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Thank you for taking the time to do an interview for part of the Ladies of DNB Series. Miss Trouble has been smashing up dances now for over 15 years, so as one of dnb's leading female MC's we have stopped by to see why this lady is so well recognised.
Can you go back to the first time you picked up a mic, how and who was inspiring you at the time?
Hi thanks for having me on board! I remember hanging out in my early teens with a West London jungle crew from Hyper Records, spending every day after school in a basement flat in Acton, West London listening to the latest white labels and test presses coming out of Blackmarket Records. There were several DJ's and MC's who were mostly older than me and they were a huge inspiration in terms of my exposure to the raw cypher back to back thing. It was super exciting to watch and most of the MC's were Jamaican with some killer lyrics, super creative, all with different styles and flows hyping each other up on the mic and on the decks - the amount of reloads and long mixes made for a playground of challenges that were endless! They were literally at this flat every day doing sets and us younguns would sit and watch from the sidelines, you could call us the blazing squad. A few years later, I was 19 I think, we had moved all this living room madness into what was the early days of internet radio. One day MC Freaky passed me the mic and persuaded me to express myself. I had secretly been writing so it was time to put it to the test! They were really supportive of me so it helped get me started as an mc. They saw me on par with them, that was wicked.
You were a resident MC for DJSS at Formation at quite an early age, how old were you and how did that come about?
I was around 20 I think, it was during my 2nd year at uni. I really had a crap time there to be honest as did another guy called Dave and he and I started hanging out. He was a drum n bass DJ from up north and fancied his hand at promoting. We started with a residential dnb night at Middlesex University and soon moved it up to a small club in Loughborough, and finally Dave partnered with SS to do Formation nights around Leicester, and so I got my 1st break with the big boys, as it were!
You started recording with DJ Clipz (now Redlight), with Pump It Up 2005. Did the exposure with Full Cycle kick start your career?
I'm lucky I guess to have known some amazing people haha! It just so happens Clipz was living in that basement flat in Acton for about a year before he moved up to Bristol and blew up with Full Cycle. I would liked to have done some stuff with Roni and those guys but I was way too nervous to allow that to happen. Seeing Roni Size, who'd just won his Mercury Award, for the first time in the studio during my recording session with Clipz - I have to say I was star struck. It all happened so fast, I was very grateful to be there. I did feel that things were definitely happening and being a female, especially on the mic was an anomaly at that time. Funnily enough on the way back from that studio session in Bristol I stopped by to see a psychic that had been recommended by a friend. I had started a legal battle with someone I knew who'd stolen my idea and taken it to Dragon's Den. The psychic told me to back down and the fight was not worth it, that she could see coins rolling on the floor. Then she said "I don't know what this means but in 5 years time you'll cut a record and look back at this situation and laugh". She was absolutely spot on!
What inspires you when you write?
Life, experiences, people's stories... I've always felt a responsibility to talk about the world and its problems, especially with all the vacuous pop music we are subject to. I had a lot of angst in me growing up and thank God I found music to be the outlet for my pain, so a lot of my work has a dark feeling to it. I grew up listening to metal and grunge before I discovered jungle and I love all that twisted pain shit. Sometimes you might get the odd happyish tune from me but that's more lately, as I've grown and learnt to be happier within myself. I get inspired listening to random music, I like classical when I'm driving these days. I've been singing in an opera group every Monday. That's pretty inspirational.
You worked on Kool FM for a long time, how long for and who are your hero's from the station?
Yeah that was amazing! Legendary pirate station and I feel honoured to have been a part of that with my girl DJ Turbulence. Shout out to you ;) Have to say for me, it was all about Brockie and Det, what a combo. Also Stevie Hyper D was a masssiiiive hero of mine, I wish I had had a chance to meet him. The guy used to sing and rap like no-one else and again with super creative lyrics. What a G, RIP.
What other residencies have you held, and which ones have you enjoyed the most?
I was on Life Fm - shout out to Paul Roast, good times there, where I got to meet the Healing Crew who were playing liquid dnb, and through them I got to be a resident for the legendary Nookie at his Atmosphere nights and his radio show on Ministry of Sound, also Moondance, Essence Of Chi and Guildford based Rotation events run by Subterra. Through them I got to play at Innovation in the Sun which was one of the best times I've ever had. I'd love to play there again, something about dnb in the sun you can't beat. It was around the same time I was getting booked a lot in the south of France and played 3 times at a huge festival called Les Plages Electronique, including a very memorable set with DJ Fresh. They were always very special events and the great thing about playing abroad is you get to hang out with DJ's and bond whereas back home that doesn't happen as much.
You toured France in 2009 to 2014 as the offical MC for Elisa Do Brasil. Can you tell us about her and the experience?
She is an awesome DJ in her own right and has been championing dnb in France for over a decade. She is part of Paris' dnb DJ royalty and held a huge night there at the Paris Rex Club. Our relationship came about through Les Plages Electronique Festival where we were booked to play together. A few years later she hit me up and asked me to be her exclusive MC after her previous MC Youthstar left to join Dirtyphonics. Of course I said yes. We did 5 years touring up and down France with 2 albums and had a blast. Her fanbase is super strong and very loyal. French ravers are very different to English ravers, they really want you to go all out for them. It was a lot of fun and a lot of learning. My French improved too! They love to see women on stage and with us they got two ;) Our shows were always packed out and the ravers going mental. Some of my favourite shows were in Paris and Bordeaux.
You have travelled as far as Noumea, New Caledonia. How did that come about and what other parts of the world would you like to visit?
That was again with Elisa. New Caledonia a French colonised island and so a lot of Parisians move there as an escape from city life. For those who don't know (I had to look it up initially) it is a tiny island near Fiji and the French only moved in 100 years ago, so it's still very fresh and the racial tension is definitely visible. We were taken around the island to explore beyond the mixed city into the poorer rural areas where only the natives live in handmade shacks, ironically around a pristine white washed church, with bars on the windows. We met some locals who had taken shelter from the hot rain and offered to cut my coconut for me that had fallen to the ground. One went to his truck and pulled out a machete and hacked back the husk and shell until we reached the nut, and we all shared it. It was a beautiful moment. We then invited them to the club where we were playing the next night. They'd never heard of dubstep or drum and bass before, although they knew of hiphop. So I pulled out my phone, played a beat and freestyled to dnb for them. Their eyes were glistening as they discovered something they'd never heard before! It saddened me to realise much later that although we invited them and they said they would come, they wouldn't be allowed into the club where we were performing. It felt like an aparteit. So sad for such a beautiful island with amazing people. I'd go back in a heartbeat. On the plus side I got to snorkel there for the first time with champion surfers! It was absolutely incredible. One of the best times of my life. Often the gigs you love are the ones where you get to have a memorable lifetime experience. Other places I'd like to travel to and play would be Australia, back to USA, Japan and I keep hearing amazing things about Prague!
What's the largest crowd you have played to?
So far its been 12,000 on the Cannes Film Festival beach. It was pretty overwhelming to say the least! One to remember for sure...
Any memorable bad experiences?
Of course, but we don't need to go there ;)
You have a soft spot for Viper Recordings' Inside Info. He is undoubtedly a great man & producer, but can you explain to the masses why he inspires you so much?
InsideInfo aka Paul Bondy and I hit it off from day one. He's a very humble guy and loves chicken. What's not to like!? His dark style appeals to my inner being and the sparseness of the beats is perfect for an MC/rapper to go to town over, and what I like the most is somehow in all that sparseness he manages to keep the groove and funk. I feel that's lacking in some other neuro producers but Paul's got it in bags full. I can't wait for more music to come out with him. Check out our track "Metamorphosis" if you haven't already ;)
You are now an official MC for the Viper Recordings tour. Where has that taken you so far?
Ah man, again so so grateful. When Elisa and I were touring she played a lot of Viper tunes and now to be on the label roster is a dream realised, both as a vocalist and touring MC. As Team Viper we've done London of course - Cable (RIP), Electric Brixton and Fire, then Paris and Berlin where I represented Viper as the host for both events - on a side note I can't remember ever seeing a female MC do that for a large dnb label, massive props to Futurebound. I have to say, Paris with Cyantific, The Prototypes and Smooth was a massive highlight for me this year, we went in! I emceed for 4 hours and didn't want it to end, love it when that happens. And most recently we all went to Belgium to do the monster festival that is Tomorrowland. Unbelievable!
As a woman in a male dominated scene, are you sometimes dismayed with the male to female ratio, and what advice can you give to up and coming female artists?
I think the balance is slowly shifting in our favour, hopefully myself and other females getting bookings for larger events will soften the stigma that is often attached to girls in the scene and encourage others to get on board. It is a commitment though, I haven't got a normal life and I don't think I would want one. If I did I would have stayed at uni ;) My advice would be to find your space, your niche, your gift and just do it to your best ability. I think artistry right now is all about authenticity, people need that and its more satisfying. Don't be afraid to try something new.
You just played Tomorrowland, how was that and what's next on the gig list?
Yeah it was amazing! Got to play with the Brookes Brothers and The Prototypes as well as a lil' back to back with Rhymestar. We were in a mad fairyland amongst thousands of house heads - that main stage is just unbelievable. I saw some familiar faces who had come all the way from France to see us play which was wicked, told you the Frenchies are dedicated ;) What's next on the list is a festival in Kent where I'm booked with legendary DJ Fabio. I am very excited needless to say, he has been one of the DJ's I haven't had the pleasure of working with yet. I'm also in the process of writing some fresh new music so keep an eye out for that. My last tune came out with Joe Ford on Shogun Audio - and was a dubstep tune so I'm itching to get back onto dnb, but all good things as they say. Massive respect out to Friction for that! And to Joe Ford for a great collab. Man's got skills!
Non dnb wise, you are doing some classical singing. Can you expand on that?
Yeah, its funny I've been singing all this time and I never really knew how to manipulate my voice until this year. I decided to invest in my instrument and found out very quickly that technically I'd been doing it wrong all this time, even though I'd had some training before. I've since discovered new texture and strength that I didn't know how to access and its really exciting, like trading your old car for a new shiny one that goes really fast! About a month after starting this training I was asked to join an Armenian opera (I am Armenian by blood) and so I rehearse every week with a group and together we will be performing in an opera show at the end of the year. All of my life I've always sung low parts as my voice is naturally low, but since doing the training I have graduated to a soprano. Who knew? In the opera I get to act too, playing the parts of a mother, a lady in waiting and a warrior. It's going to be amazing; the music is spectacular!
What do you drink in the studio?
Water, ginger tea or whiskey if I'm writing. Jack and I are good friends.
And what you drinking from the bar?
Depends on the weather, but generally a G&T with lots of fresh lime or Amaretto and cranberry with lime. The lime is important.
Shouts and thanks?
A huge thanks to my other half of 11 years, previous MC partner and general life motivator Asad Raja - your energy is inspirational, Futurebound for having the belief in me, InsideInfo for his chicken-beats-love, IC3 - luv ya G, Nari Man, Tim Viperelli, James Foster, all the Viper team of producers, Rhymestar, Elisa Do Brasil, X Ray crew, Gabby Les Plages, Tarque, Jon and Cheryl from Rough Tempo, Chef, Keira V, Subterra, DJ Wise and Dream FM crew, Specimen A, SS, Nookie, Madcap, DJ Phatt, Ludo, Mathis, Rom D, Paul Roast, Darrison, Bassline, Ken Mac, Doug aka Contact, Freaky, Spindall, Misrepresent, all the fans and anybody who has been affected through my music or helped me elevate and had the belief in my talent, I thank you for your spirit on this journey...Can't wait to unleash the next chapter! Much love xx
Interview by Missrepresent as part of the Ladies of Dnb series.