Exclusive interview: DJ Handy

Hey DJ Handy! Thanks for answering my questions for drum+basics.

How did you end up doing what you’re doing in the drum&bass scene?

Hi Jenny, It all started in the late 80’s early 90’s when I when i was going to acid house raves, I was lucky enough to meet Dj Bazza from Cambridge who was promoting parties, he was kind enough to let me have a go on his 1200’s and this gave me the bug to learn to dj. I didn’t play out at all in the early years apart from house parties and in my bedroom!! I stopped deejaying for quite a few years and ended up selling one of my decks and put my vinyl in storage. Playing drum and bass came after meeting Kred on a snowboard holiday about 15 years ago. We had one deck each and we got together in his garage in north London and started doing mix tapes. Utah Jazz got us a slot on Origin fm from where we started to get a few gigs and then we started Launch.

You’re both a DJ and promoter, do you produce as well?

I am only just starting to make my own music, It’s going ok but I have a lot to learn. To be honest, I was never interested in making my own tunes as I just love to dj, it’s only been in the last couple of years that I felt that I wanted to have a go at production. I am lucky enough to have a lot of producers around me that are more than willing to give me a few pointers in the right direction.

What do you enjoy the best; organising your own night, playing out or raving?

I enjoy all 3 in different ways. Raving is what got me into deejaying and promoting. I’ve been to so many amazing nights with great music and atmosphere. I have also been to nights that didn’t quite turn out so well for one reason or another, but this then gave me the inspiration to try and do better rather than just complain about the rubbish nights!

It’s a great feeling when you get to play out to an up for it crowd, I tend to feed off the energy of a good crowd which makes me play better and enjoy it more and hopefully it works for the crowd to.

Promoting is definitely the best to do! This is because when I get ravers coming and telling me what a great night they’ve had and when artists tell me how much they enjoyed playing at Launch it makes me feel proud of what I have achieved with the night and makes it worth while.

If you could put on a night in ANY other genre than drum&bass/jungle, what would that be?

I still like old school 88-91 so would probably be something based around those years in style. I find myself mixing that more and more at home after a weekend of drums!!

You’ve been doing Launch now for a few years, how did it all start? Was there a plan from the beginning with Launch or have you just taking it step by step to see where it would take you?

Kred and I started Launch 10 years ago so we could put a party on for friends to enjoy and also so we could play out more as it’s really tough for Deejays that don’t produce to get a booking. It’s really just grown step by step, just my ambition for wanting to do something for people to come and enjoy.

Launch is really going from strength to strength and it’s wicked to see more and more people realising what a quality night it is. What did you expect from Launch at the start?

I didn’t really expect anything, i just wanted to hear good music and see people having a good time. I wanted to be able to pay my artists their fee even if it comes out of my own pocket.

What’s been toughest?

There are a lot of different aspects of putting on a successful night apart from getting people through the door. I would say the hardest is finding a good venue, it has to have a great sound system and very good security staff. When you’re a punter going out to a night the security is the first aspect of getting into the venue. There is absolutely no need for rude staff. The last thing you need is some steroid beef cake on the door wanting to rough up your customers because they had a bad day!! What you need is polite crowd control that can deal with a situation calmly if things get a little heated. 99% of ravers are just coming out to have a good time. This is why Launch is at Bloc, they really know how to handle themselves and the crowd correctly. 

Picking the right line up and then been able to secure the artists within a budget. You would think that would be easy but it’s very difficult when you can’t book some djs 6 weeks either side of them playing at particular events in London because of exclusivity deals. Booking agents also asking for ridiculous fees for artist for the size of venue. In my opinion it just suffocates the scene and stops artists getting a gigs.

Big night at Bloc. tonight with a massive line up, what were your thoughts about getting these names together?

I always try and be diverse with the line ups at Launch, I have a long list of artists i wish to book. I usually start with a headliner and book other artists around them to suit the night. It seems to be a formula that works, I book artist for their deejaying skills rather than production skills

If there’s anyone who’s never been to a Launch night before, what can they expect? A great atmosphere with good music!

What’s next for Launch?

Its our 10th year this year so hopefully the best yet. I’m planning a couple more parties in London this year but haven’t got any dates to give out just yet.

I’ve also teamed up with a friend with the Launch sound system where we have been booked for a visual and sound installation at festivals in the summer, we have Latitude, Bestival and Lost festival confirmed so far. It’s not just drum and bass but a multi genre stage of us playing all sorts of music to visual projections. Pure party vibes!!!

Favourite producer/DJ? I have so much respect for some artists I can’t give you an answer, it’s like asking a parent who their favourite child is!

Where can we see Handy play next? Launch tonight, AKO on the 19th May (more info HERE), Sun&Bass 3-10/9. You can also hear me play on Bassdrive every Friday from 9-11pm gmt

What’s next for Handy? Work on my production and get more gigs really. I think there is always room for improvement.

Any famous last words? I just want to send a shout out to all the people that have come to Launch and keep coming back, it really wouldn’t be the successful night it is without their support, they are the real reason I’m still able to do it 10 years on.

I also support this group: Drum&Bass Against Racism

Thanks and BIG UP!

Tickets for Launch TONIGHT: RA

Launch Facebook // Launch Mixcloud

More Handy: Mixcloud // Facebook

 

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