Fast-rising electronic DJ/producer, Effy, talks collabs with Mall Grab, misogyny in the scene, her safe space club night, Not Yours, and what’s on the horizon.

Effy used to stand behind her boyfriend’s DJ decks at house parties and not just watch, but study. Quietly learning the craft for herself, hearing Maya Jane Coles on the radio inspired Effy to take the plunge and launch her artistic career. The disheartening fact, however, is that until this point, Effy had not felt welcome in the historically male-dominated electronic music space.

 

It’s no surprise that she – like many other female DJs – feels this way. According to research done by DJaneMag only 7% of female DJs were in the lineups of 20 top festivals worldwide in 2018, and the data for 2019 was almost identical. Clubs reflected a similarly disheartening portion of just 11%, where the top superclubs are hosted by an average of 6% female DJs.

 

Ownership – whether that’s of a space, the self, or another – has been a recurring theme in Effy’s journey. On her furious, acid-driven breakbeat single “Not Yours”, Effy unleashed the pain and frustration she felt at the time into the track. The phrase ‘not yours’ became a reclamation and a source of empowerment for Effy as she grew into herself as an individual, a woman and an artist. Such is the pertinence of the phrase to Effy that she even named her club night Not Yours and had the words inked on her ankle.

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Channelling emotion into something creative is Effy’s M.O. Led by feeling, her beat-making provides a form of therapy and catharsis where Effy can digest her emotions. Because of this naturally autobiographical process, Effy can look back on each track almost as a diary entry, even with the absence of lyrics.

 

Since her first single, the melodic house and techno “Fluffy Clouds” in 2020, Effy has jumped on official remixes for Earth Boys and Scuba, and had her own tune “Bodied” remixed by Haider. Her sound took a harder turn in 2021 via her broken beat / electro excursion with Mall Grab’, titled “FMG”. Effy continued to lean into breaks, breakbeat and UK bass with her eerie single “Raging”, before dropping “Not Yours” and another Mall Grab collab, “Run It”, as well as her 4-track debut EP, ‘Not What It Seems’ all this year. All the while, she’s been smashing it on the live circuit, playing Manchester dance mecca the Warehouse Project, as well as festivals Beat Herder, Parklife, Secret Garden Party and Forbidden Fruit. To top it all off, Effy made her Ibiza debut this summer, playing He.She.They’s inclusive club night.

 

In this conversation, Effy speaks openly and honestly about the misogyny she has faced in the electronic music scene and the impact it has had on her mental health, and why surrounding herself with fellow female DJ/producers has been so important.

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To start off, I’d love to hear about your journey. How did you get into DJing and producing? What made you fall in love with it?

I’ve always been quite musical and my granddad – he’s Scottish – he played the drums in a pipe band, so I’ve always had rhythm and enjoyed a simple beat. And then my boyfriend at the time started getting into house parties and DJing a bit. I always stood behind him and just thought it looked really fun. So I tried it out a bit, and I really enjoyed the DJing part but I don’t really like attention. But I liked making loops of certain tunes and putting them together and making a new tune. I was like, ‘Oh, this is sick. Like, this is really fun’. I started DJing in my own bedroom, then I heard Maya Jane Coles on the radio and I’m like, hang on, that’s a woman. All of the DJs who made electronic music were men so DJing didn’t click at all as an option for me, and I was like, hang on, she’s made this tune, I could make that tune! By then I had started dabbling in Logic and just seeing what I could do. I was at uni at the time but I dropped out and started to intern at a few music labels and got used to the industry.

I love that you saw your boyfriend doing it but now you’re the one with this awesome music career! What’s he doing now?

He’s my ex boyfriend. He’s a really good friend of mine to this day, he’s an accountant.

Your EP, ‘Not What It Seems’, encapsulates all your sounds in one project – techno, breakbeat, bass and some more melodic, down-tempo numbers. Did you feel yourself being proactively pulled in different directions or did you lean quite naturally into a certain genre when creating each track?

I think it’s more the latter. When I sit down and make a tune, I don’t know how it’s gonna turn out, and I don’t really know what mood I’m in until I make something and I realise I was clearly really pissed off that day, or I was clearly really upset, or really happy. I guess it’s a form of therapy for me to kind of digest my feelings one thing at a time. I just put a tracklist together of like, 10 demos that I’ve made – I still have songs on that playlist now that haven’t been released yet – and I go, ‘Okay, well, what best describes my sound?’ And then that’s why I condensed [the EP] into those tunes. It just depends how I’m feeling, more than anything.

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I suppose you could look back on those tracks and see each track as a diary entry from that day.

Massively, it’s crazy. When I made “Not Yours”, I sent it to my friends and they were like, ‘Are you okay?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m fine’. And they’re just like, ‘It’s a very aggressive tune’. And I was like, ‘Oh, it’s not that bad’. And now I hear it back, I’m like, that’s really aggressive. I was not in a good headspace then at all. I was pissed off and upset about things.

You’ve collaborated with fellow electronic artist, Mall Grab, on two tracks. What led you to work together? What did you enjoy about the process?

The first time we connected through our shared agent, Dylan – he’s not my agent anymore, but we connected through him. I think it was during the pandemic, everything was locked down, everyone was clinging to other people to understand how they were feeling; we were all so depressed. We linked up in the studio just for fun, because a lot of time when you link up in a studio, it can go one of two ways, it can be really awkward, or it can be really fun and organic. And it was fun and organic. So we made “FMG”. We weren’t going to release it, but then Radio 1 hit us up like, ‘Do you want to do a lockdown link up?’ So that’s why we released it. And then with “Run It”, we were really good friends by then, so were just chilling and made it really randomly. We have very similar tastes, but also so different, so they kind of meet in the middle. We challenge each other a lot when we make music, so it was always really fun hanging out with [Mall Grab] and making tunes.

 

He’s taught me a lot, particularly with vocal samples and chopping them up. That’s always something I love to do, because I used to sing when I was young. We definitely help each other but he’s amazing. He’s so prolific and has helped me in terms of confidence as well as just owning it and doing your thing.

You said that you used to sing when you were young. Do you think you’re gonna sing on some of your own tracks in the future?

Absolutely not. I used to be pretty good at it, but I think I was forced into it by my mum so much that I don’t like it any more. I love chopping up other people’s vocal samples. That’s my favourite thing to do.

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Who else would you love to collab with? It could be another DJ/producer or a vocalist…

When I’m DJing I play a lot of techno breaks, but I also play dubstep and grime. When I moved to London from Blackpool five years ago, I was immersed in the in the grime scene so I just fucking love grime. I’d love to work with a grime artist and make some music, do a techno grime fusion? Which might be in the works, we’ll see.

 

I love NAYANA IZ, she’s incredible. I’ve spoken to yunè pinku; we’re trying to get in the studio together. There’s so many artists that I love.

 

I love collaborating with artists that electronic producers never usually would collaborate with, because I think it can make a completely different sound.

The EP was about finding your confidence as a DJ and artist – how has this journey been for you, especially as a young woman in a notoriously male-dominated space?

It’s interesting you ask this question now, because if you asked me a few months ago – I always speak very openly and honestly, but I’d probably come at the question with a bit more positivity. But recently, I’ve been feeling super overwhelmed actually, and a bit depressed about the state of the scene and the misogyny in it. I’ve experienced a lot recently. I was at a show the other day and they again, it’s happened loads of times – they didn’t believe I was a DJ. It was the first time I’d brought my mum and she was super upset. The best way to deal with it is to surround yourself with people that lift you up and empower you. I have a great group of girl mates who are also DJs. So TSHA, Jaguar, who’s just launched the Jaguar Foundation doing a report for gender equality, which is amazing. Helèna Star, Elke… so many amazing women I surround myself with. They have really helped me reinforce myself as an artist, empower myself and make me feel confident and also make me feel a bit more seen. There have been so many spaces recently where I felt like there’s no space for me to take up. And it’s been horrendous recently, to the point where I’ve felt like, what is the point? I’m a woman, I’m not a man, so whatever I do, it’s not going to be good enough. So sadly, right now, I wouldn’t say I’m in the best headspace to help other people with it, because I’m struggling at the moment. But the one piece of advice that I’d say for myself and other people is just to surround yourself with people that understand it. But also, I have male friends that have helped me in this space as well. But yeah, right now it’s a shitshow. To be honest, it is a boy’s club.

I understand what you mean completely, and I’ve heard the same sentiment echoed by a lot of women in the music industries. The best thing we can do as women is to continue to lift one another up and continue to platform each other. And to encourage the men in the scene to also lift up women and make space for them so they don’t continue to feel like they’re being marginalised. It’s such a kind of deeply layered problem, isn’t it? Because the whole music industry in general is very misogynistic, right?

It’s not as cut and dry as like, you’re a woman, so piss off. It’s the little micro aggressions that happen and that men don’t even realise. Most of the time it’s not even intentional, but it’s in the foundations of our society, so it’s hard to break down and call people out when it’s so small sometimes, but it all adds to your shoulders and you just end up feeling so invisible. It affects your confidence. It means I can’t write music at the moment.. it has a massive knock on effect. I’m speaking to my therapist about it later today [laughs].

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I think it’s really important to talk about it. It’s important to get the message out there so that people who aren’t aware will learn about it. Obviously, as women, we’re all too aware that this kind of thing happens, but discussing it publicly does educate others about the fact that it’s happening and the effect it’s having on women.

My mental health recently has been terrible, purely because of feeling so invisible. And as an artist, you’ve got to take up space for your art and feel good about yourself. Things will get better and you go through these things, it’s essentially a roller coaster but there are peaks and troughs to everything. There are some amazing people in history that lift each other up so just got to stay positive and also show everyone what you’re made of as a woman.

On that note, you also run your own club night and community focused party, Not Yours, which amplifies female DJs. Can you tell me the story of what led you to set up Not Yours, and what the reception has been like since you started it?

Well, for me, Not Yours is a bit of a rebellious phrase. When I broke up with my boyfriend years ago, I had it tattooed on my ankle: not yours. I was kind of like, fuck you. Not that he was a bad guy, he’s great. But for me, that was me taking ownership of my body, my personality, my sexuality, and I would like other people to do the same in how they feel. It’s about taking ownership of yourself and it was to empower each other and be confident on your own, be confident within yourself as an individual, no matter who you are. So the Not Yours club night would be for everyone and it would be a safe space, and for people to feel that they have enough space to take up in that actual space if you get me.

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What are some of your bucket list venues or festivals to play?

So many! I’m doing an Australia tour in October, playing Strawberry Fields amongst some other dates. I’m really excited for that because I’m just fascinated with Australia, I’ve never been and have always wanted to go. I’d love to go to Asia.

 

In regards to clubs, my favourite club to play is Warehouse Project’s The Concourse, that’s amazing but I’ve played that. I’d love to play Mondo Disco in Madrid. That’s a sick night. I wanna play Planet Rose in the Netherlands. They’re just just so many.  I’m pretty open to anything as long as it’s a good soundsystem. My favourite clubs are ones where the stage is in the middle of a crowd or as close to the crowd as possible because you just like to feel the energy and stuff and it’s really fun.

What’s next for Effy? I know you’ve just released an EP not long ago but…

I’m on to the next one, I think I’ve got another one coming out at the end of this year with some cool collabs. Hopefully, fingers crossed, I won’t say too much because it might not happen but it’s a very cool collab. I’m still a young artist and want people to just enjoy my music and know what I’m about. Festivals are great but I can’t wait for club season to be back. I just love a dark club. So yeah, that’s what’s next for me, just hopefully smashing up the clubs. And the next EP, we’ll see. I don’t even know what it’s going to be about. Let’s see where my mood takes me.

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