Everyone can remember their first time in a club. Or, at least, can remember going in. The outside world melts away in an instant, and as you’re crammed between bodies queuing for the coat-check and pairs of arms twisting through strobe lights, you realise something – I’m not on our planet anymore. You don’t worry about your grades in the club. You don’t dread your 3pm barista shift in the club. You don’t cringe over awkward past encounters in the club. You live, and breathe, and dance, and you know everyone else in the sprawling, bouncing room is feeling exactly what you feel – absolute empowerment through escapism.
When I first met Effy, in a smiling introduction over Zoom, that is what instantly struck me about her. Her music certainly craves this feeling of group unity and confidence that only exists in club spaces, but she seems to exude it in masses. She leans back and laughs with ease, joking about her lazy appearance in a white tee (although I don’t see anything wrong with the outfit) and tells me how she’d thrown it on in a panic after forgetting she was wearing her sports bra minutes before. She has a deliberate way of speaking, as if she considers every word she says as it slips from her mouth, even curse words (which she brandishes with confidence). She is utterly unapologetic. I realise, perhaps this feeling of interconnectedness through dance music has stuck with her, from performing. Or, maybe, the whole world is a club to Effy. Either way, she excites me through her own excitement, and the formality of the interview melts away. We are two people in the club, talking about the music, and that’s all.

The London-based DJ started off small, her debut single Fluffy Clouds featuring on BBC Introducing Dance in 2020, before her name and her fierce feminist ideologies spread through clubs across the UK, scoring her a residency at London’s iconic E1 club before the pandemic hit and forced her into lockdown, where she produced music at home. Since then, Effy has been a spearhead for self-confidence, embracing the work of fellow DJs in her slot on Rinse FM, working with like-minded women in her field, and most importantly – listening to her audience.
Focusing your sound on empowerment and ‘acid-driven techno’, you’ve become one to watch in the electronic world after the success of your 2020 single Bodied, which highlighted women’s sexuality and pleasure. Alongside this, your debut single Fluffy Clouds featured on BBC Introducing Dance, and your high energy single Raging swept the UK in summer 2021. Is it true that you learned to mix on your boyfriend’s DJ decks as a teen? How did this fascination with producing dance sounds start?
I did learn to mix on my boyfriend’s decks. I actually bought him some small personal consoles because he wanted to DJ at house parties. While he was practicing, I went on them – which was really fun – but I kind of honed in more on looping different songs and drum sections to make new songs.
Yeah! You just took it and made it your own.
I never thought being a producer was a job prospect or an option for me, but I’ve always been very musical and wanted to do music in some capacity. I always loved electronic music growing up, so it kind of set it in stone when I heard Maya Jane Cole’s What They Say because she produced it, a woman produced it, and I was like shit, maybe I can do that.
Before we delve into discussing your acidic warehouse sound, I wanted to talk with you on a more human level about your inspirations and wishes as a woman in the UK electronic scene. I find it absolutely refreshing that you’re using your platform in dance music to elevate women’s voices and you’re launching your own women-focused club night Not Yours which aims to celebrate women’s voices in the rave scene as well as create a safe space for ravers of all genders. Can you talk to us a little about how it feels to break through into an extremely male-dominated music space?
The thing I’ve struggled with the most is I feel like I’m going in blind, as a woman. I think what’s helped me is having the women around me empower me. I’ve got a group chat with all my mates who are musicians too, and I’ll say this person did that and they’ll tell me ‘that’s not right!’ and it’ll give me the confidence to speak up about certain things. But, in a male-dominated industry I’d say I’ve struggled with that confidence, because I don’t want to come across as a brat or a diva.
Absolutely, because you don’t want to take something that’s below the standard of what everyone else would get, but you don’t want to be seen as someone that’s hard to work with either. That’s really hard.
Exactly! That’s why I’ve heavily lent on the women around me, my friends and my manager Emily, just to say it with my chest a little bit.
I’ve read a little before on the treatment of women in the techno scene, particularly the statements of artists like HAAi who previously said she had been told by clubs in the past she was only hired to DJ there as a diversity card since she is a queer woman. Have you experienced this sense of tokenism as a woman in your line of work?
I have. Most of the tokenism I’ve experienced are things I haven’t realised because it’s something you just accept. Again, I lean on my friends, and they go ‘that’s not normal’ and I realise ‘oh shit, yeah, you’re completely right’. I see a lot of women or people of colour put on the end of line-ups to tick a box. I get a load of comments, the other day I was called someone’s missus and even that annoys me. Once, I was doing a warm-up and went to 128 BPM and all the male DJs were telling me it was too fast, and sound engineers have over-explained things to me.
Acting like you don’t understand, when you obviously do. What do you think about diversity management such as HAAi’s inclusivity rider, the ultimatum she has added to her contract that allows her to suggest artists to promoters when she believes a line-up to be too white or too male-centric?
As soon as I came out of the pandemic and got an official agent, I got a diversity rider. I think if you sit back and don’t say much, nothing’s going to change, and it’s going to piss some people off but I’d rather that than nothing happens.
I know that you’re a huge advocator for collaboration both live and in recordings, citing your biggest inspirations as Helena Star, Nite Fleit and TSHA. When I read about the live show you performed with these women named A Slice of Reality I was completely blown away by the high-concept vision of it, and how it elevated your sound into the visual realm. Taking place in a dystopian 800-tonne sand dredger suspended above the Thames and washed in a red light, the setting for this live=streamed rave seemed like something out of the blockbuster Dune. How did performing on this scale celebrate the work of these women?
I won’t lie, I really didn’t enjoy doing that stream (laughs). It was during the pandemic, so we were so depressed. We were thinking how do we do this after a year-and-a-half out?, livestreams are so scary, and after being independent for so long we kind of lost our identities as artists because we couldn't play to a crowd. We all hated it! (laughs) I just wanted to celebrate artists I look up to and it was those women for sure. There were a lot of people who worked so hard behind-the-scenes on that stream like my old manager Cam and a lot of guys – you know, I’m obviously repping the women, but I have so many amazing male figures around me as well – so shout out to them.
Of course, at the time of this livestream, the world did seem slightly dystopian. You presented these alien themes to viewers watching the show from the safety of their homes, as they lived in isolation. Accompanied by the set’s name, which is equally mystical and harrowing, I wonder what this collaboration was pushing its viewers to think in such a time of uncertainty. There was something undeniably science-fiction about the harsh treatment of covid when it surfaced. Can you expand a little on this to us? It’s just so high vision sci-fi, especially with the sand dredger.
I didn’t even think about it like that. We just saw this sand dredger and we were like that’s pretty dope and the red lights were just us trying to be a bit rave-y. That’s a really nice view, I think it’s important that whoever saw it at the time took what they wanted to from it. Sorry I can’t be all artsy about it, we just did a stream on a boat (laughs).
Even thinking about covid’s treatment of club culture, I can see how the pandemic would have been world-shattering to you. Particularly, you landed a residency at London’s iconic E1 before lockdown. Originally known as Studio Spaces, this club has an unbelievable origin story of perseverance and community as it was built in Wapping on the site of German airship bombings, and fought for a late-night license and local acceptance after facing difficulties from local authorities, while simultaneously trying to make the electronic club scene more welcoming and accessible. Thankfully, E1 successfully applied for an Arts Council Covid Recovery Grant after being recognised as a valuable cultural hub, but a lot of clubs haven’t been so lucky. How have you seen the pandemic hit these businesses first-hand as a performer?
I think when the pandemic [supposedly] finished – but, you know, it’s not over – everyone expected it go to back to normal, but promoters are really struggling now because the price of living is going up, people are still sick, and it’s all had a knock-on effect. When things did open everyone went a bit crazy, which was awesome, there was such a big influx of revenue finally but Covid’s still ripped a hole in the industry, particularly in smaller grassroots venues and clubs. There’s big warehouse clubs – monopolies essentially – which are incredible but have enough money to go through all this, but the smaller clubs are struggling, and they are just as incredible as these warehouses.
What does it mean to you to have a residency at somewhere like E1?
Well, my residency was very short-lived because Covid hit. I played one show, and it was really special because I was supporting Scuba who I’m really good friends with to this day. It was monumental for me, and the sound system is insane there. At the time, I hadn’t released any music and had hardly DJ'd in clubs so they took a shot with me, and I really appreciate it. I’m not a resident anymore, but it was really special at the time.
I’d like to ask you about your hit track Bodied from 2020. You’ve described it before as a “sensual worship of the self”. I think that the meaning of this song, however unintentionally, ended up tying into the time period it was released in, as most of us were forced to isolate and essentially see a lot more of ourselves than usual. I know it is a love letter to women’s bodies and sensuality, but I can’t help but feel due to the pandemic this track took on the additional meaning of learning to love yourself while you are stuck with yourself. What would you describe this track as?
For me, it was a bit of a rebellion. There was a YouTuber, if I recall, Zoella, or someone else, and she was talking about vibrators and she got so much shit for it. She got dropped from a few brand partnerships. Lily Allen was releasing a vibrator too, and I saw something else in Parliament about a woman – she was talking about sex and the MPs were disgusted. It just made me so angry that women’s pleasure, not just having a wank but women enjoying sex was seen as a taboo subject and dirty.
Regarding your success during the pandemic, when you brought dance successfully into homes instead of clubs, how did it feel to gain popularity without actually being seen live? Exiting lockdown significantly more known than when you entered it must have been dazing.
It was very overwhelming. I knew when I was playlisted on distribution websites and it was amazing to get nice messages, but at the end of the day I’m making club music and wasn’t able to play it in that space, so you just don’t realise what it sounds like in that capacity. Eventually playing in a club was so crazy.
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Yeah, you just want to see how the audience reacts to what you play.
Yeah! It’s definitely so important.
I read the wonderful ‘Dancefloor Connections’ interview you did with TSHA about how the pair of you have banded together in the industry as two like-minded women DJs, and how you created a bubble with each other during lockdown so you could legally visit each other and have bedroom raves. I found it so optimistic and empowering that the pair of you performed for each other to build that hype around getting back into clubs and to keep fuelling your passions. I can’t imagine how those bedroom sessions would have influenced you both as artists and kept you eager to return to playing in front of a crowd. Were they good practice, in a way?
Yeah! I live alone, so TSHA was my bubble, and we used to get my smoke machine out, my strobe lights out and my speakers out. We were both, like everyone, in so much emotional pain, so to talk with her and listen to music was so good. We always used to say we felt like we’d just finished a therapy session. It kept us inspired and hopeful. And then, when we played Warehouse Project together it was the most amazing full circle moment. It definitely kept both of our sparks alive.
In that interview you also talk about “the best advice you’ve ever been given”, which is something I found really interesting. Can you talk to us about the woman who told you to “be visible and take up space”?
Claire Dickens, who used to do my PR, has been through a lot with me regarding moving through old management and navigating a male-dominated space, and I sometimes phone her for advice. The thing she said to me is such a short thing, and it’s just – “take up space”. It doesn’t matter if you piss people off, it doesn’t matter if they call you a bitch, you just need to take up space. So, that’s what I say to every woman who messages me.
I’d like to take a moment to ask about your recurring weekly radio show on Rinse FM before we move on to talking about your new EP. Something I’ve really gathered from you is that you drive community and friendship in the dance scene, and love to lift up other DJ’s creations. How do you do that on your radio show?
I’ve actually left Rinse, but a lot of people think I’m still with them. I left in December, but I don’t know if they still play my shows sometimes. I love Rinse, and I only left because I was so busy touring. I love listening to new producers who don’t get looked at as much. I got that opportunity through Jaguar, who does BBC Introducing – they were the people that took a chance on me and played my first tune Fluffy Clouds, I had no fans and it gave me such a leg up. I don’t have the capacity to do that for someone yet, I’m still up-and-coming, but I just want to play new people as much as I can.
Your new EP Not What It Seems honestly blew me away. I’m not going to pretend I’m the know-all on dance and electronic, but your EP – which will be released on 1st July – is in my eyes a really outstanding conceptual step in the world of acid driven techno and developing intimate connections in electronic tracks that change forms many times over the course of around 6 minutes. What does this EP as a whole mean to you?
Thank you, by the way, that’s really sweet. It’s my debut EP and everyone’s been asking me what’s behind it, but it’s not that deep, I just want to show people what my sound is and make people feel confident. The Not What It Seems title plays on me going in the industry naïve as a young producer, seeing one thing and realising things aren’t what they seem. My other singles have been more melodic due to the pandemic and how I was feeling, but I want to make a statement and show what I actually make.
Yeah, it shows who you are right now. And, then that means you have room to grow and be other versions of yourself later on. Don’t confine yourself to being like ‘this is what I do and this is only what I do’ for sure.
Yeah! I’m still figuring shit out. I’m not going to pretend I’m not, I’m still working out who I am as an artist and a woman.
Not Yours, the first single from this EP was released in early May, and embodies this high-energy, defiant club dream, complete with splintered voice sampling, blasting percussion and these confident low synths that cut through high symbol sounds. It’s layered so beautifully and is both overwhelming but completely understandable to me. I can absolutely see the bravery and empowerment you were going for in this track, as it aligns with your women-led club night, also titled Not Yours. Can you talk to us about this fearless track?
I was going through a really bad time, and I didn’t realise it. Looking back, it’s a really aggressive track and I rarely play it live. I’m starting to learn that my music is dependent on what mood I’m in. It could either be annoyed or upset. Not Yours was just a fuck you because I don’t want to be anyone’s. I read a YouTube comment that said a lot of rage in this. Yeah, there is.
There’s a really powerful buzz, or an echo, in this track that rings out into open space, sort of pushing life out into a silence. I was wondering if this is a testament to women in a quieter sense, saying that women are still not yours and don’t owe others anything even in their moments of silence and when they aren’t being vocal about it.
You know what, you are so intelligent with this. When I make music, I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing. I don’t plan shit, I just do it, and I put it out. In reflection, I’m like ‘okay clearly I did that because of that’ but in the moment I genuinely don’t know why I’m doing it, it’s a subconscious thing. That makes me so happy you feel that way when you listen to it.
You released Run It, a collaboration with Mall Grab, on 19th May. I’d really love to hear about the process of this single and how it made the cut for the EP, as I’ve heard you say it was completely unplanned. You really translated your feelings of excitement post-lockdown into Run It, making it this declaration of club domination. I can completely see how this track symbolises the feeling of making it back into a club for the first time. Did it live up to its inspirations when playing it in person?
We made it off the cuff, and a week before I played Warehouse Project I played it for the first time and it went off, so I messaged Jordan (Mall Grab) saying we were going to have to release it. People loved it and I’ve been playing it ever since.
Of course, there are two more tracks on this EP that will be released when it drops, called Trip 2 Reality and VEXED V2 – thank you so much for allowing me to hear them early! I’d love to talk about them if you’re allowed to, without giving too much away of course. Trip 2 Reality is my favourite track from the EP. It has this futuristic and alien feel to it like a new-age grounded sci-fi, or a Blade Runner chase scene. I love the synths in this track overlap, merge, and then re-emerge as something new. It’s almost like the whole track is breathing and pulsing, with the occasional human yell among the tech. What were your inspirations for this track?
I like to introduce elements and then take them out of a song and give them space to breathe on their own, sometimes with a bit of a breakbeat in the middle. I like to surprise people and I think with acid tunes I wanted to make a classic but in my own style.
I found it really striking that the last minute of this 7-minute epic is an almost silent repeating low hum. It feels like the whirring noise of a broken piece of electronics on its last legs, and after the high-energy nature of the song the sudden change left me dizzy. I absolutely loved it. With the idea of this song being a trip, acid or otherwise, I assumed this levelling out was the journey home. Where have we been?
It was an ode to the Trip to Reality stream, and also I made this tune coming out of the pandemic so for me it was a trip to reality because we weren’t living in our reality. It was my version of a club attitude while we were in lockdown.
Vexed V2 I found the most intimate of your tracks, merging these soft human breaths with a drum dominated beat and an airy sense of transcendence. Is there an acceptance story here?
With my sound, although I make techno, I want to release some lighter things. I made a tune with Neil Cowley, who’s a pianist, which I’d love to release one day, so I popped Vexed V2 in there so I could give a nod to that softer side of me.
I really hope that your EP gets the recognition it deserves, and I want to ask what your dreams for it are.
Thank you! It’s my first EP, I’m not going to expect anything other than I hope people understand me more as an artist, enjoy the tunes, hear it and want to go on a big night out with their mates or feel confident and gassed up, or even want to produce something themselves.
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