onsdag den 15. maj 2013

Jane Fitz - NWS Cast #29

Click right >> HERE << to listen to Jane's mix!

You don't have to be a nerd or particulaly lucky or anything of that nature to have come across the name Jane Fitz in your clubbing escapades. She has played and are still playing all around the most respected venues and for a simple reason. Let me bring it to you like this: There are DJ's who should have found another way in life and there are DJ's who should have stuck with producing records. There are DJ's who are good - even great - within their narrow subgenre of dance music and DJ's who will make a musical mess with two decks. BUT finally there are also those DJ's you meet that live up to their name, DJ's who make an impact on you and can take you places with their mixes. Jane Fitz is of the last rare breed.

Jane Fitz lives in Hackney in east London. Like most people in Hackney you'll probably see her in the park, the local pub or at the market on her day off, but unlike most people her day off is Monday due to a busy schedule playing in various clubs around the world most weekends. And moreover, unlike most of the people you'll meet Jane has been lost in music since the age of 8 when she would zone out on the floor with Herb Alpert and Stevie Wonder in her fathers headphones.

She is currently promoting the Night Moves parties with her friend Jade Seatle in London. She's played alongside countless DJ's like Brothers' Vibe, Brawther, Hakim Murphy to count a few. She runs her weekly radioshow DirtySounds Sessions. Radio has in fact been a major part of her life since she as a 10 year old tuned in to pirate radio stations, up until she began mixing on various radio shows. I could go on and on speaking about her life, but I prefer to let her do the talking.

NWS: Tell us a bit about how life is in Hackney.
Jane: Yes, I live in east London, and have done for most of my life. The parks are lovely, lots of friends are nearby, the food and pubs are brilliant, and I'm 15 minutes from my parents. Over the past three years or so, where I live can be very busy at weekends, and I sometimes wish everyone would leave because it's really not that hip and also it's really driven the prices up - £4 for a pint of frankly rubbish Guinness in my local pub. Not on. Apart from that I have very little to complain about, either in my local life. Oh, except the queue at the post office, which is always way too long. 

NWS: What's the difference to you between recording a podcast and playing live? 
Jane: I guess the main difference between recording a podcast and playing live is that I've never worn my pyjamas while playing live. Also I take out somewhere between 60-80 records when I play out, so I have to make the best of what I've packed. While recording at home, I can pull out anything as I feel like it. To be honest though, when I make a mix at home it's usually from what happens to be on the floor that day – so new bits I've bought, promos or something I've pulled off the shelves during the week. The sound tends to be a bit different I guess – I probably thump it out a bit more and try and stir up a bit more energy when I'm playing out; unless I'm doing a warm up set, or the early morning slot (both of which are my favourites if given a choice). You don't have those kind of restrictions or responsibilities when you're at home, so it's more solitary and probably less pressured and more thoughtful because of that.

NWS: I have yet to hear you DJ live and am looking forward to the day. 
Jane: You've probably never heard me live because I think i'm still pretty under the radar so I tend to only get booked to play at more underground nights, or by more switched-on promoters. I haven't released any records – which is the only way to make a name for yourself these days – and the stubborn teenager inside me says I shouldn't have to. I have a radio show on an internet radio station on a Monday night, and a couple of thousand followers on soundcloud. I co-run a small party with no advertising in London. And my music isn't exactly populist either. I just do my thing in my own way at my own pace. I would hope that means what I do retains some integrity. If I can share the music that I love with more people, via channels such as your lovely podcast, and that in turn makes a few more people happy and into it, then that's pretty cool for me. I hope you can hear me out because I put a lot of work into packing my record bag and I really try to play weird and wonderful records you don't know, because if I'm on a dancefloor, that's the sort of things I would want to hear. 

NWS: I know you DJ'd since the 90's. Can you tell us about your beginning? The feeling of London scene at that time, the parties and the vibe? Educate us a little please.
Jane: I started playing records to people when I was maybe 13 or something, at friend's birthday parties. Mainly because, while most of the other girls in my class were spunking their pocket money on My Little Pony stickers, I was buying Duran Duran and Yazoo records. By the mid-late 80s I was buying a record a week and that would have been some kind of electro or soul, things like the Streetsounds Electro compilations, or records by Cameo, The Cool Notes, Timex Social Club, even some early UK acid house such as Jolly Roger's Acid Man... things I'd heard played on the pirate radio station Solar, or Radio London, or at this night I used to go to at the back of a pub in Dagenham every Monday when I was 15. By the time I played at any sort of proper party or club or pub, I guess that would have been the beginning of the 90s, I played things like Gil Scott Heron's It's Your World, Masters At Work's I Can't Get No Sleep, KRS-One's Sound Of Da Police, Tranquility Bass' Cantamilla. The feeling of London at the time? I was a student then, I used to go to things like Talkin' Loud in Brixton, or Dingwalls in Camden or The Iceni in Mayfair – I was a proper little jazz and rare groove fiend. That was a really strong scene then, we could go out to something probably every week and it wasn't dressy or hip or even that druggy, it was totally about the music. There were lots of little nights in pubs or basements locally too, things in Ilford and East Ham as well as going into Central London. And I was really discovering record shops properly – Soul Jazz had a big effect on me and my music buying, as did Rhythm and Bass in Barking. I've still got loads of flyers from those times because that was a really special time for me.
I sort of stopped being into house music around 1990 when rave and hardcore got really big. I don't think I bought a house record again until about 1995, it was probably The Horn Song or The Bomb or something like that. I didn't really get into house properly though until I moved to Hong Kong in 1996 and I started going out there. I went to New York on holiday for the first time in early 1998 – I went into a record shop and they were playing Francois K's mix of Cesaria Evora, and someone in the shop told me about Body and Soul, so I went and it totally blew my head off. I was in London after that for about a month, to have my wisdom teeth out – and I discovered Fridays R Firin. I thought that was amazing – Kenny Hawkes and Harri playing in this little basement on Oxford Street every week. I came back to HK all fired up, with a big bag of records and taught myself how to mix on my flatmate's turntables. I think I played my first house gig within about a month, at this brilliant party called Robot. That was it, I've played mainly house ever since.

NWS: So you've been playing records since the age of 13. Where would you say your "musical education" began?
Jane: My musical education started at home – via my mum and older brother. My mum used to love Stevie Wonder and Freda Payne and Herb Alpert. And my brother loved everything – one week he'd bring home a Chic album, the next week Styx, the next week, David Bowie, the next week Third World. I used to make tapes out of his records when I was really young, like 7 or 8 years old, of all those different things. I didn't know about styles then, I just loved certain songs. Then I discovered pirate radio when I was 10 and used to tape loads of stuff from there. And also Greg Edwards on Capital Radio. I guess those three things – mum, my brother's records and the radio, from a really young age – shaped what I play right now. Certain records – Earth Wind & Fire's Fantasy, Rotation by Herb Alpert and Another Star by Stevie Wonder – are probably the first records I remember really taking me off to somewhere magical in my head, and when I hear those records now I'm 8 years old again with my dad's headphones on laying on the floor zoning out. It's a feeling I still get from records now, so my history and music education is never far away really. Or maybe I've just not developed a lot since I was 8.

NWS: Can't help imagining the 8 year old Jane on the floor deep into the music. Let me ask you about your current radioshow "DirtySounds Sessions" which has been running now for quite some time. What is that about and how can we tune in?
Jane: The show has been running on an internet station called myhouseyourhouse.net every Monday between 10-midnight UK time, pretty much since the station started, so that's going to be eight years in November. The MHYH people have always been really supportive and given me the freedom to play exactly what I want – so sometimes I might do a soul show, or an old electro show or something. The name actually dates back to 1999, when I made one of my first ever mixtapes – called Dirty Sounds For Late Nights. A year later I started doing a radio show on Groovetech, which was one of the first internet radio stations, a really great professional set up, and I called it DirtySounds Sessions after that tape. A few years later the word 'dirty' started to be used by lots of trashy 'dirty funky sexy electro house' nights and it made me really hate the name. It has, for me, genuinely become a dirty word. But I've been using it for so long it feels wrong to change it. I started putting the archives up on Soundcloud about four years ago, when Soundcloud was still quite unknown, because not everyone could tune in late on a Monday night. And people just started discovering it and reposting links to the shows. Until just recently you could only post so many archives on Soundcloud so i've had to delete the mixes - but I've actually got 90 per cent of my shows recorded. I've had some really good guest mixes on too – they aren't a focus but if I hear a DJ I really like I want to showcase them. It started with just friends dropping in but now I ask more people to record mixes – because I think hearing me every week can get a bit boring. I'm just beginning to get these up as archives now too because there are so many good ones. I used to talk on the shows, but I stopped when I started posting the archives because I thought it got in the way of the music. Maybe I will again but I'd rather the music did the talking than me. I talk a load of old shit, my records are far more interesting.

NWS: What keeps you busy these days and what's in store for the future?
Jane: I'm on an enforced break from my day job at the moment – so my days are spent writing a book on the history of pirate radio, which i've been researching for about three years. I'm also in the studio with my friend Dom trying to make weird records that we both like, which I hope will finally see the light of day this year (something I say every year!). Or I'm travelling for gigs. And then the rest of my time is taken searching for records and buying records and playing records. And also filing records away, especially after the weekend, it never seems to end. I wish that was an exaggeration but anyone who knows me will be able to confirm this shameful geeky truth. I also spend rather a lot of time packaging up records I've sold on Discogs and standing in the queue at the post office, hence my earlier comment. 

NWS: NWS Cast is all about vinyl, but maybe you can tell us why you buy records? (and where) ?
Jane: Why I buy my records has a simple answer – because I like them and because I really love buying records. That's it. I am constantly getting obsessions about things and then I have a need to own them. Where is a very complicated answer because I buy from so many places. I actually buy a lot from the internet because I always have. When I lived in Hong Kong, my flat mate used to order records from Juno, so I started to. That was when it was called the Dance Music Resource Pages and there were no sound clips. I did that all the time I was in HK so when I came back to London in 1999 I continued because I was in the habit. No one in the UK used Juno then so it was a great place to buy new things no one else had – which has always been a motivation. I started buying off Vinyl Underground then too. My favourite record shops in London closed down a long time ago, so I lost the habit of going – although I do try and pop in and support and buy things if I'm near and I still like to scour the secondhand shops. I was a massive basement 50p record digger in the early 00s – until I worked at the Music and Video Exchange in 2003-4 and realised that most of the staff considered anyone who bought from the bargain basements to be cheap scum. Sad but true. So now I do my 50p record buying on discogs where no one can judge me. And it's cleaner. I hear of all these younger DJs spending £60 on old Prescription records and it makes me laugh that most of my records today rarely cost me more than two or three quid, sometimes a lot less. I pity people spending that much money on records that ten years ago no one would touch – at the Music and Video Exchange in 2003 I used to regularly mark down old Boo Williams records to 50p and now they're going for £30. I think it's ridiculous – and being a cheapskate, necessity drives me to unearth new things. I say that, but I'll still regularly spend £150 in a week on brand new records as well. Oh and I've recently started buying records off bandcamp – direct from the artist, sometimes on really small runs. That's probably my current obsession – and again, just to find newer and weirder and different things.

You can catch Jane at one of her upcoming gigs or if you are lucky at the Victoria Park pavilion in Hackney having her veggie breakfast. :)

Enjoy the mix!

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