We are pleased to welcome Ariane V to our the latest edition of our Mix Series. As one of the driving forces behind inclusive collective Rhythm Sister, a Phonica Records alumnus, and resident on Balamii, she's an ideal candidate for a deep dive into her record bag. She's a vocal supporter of non male record collectors as well as women's nightlife safety. Pop her mix on of only extremely recent music, and check her interview below...
Please can you tell us about your mix? What’s the vibe here? Describe the ideal situation to listen to it please.
I find planning my radio shows easy, but I often find it really hard to come up with mixes for podcasts/mix series. To make it easier for me Rachael came up with the theme “lockdown bangers”, tunes that have been made or released since lockdown vol.1 and I was SO excited to record this mix for Rye Wax. I loved re-listening to the tracks I’ve loved over the past year, going through all my Bandcamp Friday purchases and the promos people have kindly sent to me. So this mix is kind of a roundup of my favourites. It reminded me of all the amazing charity compilations that were released last year in response to the world melting down, some of which I included in this mix. If you’re one of the few people who listen to my Balamii show regularly you will recognise many of the tracks in this mix, although there are quite a few new ones in here too.
This mix is just the perfect summary of the sounds I’ve been loving in 2020 - lots of bruk, breakbeat, and garage breaks, both mellow and club ready. Put it on in the speakers in your living room, crack open a beer (if you drink, but any beverage that makes you happy will do) and have a little two-step on your carpet.
You are from Prague and still play out there (pandemic notwithstanding) regularly. What are your secret tips as a local? Where would you go digging and where would you go drinking? Plus we’d like one bonus wildcard tip please.
Ah I haven’t lived in Prague for five years now and the city has changed so much in that short time! Whenever I go back I feel like I recognise it less and less, new things like amazing new venues, cafes, restaurants are opening all the time. It's hard to keep up unless you live there! The cafe and food scene is incredible. I actually only started DJing once I moved abroad, so I wasn’t really involved in the scene in any way when I lived there and now I’m returning to it a bit like an outsider. Everyone has been really welcoming though, which means that I’m usually lucky enough to land a gig most of the times that I go back, even if it’s just something small.
The scene has changed a lot, for the longest time it seemed like Prague was just attempting to imitate Berlin (which is a 4 hour drive away), but lots of different new parties and DJs have been popping up and I feel like people are more open to hear and dance to all different genres now. It’s no longer just about edgy techno nights, and disco is no longer seen as something to scoff at. There’s a massive DIY feel to many venues and nights there which I love. It’s now got a few online radio stations as well (Radio Punctum and Radio Laude, for instance) - the community is really thriving at the moment, at least that’s what it seems like to me.
Ankali is one of my favourite clubs in the world, Wildt is great, Stalin (an outdoor area on large steps under one of the main parks, it’s right under where a massive statue of Stalin used to be during communism, hence the name) is my favourite place to have a beer in the sun and dance. If you go to Prague in summer there will be DJs playing in random outdoor spaces all over the city, like old train stations, docked boats, and dilapidated old nightclubs (check out Fuchs2).
Quick round of recommendations - go digging in Gram Records, have the best burger and steak tartare of your life in Naše maso, have veggie brunch in Etapa, have an espresso tonic in one of the cafes in the Karlin area, and a few pints at Dva Kohouti. My wildcard would be a guided tour with Pragulic whose guides are homeless people who often also went through drug addiction and sex work. You’ll get to see Prague beyond the Prague Castle, hear incredible stories, and support your guide.
If you’re planning a trip to Prague feel free to reach out to me and ask for tips haha, it’s such an amazing city and I could go on and on forever.
Why did you choose to come to London? And what keeps you here?
I always loved London, as a teenager I was amazed how nobody cared about what you wore and how you looked, whereas in Prague at the time you could hear people muttering whenever someone looked anything ever so slightly off from “normal”. I think English and Czech humour are very similar, quite dark and Monty Python-esque so culturally it didn’t seem too different. The primary reason to come to London was university, but then when I started getting into music more that became a large factor as well. I remember constantly checking the lineups in London and it blew my mind how every weekend I’d be able to see several of my favourites play. When you live here you forget just how spoilt for choice you are.
London’s my home now, my life is here. Friends, music, community, plants, cat :D All the cultural experiences, art, music, theatre… I have been complaining that I haven’t felt like I’ve lived in London this past year, but hopefully that will change soon.
Tell us one silly/funny story from your tenure working at Phonica Records.
At Phonica we would always chat to customers and recommend them things off the wall where we display the recent releases. A guy came in and looked a bit lost, scanning the racks, so I asked if he’s looking for anything specific. He said he’s after some house tunes heavily based on/sampling African percussion. I was really into that at that point so I knew exactly what to pick out for him. I gave him a few records but pointed out one specifically saying that the others are good, but this one is exactly what he’s asking for and the best of the bunch. He kinda smiled and said "yeah, thanks, but I don’t need that one, that’s my record".
Imagine being a producer and having someone in a record store recommend you your own record! He ended up buying the other records I recommended so I did my job well at least.
My problem was that I had no idea what any DJ or producer looked like. It happened way too often that I’d serve someone and my colleague would then excitedly whisper that that was so-and-so. I’d be completely clueless.
Why do you think there are comparatively less non-male record collectors? (spicy question sorry haha)
I might be wrong but I do genuinely think this is down to generational differences. There is nothing specific about the medium that makes it more geared towards a certain gender. I’m certain if you looked at record collectors in general, collectors who bought records for home listening, and not just those who DJed as well, the gender gap wouldn’t be that significant. The only way to own music was to buy records and anyone of any gender bought those. The only difference is that once CDs and then digital streaming pushed records out of the mainstream, the only people to keep on buying records were in general DJs. In the past there were considerably fewer non-male DJs than there are now, so it was mostly non-male DJs who kept on buying records out of habit and the love for the medium. So I suppose the real question is why there were historically fewer non-male DJs?
Luckily things are changing and there are increasingly more non-male DJs out there, but you no longer need to collect records to be a DJ - you can be an equally good DJ without owning a single record. Collecting records isn’t a necessity, it’s a choice, and an expensive one at that. It’s so much more accessible to just buy a small controller instead of having to invest into turntables and records themselves, which allows people who would otherwise not have access to learning how to DJ to get into it.
Having said that it is true that when it comes to my generation, meaning us who grew up on CDs and digital music, I saw more guys at Phonica than non-male people come in and buy records. I have absolutely no idea why that is, I can’t think of any rational reason why non-male people should buy records less than men do. Everyone’s reasons for collecting are different - I personally started buying records because I found DJing with records much more intuitive than on CDJs; CDJs only clicked once I learned how to use records. The tactility makes it much more enjoyable. I now play digital a lot as well, I’m far from being a vinyl only DJ for various reasons, but I still enjoy mixing records more than digital. When I first started collecting I also really enjoyed the feeling of actually physically owning music for the first time in my life as opposed to just downloading youtube rips to add to my MP3 player haha.
So I guess that’s my very long winded way of saying I have no idea.
If you could give one piece of advice for anyone thinking of getting into collecting records what would it be?
Don’t overthink if what you’re buying is “good enough” or “cool enough” to buy, or if you’ll still love it in a few years time. If you love it enough to buy it, just buy it. I know walking into a record store for the first time can feel really intimidating, but don’t be afraid of people working in record stores. If you feel lost and out of place and don’t know what to do or how things work just ask for help, ask for any recommendations and they will (should!) be happy to help you out.
What’s your favourite maligned genre of music?
Drum’n’Bass. Czechia was really big on DnB, you can still hear it being played in clubs nowadays. I grew up on it, the first ever DJ set that I listened to as an 11 y/o kid (influenced by my older siblings) was by a Czech DnB legend DJ Pixie and I still listen to it now and un-ironically love it. When I was learning how to mix records the only records in the studio were DnB so that’s what I learned on. DnB just sounds like pure nostalgia to me, in the best possible way.
What’s one record that reminds you of home? And one record that reminds you of London?
From a DJ perspective what would be your dream booking? Festival, club or country?
I don’t think I’ve ever thought about it that way, I’ve never had a dream goal of playing a particular venue. The perfect night would be in a small sweaty club where you get to play a longer set and where you feel like you and the crowd are on the exact same wavelength and every track you play feels like the perfect track and in that moment it feels like you’re having the best time of your life and the night just flows. I guess I’m chasing these moments more than dream venues or appearing on specific lineups.
I am fully aware of how ridiculously cheesy that sounds, I blame it on the pandemic.
What would be one thing you’d change about nightlife to help support more women and non-male DJs?
I think it would be super helpful for staff (especially security) to be aware of who is playing that night so they can be a bit more mindful that maybe it would be helpful to escort you to the booth perhaps? I’m not asking to be treated like a VIP who has to be escorted to places but sometimes it genuinely feels unsafe and a little extra help would go a long way. The amount of times I showed up at the club and was looked at weirdly by the bouncers that I’m trying to skip the queue, questioning why do I have a massive bag with me, clearly surprised that I, a woman, am DJing, then had to search through the club to find the promoter, fighting my way through the crowd whilst dragging a record bag…
The times I’ve felt the most unsafe were the times when I was alone in the booth and people tried to sneak into it. You’re busy mixing, you don’t have time to deal with people, you’re keeping an eye on your records so they don’t get nicked. Often guys just show up and start nonchalantly hanging out behind the booth with you, so you ask who they are and if they can leave and they tell you they’re mates with the promoter, who obviously failed to tell me and was nowhere to be found.
Something that really annoys me although it has nothing to do with safety is often when I play b2b with my male friends I get approached by someone asking me if I know the DJ and if I could ask them something or give them their social handles. I reply I am one of the DJs, I’ve literally played half the tracks you’ve danced to tonight, I’ve only gone off the decks for a minute now cause it’s their turn to play a track or two. They usually don’t understand or back off without actually asking anything.
I think it just shows the general assumptions people have about DJs. Non-male DJs exist, accept it. I think it all boils down to people in general being less of a dick, checking their own preconceptions, and just being aware. Once a guy (not a member of staff) saw me struggling to get out of the booth with my record bag and offered to help me fight through the crowd to leave the room, which was so appreciated. If you’re a promoter, make sure you check on your DJs and make them feel safe. If you run a club, make sure the booth is secure. Maybe let your security know to keep an eye out, and make it easy for DJs to find help if they need it.
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