“Back in time when I was a teenager, the rave spirit was everywhere,” reminisces Bloody Mary. We’re talking about the mid ’90s in the south of France, a time when big soundsystems were taking over Montpellier and nearby landscapes, and illegal raves were thriving. It was her first experience of the party scene, long before she’d entered a club.
“I started collecting records when I started going out,” she says. “We were lucky that there were so many record shops [in the south of France]. I was going out on the weekend, and after [the parties] I was digging in the record shops, to try to find the sound and the memory of the party. That’s why I have this real love for records.” She bought plenty of the classics in her collection long before Discogs started, and she still plays many of them in her sets: “I was just buying records, playing a lot at home, and experimenting with this passion.”
Initially, a career as a DJ had never crossed her mind, but there were people listening to her play out in this early period. When a new club opened in her hometown, in the region of Aix-en-Provence — the now defunct Studio 88 — she was approached to be one of the first four resident DJs.
“For me, it was the best DJ school,” she laughs. “It’s amazing, because it made me what I am today. First, you learn how to open a room, which in my opinion is the most difficult thing because you [have to] bring the vibe to the party. The capacity of Studio 88 was 1,000 or 1,500 people, so it was a big club, you know? It was challenging, all the time, and it was a beautiful thing to start with an empty room and to give the turntables over to the headliner. And all of the records I bought a long time ago? — I think it was really important as a resident that you needed a proper collection, especially in the early ’00s when there was no digital.”
Although now we exist in an industry where CDJs are more commonplace than turntables, back then it was imperative to learn the art of vinyl DJing. A versatile record bag was essential — one that could take you in different directions, especially in a warm-up scenario. When she started her collection, she bought many genres; from rock, EBM and new wave, to disco and Italo-disco, not just the house and techno that she’s become known for in recent years.
“I don’t listen to the radio at home, I listen to records... it’s always been like this,” she says. “It’s really important to show how much you can be versatile when you open a room. Because you can start really slow, you can play all different types of music... you can go with the BPM to crescendo, and you can start with some deep ambient and finish on techno, and that’s the beauty of it.”