Mistress Mo

Stepping into the Jungletechno Hot Seat is Flashback's very own Mistress Mo

Mistress Mo is co-promoter and resident DJ of the legendary midlands Oldskool revival event Flashback. When she's not behind the wheels of steel playing Oldskool along with Drum and Bass, she can be found working hard behind the counter of Oldskool Daze in Birmingham.

1. What was the idea behind the name Mistress Mo as Mo is not your real name. So why chose Mo?

Well, I’ve been known as Mo since I was about 4 years old so that part was easy. When I started playing in clubs in ’93, I was just ‘DJ Mo’ and my second residency was at top handbag house night, S.L.A.G. at the Steering Wheel (now Hidden). They weren’t happy that clubbers couldn’t tell from the flyer that their resident was female. As it was pretty rare to have a girl DJ in those days they made up the name Mistress Mo and persuaded me to purchase some thigh high PVC boots, lots of leather and a studded dog-collar – low and behold, Mistress Mo was born!!!

2. As a DJ who have been your influences in and out of the rave scene?

In the early days, I was just into raving – I didn’t really even think about the DJ’s or the mc’s, I just went to dance and have fun. It was only really once I started promoting I thought about it so I would have to say Mickey Finn was a pretty big influence and also Jason Kaye (Top Buzz). They were the first big DJ’s I got to know personally and I liked their attitudes and respected their sets. There is no bigger influence outside DJ’s than my business partner, Jimmy. Without him, there wouldn’t be Flashback (I might even still be playing house music!!!)

3. When you started there were very few female DJ’s - what inspired you to start DJin?

Real luck! I stayed at a friend’s house one summer between student residences and he had decks. One day I asked if I could have a go and disappeared upstairs. About an hour later he came up and asked who’d taught me to DJ. ‘No one’ I said, delighted – it was just something I could do. He was so shocked I just had to get myself some decks and the rest is history!

4. In the early part of your DJ career you entertained all type of ravers playing hard house. How did you get involved in the hard house scene and why did you decide to start playing drum and bass?

Actually, it started as handbag house at Crunch and S.L.A.G. (I reckon pretty close to what Speed Garage sounds like now!) and that naturally progressed to hard house as it got more popular. The move to drum n’ bass came because when I played hard house gigs, I didn’t really know many of the other DJ’s or promoters (Flashback was well established by this time so I had more connections with the rave/drum n’ bass scene).

I used to play and then get to a drum n’ bass night as quickly as possible to see the people I knew and dance to the music I loved. It just seemed silly to pursue a career in my second favourite music even though I have to say, playing to a hard house crowd was a real joy as for them it didn’t matter if you played a few older tunes, it was just about letting your hair down and enjoying the music. There are too many haters in the drum n’ bass scene, too ready to put you down and too much attitude at some nights – people need to remember the roots of this music and concentrate on simply having fun!

I know some people were really upset when I changed music styles saying it’s not right but I don’t agree! If you can play well, are well known and have a good tune selection, who cares??

5. Do you remember your first rave that you attended??

Very well, I got dragged there when I was 17 as I was the only one who’d passed their driving test and had a car! It was Swing at Andover Leisure Centre and it was absolutely brilliant!!

6. If you could rewind the clock which raving year would you like to go back too? Be it the tunes or the events.

Hmm, tough. Gotta be ’91 though – everything was so underground, the illegal parties were wicked, there were no dodgy headlines informing your parents what you were up to at the weekend and the big money-makers hadn’t quite got a grip of things yet… The sheer excitement of convoys, fields and dodging police (don’t forget, there were no mobiles in those days so you’d just set off and hope you’d bump into other ravers and find out what was going on – brilliant!)

7. Did you ever think to yourself when you were out that maybe one day you’d be promoting your own event?

Nope! Funny though, I promoted my first event in 1992 – it was our black-tie 6th form leaving do though, a million miles from a rave!

8. So how did you meet Jimmy and who else is behind the workings of Flashback?

Jimmy’s brother went to the same Uni I did so we met through mutual friends and as I was already running house gigs there, it was Jimmy’s input that got us started on old skool instead. We got kicked out of the Uni when they realised we weren’t students any more so off to Crunch we went to promote events for a year. The transition to the Que Club came in a kind of Dragon’s Den stylee – we were contacted by investors with more than a little experience in promoting big raves – Danny from Fibre Optic and Gez from Quest – not bad business partners by any means!

9. What was the inspiration behind Flashback?

Jimmy and I both felt that the whole rave scene had been nipped in the bud by over zealous politicians and police and that we hadn’t really heard enough of the music we really loved. We already had a successful house night at the Guild of Students (remember Fruity anyone?) so it just made sense to try out old skool in the second room. The first Flashback was awesome for anyone who knows the Guild – we had a human gyroscope and put a speaker outside so everyone was dancing on all the tables and round the fountain in Mermaid Square – by the time the Uni realised what was going on, it was too late and we had a wicked outdoor party!

10. Did you ever think when you and Jimmy started Flashback it would have a massive following like it does today?

Not in a million years! It always amazes me how many people still talk about Flashback, the great nights they’ve had, people they’ve met etc. To be fair though, we always put 110% into everything we do and our early parties were wicked even though they were on a small scale. I think it’s because we pay attention to what our clubbers want and had really good people to help and guide us along the way. Obviously, we make money from our parties but it’s never been the priority - the driving force and ultimate goal is to host absolutely amazing parties and we think people along the way have known that. We never let anyone down, have almost a 100% record in advertised DJ’s turning up etc so I’m proud and happy of the Flashback family that have grown up with us.

11. Flashback started off at the Student union at Birmingham University and then moved onto Crunch / Wobble in Hockley. Before finally making its home at the legendary Que club.
What did it feel like to host the first Flashback at the Que club in the summer of ’98, seeing as it was a massive step from hosting events upstairs at Wobble?

Wicked! I’m glad you asked that question! I had never been to the Que Club before Flashback and leading up to the day, had been stuck in the shop sorting tickets and all the admin stuff. I was late getting there and had to run up onto the main stage with my records where I had a bit of a chat with Pilgrim. Then I turned round to see this cavernous main arena being swept by huge lasers and inflatables hanging in the ceiling. It was completely overwhelming and I burst into tears! Amazing…

12. A burning question which you’ve probably been asked over a hundred time’s. What has actually happened to the Que club and when will it finally be converted in flats?

All I know is that most of our décor is still locked in there and no one has access. The building is a derelict wreck with no roof but plenty of pigeons. It’s my guess whoever owns it is letting it go derelict to force the council to drop its listed status and develop the site. Such a shame but absolutely no way you could do a party in there now… sob…

13. What has been your favourite Flashback event from the past 10 years to date?

Now that really is a tough one! Our investors said if our bank holiday at Crunch went well we could have a go at the Que Club and that was the absolutely heaving Micky Finn event. Then there was Grooverider at Crunch where the whole crowd po-goed in unison, chanting Grooove riii deerrrr, Grooove riii deerrrr over and over again and we thought the floor was going to go through! Then the first gig at the Que where we hoped for a reasonable crowd and got a roadblock and that amazing night when SL2 played ‘Out of Space’ as their last tune and everyone just kept singing even though security had cut the power to the decks – it took a good 15 minutes to shut everyone up. Then, remember at the end when it took sooo long to get down the stairs and out the doors past the flyerers and someone would blow a whistle and then it would all go off again…! Just too many good memories really!

14. Flashback’s home is in Birmingham but you’ve taken Flashback to London, Shepton Mallet and the mighty Sanctuary in Milton Keynes.
What was it like to be asked to host the old skool arena at the Sanctuary considering you used to once party there?

That was wicked and actually, my biggest gig was playing the set leading up to Midnight in the Rollers warehouse at Milton Keynes. It was totally mind blowing looking out at 3000 ravers who all seemed to have glo-sticks providing a fluro carpet to the back of the arena – terrifying but wonderful at the same time! The Slammin’ boys are wicked and their parties are always good as they work so hard and put in such amazing production so hosting their arenas is always a real honour.

15. What do you think of the current situation of the general raving scene in Birmingham? Do you think when Flashback had a break it opened the doors for various other promotions like HTID, Uproar, Raveology, Random Concept to name a few ?

Yes and no really. Birmingham needs big nights and in a way we did pave the way but there were always going to be others hot on our heels. HTID grew from nothing in an incredibly short space of time and is now a household name, just like Flashback in its day. I loved playing at Raveology where I was resident – that’s a relatively new night that has grown to a great success providing that much needed multi-room experience and it has also played a very important role in proving Birmingham can still host great parties… Having said that, there were great parties before us too – Starlight, Dance Planet, Pandemonium, Ultimate Orange and of course, Atomic Jam so everyone has their place in the raving annuals.

16. Not only do you DJ but you also run Old Skool Daze in Selly oak, Birmingham selling various raving merchandise from tickets to CD and Tapepacks as well as stocking old skool vinyl.
What is your opinion when people say vinyl is dead considering that Blame’s vocal seal mix of ‘Music takes you’, sold for over £200.

There are always going to be collectors and people that want vinyl. I personally decided not to go down the CDJ route but to be honest, if you want to be a DJ these days, you simply have to use CD’s. Crowds demand such upfront music that CD’s make life so much easier. There will come a time when technology gets so good it is only die-hard collectors that want vinyl but that day is certainly not yet!

17. A lot of independent record stores have started to disappear since the advent of online shopping. How are you keeping ahead of the online stores?

Well, our shop is primarily a ticket shop and we sell records too. As we buy and sell second hand stuff, it doesn’t matter if it sits on the shelf for a while so the pressure of having the right up to date releases is removed. I really take my hat off to record shops who are still around as I imagine it’s extremely tough getting the right stock at the right price and keeping bang up to date with trends.

18. For those who are new to the rave scene and ‘old skool’ how would you describe Flashback to them?

It’s a celebration of everything that has helped to create the scene we know and love today – it’s about having a brilliant night out, not being concerned about what you look like, about smiling and being nice to the people around you, about chatting bollox to random people in the chill-out room, about dancing yer tits off and not going home ‘til you’ve screamed yourself hoarse calling for one more!!

19. In 2004 it looked like we had seen the last of Flashback how did you finally manage to twist Jimmy’s arm to finally put together the 10th Birthday??

I still love going out dancing and every time I go anywhere or even when I’m in the shop, I’ve been asked so many times what happened to Flashback, when is there going to be another one etc. I knew the people are out there that had such a brilliant time and want some more so I used the excuse of it being our 10th birthday to book a date at the Custard Factory over a year ago. We all felt it had been long enough since the last party that all our old Flashback faithful and family friends would come and join us for a special one-off reunion and judging by ticket sales so far, we were right!

20. As we close the final chapter in Flashback’s 10 years history, what can we expect on Saturday 7th October 2006?? What special surprises have you got installed?

Well, if I told you that, they wouldn’t be surprises would they!!
Seriously though, all the work has gone into the preparation. We have loads of limos booked so people are going to have a fabulous start to their evening as they are collected in style and sup champagne on the way to the event. We have a special area for our VIP’s who will all get a commemorative wrist-band and the chill-out/cinema is going to be a fabulous place to try to spot yourself on film from previous events and take the weight off your feet in comfortable surroundings. The production will be the usual mind-blowing Flashback array with lasers, inflatables and awesome sound systems in all arenas. Plus, we’ve only booked great mc’s so you should have plenty of opportunity to hear all your favourite tunes old and new.

21. If money was no object which artists would be in your all star Flashback line-up? Whether they no longer play old skool today.

Got to be Prodigy and Carl Cox headlining. Would love to see Mr Bukem spinning some old skool again (hearing him play Horizons at the Que Club was a very special moment). Some of the old Spiral Tribe crew too – didn’t even know their names but MC Scallywag was wicked! (You know the tune, ‘Ecstasy, it really gets me going, it gets me so I don’t know what I’m doing’… that’s him!)

Top ten all time favourite tunes (in any order)

1.Sweet Sensation Shades of Rhythm
2.Pulp Fiction Alex Reece
3.Where Love Lives Alison Limerick (RIP John Smith)
4.Passion Gat Décor
5.Horizons LTJ Bukem
6.Flim Zinc/Calibre
7.Let it Roll Doug Lazy
8.Get Raw ?
9.Perfect Motion Sunscreem
10. Lord of the Null Lines Hyper on Experience

Cheers for taking time out to do the interview would you like to give people some shouts.

Jimmy, Gez, Danny, Carl, Pie, All my family, Jimmy’s family, Shades of Rhythm, Altern8, Mickey Finn, Grooverider, Fabio, Nicky Nine Gigs!, Inch, Shock C, Sy , Slipmatt, DJ Rap, Keith Suckling, Lisa & Cookie , Hollis, Real Deal, Trevor, Monkey (DVD man!), Ian & Laura, Simon M (fruity addict), Tom (Bonus Promotions), Laser Phil, Estee, Will (Bo Selecta!), Boogieman, Jonny Cee (the original raver), Stu, Big nose, Ratty, Tango, Fallout, Nitesh!, Dj Hardcore Rush, Ian & Nikki, Will & Jim Tang, Martin, Keith and Alex, Fabulous Dave, Trance Orbital, Andy Spangla & Stacy, Bromsgrove Andys, Dougie (canteen duties), Jon (Dawn Printers), Discosounds, Gemini, Cassie, Tot, Johnson, Carlo (put your top on, please!), John Reeman, Dan Norman, Jason Kaye, Patrick, Mikey B, Ratpack, Ellis Dee, Robbie Dee, Lenni, Bassman, Man Parris, Longjohn, Magika , Rachel (Knowledge), Jo (Groove Connection), Caroline (Unique!), Tania (UMC), Tracey (Ton), Ranski, John Smith (RIP), Mark Cox, Jim Moir, John Haliwell, Black Pat (RIP), Marco’s possee, Abigail’s free bar, Jon Bryant, Shaolin, Addict, Pace, Chris Read & Roc 1, Jem Atkins, Mark Jarman, Phil Davis (RIP), Baka, Real Vibez, Luke , Glenn Aston, Nexus, Zion, SL2, Baby D, Phil (Baby D), Basement Phil and to anyone else who I have missed off sorry xxx

I'd like to personally thank Mistress Mo for taking her time out to carry out this interview.
September 2006
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Words By Nitesh / Xtra-C Flashbackin' & Rewindin'