Save the Birch for Knowwhere
Reported by mostwantedkat
Submitted 27-07-07 08:41
It’s always been harder for a girl to make it as a DJ. First off you've got to be able to actually mix, and you better believe that if you can’t do it extremely well, then you better not do it at all. Then you’ve got to prove that you’re an almighty trainspotter, matching the boys remix for remix, obscure white label for obscure white label and battle though stereotypical attitudes – “she only got the gig because she used to go out with so-and-so”, “she only got that set because she turns up in PVC” (would they rather they dressed in Burkas??). And if you’re good looking? Pack up those records and peddle your pretty ass on home sweetheart! There’s no way you can be a legitimate DJ if you’re a good-looking girl, surely?!
So imagine all those preconceived notions in front of you before you’ve even stepped foot inside the DJ booth then add into the mix the fact that you used to be a lingerie model! Talk about trying to walk up Everest backwards, blindfold and with one leg in a plaster cast. However Charlotte Birch not only made it to the top of said mountain – she set up camp, ripped open her record box and had one hell of a party.
One of the original glamour girls of the hard dance scene, it was at Sundissential where Charlotte made her name. Without doubt the craziest, most insane club you could have ever wished to be a part of, its dance floor throbbed week in week out at its peak. Cyber kids in all their day-glo glory paraded a fashion sensibility like nothing seen before. At a time when superstar DJs were household names and dance music dominated the charts and the airwaves, Charlotte was queen of the club and synonymous with its bouncing beats and pumping, vocal hard house sound.
Eight years after her first foray into the world of bosh and Charlotte is still doing what she does best. Playing around the UK as well as touring Europe, the States and Australia, she's bigger than she ever was and is branching out from the harder sounds towards electro. Friday August 3rd sees her in London for Sundissential when Knowwhere take over Heaven. Joining Ed Real and Nick Rafferty as well as Darren Tate, Mark Pledger and Ian Betts in the main room, Charlotte is more than up for taking on the legendary original superclub.
Hi Charlotte, how’s your day going so far?
My day has been great so far thank you! Just booked my flight to Ibiza today and have a girls night tonight which is basically an excuse for a vodka night! So, so far so good!
You’re playing at Heaven on Friday August 3rd for Knowwhere. Have you played at the venue before? How much are you looking forward to it and what are you expecting it to deliver you as a DJ?
I have played at Heaven before, I’m sure the DJ booth was a disused aircraft and you DJed in the cockpit! I’m looking forward to it as I love playing in London and the crowd is normally really up for it.
You’re bringing the sound of Birmingham’s most infamous night Sundissential to London. How do you think hard house DJs from the Midlands differ to the capital’s? What do you think you can bring to the night and are you planning to wipe the floor with the main room?
Haha! Of course I’ll be wiping the floor with the main room! I’ll be playing a mix of old and new and just really remembering the good old days at Sundissential and trying to recreate that old atmosphere.
You’ve been associated with Sundissential since its heyday. It was, without a doubt, one of the most insanely fabulous clubs I’ve ever been to in my entire life. Out of all the mad things that happened there, what’s your favourite memory?
That’s easy! It has to be the man in the suitcase! He used to come out every week and was always in the centre of the dance floor completely inside the suitcase with just his arms and legs sticking out! That was funny! At least he never had to worry about what to wear!
What’s your relationship with Madders like?
God these questions are getting harder! Up, down, sideways, haha! No, he’s a really old friend and he helped me and gave me a massive opportunity so I’m eternally grateful! In fact not seen him for a while! Is he still alive?
You’ve been DJing since 1996 and on the hard scene since ’99. Do you think that you get the recognition and respect you deserve?
I get loads of messages from fans in touch on a daily basis, so I feel I get probably more than I deserve. It’s always nice to hear from people that have taken the time out to give you a compliment. I always reply to everyone. I’d hate to look at my messages and there not be any!
How hard was it to carve out a career as a DJ coming from a background in lingerie modelling? Did it work in your favour or did you have to work twice as hard?
I must admit it was quite an easy ride! There weren’t that many girls at the time so it was slightly easier than it is today. However I’m a little bit slack with things and maybe missed a few opportunities but I’m into my property developing and although I love my DJing, it’s not my whole life.
Your first residency was at Miss Moneypennys in ’96, which was one of the original Midlands glamour clubs. What was the house scene like back then? Was there much mentalness and debauchery?
Of course! Moneypennys, Wobble, Crunch, S.L.A.G. and Chuff Chuff were all the best! I’ve got some fantastic memories from all those nights. It’s what made me the person and DJ I am today. Many influences and loads of debauchery, haha!
What was it about hard house that took you away from the handbag?
To be fair I jumped ship from the whole funky sound purely because of the crowd. I found people were far too busy checking their make-up than dancing and going mad! That’s when I started going to Sundissential, watching Lisa Lashes and decided that was the direction for me. That was in about 1999 and I never looked back really. However now I’m playing dirty house and electro as well. Music just keeps going full circle.
Are you a fan of the modern-day bosh or the classic bounce?
I am open to allsorts. I love all types of music. I like to blend it altogether and keep everyone happy. If that’s possible.
The hard dance scene in the UK is pretty small compared to what it used to be. Why do you think it’s become so concentrated in such tight pockets?
As I said before, music goes full circle and everything seems to make a come back. Look at the drum and bass scene and happy hardcore. It’s all only a matter of time. Watch this space. It always goes funkier in the summer/Ibiza time. Hard will be back.
Where’s your favourite place to play out in the UK right now and why?
I’m big in Wales for some reason. I think they think I’m Charlotte Church! Oops, don’t tell ‘em! I love my electro at moment, I looked through my diary recently and it’s 80% electro gigs right now. However, not hung up my hard dance boots yet!
You play at a staggering amount of venues around the world. We’re talking Australia, New Zealand, SEVEN tours of America and an apparent domination of the Dutch scene. Are you more widely known in these countries than in the UK?
I wouldn’t say that, I’m more known for my production abroad. I’ve done about 20 tracks at the end of the day and my tracks go all over the world and I can only do 1 venue at a time. I’m getting back in studio soon and I’ve got an EP coming out in a few weeks.
How do foreign audiences react to your music?
Normally very well, I’ve not had a bad crowd yet. It’s funny in America because they try and make you talk when they meet you as they love English accents!
What’s going on with your Dropzone label?
I don’t run Dropzone Records any more. We had four very successful releases but decided to wrap it up due to workloads and time. My next EP is two tracks I had saved for the Dropzone label. I actually made them nearly three years ago, but they still kick ass!
What’s next for you?
Next I have studio dates lined up to release my debut electro track, obviously EP coming out, got a new photo shoot lined up so hoping to put out some new pictures as I’ve used my old ones for some time. So basically I’ve got a load of production about to be launched on both the hard and electro fronts. Then I’m touring Australia in December and I’ve got gigs lined up in France, Switzerland and a few countries that I’ve never been to before.
Has anyone accidentally ever called you Charlotte Church instead of Birch?
Haha! Yup, regularly! Not at the bank though! Unfortunately!!
If you had to seduce anyone, who would it be and why?
Ooooohhhh Johnny Knoxville! He’s hot!
Do you believe in aliens?
Only at Sundissential!
What’s your favourite film?
I really like Top Gun. Sad or what!
Madonna or Michael Jackson and why?
Madonna. Don’t ask!
If money was no object, what one object would you buy and why?
A big P Diddy party yacht, to party on of course!
Would you rather play a classics hard house night or a regular one?
Classics all the way!
Cheers Charlotte, see you at Heaven
Photos courtesy of Pure DJs and The Harderfaster Archive, not to be reproduced without permission.
Pure Sessions presents: Knowwhere
Friday 3rd August
Tickets £10 members, £12 in advance plus booking fee,
Tickets £10 members, £12 in advance plus booking fee, MOTD
Tickets available from www.ticketweb.co.uk / www.heaven-london.com / 08707 600 100
Click here to buy tickets
PURE SESSIONS PRESENTS: KNOWWHERE, FRIDAY AUGUST 3rd, HEAVEN LONDON
Dig out your glowsticks (oh you know you want to!), don your cyber gear and throw your arms up in the air. Knowwhere return to Heaven London for a celebration of all that is true and good in trance and hard dance on Friday August 3rd.
Taking hold of the main stage this time around is producer legend Darren Tate. He of Angelic fame and all round DJ superstar will be heading a line-up that’s specifically designed to make your mouth water! Mark Pledger, Ian Betts, resident Anthony Dean and Alan Banks have been locked in their rooms by the Knowwhere promoters until they come up with a stunning selection of tracks that will have you on your knees and begging for more.
We tried to lock Charlotte Birch up in a similar fashion but the Midlands’ hard house queen was having none of it, dammit. She’ll be tearing strips off the decks with fellow Sundissential cohorts Nick Rafferty, Ed Real, JK and Andy McCall as Birmingham’s finest descend in a flurry of red and yellow to show us how they do it up north.
Simon The Fireman, Lizzie Curious and Chris Cee have been drafted in to give the proceedings a big phat helping of funk, while new room ‘Somewhere’ launches to give unknown DJs a helping hand and introducing you lot to a whole load of fresh talent!
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