"You've gotta be on your game all the time" - DJ Storm talks to Guestlist

Drum and Bass | Tuesday 8th August 2017 | Arren

We speak with the first lady of drum & bass, DJ Storm.

There are many talents in the music scene, and to remain a consistent feature in this ever changing industry deserves an award in itself. However, this lady has done a lot more than just exist within drum & bass. She introduced none other than Goldie to the scene, was one-half of the genre's most iconic duos that took the drum & bass sound across the globe and has never once adjusted her style.

If drum & bass artists had resumes, her's would be one of the most impressive. Packed with achievements which have all been driven by a lifetime of dedication to drum & bass and a genuine passion for the music. We jumped at the opportunity to talk to Storm and managed to get a quick phone conversation sorted with her just before Moondance Festival on the 6th August.

What was your first thought this morning?
It was what am I gonna start my set with at Moondance on Sunday!

Big decision! Any you've decided on?
I'm toying with about three, I'm just going through my Marcus stuff because they asked my if I could dedicate my set to Marcus. It's been really tough to listen to his tunes, I know this sounds a bit odd but, now it's actually quite nice as you realise what a genius he was. It's all been a bit strange in the scene, we're all still in shock.

Yeah, it came as such a surprise.
Absolutely, it came from nowhere - no one could have predicted it, thought it - even imagined it. He's someone who's been in the scene for a very long time, who never changed who they were. He was always the same and it was a joy to know him.

You must have some fond memories of Marcus?
Yeah, loads. Me and Kemi got to know him over the phone and finally met him when we went up to Manchester and he just became a very life long friend. We always had a laugh cos me and him have a very dry sense of humour so we were always quite dark with each other!

The last time I played with him was in Berlin last November and it was back to back - that's really gonna be my happiest memory. I was playing vinyl on one side and he was on his USB's on the other and I'd been asked to cover Metalheadz and him Soul:R. Half way through he starting mixing in my mix and he was like 'Yeah, we're like Orbital'! I said 'We're doing this again!. We had such a good laugh with it and that's what I loved about him, he was always fun!

So what's your schedule looking like apart from Moondance?
I did Kallida last weekend and then Different Circles, Mumdance in Bristol. Then I went and did Audio River on Saturday over in Poland and all three festivals were absolutely brilliant, apart from the flies in Poland that were really attacking us all! If I get booked there again - I'm definitely taking insect repellent!

This weekend I've got Moondance, then there's Boomtown. Field Maneuvers this month so it's really nice. For me to do these, you know - women don't get booked that often at festivals. Moondance is brilliant, I've always been a fan of Moondance, and I just love that organisation - I've known the owner for years and got to know him. I think if you're nice to people and you're good at what you do that translates down to the crowd and I've always just had such lovely people come up to me at Moondance and I have to say they've been really good at supporting the ladies.

You're the first lady of drum & bass and you've never fallen wayside, how have you managed this?
I think once Kemistry and Storm as an act departed the scene I became the first lady. I try to support the ladies as much as I can and I'm aware being one of the top female DJs in our scene that I have to use my power carefully. I support anyone with good music but I am conscious of trying to support the ladies because if I won't do it, who will?

I had my Feline night for about 4 years, done a few things in Europe and I'd like to get that back at some point. It'll be amazing to have the female night back as we did give a comfortable place for women to go and rave. They always felt very comfortable at Feline and saw it as their home. You look in Europe and a lot more women go out but sometimes in some clubs in London, it's very boy heavy!

What female artists are hot right now and who should we be looking out for?
Always be looking out for Flight, she's a great DJ. DJ Gin, she's a new upcoming DJ. She's been around for a while, but again always be looking at her. The label Ruffneck Ting is rolling out really nicely. I've got big love for Deeizm, she's working on an album at the moment and obviously, Riya. There's lots more ladies that seem to be coming to it. I've worked with Ms Melody not so long ago and that was fantastic, what a great MC who can cover anything.

Any help that I can give the ladies, it's just nice to see women just enjoying themselves. They do it with integrity - it's a lot harder so when we get there we feel it's much more important. That's one true thing that DJ Rap said a few years ago - and that's if she did a bad set she weren't getting booked for six months. You've gotta be on your game all the time.

You're a very resilient person, is there anything that you have to grin and bear at the moment?
Politics and all the things that go on in the scene will always be there but as you get older you get wiser. At the beginning of Metalheadz as an example - we had to be quite tough because people weren't sure about the label and we had a lot of flack. So we came across as quite tough and you do become quite resilient as well. If you're gonna be a female in a prominently male scene, I have to say this to all the ladies, you need to get a really strong back bone. You need to let those insults roll over you, there will always be sexism on both sides, ladies no are less guilty of doing that. You just have to see the bigger picture and move forward, whatever works for you - do it.

A lot of people thought I'd leave the scene after Kemi, but I had to think to myself - she'll come back and haunt me if I don't carry on because we worked so hard to get here. I'd have records flying around at me in the night!

You and Kemistry were always together, do you mind sharing a fond memory?
I found an old birthday card from her the other day and she was always saying that I was Patsie and she was Edina but it was the other way round really because I'm more the scatty one she put something like you are actually an Edina and I will say I'm a Patsie, just without the alcohol but with the spliffs!

It's so nice that you still have the cards and that.
I've got everything, I moved with Kemi over the years as the last flat I lived in was hers I felt I needed to go back. That was our base for Metalheadz, we lived there together for years. I'd have the fax by my head and I'd pretty answer the phone from the bed. I think people thought we had some kind of office but we didn't.

It took me 14 years to set up the Facebook page for her and to look through her things. We've got everything, birthday cards, flyers, and it's lovely to have that now. I've got all her interviews on DVD now so if I feel a bit down, it's always lovely to see her and hear her voice. It sounds such a clique but time is a great healer and there's a point where you start to feel all the happiness you had and me and Kemi were incredibly happy.

It's a hard job and you get to know these people and hear their story and I love that. I love to hear how people got into drum & bass. Me and Kemi thought that was just a bonus of the job, seeing different parts of the world. Sometimes you don't even see anything, you take it in the next day on the drive to the airport. I know lots of DJs who take all the photos but for me, it's all inside. These moments are special that I share with you on the decks. I'm not sure I want everyone to know them because tonight, it's between us.

Lessons for the kids, how would you describe Rage?
Now that was life changing. For me it was the first time I got to study Fabio & Grooverider. I'd been raving for a short time with Kemi's crew. The guy who decided where we went every week had heard these stories of these two guys who had been brought from upstairs to downstairs in Heaven at Rage and that they were so good the girls all took their tops off. Our crew was prominently guys and they all went and we were like, we'll just tag along. We've heard this Grooverider before and he was quite interesting. It was such a subliminal club, it had lights, it had sound, it had strobes, it had smoke machines and these amazing two DJs that gave you two totally different styles and it was pure education. At that point, you were either techno DJ or house DJ and certain DJs were saying to Fabio & Grooverider, you can't mix the two styles. They liked the thing that was going on in the mix and it's amazing to have been there and to watch the begins of drum & bass forming out of all the different musics.

For me drum & bass is the bastardisation of all music as we've taken from everything and made it into this incredible form that's here all these years later. I'm not sure what we would have done without Rage. We introduced Goldie and he saw it pretty much over night. That night Goldie came home and he wondered what was that music they were playing. He's just come from Miami, he didn't really understand what was going on in Rage because in Miami all the clubs were segregated - he thought there was gonna be a fight. He stayed upstairs the whole time, me and Kemi said come downstairs and he just looked really tense like he was just on guard and when we got home he asked what was going on why everyone was there and we were like oh, you missed the summer of love where we all came together. I said it's about music right now G, and in clubs it's not a disco, you don't get the last dance - it's about the music.

What was Herbal?
It's a nice little club and it gave drum & bass the kind of middle ground. Not too big not too small, but I have to say it was a nightmare to mix in there! The monitor was an absolute nightmare. It looked really easy but at the end of the day, drum & bass DJs are very resilient. We came through with nothing, we had our own media in the end because real over ground media didn't wanna know really until Goldie, Roni Size & Adam F. We had our own little fanzines, atmosphere and we made our own scene, and that's what's made us really strong because we fought really hard in the beginning.

Even with Blue Note, we thought if this music makes us feel good it must make others feel good - we've just got to find them! That was mine, Kemi & Goldie's plan - to find them and when we were offered Blue Note we had a home. All the punters would come down with their books and you'd watch their heads going round trying to write down the tunes. With the digital revolution, drum & bass becomes a bit throw away and that's a real shame. I try to hang on to tunes a little bit longer now because I realise that there is this throwaway vibe and if I love something I'll play it until it's been out for maybe a month so that people still really get it.

What makes you so passionate about drum & bass?
I love the music. It does something to me. In the beginning, I resisted. I was into Prince and Japan and to me, they had electronic drum kit and that was interesting because I was with a musician at the time, he was a sax player and also I played the piano and accordion when I was young and did all my musical exams so I know the theory of music.

Kemi just used to bombard me with pirate radio stations and we found this guy Randall. Then the next minute I was infected, I went to Rage, I was buying all the vinyl and me and Kemi wondered why we're buying all this vinyl with nothing to play it on. We were at this rave and Lea Valley Ice Rink and Ratpack were playing and I was thinking, I've got these two tunes. I went up to the decks and was watching them play. I said to this guy what is that and he was like they're Technics. I asked what was he doing and he said matching the beats and as I look across the other side Kemi was doing exactly the same.

That night we said we wanna be with this thing 24/7, we were hardly bothering with the other world we just seem to be obsessed with this music, I mean we didn't turn the telly on for three and a half months. I love all of it and it's never changed. I'm always striving to make sure that the scene is protected and it would be nice if this country would be prouder of it because we've created careers all over the world.

What did you want to protect it from?
From outside influences, so that it doesn't change. To a certain extent, there are certain sounds that have been adulterated over the years. You can see a lot more commercialness going on with the sound with lots more vocals being introduced. I'm not worried about an overground drum & bass scene but I always want to protect the underground, to make sure it's doing the right thing and that we're not giving into an overground culture. I'm protecting the art form of being a DJ and I think that's been gone for a while. It's coming back in the last year people wanna hear that drama in the sets.

What are you most in love with right now?
Total Control by Digital, can't stop being in love with it! It's just a tune! And my brand headphones, they're Technics and I'm a Technics girl. I've been Technics since day one so I kinda feel like I know them.

If you could fill a swimming pool with anything, what would that be?
Dubplates, a whole pool of dubplates.

DJ Storm
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