Jane Fitz story so far is a seriously impressive affair with house music. Spinning records at the tender age of thirteen, playing A-Ha next to George Benson, once she was old enough it didn’t take long for her love of buying records to propel her into the forefront of London’s 90’s care free torrential spirit of rave. For ten years, Jane’s legendary ‘Peg’ parties took over the Shoreditch wasteland to barn parties in the countryside, stretching a monumental eighteen hours at a time.
Since then, she’s been tearing up the airwaves on her DirtySounds Sessions radio show on myhouseyourhouse with guest mixes from the likes of Scott Ferguson, Hakim Murphy, Steven Tang and b2b sessions with Keith Worthy and Jus-Ed MCing from her kitchen. With her first (highly-anticipated) release coming out soon with Dom Ahtuam aka Dlay (Sud Up Recordings) and her Room Three debut alongside good friend, Scott Grooves next Saturday, we took the time to sit down and have a chat with the Hackney spinstress. She’s also given us a promo mix, recorded live in one take, all off vinyl...it's clear Jane Fitz means business boys and girls.
Hi Jane, for those that don’t know, can you briefly introduce yourself?
Hello. I'm Jane. I collect and play records of different styles, colours, sizes, but generally the same shape. I also work as a writer and editor. I live in Hackney. My favourite drink is Soberano and the first record I ever bought was The Sun Goes Down by Level 42.
Did you always want to become a DJ or was that something that happened organically?
I have been playing records to people at parties since I was 13. This happened because, at school, I had the most records, so I was the only one who could. Although back then, in the mid 1980s, I was probably playing A-Ha next to George Benson. So I guess that means by now, in 2011, I have spent many more years alive jockeying discs than not. I always bought a lot of records, and I have always wanted people to hear them, in the order that I put them in. This has not changed one bit. I've just found a few more avenues to do this at now than 13-year-old's birthday parties.
Do you feel an affinity with UK music?
I don't really care where music comes from – I was brought up listening to soul records from America on pirate radio stations such as Solar and Horizon. At the same time in the charts you had British bands such as Loose Ends and Imagination and HiTension – it all sounded good to me, so I wouldn't say I was particularly patriotic, or that I even noticed. What I do have an affinity with is the UK attitude to music – that whether we play music from overseas or make it ourselves, we always put a British accent on it, and claim it for ourselves anyway. It's a bit bully-boy and arrogant – but I like that. It's also a bit more polite to colonise at home than abroad.
What are some of your favourite memories from your infamous Peg parties, started in the 90s? What did you learn most about putting on parties in London during this time and making each one as special as the next?
The party ran from 1999-2009 and I have so many great memories. The Peg In The Suns in Provence were amazing weekends of sunshine, brilliant music and high spirits; without fail, every year, someone would miss their flight home. Peg started in a juice bar on New Inn Yard when Shoreditch was still a bit of a wasteland. I remember walking around at that party giving people vodka jellies and little joints me and my friend had spent all afternoon rolling. I think my favourite ever Peg DJ set was actually at an afters we did at the Joiners Arms – Charles Webster blew my head off. I think my favourite party was an 18-hour Peg in a barn in Kent. Just amazing. The last ever Peg was brilliant too.
Tell us about your long-running DirtySounds Sessions radio show on myhouseyourhouse.net. Are they a good indication of what people can hear at one of your nights?
Well I don't do nights anymore... although there should be something new happening next year, although I can't say yet. But they are sort of an indication of what I play, in that you never really know what you'll hear each week... it might go really deep, or techy, or garage-y or futuristic, or trippy. I enjoy it so much because it's one of the longest-running on the station, it's just turned six, and I love that myhouseyourhouse have always let me do what I want. I've also had guest mixes from Scott Ferguson, Ben Boe, Hakim Murphy, Ernie, Steven Tang, Jay Simon, Chicagodeep, Shwilla, and a b2b session with Keith Worthy, with Jus-Ed MCing from my kitchen. There are many more coming too.
What’s been exciting you most this year, musically and why?
Musically Eglo and Hotep have been my labels of the year. But there are so many producers crossing that house/soul/broken/bass/techno divide now and that is completely brilliant. I've probably bought much less new house this year because I've been buying so much else. But I really love that house wise, people I know and love are making such quality music and getting props for it – Bittersuite, Miles Sagnia, Brawther, Owen Jay, Jitterbug, Ethyl & Flori, Dlay. I find that hugely inspiring. Musically, Freerotation excited me me as well – a unique party and getting to play records to other DJs I really respect, such as XDB, Fred P, Chicago Skyway, Steven Tang, Miles, Matt Pond, Move D... when do you ever really get the chance to do that? And what a line-up Amazing.
What are the top five records sitting at the top of your crate?
Aybee's mix of Ethyl and Flori and Mr G's Daily Prayer have been HUGE for me this year and have taken root in my bag. Shokazulu on 2000Black I can't stop playing. Whatever the latest Bittersuite release is, that'll be in there. And something by Ron Trent, old or new, usually.
We’re excited to hear your lining up your first release with studio partner Dom Ahtuam aka Dlay (Sud Up Recordings), producing under the name Invisible Menders. Tell us all about the new project?
Dom is one of my best pals and we've been making things for about 3 years on and off. He's really versatile and co-runs the Sud Up Recordings label. His non-house stuff is off the scale. Our schedules don't collide too well so we don't get too much time together, but we have a very easy working relationship, and his mum cooks for me. We're still feeling our way but I like what we've done so far. Heaven knows when it will be out though. We make a bit of everything: house, slow stuff, disco. We've just done a remix for Midnight Social recordings and it's part-house, part-electro part-something else. I'm not sure what happened there. I'm also producing with Ethyl. Tim is my neighbour so we are making good honest Hackney music. We make sure we eat Turkish food and wear our I heart Hackney badges while we're in the studio.
Is there a reason why you have waited to start producing?
I've actually been producing music on and off since 2000. I'm just really lazy about doing anything with it, and really picky about whether I like it or not. Also my day job involves me sitting in front of a computer screen for long hours being creative. So when I come home or at the weekend, sitting in front of a computer being creatively musically feels like I’m back at work. So that is the main reason. I can push the buttons, I just can't be arsed. It's nice to work with creative partners who don't mind staring into the screen while I fiddle about on keyboards and shout about samples. I know that releasing records is the way to get DJ gigs these days (that's a whole other conversation) but honestly, I love playing other people's records more than making my own.
What have been your biggest challenges so far would you say?
I guess my biggest challenge has been staying true to what I believe in. I said I'd can Peg in London after 10 years and I did, just when deep house was on the up. I could have gone on and probably cashed in – but it was never about the money, it was about me creating the perfect party that I'd want to go to or play at. But I believed it was the right time to stop – I didn't want it to become just another east London warehouse party – and concentrate on DJing. It was hard but it was the right decision.
Tell us about the mix you’ve done for us?
It's actually the second one I did – I was a bit annoyed with the first one. This mix has got some new records, some old records, a few hidden gems and the odd surprise – it's a good representation of what I love to play out. It's recorded live, in one take, all off vinyl. There's a couple of little mistakes on it, but I don't mind that cos it's made by a human, not a computer. And I think human sounds better.
Finally, how are you looking forward to playing alongside Scott Grooves & Terry Francis in Room Three on 26th November? Will you be checking out the other rooms with Aus Music and Tyrant with Âme..?
I'm really looking forward to it. I'm playing at Fabric 10 minutes from my house – it feels like a home game. I met Scott in Detroit in a record store a couple of years ago and he kindly gave me a guided tour of his city. He was a super nice guy and we kept in touch, He did me a mix for my radio show and also played when we did the show from Detroit Threads record store this year, so we have played together before – just not in this environment. I interviewed Terry a few times for various magazines over the years, and I played at Wiggle way back in 2000. So it's nice to update that connection. I will definitely be checking Vakula because we were meant to play together in Manchester at Bohemian Grove in September and he had visa issues – so I'm really glad he's on the bill. I interviewed Craig for Nova magazine when he first got his residency, before Fabric had actually opened. It's nice to have all these loose connections and to be able to bring them altogether under the Fabric roof. Thank you.