Dobby Is Challenging The Music Biz, One Mix At A Time

Words: James Keith
Photography: Hyperfrank

Witchezz Brew architect, radio outlier and purveyor of all things wild and wonderful, Dobby has remained steadfast and uncompromising in her approach since day one. Whether it’s injecting fun into Reprezent or soundtracking London’s underground clubs with everything from Spice Girls to Hyperdub deep cuts, Dobby has long since earned the respect of DJs and ravers alike.

Recently, she’s found herself as one sixth of the 6 Figure Gang alliance (alongside emerging powerhouses Sherelle, L U C Y, Fauzia, Jossy and Yaz). Prompted by a group chat that got out of hand, spilling over into a Rinse show and then a Boiler Room, what started as an in-joke about earning six figures from DJing has since grown into something much more. It isn’t just an alliance between six friends (although that is definitely something the Reprezent selector values), but also a challenge to the music industry. When they hit the decks together, there’s a hope that young womxn and non-binary people won’t feel so discouraged when it comes to DJing.

In her exclusive mix for TRENCH, Dobby puts her full skills on show as she effortlessly blends together Local Action regular Finn with Robin S, Paleman with R&B prodigies Van Jess, Gorillaz with driller SL, Philly club don Swizzymack with Brum rap king Mist. This East Londoner is set to take centre stage and with this explosive selection of remixes and bootlegs, there’s no denying her stars are aligning on her own terms.

Firstly, can you give us a breakdown of the mix you’ve done for us?

For this mix, I really took my time because it was important for me to highlight how much I admire and respect remixes, edits, bootlegs etc. I feel like these tracks are misunderstood. I believe that it takes such precise skill and creativity to take something that already exists, reimagine it and do it well, so I really wanted the mix to be an embodiment of all the education and fun that remixes have given me. I also wanted to highlight how unique and influential the UK club scene is, was, and forever will be. From UK producers experimenting with different sounds to producers from all around the world being inspired by UK music, it really gave me a sense of pride to see from my research and hear from all these amazing tracks that UK underground club culture is appreciated and loved, even though at times it feels like it isn’t. I think I was just inspired by all the times I’ve been in a rave and felt like I was having the best time of my life, and really just having fun. I feel at home in the rave, as wanky as that sounds, but it’s true and the most defining moments for me have always been when the DJ’s dropped a remix that makes me stop and pull a screwface.

What was the moment that sparked your interest in DJing?

I’ve always had an interest in DJing from an early age, as my dad used to DJ, but I’d say the moment that properly made me want to DJ was probably about a year after starting radio when I was first getting into SoundCloud, where I had discovered the likes of Soulection, HW&W, Majestic Casual etc; I was in love with their mixes and I really wanted to create a whole hour of music that soundtracked someone’s rave, or someone’s shower.

How important has Reprezent Radio been in your journey?

Reprezent has been so instrumental in my development—not just as a DJ or music industry professional, but just as a young person living in London. Reprezent has provided me with amazing opportunities and relationships that I never once thought I’d ever be able to have, like put on a night at Tate Britain with A.G and Manara headlining, or producing and managing a radio takeover with NAO or going B2B with Jamz Supernova at Lovebox Festival. To have a place where you’re allowed to grow and encouraged to try new things with like-minded people supporting you is so important, because through that I learned to trust in my own voice and vision. Also, you gotta remember: in this political climate in the UK, there are very few organisations like Reprezent who train up kids at age 16 and give them so many opportunities. Being at Reprezent has made me realise that I want to be able to pass on the knowledge and chances I’ve had to generations of kids after me.

How do you want people to feel when you’re doing a live set?

I always say witnessing a live Dobby set is just to let go of everyday life and enjoy whatever weird sounds my mood generates because, let’s be honest: I use DJing as an outlet for whatever mood I’m in and I also use it to hide the fact that before all my sets, I’m anxious as fuck a lot of the time due to the pressures of being a woman who DJs, so a lot of the time I’m gassing myself up. I remember dropping “Lotus It Up”, which you hear in the mix, at my first ever Witchezz Brew night last year at Rye Wax, and I think it got reloaded like five times because I got gassed! That then made the crowd get gassed. It also happened at a private NYE event I held with Munch Club TV, with family and friends, and the same thing happened. It’s like I proper zone out and forget about all the anxieties and just say “fuck it!”

What’s the wildest selection or mash-up that you’ve managed to sneak into a set and cause a wild reaction?

Probably the first 6 Figure Gang Rinse FM show where I blended Colours and Stephen Emmanuel’s “Hold On”, the SE22 Mix, into Handsome Jak & Judge’s “Ruffa & Tuffa”. All I can remember is the girls lifting me up mid-mix, because it was fucking fire like the rest of the show, and I just remember feeling so proud and happy that I did it—not only in front of my bestest mates, but in front of five of the best DJs in the UK—period!—and they rated it.

How does your approach to 6 Figure Gang differ to your approach to Witchezz Brew? Do you have a separate record bag for each?

I definitely have a different record bag for 6 Figure Gang and Witches Brew. I’d say the main difference is with 6 Figure Gang: I get to go back to older records that I adore, and might not get the opportunity to really play, whereas with Witchezz Brew, it’s more about the experimental, futuristic records that sound like they came straight from the year 3000. I’d say the thing that ties them both is I like to integrate both with records that are current and bang like a Rico Nasty record, or a Megan Thee Stallion record. I don’t believe in separating music when it comes to DJing, whether that’s by genre or era, because then it becomes too predictable.

6 Figure Gang made a big impact with your recent Boiler Room show, but the crew’s been doing bits for at least a few months now. What’s the history of it? How did it come together?

Thank you so much! Right, so for the record, 6 Figure Gang actually came about almost by accident. I’ve known Sherelle, Fauzia, L U C Y, Jossy and Yaz for such a long time now and we were already close mates getting booked on the same line-ups, going to the same parties, and one night last November we were all joking around saying we’re gonna make 6 figures from DJing. That then spawned into a group chat, and then we were all involved with L U C Y’s birthday at Keep Hush in December, so we decided afterwards to try and get a picture and then literally a few weeks later, after Christmas, L U C Y was like “who fancies doing a Rinse FM show?” And the rest is history, as they say. It’s been the best accident to ever happen to me, personally, and I don’t think we ever saw this happening and being so successful, so quickly.

Even before 6 Figure Gang, it was clear you were all at least good friends if not a tight-knit crew already. How has having that alliance helped you as a DJ?

It’s been a blessing, honestly; to have five other people who understand what you’re going through, support you a 1000% and moving as a unit. It honestly warms my heart to be doing this with my best friends and it’s something that I never thought I would have when I first started DJing at 16. I think the true beauty behind it is that it’s showing young girls, in particular, that you can be in your own lane and still shine whilst working with your friends, having fun and creating your own legacy. I don’t think I’d be as strong a DJ I am today without 6 Figure Gang.

6 Figure Gang are a very eclectic bunch, musically, but it feels like UK clubs are very genre based. Do you feel that’s easing up at all?

In my opinion, I do see it easing up a little bit, but I’m very conscious that UK clubs and promoters need to be taking more risks with their line-ups to help eclectic DJs come through, instead of us constantly having to fight to make people see our worth. Now, look, I get it: it’s a tough industry where there’s a lot of cash loss a lot of the time, but I think sometimes we forget that it’s a marathon, not a sprint, and what really makes legendary club culture—particularly in the UK—isn’t money. It’s the fact that a bunch of people took a risk. When you look at the history of legendary UK club culture, for example, The Second Summer Of Love, would that period of time be remembered for how much money it made or didn’t make? Or is it remembered because of risk-takers like Danny Rampling or Paul Oakenfold?

Are there any particular artists, scenes, or releases exciting you right now?

At the moment, I’m really excited by what’s going on in Manchester with Finn, Anz, Florentino, etc. In fact, all the Local Action crew have been lighting up dancefloors for time, and their recent Boiler Room just shows what a force they are to be reckoned with. I’m keeping a close eye on what’s going down with Club Comfort over in my motherland, Ireland, which is headed up by the amazing DJ Roo Honeychild. They host safe space club nights frequently, and if you want a taste of what to expect, listen to their show on Dublin Digital Radio. I also want to give a shout-out to DJ Atro, and the club scene over in Australia, because they’ve just been releasing non-stop fire and deserve more recognition. Usher Lavelle, who is a UK producer and regular on Reprezent, has recently been out in Japan for the past few months and I’m really excited to hear all the new work he’s been working on. And, of course, I’m always getting re-excited by the likes of Moveltraxx, JukeBounceWerk, Club Queen Records, Like That Records, Night Slugs, South Space Records, Scuffed Records, Nervous Horizion and Femme Culture, just to name a few.

In the current climate of UK clubbing, how important do you think womxn and non-binary exclusive or focused safe spaces like Pxssy Palace are? And what can the wider clubbing scene learn from them?

So fucking much! The fact that Pxssy Palace’s safe space policy is not a general thing across UK clubs astounds me because, at the end of the day, it’s basic respect we get taught as children. The club scene is a fucking dangerous place to be a womxn, non-binary and trans and not enough is being done to protect us from things like being groped, being harassed every time you want to use the bathroom, being spiked etc., let alone allowing us the space to just be, have fun and celebrate surviving general everyday life. That’s why I have the upmost respect for Pxssy Palace; when they talk, the UK club scene really needs to listen, take ownership and implement change, otherwise the UK club scene is going to continue to look very white, very cis male, very straight and very middle class.

London can sometimes be a constant hype. Any special selections that can smooth your soul or help you to switch off?

A constant hype! After a long day, I’m quite boring and go back to classic albums I grew up listening to. At the moment, becuase it’s getting warmer, I’ve been listening back to N.E.R.D’s In Search Of…, which is one of my favourite albums of all time. But I also listen to a lot of radio because it’s quite soothing.

What’s the future for 6 Figure Gang?

World domination. Dead serious. Spice Girls who? [Laughs] But seriously, for now we have one more sold-out Boiler Room date in Norwich, on June 28th, and we’ll be continuing with our Rinse FM show as well.

And what’s the future for Dobby and Witchezz Brew?

At the moment, just continuing with my Reprezent radio show every second and fourth Tuesday from 9pm; DJing wherever I can, which you can keep up to date with on my Instagram; and I’ll be putting on another club night this year.

Posted on June 14, 2019