“What are you going to do with all those records?” my sister asked me in 2009? I replied “they will come in handy one day”! Little did I know a few months later, I would be asked to do the warm up for friends at an event in Hammersmith and that my musical journey, which started in 2010, would take me to venues throughout London, Glasgow, Portugal and Italy.
As early as I could remember, my parents always listened to music, bought and played records on a small record player, eventually they bought a GEC G979 Stereogram in the late 60s which had better storage – the sound quality was something else!
Born in Ladbroke Grove, my family then moved to Shepherds Bush where I grew up, went to school, college and started my first job (1976) all in Hammersmith. During my lunch breaks I would visit record shops such as Dub Vendor in Ladbroke Grove and Greensleeves in Shepherds Bush and buy as many as I could.
I moved to South London in the mid-80s, returned to Shepherds Bush in 2000 for 10 years and now reside in East Dulwich. Whilst in West London, I spent a lot of time listening to local ‘pirate’ stations playing soul, jazz and reggae, attended venues weekly (Keats Wine Bar (now gone) and Addictive Bar in Park Royal) where selectors/DJs from London and beyond would play against each other in friendly or not so friendly “clash” competitions.
I won a competition on one of these stations in 2008, not realising the DJ (Ossie Dollar) was someone I knew at school. We had the same interest in jazz, soul and reggae and he invited me to his show. I was so nervous I couldn’t talk, but it was quite an experience and a first for me!
Ossie and his brother Lennox, held an event in Hammersmith in 2010 and asked me to do the warm up. I was reluctant at first, but after some persuasion I thought I’d give it a try. That was my first foray playing music in public, I didn’t even know how to use the turntables and mixer, but had to learn fast being the only female on the night amongst some very well known selectors – it was a lot of fun.
I’ve always attended the Notting Hill Carnival, I would get there very early (and still do), walk around and listen to as many sound systems as I could, such as Gladdy Wax, Saxon, Channel One and Jah Observer, but would spend the majority of the time between Channel One and Jah Observer.
Austin Palmer (“Spider”) the owner of Jah Observer announced he would be retiring in 2011 and having an event in Brixton (the former St Matthews Meeting Place). He invited people to bring two of their favourite records to play on his sound system. I decided I would. I chose two favourite 12″, Music in the Air by Matumbi and Never Get Burned by The Twinkle Brothers. I joined the queue, when it was my turn I was extremely nervous and my hands were shaking. I remember approaching Austin, handing him my two records, which he promptly gave back and said I had to place them on the turntable and he would set the controls. The MC asked how I wanted to be announced, I said “DUBPLATE PEARL” which I only made up on the spur of the moment. The time limit was six minutes, but my second choice was so well received so I played for about half an hour.
After returning to East Dulwich in 2010 I attended Albertines Pub in New Cross where they had a similar set-up as Keats Wine Bar and Addictive Bar with two selectors playing against each other and thought I could do this. Eventually I got a chance to play and that started my journey into becoming a DJ!!