Artist Feature: Moxie - On Loop
Click here to listen to the Moxie On Loop radio show.
This month’s Carhartt WIP Radio show sheds some light on the label and party series On Loop, managed by DJ Moxie. An avid radio host since 2010, dropping music for stations like Kiss FM or BBC Radio 1, the London-based selector continues to have one of the longest standing residencies on NTS. Her weekly show is a staple for the latest in underground house, techno and beyond, peppered with her charismatic radio chat that sees her hosting some of dance music’s leading artistic forces, such as Jeff Mills and Four Tet.
Alongside her illustrious radio and DJ career, Moxie has established herself as a promoter and label founder with On Loop. Launched in 2016, the party has rapidly gained momentum, welcoming artists such as Matthew Herbert, K-Hand, and Joy Orbison, in venues across Europe and the UK. The accompanying label is now moving onto its fifth compilation, having previously released music from Shanti Celeste, Lone, Nabihah Iqbal, and Violet. For Carhartt WIP Radio, Moxie - who has played some of the most renowned clubs including Fabric, De School, Concrete and Berghain’s Panorama Bar - has conducted a mix featuring older and more recent music from her On Loop label, by artists such as Lord Tusk, Violet, Kowton, Shanti Celeste and Desert Sound Colony. To accompany her show we sat down to talk to her about her inspiration, her touring life, future On Loop music and more.
Hey Moxie, when and how did your love affair with music start? What kick-started your passion?
Moxie: From a young age I was always into music and would be inquisitive about where things came from. My parents would play music around the house and so I grew up listening to singers and bands such as Aretha Franklin, The Beatles, Eurythmics, R.E.M. - all the good stuff! But when I went to secondary school that’s when I started to carve my own tastes. My friends and I would exchange the latest CDs we’d just bought and then burn them onto Mini Discs so we could each have a copy. It was just before the Internet and at the time that seemed like the most advanced way of sharing music. Skip forward a few years and that’s when I started collecting records and began DJing. It was all thanks to an after-school youth club called Bigga Fish who came to my school and hosted after hours DJ workshops. They taught us the basics of DJing and gave us the opportunity to practice mixing records on turntables. It opened me up to something I never thought I’d be into and gave me the bug. After that I would go record shopping every week after school and started collecting and practicing mixing UK Garage and 90s to early 2000s Hip-Hop. I was obsessed with everything Stones Throw released, especially all the Quasimoto albums and in particular, the Madvillainy album, which flipped the way I listened to music all together. I’ll never forget those years hearing it for the first time and being blown away by Madlib’s production and MF Doom’s lyrics.
Where and how did On Loop start?
Moxie: I officially started the label in 2016, but prior to that I began a free compilation series called “Moxie Presents” which started in 2014. It was a way for me to showcase guests I had on my NTS shows and reflect what was going on musically that year. Each artist would send me an exclusive track and we would release the compilations online for free. I collated lists of all the music blogs, websites, club DJs and radio hosts to send to. Looking back, I was teaching myself how to run a PR campaign, and was effectively running a label without realizing it. After a few years of doing that I decided it was time to make it official, and so I started On Loop as a label and club night. I wanted the opportunity to release music by artists I believed in and push them as much as I could.
What process do you follow for finding new artists?
Moxie: I get sent a lot of music to play for my NTS radio show – the chat room is always a great place to gauge how people will react to something. But essentially it has to be someone or something that really excites me an artist. When I start to get obsessed by their music, I know I’m onto something. I’m always keeping an eye on what people are doing, though it can be overwhelming at times.
Can you give some advice to someone who is interested in starting his or her own label?
Moxie: Music is so subjective, and there is room for different styles and tastes, but I believe it’s important for whatever you are releasing to be something that you stand by 100%. It should be music that you can’t wait to tell your friends about. That excites you. Having a label isn’t something you’re necessarily going to make money from. It really is a passion project you need to nurture. If you consider the musical climate we live in today, and want to release records, then make sure it’s something that we be cherished and not thrown away. Longevity and quality is what matters. I’m still learning as I go along. There’s always more to take on board. A friend of mine who used to work in a record shop and runs a brilliant label, once gave me some advice. She said to always press less than more when you’re starting out, because first impressions really matter. It’s better to have something sell out and increase the demand, than to have it sit on the shelves. If people view your label as something that is in demand, they will pay attention.
What exciting stuff do you have in the pipeline?
Moxie: I’ve just finished getting everything together for the next On Loop release, which is set to be out in November. It’s by an artist called Desert Sound Colony. I’m always playing his tunes out so it made sense for us to work together on something. I’m really excited for people to see the new art direction. I did a degree in surface design, and have missed painting so much that this year I set myself the goal to start again, and to take control of the artwork for the label. I collaborated on it with CM-DP who does our club flyers.
For the On Loop events, we’re doing an autumn club tour around the UK. A few names we have are CC:Disco, Willow, Éclair Fifi, Josey Rebelle, Ben UFO, OK Williams, Breakwave, Dan Shake, Chris Farrell, Flo Dill and more. I’m extremely happy with the line-up of guests we have, and even more happy that the women outnumber the men! I’m in the position to curate line-ups exactly how I think they should be, and I love pairing certain DJs together. It’s even more rewarding when I can choose from a pool of amazing female talent.
What labels do you follow these days?
What do you think about people asking you for track IDs? DJs can often be very secretive about tracks they've found.
Moxie: The majority of music I find I’m pretty open to sharing and do so on my NTS radio show every week, but occasionally there will be tracks that I’ll hold onto and keep just for my DJ sets. As someone who doesn’t produce, the music I play is my identity, and I believe it’s a part of why people come to hear me as a DJ. I spend most of my time searching for music. Especially on Discogs, digging out old gems and working my way through back catalogues of labels – often spending hours not finding anything. But when you do, there’s no better feeling. I think people need to appreciate that those finds don’t just pop out at you. It’s about having patience to go down many rabbit holes before you find something that excites you. It’s important to have your own route to finding music. For me, it means I can associate a feeling and a memory when I play those tracks out.
How much time do you spend looking for new music? Are you listening to mixes from other DJs?
Moxie: Most weekdays when I’m at home, although Tuesdays are generally reserved for prepping the radio show, and Thursdays are for sorting the weekends club music. When I’m in festival season it gets hard to stay on top because my routine goes completely out the window. I have to remind myself of that each year and I try to dig as much as possible when I have any spare time.
In an interview from last year you mentioned you really enjoy buying records for the community aspect, do you feel like that aspect has changed over the years?
Moxie: Community in music has always been important to me and I really like exchanging music. I don’t always get as much time to be in record shops as I once did, but when I’m in there I love seeing the usual faces behind the counters who know exactly what records I’ll like. Technology has made the process of consuming music shift over time, and the internet is now essentially the main way of exchanging music. For example, there are huge Facebook groups where people are sharing tracks they’ve discovered, and that’s exciting. I think we should embrace these things and not dismiss them. People evolve and so does technology.
What's hard about DJing, and what's easy about it?
Moxie: I always feel very privileged and lucky to be doing this job and have to pinch myself a lot of time. But with any job there are pros and cons. Personally, the anxiety and lack of sleep is what I find challenging. It almost feels like you’re doing army drills on tour sometimes because you have to wake up at crazy hours without real rest, and then walk into a space where everyone is in party mode, and you need to keep that energy going. It can be taxing on your body and mind, but it’s part of it. When I have days off in a new city I really try to make the most of it and that part is always a bonus. Having the opportunity to discover somewhere new and meet people I wouldn’t otherwise have.
What’s your favorite show on NTS?
Moxie: There are some outstanding shows on NTS. The breakfast show hosted by Charlie Bones - which airs from 9am-12pm GMT - is a daily staple. Another favorite is Suncut, who plays the best soul and RnB music. Whenever my boyfriend and I have people over for dinner we put on his show. Radio Jiro is so great! He’ll do shows specializing in a specific artist or genre. The London collective Nonsense also host a wicked show on a Sunday evening.
Usually all you see when it comes to event recaps or tour photos is happy memories good parties, food pictures, beaches. Do you remember a tour that didn’t make you happy, certain events that frustrated you or a gig that was terrible?
Moxie: Absolutely! It’s not often that shows are of that top tier. It takes a lot for all the elements to come together and have magic on the dance floor. Often festival season can be a weird time because you play shows where you are on huge stages far back from the crowd. Some DJs really thrive being on those stages, but I can sometimes find it hard to connect. The crowd is often people who are drifting in and out, so there is this added pressure to keep the energy really high. Festival shows can be hit or miss, and can often knock your confidence if you don’t have a show that you feel went well. That being said, every gig is a learning curve, and I’m always taking things on board to hone my skills and be the best I can be.
What’s your view on flying and climate change etc. Where do you think we as people can make a difference and where do you think politicians should act?
Moxie: I think climate change is something we need to take very seriously. We can clearly see the effects taking place. I know there are a few companies, such as Clean Scene, that are trying to encourage DJs and agents to take more responsibility on the effects of traveling each weekend, and offset their carbon emissions by giving to environmental charities – which I do by donating monthly to The Rainforest Trust.
I take the train as much as possible, have requested no single use plastics on my rider, and I do things at home like recycling, but I know I could always be doing more. It’s something I really see when I travel around the world. I think everyone is in denial about how quickly things are deteriorating. Seeing young women such as Greta Thunberg taking a strong active role at her age is truly inspiring.
What do you think about Resident Advisor and their move to remove the comments section?
Moxie: I think Resident Advisor is one of the only reliable music websites left that don’t rely on click bait. For example, they employ and encourage journalists to write about micro-scenes that would have otherwise not had any coverage. Like with any platform, there is always room for improvement, but as a company I’ve noticed they take criticism on board, and move forward to become better and more aware. I think people were shocked when they removed the comments section, as though their free speech had been taken away. As someone that visits RA on daily basis, I saw the comments section being used as a space for people to troll, rather than to give constructive opinion, and the people who were being trolled the most were always women. In recent years nothing positive seemed to come out of it, so why encourage that behavior?
What are your hobbies besides music?
Moxie: Painting and gardening.
When do you feel most at peace?
Moxie: Being at home with my boyfriend, sitting on our big green velvet sofa watching Mad Men.
What superpower would you like to have?
Moxie: Helping all the animals and wildlife in our planet to not be extinct!
What is the most valuable thing you own?
Moxie: The house that my boyfriend and I bought earlier this year.
Can you name us some things that you haven't done yet but you always wanted to?
Moxie: Safari and sky-diving. Both on the list and I hope to do it sometime soon.
Can you name us your favorite places in your town London and tell us what makes them special?
Moxie: I love taking the day off and going to the Tate Modern or the Barbican. Visiting galleries calms me, and helps me to switch off. It fills me with so much happiness. I also love going to Hampstead Heath and sitting near the dog pond. You get to relax and look at all the different dogs living their best lives splashing around!