Ahead of secretsundaze this Bank Holiday Sunday we caught up with London based DJ and producer Jane Fitz to discuss her experience in running parties, most notably Peg and Night Moves. Jane also discusses her new role at Kristina Records and selects 10 tracks in this YouTube playlist ahead of her set at Oval Space.
You’re playing your first ever secretsundaze event this Bank Holiday Sunday at Oval Space alongside Fred P, Joey Anderson, Giles Smith and James Priestley. How are you feeling about your set, what vibe are you envisaging, have you started to pack records up and who are you most looking forward to seeing play?
This isn’t my first secretsundaze. I played for them a few years back, when it was back in the Ministry of Sound car park – I really liked the old outdoor parties there. I guess both the party and me have evolved since then, so it’s nice to come back. I’m really looking forward to it – it’s minutes from home, loads of friends and faces I know are coming down, and I know all the guys on the line-up so it’s like a home game for me. I can’t wait.
I’ve started packing records in my head, if you like, but I’ve got a Night Moves party in Vienna beforehand so one ear’s focused on that. It’s afternoon, so I’m not going to go too dark or heavy. I’m going to wait to see what the weather’s like on the day before I make any final decisions. I’m looking forward to hearing everyone – it’s a heavy line up!
Have you decided on what track you’ll be opening your set at secretsundaze on Sunday with?
No. It’s a tough one. Whether you go for a total game changer, or try to slickly follow on… I could do either (although I’m sucker for a bit of drama). I don’t really plan ahead though; I prefer to be spontaneous with things like that.
You’re no stranger to running events, you’ve been running your events Peg (late 90’s) and Night Moves (with Jade Seatle 2012) – Tell us about how Night Moves came about and what you wanted to provide to the London scene?
A refreshing good time. It’s what Jade and I needed. I don’t really know whether it was what London needed, but we certainly felt that we had run out of places to go, that felt like home. I think we are both of the attitudes that you can either sit around and moan about things, or you can do something about it. And doing something about it is infinitely more rewarding.
Night Moves sat on our shelf of thoughts for quite a while; we probably discussed putting on a party for a good couple of years before anything really happened. But in 2012 our friend Jenifa Mayanja told us she needed a flight share to secure a European gig, so we figured this was a good opportunity to bring one of our favourite DJs over and finally pull our fingers out. So that’s what happened. We knew a lot of our pals felt dissatisfied with the party options at that time, or had stopped going out, so we thought they might like it. They did. We’re still going strong and I think Night Moves has far exceeded our expectations of what you can achieve if you put your mind to it.
What happened to Peg, will it make a return someday?
That’s about as likely as a Smiths reunion gig. I ran Peg for ten years, I still can’t get my head around that, but it was of its time (it ended in 2009). I felt it had run out of things to say and I didn’t want to be tied to doing parties any more, no matter how good they were. I needed a break. Peg was special; it was so anti-trend I’m surprised anyone even went. But it was a wonderful meeting place, and it taught me lots – about party dynamics, about Djing. But it was exhausting. Night Moves feels like Peg’s more self-assured offspring, I guess. I’m much more comfortable with Night Moves and it probably helps that there is two of us, alongside some amazingly supportive Night Movers.
Over the years what changes have you seen develop in terms of people organising parties, and people (punters) attitude to attending events?
Events. Just the word makes me cringe. To me an event is 10,000 people and a bouncy castle somewhere deep in the countryside until midday the next day. It’s not a club night, or a party. I think people’s attitudes to parties have been, whether they realise it or not, completely governed by a selfless property market and the diminishing amount of available space that is left. Clubs get closed and the land sold to developers, and the crappy areas get colonised, leaving nowhere to turn the volume up. Because of that venues charge the earth, which means promoters have to charge big-ticket prices, and in doing so, have to put on names to attract big crowds. It’s economics but it’s ruined what parties should be about.
The unselfconscious ‘having fun’ bit seems to be dwindling. I see a lot of crowds when I’m out and when I’m playing and I see very little true crowd interaction. Everyone is either focused on the DJ spectacle, or on proving what a great time they’re having by taking photos. Being ‘seen’ to have been at the biggest event ever is very different to actually being there and experiencing it. I’d rather have a memory than photographic proof. That’s not to say there aren’t some amazing big parties… but they’re so planned.
That whole organic thing of going out, because you could, stumbling on something, just because it was happening, and having the best time of your life, that’s so much harder now. There are hardly any clubs left that you can just rock up to and know it’ll be good, week after week.
Night Moves is particularly clear in communicating that it is not a brand but a party – surely every event is a brand, and every DJ and record label have become their own brand – apart from being underground, why is it so paramount to point this out?
Because it’s important to show our focus is something other than just identity. It’s pretty obvious, when you meet both Jade and I, that we’re both straightforward, no-nonsense kind of people, and our attitude to putting on a party comes from that.
A brand is something that probably starts with a name, then a logo, and then some kind of philosophy to explain it – but is essentially designed to be a selling something. We aren’t pedalling anything. We just want to provide a place for the people who come to Night Moves to have the most fun they can, in the most relaxed way. It’s entirely selfish really. All we want out of it is to have a good time, with our friends, and other people who think like that.
We want Night Moves to evolve, and to be natural. The whole point about a brand is that is doesn’t evolve, it maintains. The only thing we want to maintain is a standard, but the party changes every time. If you look at our approach to hosting a party it goes against everything in the promoter handbook – we don’t advertise; other than in our regulars group we keep a fairly low social-media profile. We book our friends to DJ, whether anyone’s heard of them or not. We never talk about what music is going to be played. Three years down the line and we’ve done one interview together. We never give out the venue address. We have moved our venue to an unfashionable part of London. And we seldom plan ahead, because our lives govern when we can put a party on. A party really begins with its crowd, and evolves on the dance floor. Branded events begin with a product and an image, and I don’t think that’s what we do or who we are.
How would you describe your approach to DJing? Are you a selector or a beat match mastermind?
Ha, hopefully a bit of both. And hopefully a bit non-conformist with either.
Over the past few months, what events have really stood out to you and why?
I think Bloc was pretty much the standout for me so far this year – Ben Sims and DVS1 back to back blew me away. I’ve seen some belting things at Cafe OTO as well, which have left me reeling, in a good way. I also loved the Night Moves 3rd birthday. I’ve not felt a collective attitude towards just getting on with having fun like that for a long time. Both me and Jade had busy weeks so we ended it a bit early, but I think we gave people a fair indication of where we want to take the party – and how they can help us make that happen.
You’ve recently started to work part time at Kristina Records in Dalston. You’ve worked in record stores before. How did this opportunity come about and what do you hope to achieve whilst working at Kristina?
I worked with Jason years ago at the Exchange stores and when he posted on Instagram that Kristina wanted staff I put a half joking response up about being a Saturday girl. But then I think we thought about it and it seemed like a good idea. I can only be there when I’m in town, which is a bit of shame really. But hopefully it means people will come in to say hello when I am there and then check out what’s in store. I absolutely love getting people excited about records too.
This year Record Store Day was attacked heavily for not actually helping out independent labels, but is more of a promo tool for selling records from firmly established record labels and artists. What’s your opinion about RSD?
Weirdly, this year is the first year I’ve not been travelling to a gig when RSD has been on so it’s kind of passed me by. I think if anything puts more money into the hands of the good souls who work hard to keep record stores existing, then it’s a good thing.
I know from friends with labels that the major labels end up monopolising the pressing plants and it ruins their release schedules, so no, that’s not good. But if it gets people excited about records and about music, then it can’t be all that bad.
You also did some A&Ring for Ben Parkinson’s record label ‘For Those That Knoe’ – Are you still working with Ben? What’s next for the label and for your own productions?
Ben is a good friend, so we’ve always chucked music at one another – and so For Those That Knoe is an opportunity to shine a light on producers who maybe didn’t get their due props first time round, or who were maybe too ahead of their time when they first released music. I’ve just put a few people his way, and that will continue as long as the label.
My next release, as Invisible Menders (with my studio partner Dom) is on Ben’s Boe label too. We have another EP coming on a brand new label run by another friend, and then requests for EPs… our studio time is fairly limited because of work, but we’ll get there. We’re too old to be rushing or worrying about it.
You’re playing at Freerotation this year – The line-up looks insane, what makes Freerotation so special to you?
This is my sixth year at Freerotation and my fourth as a resident. Place, regulars, line up, organisation all help to make Freerotation special. But more than anything, it’s the feeling. It’s a big meet up for a lot of people who go year on year – in my eyes, it’s basically Christmas and birthday rolled into one, with a bit more excitement, and less wrapping paper.
Finally what’s the best thing you’ve watched on YouTube recently?
Actually it’s not on YouTube, but if it was, this:
Jane Fitz plays at secretsundaze on Bank Holiday Sunday 3rd May 2015 at Oval Space alongside Fred P, Joey Anderson, Giles Smith and James Priestley. Tickets are available through Resident Advisor.
1. Shokazulu – Part 4
I started my set at Freerotation with this five years ago. The festival is on my mind at the moment so i’ve been listening to this.
2. Nuel – Mentalism
This comes from one of my favourite labels, Further Records. In my dreamworld I play 8-hour sets and this is where I get to go with them.
3. Wata Igarishi – Summon
I love being able to play this kind of mesmerising, tribally techno sound. I don’t always get the opportunity to weave it in, unfortunately, but it’s always in my head.
4. Grace Jones – Nightclubbing
I recently got a record deck in my living room for the first time in about 20 years so I’ve pulled out a lot of old favourite albums to listen to while lying on my sofa. Grace Jones’ Nightclubbing is never far away.
5. Harmonious Thelonius – Angewandte Muziek
I saw him live at Cafe OTO last week making tons of noise out of two tiny boxes. Hypnotising and baffling too.
6. Armando – The Future
The acid sound was what first drew me in and it’s never far away. This remains killer and it never dates.
7. Leif – Circumstance 4
I totally forgot about this record and then put in my bag for Cartuli’s Day recently, played it as my last record and people went nuts, so it’s stayed. It’s old-fashioned, British deep house, made by a friend, and released by another friend. I play it to remind people that I do still play deep if it feel like it! And because the vibe is lovely.
8. Ø [Phase] – Tunnel Vision
Shimmering, fresh, uncompromising, modern techno. I just really like this whole EP.
9. Conforce – Love Hate
This is from another album that has been on permanent rotation in my living room this week. I love the way this expands.
10. Change – Searching
I played at an East End soul boy’s 50th birthday party at the weekend and this was in the bag. It’s a real trip and reminds me of being really small. One of Luther’s most emotional vocals too.