We caught up with DJ Misbehaviour during her trip to Dubai to get the inside story on her rise to fame, her inspirations and what we can expect from tonight’s event at the Barbary.
When did you first start DJ’ing and how did it start?
In the early 80’s when I was at college in Sheffield, I started making tapes for the various parties that went on every weekend in basements of the student houses. There would be a ghetto blaster hooked up to speakers and people would bring their tapes. I used to put mine on and then watch how people reacted. I guess that was the first step toward DJing, selecting and observing the crowd reaction. When I moved to Brighton in 1989, I started working at night at a spot called the Escape. A few years later, I moved to London and got my first break opening at a Club called Fresh’n Funky, which was one of the most successful London clubs in the 90’s.
What is your favourite music to play?
That’s hard to say as I love all music. Soul, Funk and Reggae are my foundations. Those led me into many other genres like Hip Hop, Jungle, UKG and House.
What drew you to Hip Hop music and US Hip Hop music In particular?
At the first party that I did in Brighton, the other DJ played hip hop. I loved 70’s soul and funk, so when I heard the tunes he was playing, I could totally relate because of the sample source. I remember he played Gangstarr Words I Manifest and EPMD Big Paypack and from then on, I was sucked into the US East Coast.
How has it been to be a white female in that industry and be so against the stereotype?
It has its positives and negatives. Starting out it was harder to get gigs on face value. I did not look like a stereotypical DJ, so I had to play before I got booked in order to prove I really could play. Then when they heard me, I stood out in a good way by being a minority. Some men were quite hostile about women in the DJ booth and then others were super supportive and wanted to see more women in the arena like Swing from Boogie Bunch. Fresh’n Funky also had the highest number of women DJs of any club in London like Maura Miller and Christine Indigo, so I was lucky to have a supportive introduction to London.
What brought you to New York? And how did you get involved with Mobile Mondays?
I was heavily into East Coast Hip Hop and wanted to experience the City. I came out for the New York Seminar in 1994, which was an amazing experience. Puffy had just launched Bad Boy and had his street team running around with banners with Biggie Dreams on one side and Craig Mack’s ‘Flava in Ya Ear’ on the other. Nas’ ‘Illmatic’ came out during that time too. Those were truly exciting times for hip hop. In 1999, I came back out for what I thought was a year, got sucked in, and have been living there ever since.
I accidentally stumbled across Mobile Mondays! I met Operator Emz ,the founder, and was instantly hooked by the cool mix of music lovers and industry people and the 45s. I was coming every week, bringing a few tunes hanging out, and then Emz invited me to come and play there for my birthday with Spinderella, which was dope, and the rest is history.
What key things that make a good DJ and a good party?
For me, a DJ who loves their music – there are too many DJs with laptops going through the motions these days, which doesn’t excite me. I appreciate someone who knows how to play for the crowd in front of them, yet can still throw a few curve balls to keep it interesting. And, of course, a good crowd who come for the music not bottles (laughs).
Tell us about your recent video that went viral and earned you the interview spot on Hot 97?
It was a Mobile Mondays! event at the Museum of The City Of New York. The theme was the 90s, so I came out of course, rocking my favourite Hip Hop tunes from that era. Someone from the crowd filmed it and put it on Facebook with a simple tag “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.” The next day I woke up and people were calling me saying “you’ve gone viral” and I ended up with 27 million views. How can you explain that? I have no idea! Operator Emz introduced me to Peter Rosenburg and he invited me onto Hot 97 to do the interview.
Favourite city or venue to DJ?
That’s quite tough. I love New York for the sheer variety of artists I can meet or see perform locally. DJ culture in London is like no other to me. I played recently in Spain and Italy and both those crowds were really fun too. This is my first time in Dubai so I am looking forward to the new experience.
Where do you think cultivates the best DJ’s?
I love the scene in the UK. I was present for great genres that came out of of the clubs, like the Jungle and Garage scenes. We have a real respect for the history of the music too, which is why, for example, I hear the best reggae played over there.
Catch DJ Misbehaviour tonight at the Barbary.