The second in our series meeting those women doing their thing behind the decks.
The second in our series meeting those women doing their thing behind the decks. Introducing burgeoning trap star Amy Becker.
Trap, in its many manifestations – from Lex Luger beats and Waka Flocka flow to Baauer’s Harlem Shake and hundreds of women around the world twerkin to Diplo – has been the defining party culture of turnt-up kids in the twenty-teens so far. As Spring Breakers smashes box offices with its bikinis, booties and Gucci Mane-themed rap rhetoric, trap’s journey from Southern subculture to US mainstream has reached its logical conclusion. But it’s still a bit of an outsider in the UK club scene. Enter a new wave of UK DJs raised on hip hop, grime and garage, and embracing trap into their wavy sound. Amy Becker, nineteen, from North London, is one such artist.
From playing big-league club nights across the country to sharing lineups with the likes of Darq E Freaker (producer responsible for the iconic ‘Blueberry’ track with Danny Brown) at cult London night License To Trill, Becker has been establishing a name for herself in the London DJ scene and beyond. She may sometimes need to stand on a box to see above the booth but Becker’s sets are blowing up – she was recently confirmed as a Daily Dose resident on Mistajam’s 1Xtra show and boasts a summer diary full of festivals. We caught up with Becker a couple days after her headline ‘Freshbox x Springbreakers’ show at Hysteria to chat about her rise in the industry.
How did you get into deejaying – what music inspired you?
I started deejaying when I was fourteen after hearing my sister’s Caspa & Rusko’s FabricLive CD – I’d never heard anything like it before and was instantly hooked. The whole dubstep scene was kicking off then so I guess you could say I grew up on that, but I listened to a lot of hip hop as well. As a younger kid I was kinda weirdly obsessed with Biggie and Eminem.
How has the scene changed?
To be honest I didn’t know much about the music scene beyond mixing Burial tunes in my bedroom as I was too young to go to the clubs. But I’d say that even in the last few years it’s changed massively. When I first started out there seemed to be just one small London bass scene, but as it’s grown there are now several different smaller communities based on more genres and subgenres emerging than ever before.
How would you describe your style?
I like to keep my sets varied so I play a lot of grime, dubstep and garage as well as hip hop and trap stuff. It’s hard for me to describe it sometimes ’cos I tend to just play whatever I’m feeling regardless of what genre it is or who produced it.
You’ve been playing trap nights like License To Trill. As an American genre that’s very hyped at the moment, how do you think it’s being adopted by the UK scene?
Deejaying at nights like License to Trill is a lot of fun because I get to play all the real hip hop and trap tunes that I don’t get to at bass music nights. At the same time it’s hard work ’cos the crowd really know their shit, so playing any old Gucci Mane from two years ago isn’t enough to keep them entertained. It’s cool that trap as a genre has been adapted here to sound less Brostep and more UK with the likes of producers such as Hucci, so although it has become more mainstream we aren’t simply copying the American sound – I even witnessed Redlight drop some Juicy J in a club in Leeds a few weeks ago!
Do you feel passionate about supporting UK music?
Definitely, I always spend hours online discovering upcoming talented producers and artists from the UK so I’m grateful that I can now use 1Xtra as a platform for getting their music heard.
How did you start working with Mistajam?
I sent in a mix for the ‘1500 Seconds Of Fame’ feature on MistaJam’s 1Xtra show last summer so it was a real surprise when he got in touch a few weeks ago to ask me to be a Daily Dose resident. It’s an hour mix every other Wednesday at 9pm, starting on April 17. I go to uni in Leeds so it’s a lot to take on, on top of my exams and gigs, but I’m gonna stay focused and do what I need to do. I’m excited.
Do you feel like there’s enough support for upcoming deejays?
It’s a tough industry to get into but it’s become a lot easier with the use of Twitter & other social media, and SoundCloud is a great way of sharing tunes and DJ mixes. I think the internet for an upcoming DJ means that who you know is becoming less important than what you know. That is if you are willing to put in the work in real life and not just online!
What pressures are there often being the only female in all-male lineups? Did you have to prove yourself?
I like to see it as more of a challenge than pressure. It’s frustrating how being a female deejay and being young means that people don’t expect a lot from me in terms of knowledge and skill, and I don’t want to be defined by the fact I’m a girl or be given any special treatment for that matter. I don’t rely on a laptop for mixing, I use CDs, and I put a lot of time and effort into every single set that I do. It pays off seeing the crowd react.
Are there any tracks you wouldn’t play because of their depiction of women? Rick Ross came under fire for that molly line in ‘U.O.E.N.O.’ last week – do you think women get a hard time in hip hop? Is someone like Brooke Candy an antidote to that or just feeding into it?
It’s a difficult one because the problem lies within hip hop culture in general. I don’t think it helps to single out certain artists or lyrics as sexism runs right through the genre and always has done. Of course I don’t agree with how women are depicted in a lot of the lines I hear in hip hop songs like ‘U.O.E.N.O’, but it doesn’t stop me playing them. Even my favourite rappers such as ScHoolboy Q or Danny Brown are known for the way they speak about women in their music but in my opinion it shouldn’t be taken too seriously. The solution is that there needs to be a wider spectrum of women in hip hop who present themselves however they wish to, and not because it’s how they think they need to look or behave in order to be accepted in the genre. I do have respect for Brooke Candy and in a sense she is an antidote to the sexism of the male-dominated culture, although I think it’s a common misconception that females need to be so hyper-sexualised in order to succeed in hip hop. Angel Haze is a good example of a female rapper who has made it all the way to the XXL Freshman 2013 cover without taking her clothes off like Brooke, bitching like Azealia or letting her image do the talking like Iggy.
Where would you like to see your deejaying take you?
A lot of people are encouraging me to start producing but it’s not for me. I’d love to get more into the radio side of things, and play at more international festivals – I’ve been confirmed to play at Outlook Festival in Croatia this year which I’m hyped for!
Do you have any advice for someone getting into the game?
Taking every opportunity as it comes is crucial. You need to be prepared to start off playing to two crackheads in the shittest of venues with broken CDJs for no money if you want to work your way up, and I’m saying that from experience. Some deejays are too concerned with their pride to put themselves out there in order to get booked and as a result they don’t get very far. All the hours I sat practising, the promoters I harassed, the calls I made, the emails I sent and the awful places I have played are finally starting to pay off and it’s very satisfying to say the least.
Amy wears Skullcandy Navigator Supreme Sound headphones.