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In The Beginning.. Michelle’s Story

2012 April 30
by Michelle Manetti

Where It all Began.


Wooo hoo, exciting… so this is officially the very first post on Lipstick Disco; I wanted to make it a significant one and write about something special to pop the cherry on an otherwise virginal blog and I decided the best place to start would be at the beginning, natch.

It’s a beefy post, but bear with me. I’m going to reveal my personal story on how I first came to be a DJ and in turn I’ll ask each new LD contributor to do the same, giving you a little insight into our musical journey and how we arrived here at Lipstick Disco.

For me music was always something I had a huge passion for, right back as long as I can remember I was either picking up an instrument, or trying to convince my friends to start a girl band – with me as the lead singer (of course). I’d religiously learn the words to any song that caught my attention, which was pretty much everything I heard and I remember sitting with my sister listening to kiss FM, finger poised, pressing record on the tape player to capture our favorite songs as they came on the radio, so we could make mixtapes for our mates.  I have a lot to thank my older sister for; we grew up in Croydon – the devils armpit, but the nightlife was plentiful and London taaahn was just on our doorstep. When she was 16 (and I was 14) armed with fake ID, she started sampling Croydon and London’s finest nightclubs and being the adoring younger sister I was, she’d allow me to tag along with her and her friends. It gave me the sweet taste of what would later become my playground and essentially my ‘office’.

I remember one night, after a heavy London clubbing sesh going back to an after-party at my sister’s friends, who had some vinyl decks set up and I desperately wanted a go. For several hours I tried in vain to mix some tunes, convinced I had mastered the art of DJ-ing as I crashed my way through a whole bunch of house records. That was the night; I fell in love with the turntables.

I moved to Horsham with my mum at 14, my sister stayed in Croydon with my Dad & I’d regularly go on jaunts to see her at the weekends for my ‘clubbing fix’. Much to my pleasure, a bunch of lads I started hanging around with at my new school DJ’d Drum N Bass & Hip-Hop. The music wasn’t really my thing (I was more of a house girl) but I loved the idea of DJ-ing and watched them with fascinated intent. The boys would bring their decks to house parties and youth club gatherings, but I was never allowed to have a go – ‘No girls allowed’ so I’d sing for them instead. Singing was my thing and I sang in various choirs, productions, theatre schools and groups in and out of school & college. I then started working as a session vocalist for a producer in his studio when I left college at 18, waiting for my scholarship to study musical theatre at drama school… sadly it never happened, but I knew I wanted to work in music and would find another way. The more session vocals I did, the more I became intrigued about production and the studio; rather than just being the singer with no creative input, I wanted to write and learn how to create and produce my own tracks – the next thing I know I’m living in Brighton and studying a degree in music production.

Music production was my foundation, it became the source for my creative ideas, but I figured to be a good producer I needed to know what makes a good record, what gets a crowd going and what makes a DJ choose to play a choon. The most natural way to learn this was to become a DJ – something I’d been itching to do since I was 14 (me subsequently becoming a DJ was sort of a happy accident). I jumped on e-bay and found myself buying a ‘DJ in a box’ kit from some bloke in Southampton, exchanging soggy money for some Numark decks, mixer, amplified speakers and a bag of vinyl in a rainy car-park. Pleasingly some of the vinyl the guy had thrown in, were some classic house tracks. The next few months my latest ebay purchase, was given a lot of lovin’ and attention.

In order to teach myself to mix, I chained myself to the decks for several hours at a time almost every night. I chose two choons out of the small selection of vinyl I had and for several months, those two records never came off my decks. I’d mix from one to another and back again, learning each song inside out, knowing where the drops came, the vocals kicked in and memorized every inch of those two pieces of vinyl until I had finally learnt the art of mixing and was happy that I could mix those two records into each other perfectly, every single time. Those two records are massively significant to me, so I’m going to pay homage to them here:

The first, was a soulful house remix of an old garage classic by Artful Dodger. I sadly realised I couldn’t find my original vinyl copy when I thought about writing this post and that particular remix was only released on vinyl and isn’t available anywhere online to buy, stream or download digitally. FFRR the label the track was released on has since closed down, so I tracked down Mark Hill of Artful dodger to see if he had a digital copy in his archives, but despite his kind efforts couldn’t help as FFRR commissioned all the remixes and he was never given a copy from the label. Just when I thought the track was lost, I found a copy of the vinyl for sale on discogs. This has been as much a journey for me to bring this track it to you as it was for me when I first played it all those years ago. I recorded this little gem off vinyl using the very same Numark decks I purchased all those years ago, which still take pride of place in my flat.

Artful Dodger – Please Don’t Turn Me On (Sounds Of Live Vocal Remix)

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The second song is another soulful house track, a relatively unknown pressing from the Reelhouse label. Despite not being credited on the vinyl (aside from the giveaway title ‘The JB Experience’) the vocals are unmistakably Jocelyn Brown, who was back then and still remains today my biggest inspiration as a vocalist.

The JB Experience – I Like It Like That (US2 Vox)

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The track is actually a remix / remake of an old 1983 Salsoul release by Inner Life. Maybe it’s the nostalgia and significance it has to me, but personally (and It’s not often I would say this) I actually prefer the remake, but here’s the original for you to have a listen anyway.

Inner Life – I Like It Like That

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To further help me with my mixing skills, I put together and recorded my first mix CD. It was intended as a quirky gift for my mates, full of our favorite clubbing tracks at the time and was the soundtrack to our debaucherous year. It’s still one of my favorite mixtapes I’ve made to date and brings back wicked memories. Back then I was calling myself ‘Special K’ the name didn’t last long, before I changed to ‘Miss Annik’ (my middle name) then later just going under my own name ‘Michelle Manetti’.

Special K – The Definative Journey through 2003

Within a few of months of me learning to mix, I was given my first DJ set and residency by Brighton DJ and Promoter ‘Dulcie Danger’ at a night called ‘Koochy’ at what was then the Tzarbar (now Honey bar) more residencies soon followed suit and then as they say, the rest is history.

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