Featuring in the finals of Riddim Rally, as well as on the lineup for Glastonbury's Silver Hayes, 2017 has been a pretty impressive year for Bristol bred, Guildford residing producer L U C Y. Just before her set at The Red Bull Music Academy showcase in The Love Inn last month, Shuf sat down with the breakthrough DJ for a quick chat about her exciting year so far.
2017 has been a bit crazy for you, what's been the highlight?
Definitely Riddim Rally, but everything – I've been really lucky with it. To be honest I thought 2017 was going to be a dead year where I'd just have to put in graft, but I seem to have been pretty lucky.
How long have you been at it then? Obviously there comes a point where you go from making beats in your bedroom to actually wanting to do it seriously. When did that start?
After the first tune. Yeah it was after I finished my first song I said to myself I want to do this properly, I want to do this for a job. That was when I was around 16.
What was the process of going from that first song to releasing your mixtape on Soundcloud back in March?
I didn't think anything was going to come off the back of the mixtape at all. I'm going to be completely honest, I didn't think I was very good at production at all until the whole Riddim Rally thing. I really thought people were either my friends and they were trying to just be nice, or people were popping up to make conversation saying "ooh your beats are good" but I didn't believe them, and so that was the first validation I got. The mixtape was just a mixture of my attempts at different genres I'd made over the past year.
Has it always been 140 focused for you?
Yeah I started on 140, but the first thing I made was more like a dubstep tune. [laughs] I remember when I discovered that everything was 140, it was such an epiphany – I discovered I could do this, this and this, and I could do halftime. It just seems the most versatile.
As for your production, is there a routine you go through, a certain space you've got to be in, or is it more spontaneous?
I have to lock myself in and make sure I finish a certain percentage of the song the first time I sit down otherwise it'll just go in the bin.
Because otherwise it can just feel like loads of drafts?
Yeah I have a habit of just making 16 bar loops
Which is the funnest bit...
Yeah, well also if I'm struggling to finish a song, what that tells me is that it should also go in the bin. If it's natural, then it's usually a better end result
Obviously so much of what happens in the grime/140 community occurs in London, is there any benefit of being isolated from that somewhat, living in Bristol?
I've actually been living in Guildford for the last two years, so I don't feel connected to either scene in a sense. But obviously I grew up listening to all the Bristol grime producers, as well as a lot of dubby stuff, I feel a lot more connected to that – but it's in a respectful way... I'm not in the scene as such, it's more that I look up to them.
What else has had a big influence on your sound? Particular beats / particular producers that have left lasting impressions.
J Dilla was the first person that happened with, he's how I discovered sampling. I was thinking, 'wait, can I use this? Is that allowed?' but then from that you stem something completely different – reusing, recycling. Other than Dilla it's been quite a broad spectrum; I'm a big fan of James Blake, big fan of Kahn and Neek, big fan of King Tubby – a lot of different genres, generally with a darker sound I'd say, even though J Dilla's so happy.
Another thing, being a female in the industry – have you experienced any sort of prejudice along the way being labelled as a 'female DJ' or a 'female producer' rather than simply as a DJ or producer?
It's not that, I personally don't have a problem with that... I mean I know female DJs, I am a female DJ, I'm not ashamed to be a female and a DJ, so I really don't feel any particular strong way about that title. It's more so getting to the point where you're even labelled that, so for example in sixth form my teacher told me to do performance rather than pursuing a career in production... he'd not even heard any of my music. He told my mum that I was struggling in class, when I wasn't. I had that quite a lot with music teachers making me feel like I wasn't adequate.
I feel like if you can get past that point where you're comfortable with your production and comfortable with your DJ'ing, if you can get to that point then it's fine. I mean I haven't experienced all the hurdles, I'm still very fresh in my career, so I expect there'll be other challenges but currently that's been my experience.
Would you have any advice for, say, a 13 year old girl who's just heard of FL studio and wants to […]
Do it !! Just do it, if you can't do something it's not because you’re a girl, it isn't because your brains not made to be technical... with boys, if their friends are doing it you can see that "ah, even Chris is doing it, and he's an idiot! So if he can do it, I can do it", whereas girls don't have that friend, there's no social thing around it. Just the more you do it the better you'll get, the same with everything. If you want to do it, just do it.
Last thing. Dream B2B and why? Dream MC to vocal one of your beats?
Oh my days, dream b2b – Anz. I'm just gonna say Anz because she's sick. Yeah I've been with her today and she's just stupidly sick.
And hmm dream MC, either D Double or Mez.
Words: Julian Caldwell