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Carl Loben
15 November 2022, 19:08

Janette Slack, trailblazing breakbeat DJ and producer, dies, aged 42

The DJ and producer rose to prominence in London’s ‘00s breakbeat scene as resident at Torture Garden

Janette Slack, trailblazing breakbeat DJ and producer, dies, aged 42

Janette Slack, the DJ, producer and teacher who rose to prominence in London’s ‘00s breakbeat scene, has died.

News of the 42-year-old artist’s passing on Sunday was shared by her brother Trevor via Facebook. “On behalf of the family, it is with great sadness that I announce the tragic and sudden passing of Janette Slack on the 13th of November 2022 in Hong Kong. 

“She was more than just a sister, a daughter and a friend,” he wrote. “She was the light and soul of the room.” You can read his full statement below. 

The Hong Kong-born artist began DJing after working in the Vinyl Addiction record shop in Camden, London, in the late ‘90s, an early hub for the city's breakbeat scene. She soon became a resident DJ at London fetish night Torture Garden, where she’d spin a mixture of prog house, tech-funk and breakbeat. At the time, she was one of few women DJs in the breakbeat scene, alongside 10 Sui and the late Sonia Akow from SOTO, and later acted as a mentor and inspiration to others including Miss Monument, Mini Da Minx and MissMax.

Slack DJ’d around the Shoreditch circuit, at clubs like Turnmills and at assorted breakbeat nights. After launching her own studio space in the early noughties, her debut release, ‘In Session’, arrived on iBreaks in 2004. This was followed by ‘Never Enough’ on Future Funk Squad’s Re:Connect label and a release on Ali B’s Air Recordings. 

Working with the likes of D.Ramirez on more electro-tinged music in the late noughties, Slack then set up her own label, Slack Trax, as an outlet for her own releases.

After moving back to Hong Kong in 2015, Slack launched her own music school, teaching music production to young students. She carried on releasing her own music and DJing, putting out an EP with breakbeat DJ Adsorb, and collaborating remotely with the likes of Future Funk Squad and others.

Teaching became the most rewarding side to Slack’s work, a feeling that was felt mutually by her students. Writing on her Facebook group, Janette Slack’s Beats & Peaces, after the news of her passing was shared, one student's parent wrote: “Janette made this of her work with DJ teaching, she taught my eldest the history of music...She helped our youngest who didn’t talk for a year come out of his shell with the beats...  I share this video because I’m sure lots of you will see yourselves, children or familiar faces who were lucky enough to have had the joys of sharing music together with Janette... Sending love and may her light continue to shine as bright as possible.”

In a tribute shared on Facebook, Torture Garden wrote: "She was a much-loved part of the TG family, bringing her big looks and big energy whenever she DJ’d for us. She meant a lot to so many people and our thoughts are with everyone whose lives she touched."

“Goodbye my wonderful radiant friend, I’m going to miss you,” wrote Tom Beaufoy from Brighton breakbeat duo Evil Nine on Facebook.

Listen to Slack’s ‘Never Enough’, and read some tributes to the trailblazing artist, below.