HEY DJ! – Miss Chelle

Miss Chelle is a youthful Islander (thats the Isle of Wight folks by the way) born and bred, owns a 1968 Lambretta and spins 45’s covering R&B, Soul, Northern, Boogaloo and Jazz. It all started after laughing at a friends’ cat in a record box and saying it’s probably a better DJ than she. Since then she’s collected and played. Despite being Island based it hasn’t stopped her spinning tunes in Nottingham, Birmingham, London and more recently Hembsy Soul Weekender. She is now a regular for Hipshaker at the Isle of Wight festival, this will be her 8th year entertaining the crowds.

01. What were your early musical influences?

I remember as a child the fear I felt when my dad played his War of the Worlds album, then the same feeling with Tubular Bells. He must have played the Who but I don’t remember it but clearly later in life my subconscious does as I knew all the songs they played at the Isle of Wight Festival 2004 and was shocked people around me claimed not to know any of their songs. My mum was a ‘Skinhead’ in the 70s and always reminds me that her first record was the Liquidator. It’s all in my genes! Once getting into the Who and Small Faces is made me look into other types of 60s music, and that has never stopped as I’m now slipping into the 50s!

02. What sort of music do your gravitate towards generally?

I will always lean towards R&B from the 50s and 60s, it covers a wide span of emotions and tempos. Something dark and gritty for those days where you feel everything is against you to something upbeat and happy when getting ready for a night out. I want a song to spark an emotion and I always remember the songs that gave me goose bumps when hearing them for the first time. When I first started digging into 60s sounds, Soul and Northern Soul were the genres I leant towards, like now, it was and still is the most spoken about. I still have my favourites.

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03. What have been the bands or sounds that have always been in your play-list or record box?

Artists I will always have in my record box span from Barbara Lynn, Little Willie John, Etta James, Big Maybelle, Gay Poppers and my guilty pleasure Frankie Valli and the 4 Seasons. When not playing to a crowd I will listen to anything from Shocking Blue, the Small Faces, France Gall, Jazz compilations and Funk.

04. What about the formats available, your thoughts on Vinyl, CD and MP3?

When I DJ, I play vinyl only, I’m not a complete label snob as I don’t have the funds to spend £1000 on a single unfortunately. I have played at nights where I have been the only DJ to be using vinyl, which I don’t mind, it’s my choice. But to have someone boast about what songs they have on their laptop, can be a little soul destroying (pardon the pun!). Really, what it all boils down to is if you can judge a crowd and piece a number of different songs together to entertain them. But for many, searching and buying records is part of the musical passion. There’s no better feeling of finding a record you’ve wanted for ages.

05. Any current bands or acts that you feel seem to be producing the goods?

Current bands that have caught my attention include Kitty, Daisy and Lewis. First witnessed them live at the Bestival years ago, when I found out that all their material is recorded on 50s equipment I was even more impressed. Also love what Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings are doing. Away from the retro sound I like listening to London Grammar, McAlmont and Butler, Hozier and Bad Bad Not Good. Also like what Public Service Broadcasting do.

06. What can we expect to hear on your show or during your Sets?

I’m slowly starting to play more rock and roll in some of my sets as it goes well with a few of the R&B songs I play. Last year I played at a local rock and roll night and I had people dancing away, so the choice of songs couldn’t have been that bad. It was quite daunting playing to a different crowd. This has encouraged me to delve into the rock and roll world but I will never leave my R&B and Soul at home.

07. Anything that you really hate and why?

I wouldn’t say I hate, but what I have grown tired of is DJ’s trying to outdo each other and play what is considered a really rare record. A few years ago a group of us went to a Northern Soul all-nighter, we had travelled a fair few miles and were up for some dancing. Unfortunately the DJ’s were more concerned with each other than what was going on with the crowd. That and people shouting ‘you’re rubbish’, ‘I don’t like this song’ or ‘what do you mean you haven’t got The Snake, call yourself a DJ!’

08. What about requests?

I do try and fulfil requests if I have the song. Most of the time I’ll be polite and say I’ll play it if it fits in with what I’m currently playing. I’ve been in bizarre situations whilst behind the decks, I’ve had people tell me to play Motown whilst a Motown song is playing. I’ve been asked for Beyonce or NDubz due to R&B being advertised. I can’t complain about people requesting songs, I’ve done it myself.

09. Tell us what you are up to at the moment, where can we catch you playing out etc.?

Well, after a successful March of the Mods on the Island this year I’m giving a helping hand with  the IOW Lambretta Day. Fingers crossed I’m allowed to spin some tunes this year, last year I was renamed DJ Ironside as I was DJ’ing from a wheelchair. Not the best set up. After that, the next big date for me is the Isle of Wight Festival. This is my 8th year playing in the Hipshaker tent for the Festival Forum Hour. I really feel I have proved myself over the years by earning this slot, I get to play some upbeat tunes and hopefully open people’s eyes to what 60s music can do. Always have people dancing and that’s the best feeling to walk away with. Even better when people come up to you and tell you they enjoyed your set, it’s strange, I’m just playing songs I like and would dance to, for others to enjoy it as much is a big confidence boost.

10. Your thoughts on the future and things that excite you beyond music?

The future, I don’t think the music will ever die. Films are being released showing a small insight into the Soul Scene and here on the Island (IOW, UK) there are a good group of teenagers getting into Soul and Scooters. So hopefully it won’t die off any time soon. Outside of music I like to keep myself busy, do a spot of road cycling which has seen me cycle the 80 hilly miles between Bath and Bournemouth, the Island’s randonee and two years ago 100 Here, 100 There. A charity event supported by the Fire and Rescue Service, I’ve got a horrible feeling I’ll be roped into doing it again this year. I really enjoy photography, whether it’s nature and wildlife, to modern structures in London, to European destinations. I also try my hand at paper cutting. I’ve managed to sell a few commission pieces which has been great.

11. Have you met or worked with anyone Interesting on your musical journey?

Many years ago I worked at Ryde and Medina Theatre which meant meeting some of the acts that were booked. I called Georgie Fame, ‘some ol’ drunk’ not realising who he was, Jet Harris was a regular at Medina Theatre and was lovely, always recognised the bar staff. Bumped into Pauline Black and shared her prawn crackers in Ryde Theatre’s dressing room, also took Roddy Byers out drinking in Ryde and left him on the steps of Yelf’s after forgetting the key code. I’ve kept in touch with both of them and they really helped me by donating some great prizes for our March of the Mods raffle. I also had the fortune, or some would say misfortune of meeting Eddie Piller, apparently I don’t look like someone from the Isle of Wight. And ever since I have returned the favour with banter whenever our paths meet.

12. Top fave tunes right now and fave other current DJ?

A very small list of my favourites at the moment;
Betty Everett  – Someday Soon.
Jamie Coe – Cleopatra.
Sugarpie DeSanto – Going Back to Where I Belong.
Big Maybelle – That’s a Pretty Good Love.
The Pointer Sisters – Send Him Back
Fred Hughes – Baby Boy.

Don’t know if I have a favourite DJ, if they play tunes that make me dance I’m happy. Always try to tune into Craig Charles on BBC6 when I remember. I’ve met some great people over the years through attending different events which makes it hard to choose, but I do have Secondhand Dan to thank for the ‘Miss Chelle’ label, now he does have an amazing record collection that I can only dream of!


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