This Is My House'
(Byte, 2009)

01 : WEASEL - Intro
02 : MEAT KATIE - Tension
04 : DANIEL STEINBERG - Cry All Night
05 : DOPAMINE - Spunk
06 : WoNK & AQUILAGANJA - Phat Jack (Nick Supply Remix)
07 : TIM HEALEY & MARC ADAMO - Ghettoblasta
08 : ELITE FORCE - Melodik Hypnotik (Riva Starr Remix)
10 : DUSTBOWL - Ain't No Grave Can Hold My Body Down
11 : ERIC ENTRENA & D-UNITY - Drugs & Stuff (D-nox & Beckers Remix)
12 : SPEKTRE - Cheyenne (Uto Karem Remix)
13 : AUTISTIC - Minimal Polizei (Kanio Remix)
14 : 30HZ - Consume Daphne
15 : 30HZ - Dissociate
17 : THE BODYSNATCHERS - Club Beats International

DOWNLOAD : B-Mix 001 : Weasel - This Is My House
DOWNLOAD : B-Mix 001 : Weasel - This Is My House (Alternate Link)
DOWNLOAD : B-Mix 001 : Weasel - This Is My House (Zip Pack with Mix & CD Artwork)

FFI : Weasel Myspace
FFI : Weasel Soundcloud


Anonymous said...

Love this mix...!