It was a snowy night in London and I had dragged my good mate Malcolm out of his house in the Baltic weather to Cable Nightclub in the East End. Rinse FM DJ, Lucy ‘Monki’ Monkman was playing and she had kindly arranged to stick our names on the guest list so that we could interview her after her set. TLG Magazine had in fact caught up with Lucy before via email but I wanted to catch her while I was down in London to find out her perspective on the music scene down there. As we arrived outside Cable, an hour late due to the weather-related public transport delays, and dripping from head to foot with snow, we bumped into Lucy outside the club who was standing looking out for us. She offered to give us a lift back to Malcolm’s as it was becoming increasingly difficult to travel via the underground of buses as the snow became heavier.
As we climbed in to the back of the car, we were introduced to Lucy’s boyfriend Kris, a DJ from Liverpool who knew the Glasgow music scene really well. I felt comfortable talking about mutual acquaintances in the music scene and it helped me to relax in to interview mode, which eventually took place in Malcolm’s living room, after an hour’s drive across town. Monki appeared to be relaxed and easy to talk to and she explained to me that the London electronic music scene was similar to Glasgow in the sense that everybody knew each other, which surprised me giving the size and scale of London and the volume of different nights popping up all over the town. Within the underground music scene however she did explain that there were pockets of people from different genres, like the Grime scene for example, who kept themselves to themselves. At the present moment, house music is the main music scene in London and the real, underground Dubstep scene is still very much alive, but it appears to have reverted back to its small following, led by the likes of DMZ.
Monki plays mostly house music on her Rinse FM show on a Thursday but the night we had met her she had been requested to play a 90s jungle set, much of which was before her time! “Tonight was a weird set.” she explained, “mainly because the crowd I was playing to didn’t listen to what’s current. It was an older crowd and therefore I had to play old stuff that I like but most of it was before my time.” When she was still in high school, she had a passion for hip hop and garage while most of her friends were looking to the charts to introduce them to new music and just before she started college, she was introduced to the early Dubstep movement which became a new passion of hers. “Researching music for me, is now a lot easier than it used to be. I used to have to trail through various blogs and internet mediums to find out what was current in the underground scene but now because I’m physically more involved in that scene, especially with Rinse, a lot of music is passed around the people I know and I also have an email address where people can send me new tunes to be played on my show.”
Katy B has been with Rinse since she was sixteen years old, and at the time when Monki came on board with the radio station, she took on board some of Katy’s PR work. “When I first started working at Rinse through a college work placement when I was eighteen, my jobs were to go and get the lunches or the coffee and then I’d do Kate’s press. I had originally started my placement with another radio station which had been pirate in the sixties called Jackie FM. Coincidentally the guy who owned that particular station had given Rinse FM their aerial and when I had gone to Jackie the guys there had told me that it obviously wasn’t my thing and had referred me to Rinse instead.” And until recently Lucy worked at Rinse full time but this year she’s taking some time out to work on building her own label. “On my first day of working at Rinse, I sat down in the office, which I wasn’t expecting to be so formal and organised because it was still a pirate radio station back then. When I came in to the office, everyone was sitting at the decks drinking green tea and listening to jazz. I remember Skream walked through the door and sat down and at this point he was only seventeen and wasn’t yet really well know in the scene. However I was such a huge fan and couldn’t believe we were sitting in the same room. He offered me a hob knob and I remember going home to post on Facebook something along the lines of ‘omg today skream offered me a hob knob!” Since then, Monki has landed her own weekly radio show on Rinse FM and she was Katy B’s tour DJ as of November 2011. It’s easy to forget that Lucy is only nineteen years old! “We went on tour with Katy we went on this tour bus.” Lucy explains. “It felt like in that sense, Rinse had come a long way from where it was six years ago, where the shows were broadcasted from a block of flats in East London.” She now wants to start producing more music so that there is more opportunity for her not only to make money from music but also for promoters to book her for gigs. She also explains that after being sent music produced by people who listen to her show, who haven’t yet been signed to a label, from a business point of view she feels that if she is being sent the tunes first and she likes them, then why not promote them under her own label!? The one thing that strikes us about Lucy is that she has the perfect balance between having a business-head and a creative mind and I think that will take her far in this industry.
Tune in to Monki’s show on Rinse FM every Wednesday from 14:00 – 15:00
Text & Photography: Alice Muir
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