Get to know Jossy Mitsu
Growing up and out of Birmingham, now currently situated in South East London we sent writer and photographer Queenie to speak to the UK Garage selector, Jossy Mitsu.
Photographs captured in Soho and China Town, London.
Q: Hi Jossy! You are known best for mixing down UK Garage, House and Bass genre’s, what is it about these specific genre’s that you adore so much and how did you first come into those scenes?
J: It all began when I was maybe 15/16 and started to find more and more electronic music that I liked. I used to dance a lot and listen to film soundtracks so that exposed me to a lot of it. I’d find myself in these rabbit holes of older nostalgic music and I remember rediscovering all these tunes that I’d heard in my childhood from my parents and sister, and that was where the Garage obsession came from. I had a friend (the only DJ I knew) who mixed Garage and he gave me his old belt drive decks to try out and the rest was history!
After that I started getting into more specialist radio and mixes and following current DJs and producers online and I remember 2-Step Garage specifically just continuously blowing my mind the more I found. Quite a few of the big multi-genre DJs at the time were incorporating Garage into their sets and I would obsess over the way the drums swing and how dark it can sound but so emotional at the same time.
House music was really popping off in Birmingham and on radio around 2013 when I started, and I was listening to producers like Mosca, Joy Orbison and Aus music releases. For the first time I felt like I was following something underground and exciting that I loved and didn’t have any friends that were into the same thing so it was completely my thing that allowed me to escape from life.
The love for bass, club and experimental came from getting into labels like Hyperdub, 50Weapons, Swamp81, ClekClekBoom and Keysound, and since I started listening to it you can always find that sound in my mixes – I love how there’s so much variation in it and the producers are so innovative and have so much individuality. So many of the tunes I remember from 5 years ago still sound like they could have been made yesterday. Hearing those newer tunes made me make the switch from vinyl to CDJs because I was just wanting to be able to mix them so badly!
Q: Featuring a monthly residency on Rinse FM and a proven back ground in spinning on NTS and 1020, Radio is clearly a big part of your music career. I have noticed you have gone b2b with many other like-minded artists on these shows. Who has been your favourite artist to go back b2b with and why?
J: Hmm...this is tough!
A-Bee is probably my favourite person to go b2b with right now. Our record collections compliment each other so well as we have similar tastes but at the same time both come from different angles and musical backgrounds, and every time I do a b2b with her I leave feeling inspired to go and dig deeper on Discogs, plus she is generally just a sick person to be around.
Similarly with Riz La Teef, our b2bs are both challenging and interesting for me because he mixes so fast and is so skilled that I always leave having improved slightly, and we always have a proper laugh!
Also b2b with Mall Grab in 2017 was definitely a highlight moment. That was mad.
Q: We all know Birmingham has a great community for underground dance music, so what made you decide to move to London? Do you think the move has been beneficial in helping you pursue your creative goals as a young artist?
J: I moved for uni in 2014 but secretly I just wanted to experience the music scene here so that was the main reason why I applied to a couple of London uni’s when I was still in school, but I didn’t tell anyone that! I knew that even if my own DJing didn’t take off in London, I’d still get to have the excitement of going to all of the different nights and clubs that I’d heard of, and get to see international DJs every week if I wanted.
The move has definitely been beneficial because there’s just so much going on and so many opportunities and I’ve met a lot of people that I’ve built relationships with and worked with. Especially people I’ve known online for a while and finally met in person. It’s meant I can be more active in doing things like radio and playing a wide range of nights of different capacities, which I would have been more limited in without moving. The music community in London is so different, it’s like a lot of the nights I do, I’m playing to mostly other DJs and producers that have come to support, and likewise whenever one of my friends is playing we all try and make it down to dance and basically shout from the crowd.
Being known as a Brummie in London has helped to build my identity though as it’s something I’m VERY proud of and wouldn’t ever change!
Q: Many young creatives move to the big city to achieve their dreams and gain more experience in their creative fields. If you could give any advice to young DJs and artists trying to get out there, what would it be?
J: London can be a stressful place compared to home, and I feel like a lot of people feel like they’re not going to make it unless they take that step. It definitely helps creatively but there are obviously downsides too. If it’s not doable for you, you can 100% still get yourself out there from wherever you are, and sometimes its beneficial to be a bigger fish in a smaller pond and then expand from there. London will always be here and as long as you can access it when you need to you’re good! I don’t see myself staying here forever to be honest!
I was lucky in that I used uni as an access route to moving to London, and I think if you want to make that step it makes sense to have something set up in place so you can be financially stable (boring I know) but then not have to stress about using your art to live off straight away. London’s stressful enough as it is!
If I could give some advice it would be to build your online presence as well as building relationships with people IRL. If your goal is to play a particular type of night or at festivals, go there as much as you can. So many like-minded people I’ve met from being at the same night have now become my good friends and it makes all the difference if you’re trying to make it somewhere like London. In terms of the online side of things, even though I’m really not a fan of branding myself, I’ve seen how helpful it can be to be active online and put out content regularly. If you keep going eventually it gets into the right hands at the right time. For example my Valentines Garage mixes are something I started purely out of passion, way before I ever went on radio, and are now something a lot of people know me for. Soundcloud took them down for one day and people were messaging me asking where they’d gone, and this came from something I just put out myself without needing to rely on anyone else so you can do it too!
Q: You definitely play a big part in the next generation of young UK DJs. Where do you think the music scene and the youth culture of today is heading? Say in a few years time?
J: It is very hard to predict but based on the last few years, there’s been so much growth in the whole DIY aspect of things that I think is only going to continue. I love seeing people taking things into their own hands to make a change – for example Foundation FM, which is a massive gain for the music scene in London and beyond and I have so much respect for the women behind it.
People seem to be more open in sharing about their experiences, which then enables others to go about their work knowing if they run into issues they’re not alone. Its been good to see a lot of successful nights to raise awareness and funds for good causes, such as Mind, Shelter etc and a night I’m playing soon called the Planet Party (run by Adaptive Capacity and Brainchild Festival) and support for those causes has continued to build in the music community which is a very positive thing.
Also nights like Ø, where I’ve attended and it’s been completely sound-focused as well as having interesting installations or visuals are so refreshing! A lot of smaller nights I’ve seen just starting out like Percy Mingle and Idiomatic as well are taking more of a stripped-back approach and focus on quality as a response to the over-use of social media and marketing which in some cases has killed going out and raving for people. Hopefully we get more investment and support for venues especially in London, but if we don’t there will no-doubt continue to be sick free parties and raves, which are necessary once in a while.
In terms of youth culture I haven’t the foggiest but it inspires me to see how people younger than me don’t take bullshit and seem to be pretty on job when it comes to social issues. But at the same time I hope that the younger people that have grown up with the internet ingrained into their everyday lives don’t get too caught up in it and remember that offline life is reality! I hope they can learn from our mistakes but also remember to respect and value what the older ones have done! I feel old now!
Q: Most importantly where do you see yourself in a few years time? What goals and targets would you like to reach in your musical career?
J: Hahahaha! I have absolutely no idea for my personal life, BUT I definitely have some goals of things I want to achieve in music – the main one is production. Been saying I want to start putting stuff out for years now so I’ll probably start with some edits and then hopefully some original tracks (I have some goals of labels I’d love to release on one day but they’re secret). Putting on some nights with a couple of close friends has been talked about as well, but if I’m in charge of planning anything I’d want it to be meticulously put together so there’s no rush with that one.
Selfishly I really hope I can play more shows abroad as it’s something I’ve felt very blessed to have done in 2018 and I love seeing new places and hearing about what the music scenes are like there. It sounds so unexciting but I think over the last few years that I’ve been DJing, the progression has felt quite gradual and I’ve been able to adjust to the changes quite naturally. I think over the next few years that will continue to be my trajectory as I’m building my career and trying new things, but don’t get me wrong I’ll be taking more risks as well and I’m thinking of moving abroad for a bit if I can make it happen!
Q: Just for fun – if you could invite any 5 DJ’s or Producers in the world round to your house for a dinner party who would it be and why?
J: This is such a good question! I’d have to pick people whose brain I could wrack all evening so it would probably be something like this:
1. Kemistry. One of the original Queens of Drum and Bass who definitely along with Storm smashed down prejudices of what female DJs are or should be like from more than 20 years ago. I’d love to be able to sit with both of them and just listen to all the stories and probably cry in awe.
2. Peggy Gou. An inspiration to us all! From seeing her interviews and talks I really respect her outlook on everything and even though what she plays and makes is very different to me, I feel I could learn a lot from her and she just seems like a fun person to have at your party, over the last years she must have become one of the most in-demand DJs in the world but yet seems to have so much depth as a person, I’d love to meet her.
3. Salaam Remi. The guy is a musical genius and responsible for so many bangers it would be mad to be in his presence. I’d love to learn off him and again hear all the stories of what it was like to work with people like Nas and Amy Winehouse.
4. Skream. The old me probably would have said I would love to rave with Skream but I actually just rate him so highly as a musician that came from one thing, and rebuilt his career completely without compromising. A UK legend.
5. Lastly, I’d have to pick one of the current big trap/hip hop producers e.g. Southside. I reckon he’d be a jokes addition to the other guests but again is also responsible for so many bangers and his talent is mad – I aspire to be that good at making beats one day but at the moment I suck!
Interview and photography by Queenie Matthews
Huge thank you to Jossy for taking the time to talk to us, you can follow her and keep up to date here