Behind The Decks With… FERAL is KINKY

2015 is looking sweet for you so far – can you give us the lowdown on what you’ve been up to?

I launched my label Squirt Records at the end of last year. I released ‘Feelin da Vibes’ as the first single and ‘Lick Shot’ is the next one out in August. I’ve been recording for the album which should be out later this year and have about four solo tracks to finish.

I’ve been collaborating with several different people – a few of them are Slop Rock from Australia, Arling and Cameron from the Netherlands and Berlin, Salento Guys from Southern Italy, Donkong from Germany, Dirtcapz from Amsterdam, London’s Electronic Youth, Franky Rizardo from Holland, Pete Tong’s been playing our track on Radio 1 and Hooverbass (who is about to change his name… maybe Hoxton Amp could launch a competition for him hahaha) from Italy. Some of the collaborations will be on the album “That Punk Rock Hippy”. I recorded the vocals yesterday for the Hooverbass track and they might be the hookiest melodies I’ve written to date. I not joking… I’m tempted to approach the England football team and write a version for them to be the official England tune for the next World Cup… it works really well as a football chant. I haven’t called it anything yet.

Neneh Cherry has been saying for a while that she wants to collaborate, so we’re linking up this week to sort a track or two for her album – I’m really excited about that, we’re gonna have such a laugh. Hanging with her and Andi Oliver, whom I’ve also got a cute track with, was a mega Glasto highlight. After Glastonbury this year, I’ll be in Ibiza from 7th to 15th July and looking for more shows and DJ gigs. I’ll be in New York in late July or September and then early next year Australia and SE Asia.

We’re super excited about seeing you at Church of Dreams – how did that all come about?

I DJ’d and performed for a night in London, at Dalston Super Store, called Dirty Diana – it’s a night where I play my usual Bass set plus any House tracks I feel like playing. Samantha heard me play down there and saw my show. Last month I DJ’d at Popstarz in Milan, another great Bass night – the crowd were really on it and into everything from Dancehall to Trap and kept dancing til the very end. Samantha takes her club over to Milan and apparently the feedback on my set was really good that night from the Italian crew, so she asked me to play at Church of Dreams.

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And your return to Glasto! What’s been your favourite Glastonbury so far and what are you looking forward to this year?

The first one I ever went to when I was eighteen was really exciting, but every year has its own highlights. This year I’m returning to DJ the Guerrilla bar in Shangri-La and perform there for one night, but on the Thursday night I’ll be DJing at the Temple and I’m hyped about that – I’ve never DJ’d there before its gonna be mad! I love getting out of London for a few days, knowing I don’t have any of the usual things to do, no admin or crappy legal stuff to sort, with no computer; I’m in the countryside with friends, hearing and experiencing so much and if the sun’s out its amazing.

You’ve seen the UK dance movement from pretty much the start until present day – how has it changed and what do you think of today’s scene? Are we witnessing the beginning of a 90s renaissance?

Definitely for some people yes – it depends what genre were talking about, but in terms of sounds, samples and re-creating those early 90s beats yes, some House music has moved in that direction. I’ve just done a collaboration with Electronic Youth and the two guys have, without realising, used the same drum loop I used on my track “Get over it”. What goes around comes around (“payback is a bitch”) hahaha.

I think if you don’t adapt, then you will just stay in the same position and moan about the fact everyone is at it, the money’s changed… it’s all different and you won’t really get anywhere like that. I think people need to remember what exactly they got into music for in the first place. I mean, I have loved music since a primary school age, so that’s what I wanted to do and that’s what I did. So, okay, people download your music for free but then a lot of people will get that music and come and support you at your live shows or come see you DJ. The big bucks aren’t there in the same way that they were for certain things, but they are around for other things, so I just think, you know, you have to move on and progress.

Things change, don’t they? You don’t want to get like your Nan – ‘Wooahhh back in the war….’ It’s just different. I’m finding things just as exciting as I did then, but I guess I just have that kind of brain and different things motivate me and interest me.

I have been meeting some really great people outside of the UK – people are coming together. There’s a lot of cross-cultural and cross-continental collaborations, so anyone that’s like, ‘Ooh, it’s not the same as it was then…’ no, that’s right. It’s a couple of decades on; let’s get with the program. What makes you make music? What propels you to do what you do? If it’s just to chase the dollar, then go work for a bank.

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What do you love about electronic music?

The variation and flexibility and the way the UK is still at the forefront. Think about our dance music from the mid 80s, from London, the Midlands and the North, then Acid House and beyond, through to Grime and Dubstep. America has only just discovered Electronic Dance Music – yeah they’ve got hip hop, but the whole EDM situation is their version of Acid House – they’re experiencing now what we experienced decades ago. I love the bass and those different frequencies.

You’ve worked with some huge acts including Boy George and Erasure – who has been the most interesting to work with and have any had a profound influence on your music?

I have, as well as George Clinton and Chrissie Hynde. Andy Bell is completely lovely, so is Vince Clarke – they treated me really well and were very generous. Mute Records founder, Daniel Miller, was a gentleman and a Don. I was due to work with Sly and Robbie – that didn’t happen, but I’d like it to.

What inspires you and your music?

I love melody, I love bass, and I love energy and dark heavy vibes. Analogue synth sounds and tribal percussion and raw drum sounds work for me. I try and put different influences in my work without trying too hard to come with something consciously. I’m not against pop – I love a well-crafted song, but I do love a twist.

You’ve had quite a few name changes over the years – does a different persona go with each of them? What is FiK like?

I pretty much remain the same – different projects require different approaches, but I like letting the music and lyrics do the talking. I’m happy to go about my business after the shows – the ego is contained. There are lively, rowdy moments and calmer, more serious performances.

As the first worldwide white woman dancehall MC, have you experienced any interesting reactions or come up against any prejudices?

The UK is a small island and we have a different social and musical history. We haven’t had the large-scale racial divide on the level that America has. Reggae has been the root of my inspiration from childhood and I’ve been exposed to different scenes and cultures. I’ve been into this music from around seven years old, met and spoke with Bob Marley at Marylebone Magistrate’s court, saw him play at the Hammersmith Odeon and the Rainbow Theatre. I have definitely got my practical and theoretical musical elements down to beyond PHD level. No one can test me on my right to be part of this and no one, black or white, can try and judge me and try to charge me with cultural appropriation. Whitey been there, seen it, done it. Try test me.

I remember performing live on TV for the Smile Jamaica Hurricane Gilbert Benefit. Rodigan was involved too and Westwood designed T-shirts for charity. I got stopped at Heathrow after that show by two Jamaican women telling me how amazing they thought I was. I’ve never had any trouble from anyone. I’ve been in the game from the start, I lead the way for today’s MCs and dance music producers. When I first MC’d over dance music even my record company was freaked out, I was so ahead of the game – and in racist America my record company told me the USA was not ready for my white face over black music. People should be paying respect and giving thanks and if anyone wants to come with those Iggy Azalea accusations, they better come armed with historical and cultural knowledge because I will slay them with science. I’m from the school of Dr Martin Luther King, with modules in Malcolm X. I don’t care what colour you are or where you’re from. I don’t have to justify jack shit to anyone – I do this, I live this, and I’m one in a million.

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Tell us about your childhood obsession with reggae.

I grew up on top of a betting shop next to an after hours Blues bar, which started pumping the bass late at night and was still rocking as I left for primary school in the mornings – which probably had a deep effect!

I recorded my first track “Reggae gone Kinky” over the Kid Ralph – Little Twitch Instrumental in my teens and mastered a dub version for the B-side too, mixed down live at the Cockpit Theatre, Church Street Market. I took the master tape up to Music House in Seven Sisters and cut my 1st dub plate on acetate. I was well pleased with myself and took it down to Record Shack (Dub vendor) in Ladbroke Grove, where I used to buy all my 7” pre’s and played it to Redman who worked there. I’ve still got that 10”. I don’t know of any other white kids, male or female, that pulled that off at such an early age. Probably only David Rodigan might be able to claim he’s been into reggae music slightly longer, but not from such an early age or from the same perspective. I write, produce and perform – plus he’s a bit older 😉 I used to listen to reggae shows in Lisson Green Estate on my transistor radio when I was still in primary school.

Who out of today’s electronic music acts do you admire and recommend?

I tend to like different tracks from artists rather than specific acts these days from House to Grime. Different people stand out at different times for different reasons. There’s a cute UK track I’m feeling right now called ‘Suttin’ Good’ by Stan and Fever. I recommend you expand your mind and experience and absorb as much as possible here in the UK and internationally.

All time music hero?

There’s no main person, though I was really into Bob Marley, Marc Bolan, Nina Simone, Kate Bush, Grace Jones and Missy Elliot – they’re all outstanding performers. There are loads more.

A lot of the time, it’s a person embodying several different qualities and talents. They’re superstars; they’re not TV manufactured, fabricated, bland ‘anybody coulda done it’ types. They are artists that have something significant to offer and convey.

Finally, what’s your secret weapon?

Ahaha my charm, wit and personality. Not my honesty. Possibly my intelligence and my blue eyes, but that’s not secret! And the ability to work and hang with so many different types of people. I think often I’m perceived a certain way and then when people meet me or get to know me, their initial perception changes. The unexpected. The unpredictability and the way I don’t necessarily do things in the way a lot of people would. I’m not scared to try different approaches and take risks… or speak my mind.

Thanks FERAL is KINKY! See you at Church of Dreams and then Glasto!

http://www.feraliskinky.com

 

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Jenny Amp

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