by Whitney Weiss
Sweetie Darling! This Friday sees the ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS globe-trotting, multi-generational queer club experience, PATSY, return to the mothership! This time around they are passing their champagne flute to London’s rising DJ Star, Jaye Ward who will be playing whatever the hell she wants ALL NIGHT LONG! Having her roots set in Hackney, Jaye has been involved in music for the best part of the last 30 years, playing the Club Dog parties in the late 80s, through to working for record shops, to DJing and promoting since the 90s.
More recently, she’s been playing a rolling schedule of clubs and festivals, including being a regular face at Superstore! PATSY resident Whitney Weiss caught up with Jaye to tap into her encyclopaedic music knowledge, to find out how she delights dancefloors around the world, summer plans at the first edition of Albanian Festival Kala and how to charm her with a mixtape!
Hello Jaye! Let’s bring it all back to the start. What’s the first album you ever bought? Where did you buy it and what was it like listening to it for the first time?
I think it was Chic – C’est Chic so that’s 1978, I think. From G&M records in Mare Street, Hackney. I LOVED that shop. I had been allowed to buy 7”s before then. Things I mainly heard on the radio (I mean, I was 10). Pop/disco was huge whenever we went on holiday, mainly holiday camps on the south coast. Obviously I got it for Le Freak. It was on the radio ALL the time. And I loved the photo of the band on the cover—they looked so smooth. I was obsessed by Alfa Anderson lying on the floor in the split skirt. Beige was HUGE back then. When I first listened to it, I remember being disappointed that there wasn’t anything else HUGE like Le Freak on it, but I soon got DEEP into those minor chord changes. It’s still maybe one of my all time favourite LPs for the reasons above and for one of my favourite tunes EVER, At Last I Am Free. I have all sorts of versions of the track… the sublime Robert Wyatt version still sends shivers!
Is there a record that reminds you of when you first started going out clubbing?
I was clubbing before acid house but once that happened all bets were off regarding iconic records as it was like someone had turned the taps on full! But even now 35+ years later, if I ever here GO BANG loud, preferably in a club setting, I’m transported back to warehouses full of dancers from all tribes of nightlife getting their dance on… now THAT’S an iconic record!
What songs do you have playing on repeat at the moment?
God, I’m listening to so much as usual but am currently obsessed with that Tommy Awards II record – both sides are psychedelic beauty. The new MC TALLA NAN CREAG thing that’s going to be coming out on Firecracker is immense too. Been going through loads more dance floor style stuff too for me taking over the basement of the mothership for Patsy and it’s been ace to rediscover (sort of) old records that I remember sounding great loud. Also this week I’ve had the first five Bad Seeds LPs on repeat too… I love Nick Cave. I’m doing a remix for MAN POWER at the moment and so far it’s got a swampy Bad Seeds type of vibration to it, so that’s fine by me.
Your taste in music is just so pleasantly well-rounded. What do you think is the most surprising or unexpected record in your collection?
That’s nice to say, thanks. I think that’s mainly because I’m so old! I’ve always liked joining the dots and happily I still seem to be able to put things together that sound like they wouldn’t go well but in reality connect beautifully. I could easily play the same sounding things for ten hours but I’d be bored out of my skull, let alone punters. I like it when a dance floor or room has that up, down and left to right kind of flow to the evening. It gives people a chance to breath and smile. I think there’s nothing that’s too surprising popping up in my collection seeing as I’ve always gone for the weirder end of things. I do have EVERYTHING done by Toyah though, does that count?
What’s the one record that never leaves your DJ bag because it is 100 percent guaranteed to delight a dance floor?
Ummmm there’s quite a few things that are regulars in my box and now permanently on my USB keys. Flim Flam by Yellow Sox on Nuphonic blew me away when it came out and still does EVERY SINGLE TIME. I reckon it’s one of the best house records EVER made. Fight me. Song for Annie by Erot is of its time but still makes people come and ask me what it is. An ace vocoder version on Chic’s At Last I Am Free is a permanent resident, too. Most of the time I try to vary what I play as much as possible. I guess that’s what has always, up to recently, made me either a hard booking in that I’m VERY balearicly minded even though I don’t really play that sort of thing that much or that I’m super flexible. Not sure. Ha!
Speaking of delighting a dance floor, what’s a record that brings you great joy?
The Chance by Reel Houze on Zoom Records. It’s like an edit of Go Bang with extra drums from Harvey. A lot of that mid 90s UK nu-disco stuff was and is amazing. The mid 90s was when the quality control suddenly shot up I reckon. It’s one of my fave records still and I’ll drop my lollipop headphone and go dance for 10 minutes or so if I put it on, it’s still immense. Hearing Glenn Underground, Danny Wang, Maurice Fulton or any of that super deep dub instrumental US house over an ace system WILL make me cry. Make It Last forever by Donna McGhee will definitely make me go sploosh too.
If someone fancied you and was making a mix tape (or CD, or Spotify playlist, or USB), what song they could choose that would really charm you?
IF someone fancied me, especially lovely funky queer ladies who have a penchant for tiny women of a certain age, making me a mixtape containing old 80s post punk love songs (they do exist, trust), lo-fi jazzy experiments, deep spiritual jazz, weirdo stuff, dub, lovers’ rock, songs by Nick Cave or the goddess Lydia, old blues and any curve balls of their own would make me blush and then stalk them… y’know.
What’s a record that makes you think of one of your most iconic nights DJing? And if you don’t mind my asking, what was that night like?
God that is hard. Lots of lovely evenings out where certain records have had people singing along or psychically combining to actually change the atmosphere into something like I imagine The Loft would have been like. Mind Fair’s Secret All Night Carnival Version of Spike’s Fooling Around on Gold Channel has that Loft feeling. It’s SO beautiful. Upstairs at Patsy I’ve played it a number of times and people have sort of stopped drinking and swayed all together and danced in a jazzual way, which you can imagine is a bit of a feat there for hyped-up beautiful queers hell bent on a weekend of damnation.
I was in Cyprus playing records for the ace Whizzy Wig crew last month and everyone was dancing and it was very much ace! People screaming, etc. We were all playing lots of jazzy house, disco and Trax style funky acid classics. I played Loose Joints Is It All Over My Face? – the bloke version – and people lost their shit. That was a fun moment. That record nowadays seems to do that for everyone I think. I love that people into dance music of all kinds are now up to speed with how disco really was the source for everything we listen to. Books with huge chunks about David Mancuso, Nicky Siano and Larry Levan etc. have really opened people’s minds to how everything is connected. It’s ace!
What song have you always wanted to hear someone else play out so you could have a dance in public to it?
God there are so many. I play it, but I’d LOVE to here someone randomly play Vinceremos by Working Week. I’d loose my shit totally and sing along, arms waving aloft. Scoops in Columbia by Plaid would have me kicking my shoes off and running to the floor making sure my boob tube was still up—amazing record loud! Random plays by other people is my absolute fave thing.
If you had to choose one album to listen to all summer long, what album would it be?
Ummmmm, wow, another hard one! The loft box sets, ha! Calling Out of Context by Arthur Russell, Colossal Youth by Young Marble Giants, North Marine Drive by Ben Watt, Nothing Can Stop Us by Robert Wyatt or Neil Young On the Beach all have summer vibrations associated with them for me. So maybe them. Tomorrow I may feel differently.
Speaking of summer, what’s a record that you’re really excited to play at the first edition of the Albanian seaside festival Kala this summer?
Not sure yet. I’m taking a seriously wide range of things because they have me playing at various times and in various situations. I really want to get to play glacial electronic stuff alongside pretty songs when the sun goes down under the stars. Living in London I very rarely see stars and really want that scene to happen.
What’s one song that you wish you would have written? Do you write music ever?
I mess about making things. Edits for myself to play. Mainly extensions of things. I have zero musical chops apart from having a good ear for things I suppose. Musicians blow me away. My friend Margo is a producer and amazing musician. She talks about stuff to do with composition and I have to work hard to keep up. Totally in awe. I could easily list a hundred songs that make me go ‘Whoa! How?’ And easily a thousand dance records that I have no idea how they came up with what they came up with. People who do this are living, walking gods to me. In the Bad Seeds film 20,000 Days on Earth there are two moments within that one LP alone where he’s singing songs that they are still working on – Higgs Boson Blues and Give Us A Kiss – where my hair on my arms have sat bolt upright and I’ve started to cry. When he sings Jubilee Street at the Sydney Opera House. The words “I’m vibrating I’m transforming” make me eternally jealous. But to be honest, I’ve had 40 years of records making me feel this way.
What record makes you think of PATSY?
God, lots of records! But the first time I played records for PATSY and played I Need Somebody to Love Tonight by SYLVESTER, not only did people dance but a few started singing along and I thought YES!!!
Catch Jaye Ward at Patsy on Friday 20 April from 9pm-4am at Dalston Superstore!