Lottie talks music, parenting and the infamous Hacienda

Lottie has been at the forefront of the electronic music scene for two decades and is now championing much of the female DJ talent that is currently breaking thought into the scene. It all began for her at the tender age of 17 when she used to attend the Hacienda and regularly catch DJs such as Graeme Park and Andrew Weatherall gracing the decks. After a move to London in 1993 she soon after got her break with a residency at Turnmills’ new venture, The Gallery, just after it got going in 1995. When she began to produce music in the in-house studio at Turnmills she soon secured a session on the hugely popular Essential Mix on Radio 1 and the likes of Carl Cox were soon championing her music. Wanting to have a night of her own she teamed up with Caroline Prothero and they started the now infamous Misdemeanours parties at The End in London and Miami. Thursday nights at Misdemeanours became unmissable and Lottie soon found herself playing alongside artists such as Daft Punk, Josh Wink, DJ Sneak, Felix Da Housecat and Jacques Le Cont. Lottie went on to win both the Sony Ericsson Muzik magazines ‘Best New DJ’ award, as well as the Dancestar ‘Best Breakthrough DJ’ award, and soon began touring the World. Since those awards Lottie has gone on to grace the decks of many clubs and events around the globe such as Space, Pacha, DC-10, Glastonbury, Exit Festival, Fabric, Sankeys and of course her Geisha residency at Cargo here in the UK. Lottie has also hosted Pete Tongʼs the Essential Selection many times, standing in for Pete when he was away. Lottie is possibly one of the most iconic female DJs to date gracing the cover of Muzik magazine, Time Out London, Jockey Slut, Mixmag and ID-J. Recently she has collaborated with Omar Odyssey (of Waze & Odyssey) and has had releases and remixes on Duty Free, Virgin, Underwater, and Gung Ho Recordings gaining support from the likes of Laurent Garnier and Groove Armada. We were very lucky to catch up with this busy lady ahead of her appearance at Room2Move to discuss her musical history, family life, her productions and what she has planned for the future.

Hi Lottie, I must say this is a great pleasure to interview you. How has life been treating you of late?

Fabulous thank you. Enjoying the sunshine and festivals, if only it was always like this here!

When you first became interested in the music you used to attend the Hacienda. Can you tell us about some of your favourite moments in the club?

I remember only having a fiver in my pocket and that lasting all night, making friends with loads of people in the long queue, catching lifts from anybody and everybody from Chester (where I lived) to Manchester and stopping off at Manchester airport with large groups of people on the way home because it was the only place open and we were all still wide awake. But mostly I remember the feeling in my stomach of excitement when you walked in and the bass shook your whole body. Loving the music and doing everything to get vinyl copies of the tracks I’d heard in the club the next day from Eastern Bloc Records. I’ve still got my copies of Reese and Santonio ‘Rock To The Beat’, Nicole -Rock The House’, Computer Madness and several TRAX records from those special times.

Who have been some of your biggest musical influences over the years?

Prince is my biggest inspiration, I became obsessed with his music at the age of 15 and he probably shaped my whole musical direction from then. I loved all the electronic dance music from the 80’s though and moving into house seemed a natural progression. When I moved to London and started DJing out (of my bedroom) in 1992 ,I went to Trade and Malcom (Duffy) and Kenny got me into some amazing underground house sounds. I also starting loving DJ Sneak, Derrick Carter and Josh Wink, they were instrumental in how I shaped my sound, so it was wonderful to then do tons of gigs with them all around the world.

You took a break after you found out you were pregnant. How long were you actually away from the scene and did you miss it?

I changed dramatically when I had a child, because dance music and clubs had been my whole world and I was completely immersed in it, which was why I ended up having success. When my son came along my priorities shifted and I didn’t want to spend my nights up till dawn in nightclubs anymore, as I had a little person to look after. So although I didn’t take that long a break, I did sort of disappear, because my lifestyle changed so much. I still was obsessed with music but I wasn’t out all the time at everything in the industry, like I used to be. He’s older now and I’m going out more so I fancy a bit of a renaissance!

Soon after the arrival of your son you started to play gigs again and decided to take him to a number of those gigs with you, which I imagine was quite difficult at first. How did you manage being on the road with your son?

I had a lot of childcare issues! My parents live up North and my husband is in the music business and is busy most weekends, so it was always difficult. The only place that worked was Ibiza, because I have so many friends there to look after him, so he’s always come along every year and he loves it like we all do now, it’s like a second home to him.

I have some very fond memories of your sets at Circus and Creamfields in the late 90s when you used to champion the West Coast US House sound of artists like Halo & Hipp-e, Onionz and Joeski. What are your thoughts on the house sound at present, and do you miss that sound of the late 90s and early 00s?

I do find it hilarious that ‘deep house’ is played on the radio now in its new pop form but its nothing like the deep house I used to play. Saying that there’s loads of incredible new house music being made and I’m still excited by house music as it evolves. I know I could play loads of old stuff and it would probably fit in to the sound of now but I love playing brilliant brand new music as there is no shortage of it.

Your latest production was ʻRemember Meʼ which was a full on groovy house track and very much the sound you are known for. Do you have any plans to release some new material this year?

I do, I’ve been a bit crap of late making time for making music but I’m going to get busy with my Ableton again very soon and there’s another collaboration in the pipeline.

You are a huge advocate of female DJs and want to ensure that female DJs are treated with the same respect as male DJs. Is sexism something you have personally experienced in the scene and if so, how did you overcome it?

I was very lucky in that I met like-minded people, male and female, all along my journey from ‘enthusiastic-teenager-with-recordbox’ to established DJ. I have to say that the acid house scene and generally all house music lovers rarely discriminate. What I found is if you know your music, you’re passionate about it and can mix with the best of ’em, people don’t care about race or gender. Clubs have always been open-minded places and that is one of the reasons I love them. I definitely did play down my feminine side at first though (jeans and trainers) as I wanted to make sure I was being booked because they wanted to hear me play and not for some sort of eye candy. I soon became comfortable to wear what I wanted though and although I have heard some sexist tales from other DJ’s I’ve been pretty lucky in that respect. People did think I was the DJ’s girlfriend for a while when I would first walk in with my records though but they soon worked it out when no bloke turned out and I started mixing!

There are now a lot more female DJs in the scene which I personally feel is a great thing for everyone concerned, as there is some great talent out there. However do you feel that some female DJs give other female DJs a bad perception based on some of their risqué photo shoots and antics behind the decks?

I think they are making a rod for their own back. If they are marketing themselves on their looks and not how they sound then they’re going to get shit gigs aren’t they? There’s plenty of amazing female DJ’s out there now (Hannah Holland, Juiet, Smokin Jo, Joyce Muniz, Anthea, Ceri to name but a few) who are playing at the best clubs because they sound brilliant. It doesn’t really matter what the Paris Hiltons of this world are doing.

The ʻGeishaʼ night you started at East Village with Suze Rosser (later at Cargo) focuses solely on female DJs. Why did you start the night and did you have any reservations about the idea?

I used to be against putting all female DJ’s together because I wanted us to be seen on an equal footing with the men, but I do feel we are equal now, but there aren’t enough gigs for us all! Male and female! There is so many DJs now, but I wanted to showcase the fantastic female talent there is out there and the only real way to do this is to put on your own night.

Why did you decided to name the night ʻGeishaʼ?

I love the old Japanese style and artwork and the term “Geisha’ actually means ‘female purveyors of dance’ so I thought it would be turning the old subservient idea of a Geisha on its head and give it a new empowering modern interpretation.

Since our return to the scene the life of a DJ has changed so much with the shift towards social media and the digital revolution. How have you embraced the changes since you have returned, and what is some of your favourite new tech out there?

I love the way I can just upload a mix and people can listen to it straight away and its so handy for sharing new material. I try not to get too immersed in Facebook and Twitter updates though, as it really does sap the time away from doing real things!

When you first began producing I believe you used to use the studio at Turnmills. Do you now have your own studio or do you just use software to produce your music?

I use Ableton and do collaborations with other producers.

You had a heavy involvement in Pete Tongʼs Essential Selection, often filling in for him when he was away. How did the opportunity come about and what was your first reaction to being asked to fill in for Pete?

I never really wanted to do radio but it was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down and actually loved it. I ended up guest hosting about 15 shows so I was very lucky

In 1998 you compiled an Essential Mix. How do you go about preparing for the Essential Mix, and did you mix it live or use the studio to ensure those mixes were spot on?

I spent hours preparing them and mixed them all live in my bedroom, usually from vinyl.

Everyone in the scene works very hard and I can imagine you find it even harder since the introduction of your son. How do you find the time to relax and what sort of things do you like to get up to when you have some time to yourself?

Red wine is my vice and I’d love to be a sommelier. There’s not many things better than a fine glass of margeaux! I also spend my time ferrying my son around to all his sporting commitments. He’s just been signed by a football club academy at the tender age of  8 and he plays tennis and cricket loads, so I’m a bit of a chauffeur and manager when it comes to him. I don’t really get any time to myself unless I’m away somewhere on a gig!

You have played all over the globe and surely witnessed some incredible gigs. Can you tell us about some of your favourite ever gigs and what made them so special?

I have played at Exit Festival in Hungary twice, 20,000 people going mental. Its such a great festival. Tenax in Florence, the coolest club in the World (and it has an amazing wine bar). Sirena in Brazil and DJing in the rain forest was  just an incredible experience but Space in Ibiza will always be my favourite.

You are set to play Room2Move on the 26th July. Do you have anything special planned for your set that you could tell us about?

I’ll be playing all the new stuff I’m buzzing about and a couple of classics I’ve started playing again. Looking forward to it!

Over the years you must have experienced some crazy antics in and out of the DJ booth. Can you tell us about some of your favourite moments over the years that have stuck in your mind?

I have selective memory loss on most of the embarrassing ones, but I did dive from the edge of the DJ booth into the crowd at DC10 a few years back. I was the second person to do that but I think it became a bit of a thing afterwards.

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Ian French
About the Author

Director and DJ, Ian French (Naif) is passionate about every genre of music from Breakbeat, to Drum & Bass, to Techno and Progressive House. If he was to describe his preferred style of music he would probably describe it simply as electronic music. Besides his love for music and DJing his other passions are fine cuisine, wine, and travel.