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Recognise: L U C Y

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L U C Y-recognise

Recognise is DJ Mag's monthly mix series, introducing artists we love that are bursting onto the global electronic music circuit. This month, London-based L U C Y delivers a high-energy hour of bass heavy cuts, and chats to Dhruva Balram about not being restricted by genre and starting with a clean slate in 2020

“I see myself more as a producer than a DJ,” L U C Y says over the phone. “Like, a producer that DJs rather than a DJ that produces. That distinction bothered me a lot this year. [Producing] music is at the very forefront of what I’m doing. As much as I love DJing, I want the music to have a longer-lasting effect on people, to be honest.”

The London-based artist has spun herself into prominence with a blend of bass-heavy genres. Her mixtapes have garnered acclaim, her tracks have regularly featured in radio shows and on club systems, and she is now a highly sought-after DJ in her own right. Yet, L U C Y finds that the public perception of her is packed into narrow frameworks that don’t fit her creative personality, which bursts at the seams. DJ, female, grime-only DJ, Bristolborn, bass music, 140bpm and above: L U C Y has come to be defined by these characteristics. Audiences, labels, journalists, agents, promoters — all appear unwilling to look past this perception of her as they’re marketable, easily recognised, packaged and sellable products.

Now, L U C Y is frustrated. She hopes her new EP, released today (18th December), is the beginning of the end of this chapter. “I want it to be the death knell of everything I’ve done so far,” she says. “I want a clean slate for this year. Start fresh with music.”

“At 15, I remember having this epiphany standing right in the middle of this rave: I want to be doing that [DJing]”

Born and raised in Bristol, the city shaped her political - liberal and socialist - views, influences and instilled in her an ardent passion for dance music. It all started when she was 14. “I went to a club near mine called Black Swan when I was young. It was a dub night,” she says, enthusiastically reminiscing of her first time going out. “At 15, I used to go to these club nights. I remember having this epiphany standing right in the middle of this rave: I want to be doing that [DJing].”

She went to a youth club called The Basement in Bristol where the legendary jungle and d&b artist DJ Dazee taught L U C Y how to spin records. The Basement had everything necessary for L U C Y to become hooked: decks, records and, most importantly, a desire to see her succeed. “They were encouraging when it came to DJing as it was such a maleheavy environment. I never had that much encouragement before. It gave me a boost.”

Starting to collect vinyl from charity shops, L U C Y’s future career as a producer and DJ within dance music was a secret she kept to herself. She saved up for a MacBook as the production side of the youth club shut down and started to work on her craft obsessively. L U C Y has risen to prominence since, playing countless shows across the UK.

A forward-thinking artist whose views of inclusivity have been championed by fellow DJ’s, it was her work as a member of 6 Figure Gang that truly set her out. What started as an in-joke between six emerging powerhouses  — SHERELLE, Yazzus, Jossy Mitsu, FAUZIA, Dobby and L U C Y — over earning six figures from DJing became an important element in UK dance music. Challenging misogyny in the industry while showcasing how young women and non-binary people can occupy space as producers and DJs, 6 Figure Gang have since played at Boiler Room and spin tunes on a show on Rinse FM.

L U C Y doesn’t like to dwell on the past, though. Abruptly cutting yesterday’s memories short, she starts talking about the near future with an excitement that was missing previously. “I’ve had amazing moments,” she admits. “[But] I’m always thinking about the next steps. I’m not a self-reflective person. I kind of always have to think about the next thing.”

Szns7n is a main focus looking forward, the label L U C Y started this year with a primary aim to be “a platform for multi-disciplinary collaboration in music and art”. Her label party at Colours, Hoxton, in East London in December saw Pinch headline, and she says he hopes that she can use it as a platform to build upon.

L U C Y wants to shed the past because, in 2020, she hopes to debut several exciting things. Though her recent EP closes a chapter, her next one has already been written. She wants to change the perception of how she’s viewed in the club. From being notoriously renowned as a 140bpm-and-above artist, she wants to come to venues with a new performance aspect. “I’m going to do live shows next year, so it’ll be a bit more personal,” she admits. “It’ll be more like a concert rather than a club-night.”

And one of the ways she wants to “do better” is by flipping the table on what audiences can expect from her releases. “My next project should be interesting. It may annoy people who have listened to me and who see me more being grime, but I never stated that I played or did a particular genre. It was within that time that people were like if it's 140, it’s grime. If it’s this, it’s this. I feel like it happens a lot now as people experiment more and more with music. I think music journalism and audiences place genres onto things that they don’t necessarily need to.”

“My next project should be interesting. It may annoy people who have listened to me and who see me more being grime, but I never stated that I played or did a particular genre”

L U C Y has spent the second part of the decade intertwining herself with the music industry, but 2019 finally felt like the year where she firmly cemented herself. Having staked her claim as one of the country’s most forward-thinking DJs, it’s an interesting decision from L U C Y to take her production in a new direction, venturing into previously unknown paths. Heading into the new decade, this choice feels apt, like new energy. With such an impressive back-catalogue already secure, the future bodes well.

Speaking about her Recognise mix, Lucy says it's "a mixture of sounds I like, in the direction I'm heading in. The mix contains SZNS7N songs and refixs, including a couple from the new EP, and old and new songs that are UK rave inspired throughout." Listen to L U C Y's Recognise mix below, and check out the tracklist below the stream.

Tracklist:

Ship Sket 'RITUAL RIDDIM'
G3 'drum 2 (peanut)'
Bandshell 'Rise Em'Raheim 'Baby'
4THSEX 'BAGARRE'
Killawatt 'Sidewinder (Ipman Remix)'
Dead Man's Chest x Sonic 'Pum Flex'
Aquarian 'Leisure Techno'
Harry Oscillate '909 Rhythm'
GREAZUS x Sinistarr 'UR4CR33PER_MSTR1'
Casement 'Bellvine'
Hezziane 'KV-08'
Aquarian 'SAM HANDWICH'
DAWL 'Let's Go'
Text Chunk & Hood Joplin 'Bank Account — 09 Concrete'
Pangaea 'Bone Sucka'
bastiengoat 'CHELT'
KOSMODOD 'SKYNSEMI'
Yazzus 'MITSIBUSHI DIZZLE'
Harmony & Xtreme 'Temple of Heaven'
Pete Cannon 'There Is Hope'
Objekt 'Theme from Q (L U C Y REFIX)'
Sully 'Give me Up'
Sempra 'Human (Sempra re-lick)'
Sempra 'Vocal Tune (Sempra Re-lick)'
THUGWIDOW 'The Phone Never Rings For Good News'
L U C Y 'Attack'
Muhla 'Portland (Aæe Remix)'

Want more? Check out our recent Recognise mixes from TSVI and Air Max 97, as well as Sherelle’s Fresh Kicks mix.

Dhruva Balram is a freelance writer, follow him Twitter here.

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