A look back at 10 years of techno parties and more with rising tastemaker Tasha
A dedicated head to the core, Tasha hails from the South of England and spent most of her youth in Norfolk. Finding herself increasingly frustrated with the constant stream of dross on mainstream radio as a youngster, along with the lack of good music in her town. She discovered late night listening courtesy of Fabio & Grooverider, Annie Nightingale and Vibe FM – where she got an initial introduction to the sounds of Bass, Drums and UK Garage.
As she hit her teenage years, raves in Northampton beckoned and she was soon bitten by the bug of the bass reverberating through the system. A few years on as a student, she stepped up to put on her first parties and got behind the turntables to give Dj’ing a go. Her true spirit and passion for the music did not go unnoticed and she caught the ears of the wider drum & bass community, getting her first break thanks to DJ Flight playing her mix on BBC 1Xtra. Not long after, the legendary DJ Storm also gave her a break – making Tasha resident at her night Feline. Not only giving her a regular stage to develop her skills, it helped cement her place in the scene and get to play regularly for Renegade Hardware nights, and across the UK, Europe and the rest of the world.
Finding herself energised by the power of straight up sounds, she decided to venture into co-promoting a night called ‘Medium’ with two other friends at Plastic People in 2007, putting on multi-genre parties and requesting alternative sets from DJs at a time when this type of programming was almost unheard of.
In December 2010, she then decided to go it alone at Plastic People and start her own concept Neighbourhood, which gave her the space to book artists she believes in and loves without compromise such as Pangaea, Pariah, Ben Sims, Neil Landstrumm, Zenker Brothers, Henning Baer, Stenny and John Swing. In the same year, she also gained a job behind the counter at Black Market Records / BM Soho.
Over the last decade, Radio has also become a backbone of Tasha’s approach to expressing her appreciation for electronic music, thanks to shows on Rinse FM and Radar Radio. Her style very much matches her textured background and has developed into a flow of form: weaving tunes seamlessly together from her bass informed home of the UK, to the four-four pulse of techno born out of Berlin and Detroit.
With Neighbourhood reaching its 10th anniversary, we couldn’t think of a better time for a chat:
What was it about the sound of D&B that really drew you in when you were starting out?
How did you first link up with DJ Flight and then Storm?
“I sent a mix cd to DJ Flight, this must’ve been in 2006. Flight had a Radio show on BBC 1xtra and she did a feature on the show called ‘Breaking New Talent’, I loved listening to her radio show, loved the styles of d&b that she played. My mix got picked! I remember it clear as day, I was on holiday in Greece and was left a voicemail ‘you have been selected for DJ Flight’s breaking new talent’… haha! So, I got in touch with DJ Flight on email to say thanks and arranged to meet her at the club ‘Herbal’ on Kingsland Road, where she was playing one night. She was actually quite shy with me the first time I met her – I don’t think she’ll mind me saying that. We’re really good friends and she’s been a mentor ever since. I remember we played a gig in Graz, in Austria together and had the best time ever, so much jokes. That was the beginning of our good friendship. I can’t thank her enough for her support, I don’t think I’d be where I am today without her, or Storm. Talking about the Graz gig, that was actually a Feline night. Feline was Storm’s night and was based at Herbal. I used to go to A LOT with my best friends Mantra, Bekah and Panka. I gave Storm a mix cd and I remember the day she said she’d played it so much, she’d scratched it and needed me to burn her another copy. I nearly fainted! It was then she invited me to be resident at her night ‘Feline’. It was fantastic, also Mantra, Bekah and Panka were residents and we all played together, it was such fun times. Kemistry & Storm were huge influences on me, again Storm has been a real mentor to me, she’s been amazing. She always taught us well how to get on in this industry. I love it when Jayne calls me up, we always end up chatting for at least a couple of hours a time.”
You went on to work at Black Market in Soho, what was that like?
“Damn, working in BM Soho, were some of the best years of my life. I really miss working behind that counter. It was a dream to work there. There were lots of regular customers, who were proper characters, so much went on there. I remember one regular giving me some apricots that had been soaked in acid to save for a rainy day… hahaha! We had amazing instores, loads of different Djs came to play. That’s where I first met Keith, Radioactive Man, who is now a really good friend. I met and worked with Billy Nasty, I mean he has stories for days. Theo Parrish used to come in to buy his records and he could tell within a few seconds of putting the needle on the record if he was going to buy the record or not. I could go on about Blackmarket record shop for a long time. I just loved the whole DIY vibe, independent record labels doing sale or return. I loved it when John Swing would visit with a new release, I bought every one. He’s played at my party since and that was such a wicked set. He’s so underrated, an incredible DJ. When Dub Vendor came and joined us, I used to slip down the back during quiet times to get my stack of 7″s, I’d spend all my wages on records. I do miss it a lot…”
At what point did you start finding your feet in Techno?
“ I just got more and more into it over the years, Saturdays at Fabric with the girls I mentioned earlier, my old housemate Jerry and my mate IF. There was Public Life, 93 Ft East on Sundays, not forgetting Plastic People. Lots of D&B producers were sending me techno tunes they’d written. When I started doing a show on Rinse back in 2009, I didn’t want to just play D&B. I played everything from Dub Reggae, Hip Hop, Garage, House, Techno, and then some D&B at the end. Lots of producers were sending me more and more techno as time went on. Then in 2012, I went to Berghain and that changed a lot for me. Robert Hood totally blew me socks off! That sound system, the vibe and losing concept of time really was something else. I started to go digging way back, like I did when I got into D&B and got obsessed with the UK techno pioneers sound: Surgeon, Regis, Ben Sims, Luke Slater, Steve Bicknell, and then the German sound and so on. I used to go to Jaded after Renegade Hardware at The End. That must’ve been in 2008/2009. Back then it wasn’t so much the harder sound I like now. I guess what I’m trying to say, I don’t think it’s ever just been one thing for me, it gets boring.”
The first club night your organised was with Sigha and another friend – what made you decide to start promoting?
“The first club night I organised was actually a night called Presha, which is still running to this day at The University of Surrey. The baton was passed on each time a promoter graduated. The biggest party I did there was with Shy FX and MC Fats… haha! I met Sigha around those times actually. The night we did was called Medium and we started it at Plastic People, which is where Neighbourhood was also born. It was because we felt no other parties were really catering for what we wanted to hear: a mix of different genres and Djs at that time. We felt we weren’t alone with it and it proved we weren’t. A funny story from those days, I picked up paradox from the airport and he had tons of gear, a massive old school suitcase, which proper cracked me up. There was mad traffic getting to plastic people from the airport, was straight to set up and sound check. We couldn’t find anywhere to park and he had so much gear. So, I just parked outside the club and in we went and got set up and sound checked, came out the club and I was like ‘where’s my car?’. It had been towed away and I had to pay £200 quid to get it back! That was one expensive party haha but was worth every penny! ”
Then a few years later, you started Neighbourhood?
“The guys wanted to focus more on production and I wanted to continue promoting, but I didn’t want to compromise with who I was booking any longer either. So, that’s when Neighbourhood was born. I had a good relationship with Charlotte at Plastic People, it was naturally the home for Neighbourhood. It became a lot more techno focused as it was more what I wanted to push. There weren’t any small techno parties at that time, it was needed. I prefer going to smaller, intimate parties and I wanted to create a party where I wanted to go and dance.”
10 years on and Neighbourhood is still going strong: care to share some of your favourite parties/moments with us?
“Well, there have been a lot! But here goes …”
Plastic People, the very first party
“The very first party with Pearson Sound, he was in the process of phasing out Ramadanman. I noticed when he was playing out as Pearson Sound his sets were different to those of Ramadanman and I was keen to have him come and play these new sounds. It was such a great night. I also remember, when I’d booked him previously, being on the phone to him trying to convince him not to cancel playing because he had to resit an exam the next day… haha!”
Blawan, Funkineven & Alix Perez
“Booking Blawan, I took a bit of chance on him, it was one of his first bookings in London, combined with Funkineven, Alix Perez and my mate Khanage, it was a really diverse and interesting party.”
Krust – Lost Dubplates Set
“Krust, lost dub plates set, my god, the vibe was insane, so many old heads came out for that. These were all on Wednesday nights by the way, it was hard graft.”
Ben UFO, Alex Nut, Boddika and Fatima
“Ben UFO, Alex Nut, Boddika and Fatima was another memorable, vibey one at Plastic People. Fatima was singing in the middle of the dance floor. It was a real nerdy vibe at every party – everyone was always so obsessed with what was gonna get drawn next, transfixed on every mix.”
The Dance Tunnel
“Dance Tunnel, Karenn Live was really special, it was the first time i did tickets for my party and they sold out within a week of putting them on. That was a very intense, intimate, sweaty valentines night!”
“The now defunked TR//ER (overmono) live show was something else too, the vibe was incredible for them, all huddled round that tiny booth, sweat dripping off everything and everyone haha!”
“I remember Neil Landstrumm also cramming his live set up in there and standing his mixer up against the side wall exclaiming he’d crammed it into much smaller booth! His set was great and varied, proper grimey! I love the fact he had his set list on an A4 sheet of paper, it’s these little details I remember.”
“The first time I booked Metrist, he left a shadow of his former self… but in a good way… haha We all hung out after the party, there’s always been a tight knit vibe like that with Neighbourhood. He came back several times for more. In fact, he played an absolutely killer opening set at Pickle Factory. Also playing b2b Forest Drive West, that was such a fantastic experience, he took me to a deeper zone, really look forward to doing that again.”
The Pickle Factory
John Swing, Pangaea and Henning Baer
“John Swing with Pangaea and Henning Baer, I remember John Swing absolutely grooved the shit out of the opening set, he was on fire. I recorded it but got the spinning wheel of death on my laptop when I went to save it, gutted. I think that’s the only night that wasn’t recorded. I always keep the sets for myself because I’m pinging about all night and I don’t always get to hear the full sets. It’s got easier over the years to stop the flapping, keep dancing and enjoy my party!”
Stenny, Paleman & CEM @ Five Miles
“I have to mention Stenny’s closing set at Five Miles, it was the first time I’d done a party there and on a bank holiday. I remember a lot of people not knowing who he was and my friend Ireen saying, ‘who is this Stenny’? Damn the vibe was incredible, everyone was fully in the zone losing themselves, it was one of the best closing sets at Neighbourhood and he ended with Photek ‘Complex’, my god! CEM stayed the whole party and was such a delight. After the party, we were on such a good vibe, I remembered that I’d bought Stenny this rioja that was on his rider but I’d left it in my car. I went in the boot to get it, shut the boot and left the keys in there: the car somehow locked itself! I had to call someone out, they arrived and unlocked my car the next day just in time for me to take him to the airport. I mean naturally, I made him drink all that rioja!”
Scand X Neighbourhood @ Corsica Studios
“Working with Phil and Steve from Scand and booking The Advent, another dream of mine and boy did he kill it with his hour and a half 90’s electro set, everyone got lost in it and were losing it… “
Machine x Neighbourhood @ Corsica Studios
“Working with Ben Sims, collaborating at Corsica Studios with Machine, all my friends were telling me it was a bad idea doing the party on 22nd December just before Christmas. It can be a funny one doing a party on those dates but it was so wicked, the merging of our two crowds. Ben b2b Ruskin was heavy! Damn, that’s a lot of good memories…”
How’s it all looking for the 10th birthday?
“I can’t wait for the 10th birthday at Fold. The crew there are amazing and have been so lovely to work with. There’s so many people from those plastic people days who are coming, some who have kind of retired from raving. The whole 12 hours is going to be simply fantastic.”
Any particular artists or tunes that you still play now that you were playing back then?
“I still play a lot of old tunes that I did back then, lots of The Advent, Surgeon, Regis and Ruskin and so on. I’m still finding lots more old records every week but Robert Hood – Psychic, what a fucking tune. Them pads that come in halfway, 4 minutes in…. Yeah!”
And finally, what’s 2020 looking like for you?
“2020 is looking sick, I’ve got some super gigs coming up, I’m excited.”