Photo: Press (IMOGEN)
IMOGEN has been making a name for herself steadily over the past two years, having released her first productions on the legendary Earwiggle label and becoming a resident at London’s fabric while also hosting a radio show on NTS. And even though you may easily think that an existential crisis like the one the global dance music community is currently facing would deter a young artist on their path to more, that is certainly not true for the British DJ and producer. In fact, she’ll be coming out of quarantine with big plans and in the meanwhile delivers a mix for the Groove podcast that translates the explosive energy of a club night spent front left of the DJ seamlessly into the online format.
First off, how are you doing and what have you been up to lately?
I’m not bad, it’s clearly been a tough year for everyone but I’ve still managed to enjoy my Summer. I started teaching people how to produce music throughout quarantine, which was keeping me inspired and it’s something I’ve realised I will probably want to continue after the pandemic is over, too. I’ve also just been enjoying myself and the time off, I had my 21st birthday in August and partied a lot!
You are a resident DJ at fabric since 2019, but unfortunately barely had a chance to actually fill that role. What does the club mean to you in your personal history as a music fan and DJ?
I used to visit the club on Saturdays when I wasn’t living in London and get a two hour train back at 8 a.m. It was a staple club for us growing up coming from a town without techno music. I really wasn’t expecting to be asked to be a resident there and it was a great opportunity for me and the next turning point in my career. The club is obviously highly respected worldwide and such a massive part of the UK’s clubbing culture. To become part of the residents there I felt like I had a responsibility to maintain the standard of music and keep the reputation of the club going. I played twice as a resident and was really looking forward to my next show with Umwelt and Dave Clarke, which got cancelled just as quarantine happened. It’s obviously a bit gutting, however I know when this is over fabric will have my back and I will be one of the first artists to return to the club. With less travel happening right now it makes sense to be booking local artists. Big shout out to Judy, Andy, Rob and the rest of the team at fabric too for their continued love for the club and support for me.
You’ve recently played at Big Dyke Energy: F**K 2020, a “car park rave” with strict social distancing guidelines. Can you tell us a little bit more about the event? Would you say that the event or certain aspects of it could act as a precedent for epidemiologically sound raving in the future?
The event is run by two of my bestest friends Elliott and Melody they both put so much hard work into the whole brand and even the first party sold out straight away, so they have been doing something very right from the get go. London has needed this space for womxn, non binary and trans people for a while. Obviously the car park rave had a slightly different vibe, it was socially distanced with dancing allowed only at your table, I personally don’t think this is very different from a beer garden being open apart from the tunes being better! It was very much needed to go out and see our friends again and with the transmission rate being so low currently Big Dyke Energy were following government guidelines. There is also an RA review on the night which goes into more detail.
You’ve mentioned that producers like Paula Temple serve as an inspiration for you because “they always have a concept behind their music.” Having recently been very active as a producer yourself: what’s the concept behind your music?
I’ve struggled recently with my productions, making club music anyway, not being in the club and surrounded by different sights is usually what helps inspire me. I’m not an introvert, as much as I’d like to be, I can’t lock myself in my studio and produce all week. The concept behind my music is either just to make a dance track full of energy or when I’m inspired delve deeper into my emotions with something that is on my mind. For example, last year I was writing a lot of music to do with climate change and when COVID-19 hit, I made a few tracks about slowing the pace of everything down and spending more time alone.
As a producer, you’ve recently released two tracks together with Ben Pest, “Henry” on the HeForShe x femme culture Vol. 3 compilation and “Octurnal” on LOBSTER PLUR Volume 2. How did you end up making music together and what characterises your working relationship?
I reached out for Ben to be a guest on my Radar Radio show a couple years back, after staying friends for a while we met up and made some tracks together. We finished a track in a day – “Gramalkin” which is coming out very soon – and realised how well we work together. Ben has great ideas and is super talented at sound design and whilst he’s doing that I’ll be working on processing the sounds, modulation and preparing the drums. Overall he is one of my closest friends and we help each other stay inspired.
As a DJ, you also host a radio show on NTS. What’s important to you when programming the shows?
On NTS I usually play some more chilled music especially if I know I have mixes coming up as I prefer to do more of a club set for those. I also really enjoy B2Bs as my set is only an hour, I’ve recently had Clouds and Tommy Four Seven, it’s great when a B2B goes so nicely together even if you haven’t met before.
What was the idea behind your contribution to the Groove podcast?
For the mix I wanted to play some tracks that played a special part in my gigs last year, for example I remember playing Lucas P’s “The Imposter” at Tresor for Herrensauna last Winter and it going off, I wanted to relive clubbing moments with a few of my tracks. I also included some new records that just arrived like Exzakt & BFX’s “Close,” it’s on a really cool label, M.U.S.A records in Barcelona, I love all their releases. The mix isn’t the cleanest but I like it like that it has the energy of a set I would play in the clubs and with barely anyone getting the opportunity to go out right now I think mixes like this are important.
Last but not least: What are your plans for the future?
Right now is a great time to be manifesting and planning, not only stuff with my music but my life in general. As I grow as an artist, I want to try to use my platform positively and try to work out a way as artists how we can be more sustainable and do more to give back to the planet that we have trashed. By growing your following it’s a great way to educate people, too. I would like to start a label and work with smaller artists on collaborations, which I realised through working with Ben and teaching my students. Long-term I would like to have a creative arts space which would have a vegan café inside, music studios where there would be free workshops for the less privileged, sustainability workshops, a small record shop as well as a lathe which can cut people’s dubplates. As you can tell I have been manifesting a lot over the last four months in quarantine! (laughs)
Stream: IMOGEN – Groove Podcast 270
01. Univac – Collider
02. Interviews – Hi Boi
03. Schwefelgelb – Reflex (An-I remix)
04. IMOGEN & Ben Pest – Misjudgement Day
05. Exzakt & BFX – Close
06. Shawn Cartier – Parking Lot
07. IMOGEN & Ben Pest – Shitbooty
08. Tommy Holohan – South Beach Burning Bins (Clouds Remix)
09. Vladimir Dubyshkin – deaf artist
10. UFO95 x Anetha – On Offline
11. DJ これからの緊急災害 – Modular Ghost System (Jensen Interceptor Remix)
12. Minimum Syndicat – Nosebleed
13. The Advent – ??????
14. Lucas P – The Imposter
15. IMOGEN – Unreleased
16. Clara Cuve – Control
17. IMOGEN & Ben Pest – Volts