Making cool sounds with attitude and style

   Interview with DJ Janette Slack

 

Hong Kong born Eurasian, DJ Janette Slack has been making music in London since 2003. She has now launched her own label Slack Trax and some really cool tunes she’s been crafting lately. As you’d expect, this is one lady with attitude. Her DJ-ing outfits are a mix of punk, hip hop, manga, latex and heavy make-up. Just before launching her label, I caught up with her to find out more about the East and West mix lady DJ who’s been jamming up the nights on the London club scene.

 

Tell us about your music, what makes it unique, what makes it different?

I’m not musically trained so it takes me a long time to write tracks. The only musical instrument I learnt how to play was drums for about a year. So I don’t know how to play any instrument at an amazing level but only enough so I can lay down ideas which make sound engineering and programming come in handy as you can programme it all and as long as it sounds clear and crisp then you don’t really need a band to rely on. I really enjoy programming drums and because I come from a more of a rock music background (my dad’s influence) I enjoy recording real bass guitars and real guitars. My music is a hybrid between rock and electronic music. I’m really inspired by bands like Hybrid, Nine Inch Nails, Dave Grohl from Foo Fighters, Underworld, Orbital, The Prodigy, Chemical Brothers, Basement Jaxx, all these amazing artists which are their own thing. You can hear they’ve got inspiration from something else and they’ve turned it into their own thing using electronica. So I collaborate sometimes with vocalists, it can be funk vocalists, a rapper, a singer, male or female, and it’s really nice to see what interesting layers they bring on top of my music.

 

 

What kind of clubs have you normally performed at, is there a particular scene you tend to stick to?

I’ve been kind of drifting, between all the scenes. When I first moved to London, because my passion was in break beat, I’ve played at various clubs and bars ranging from gay, straight and fetish. About 6 years ago I got my first warm up set at Torture Garden. I’ve now been a resident there for 6 years and it’s definitely not boring.

 

 

Have you got a signature look when you’re performing?

It took me a long time to find the image that was right for me. You just got to believe in whatever it is what you you’re wearing. But as long as you don’t get lazy and stay on top of your craft it doesn’t really matter what you wear. I generally tend to wear what I feel like. As a woman there are days when you want to wear trousers and days when you want to wear tights. It’s trying to keep a balance, dressing with a bit of attitude. And if there’s a theme like Halloween, hen dos etc… it helps you do your thinking about what clothes you’re going to wear. You end up wearing something you never thought of wearing before and the night gives you the option to. I am also becoming more open to things such as wearing body paint etc.  Sometimes I want to stand out and sometimes I don’t.

 

 

You’ve launched you own label. Tell us all about it.

I’ve launched my own label Slack Trax last year and it’s got its first release on 29th Oct with a track called ‘Girl in Black’. It’s the most ‘pop’ish, commercial track I’ve ever done. All my tracks have always been moody. The next single ‘You Can’t Stop This’ was released on the 4th of Dec. I’ve collaborated with Kickflip on that one and it’s more honest to what I play at Torture Garden and what I’m writing right now. It’s got guitars in it, real drums, vocals from Javone Prince (from Channel 4’s Phoneshop) and some really cool noises that make sense.

My album ‘Torture Garden Session’ got released in late January/ early February.  I have limited edition CDs that you can order on www.janetteslack.com . The album is available on all the digital shops such as iTunes, Trackitdown, Beatport, Juno, Amazon etc…. So far the label it’s been getting really good response. DJMag have shown lots of support, Mixmag have given Slack Trax 2 ‘Tune of the Month’ titles, and I just got interviewed by Time Magazine because of setting up the label.

 

What’s next?

I just want to keep writing and I just want to get better at everything I’m doing. One of the styles I play is progressive and electro and break beat and there’s a slower tempo called nu funk and glitch hop which is faster than hip hop but slower than electro and it’s a really sexy pace, there’s cool vocals, it really hits the spot for me. And that’s something I really want to explore more.

 

 

 

You can listen to some of Janette’s tracks here!

 

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Blindness photoshoot

I healthily believe in happy coincidences. This one started with a coffee in Angel with my beloved friend Kendra and ended up in a photo studio in Greenwich.

Kendra is the bass player of this amazing up and coming band called Blindness, to which I am already a sort of a groupie. And by the looks of things I am not the only one: Blindness are “vibrant rich silky alternative darkwave pop with an electronic edge and a healthy touch of Curve/Nine Inch Nails/Jesus & Mary Chain to gently propel it all along. Girl-voiced lushness, exquisite warmth…” – Organ Art.

So when she told me they were preparing for their first professional photo shoot, I jumped to the chance to: a) have my first official photo shoot styling experience; b) be part of this super-dooper band’s history. What you see below are a few of my favourite images, exquisitely shot by photographer Nando Machado (www.nandophoto.com) and his team at Pro Image Studio in Greenwich/Deptford at the end of August.

We started with a brainstorm of what their outfits should be and after careful deliberation I decided the band already has a well defined style and they should stick to it because this was what made them who they were. So I advised them to bring their own clothes to the shoot and I helped them choose each outfit for each scene. I also did Beth’s make-up, forced gorgeous Kendra into wearing hotpants and long necklace and played around with the props. The rest is history!

Special thanks to all the band members (Alex, Debbie, Beth and Kendra) and to Nando and his team.

If you want to find out more about Blindness, visit their Facebook page.

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