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 legen