An interview with Jon Pleased Wimmin

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1When did your love affair with house music begin?

I came from a different musical route to a lot of the house DJ’s I’ve met. My first love as a kid was pop and new wave, which then led through the quagmire of Goth and into High Energy and Italo Disco, which was only really heard in the UK’s underground gay clubs. The first house records that really got me excited were the early KLF 12″s, S’express, Baby Ford, The Beloved and things like Kariya and E’zee Posse.

How did you make those first tentative steps to becoming a house DJ & Producer?

I was always really dictatorial about the music in so many situations, like car trips with the family and parties at friend’s houses. So I think most DJ’s are just bossy gits who want to be in charge of the music. I started going out to clubs when I was about 15, first to the Goth/indie club in Croydon where I grew up called The Underground, then to The Fridge in Brixton and then going into Soho and the West End for gay/mixed nights and also Heaven in Charing Cross. I remember hearing Mark Moore at a club called Sacrosanct and being very excited and also a DJ called Mark Lawrence at Daisy Chain at The Fridge.

Was there anyone who really helped you on your way?2

In the late 80’s when i’d finished studying Fashion, I went to work with the designer Rachel Aurburn (who years later went on to play hard house). Around the time I was working with her, she used to DJ at clubs like Fred’s, Quiet Storm and then Kinky Gerlinky. I’d go along and kind of assist. It wasn’t really DJing as we now know it, more like blending records into one another and quite an eclectic playlist (from Blondie to House). This was a good introduction to being on the other side of the decks.

Along with a couple of friends (Darren & Peter) we started a drag trio called The Pleased Wimmin mainly for Kinky Gerlinky’s big drag balls. We were part of the ongoing entertainment at the club and would ‘perform’ and encourage people to let their hair down.

Our idea of performing was a million miles away from the traditional ‘lip-synching to a diva type song’ for instance; we would come on in shell suits and high heels and push prams off the stage with potatoes in (don’t ask). We were coming from a more John Waters type place.

3It was at Kinky Gerlinky that Danny (and his then wife Jenni) Rampling spotted us and asked us if we’d like to come and work at their new club Glam as ‘dancers’. We jumped at the chance and really loved the mixed crowd and great music at the club. I used to chat to Danny about the records and he realised how into it I was. Even though I had no decks at home, Danny asked if i’d like to do the warm-up over the summer, while he was in Ibiza and I agreed. I was totally fearless in those days and just kind of did it without thinking and learnt on the job in a full club. I can’t have been too bad as within 6 months I was whizzing up and down the motorway to play regularly at clubs like Venus in Nottingham, Back to Basics in Leeds, Chuff Chuff and Wobble in Birmingham, Slam in Glasgow and on and on.

So to answer you question, the lovely Rachel Auburn and Danny Rampling gave me chances, helped spur me on and encouraged me a lot.

As a pioneer of the House music scene what would you say has been the biggest change since the 90’s for you?

4Well, it did feel for a while that the fun element had gone a bit and it was all taking itself a bit too seriously. I actually took 8 years off from DJing and went back to Uni to do another degree in Popular Music. What really excited and still excites me about DJing is being able to mix different styles together, not just play a whole night of one thing. It feels sometimes that everything is too compartmentalised for easy marketing and not allowed to mix, whereas this is what made clubbing in the early 90’s so appealing to me. Not only should there be a great, varied mix of people, but the music should cross genres and boundaries too.

I do get the feeling people are opening up again to the old, more Balearic way of partying, which is encouraging.

Can you remember some of your first DJ gigs – how did it feel when you first got on the decks and played to a crowd?

To be honest, I just did it without blinking. There were so may great white labels coming out every week throughout the early 90’s. A staggering amount of excellent new home-grown music, looking back. Along with European labels like DFC and the more stripped back dubs from the USA, the music was just peaking and people were so hungry for that sound in the UK. You would feel a wave of excitement coming across the clubs as you mixed in new tunes. The Annexe at Cream in Liverpool in the pre- trance years was just phenomenal.

5You’ve had the pleasure of playing alongside most DJ’s in the industry, who really stands out to you?

My personal favourites are Mark Moore (Still), Justin Robertson, Dave Dorrell, Danny Howells and Erol Alkan. DJ’s who aren’t afraid to mix it up and have a strong musical identity.

Who would you consider one of the greatest DJ’s ever?

Kenny Everett was pretty special.

Where did your name ‘Jon Pleased Wimmin’ come from?

Well as I mentioned, I was part of a ‘cabaret-style’ drag trio called the Pleased Wimmin and we were known all over London when I started playing at Glam for Danny. When people like Pushca and Naked Lunch started to book me, they wanted to know what name to put on the flyer. So without thinking I just said Jon (of The Pleased Wimmin), as people knew us. It was as simple and boring as that haha.

What is your most memorable gig to date?

Playing in Punta Del Este in Uruguay for Cream over the summers of the mid 90’s was blissful. Also I remember one particular gig on the terrace at Space in Ibiza when it was still open air where I played The Sun Always Shines on TV and the crowd were screaming (in a good way).

Do you have any advise to offer to new DJ’s?

Play the music you love.

What currently are your top five tracks?

  1. Kiwi – Short Tail
  2. Romanthony – Trust (Freeform Five Rmx)
  3. Tame Impala – Let it Happen
  4. Denney – Low Frequency
  5. Petite Mellor  – Baby Love (Kiwi Rmx)

Don’t Be Scared (Of Yourself) is doing really well and gaining great support, how has this made you feel?

I’m really happy people seem to be responding well to it. I’m really proud of it and I think it has a great message in the lyrics, for everybody.

And finally, do you have any plans for a follow track with Kidology?

Yes! I think i’m on a roll as i’ve already finished the follow up and am working on the follow up to that now.

 

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