“It’s weird, because I can’t even go out in Rochester now without being recognised!”
Meet Mollie Collins – drum n bass’ great young hope. Not yet 21, it has been a whirlwind 2 years since she first stepped behind a set of decks. Fuelled by a thirst to play she has been propelled into the stratosphere in a relatively short space of time. So much so that her trajectory is unprecedented.
Gig-wise, it’s been non-stop. They’ve come thick-and-fast. But you won’t hear her complaining. Quite the opposite, in fact. Her January downtime has left her climbing walls and eager to play-out. We caught-up with her after a typically hectic week of touring over the Christmas run-in. Having just returned from several dates in south Wales, it seems they went well. “Cardiff was wicked! They just instantly got it.” she enthuses.
2016 was the year she announced her arrival to the world. Her gig list could make the most seasoned DJ weep. “I did Eskimo Dance at Boxpark, Croydon. That was pretty cool. It was weird – everyone had, like, 20 minute sets. Most of them are grime MCs. So I had 20 mins to showcase a bit of drum n bass. I thought they might start throwing stuff!” she jokes. “But they loved it. I didn’t know what to expect – I don’t think anyone really did. But it went really well.”
“I did Eskimo Dance at Boxpark, Croydon. That was pretty cool. It was weird – everyone had, like, 20 minute sets. Most of them are grime MCs. So I had 20 mins to showcase a bit of drum n bass. I thought they might start throwing stuff!”
We tell her the moment we knew she was the real deal, when Facebook exploded with videos of her set at Southbeats festival. “Yeah, to be honest that was the big one. It was weird because I played at, like, 3 in the afternoon. I just thought: I’m not gonna hold back. Before I played the drum n bass tent had actually started to fall down. So they had to get people to come look at it before I could start. I was thinking “shit, I’m not gonna be able to play” and literally, about 10 past three, they said you can go on. I played the first 2 tunes, and within 5 minutes the place had filled up. It was crazy!”
Her rollercoaster of a year culminated in Mixmag including her in their list of Top Breakthrough DJs of the year. Positioned at No. 14, she sat shoulder-to-shoulder with the likes of Avalon Emerson & Denis Sulta. “When I saw it, I was like “wicked”. I think I was the only drum n bass DJ on there.” She had arrived. Oh yeah and don’t forget her inclusion in our Data Transmission Rising Stars for 2016 too.
Her story starts a few years earlier. She was the archetypal rebellious teen. By her own admission, she was easily distracted in the classroom. Education wasn’t a priority. She was disruptive. “I was actually really naughty in school. I got thrown out when I was in Year 10. I ended up having a private tutor to finish my GCSEs. I really liked PE! But all the other subjects, I didn’t care so much really. But I think it’s turned out alright.”
Attracted by the bright lights of the London, her group jumped the train to the big smoke. Dodging ticket conductors and hopping turnstiles, it was all part of her education. She’d found her calling, and quickly went about immersing herself in club culture to satisfy her cravings. She picked up a job collecting glasses and serving drinks at a local, 200 capacity venue in her hometown. This was to be the start of her journey.
Such was her enthusiasm she quickly proved herself, and was rewarded with a marketing position within the street team. Soon she would be handed the responsibility of running the venue’s social media channels. And it wasn’t long before she blagged herself into the DJ box itself, assisting with the lights. All roads now led to one destination. “I started helping out with the lights on a Friday/Saturday night. I was doing it for some big DJs. Where I was clicking on lights, I got to know the beat. And that’s when I thought that I really just wanna do that. I didn’t wanna stay doing lights, I wanted to do what they were doing. I think it was the Pressure Front nights. Frankee was the one.”
It has been as resident at Tap N Tin at their banged-out Monday student session where Mollie has been given the opportunity to grow into the DJ that sits in front of us today. Arguably, she has outgrown the party, recently indicating she is to leave her residency in the near future. “I don’t really want to leave,” she concedes. “But I’ve been doing it for a while, and maybe it’s time for somebody else to have a go. I’ve built it up, and now it’s packed out every week. I get to play so many places, and there’s people who don’t get the opportunity to play in their town. I’ve learned a lot having that residency. Just from playing every week, it’s helped me a lot. It’s made a big difference.”
Her speech quickens. Her eyes glow. It’s been a labour of love. “I can take risks. I can see what works. When I play here there’s no planning, I just play around. I know a lot of them. And they know me.” She smiles. Pride. Proud of the residency’s accomplishments. Of the family spirit she has nurtured on the dancefloor. It is an ethos she intends to continue, even after her departure. Already, she has begun the process of selecting her replacement. And the intention is to keep it in-house. In the family. She knows it’ll be left in safe hands.
2017 is shaping-up to pick-up right where 2016 left-off. And the sky is the limit. “I think I’ve got something like 8 festivals booked already. And a few countries I haven’t done yet: Austria, Switzerland… Prague as well” Already announced in the UK are Mutiny Festival and Kendall Calling. Whilst further afield she’ll be returning to Lloret de Mar’s Innovation In the Sun – the scene of another of her flagship moments from 2016. But it is her forthcoming club dates which have really caught our eye. First-up it’s a titillating booking in Farringdon for FABRICLIVE.
“I was meant to play there in December. I was really gutted.” speaking of the venue’s recent closure. “And then it came through just before Xmas. I’ve planned my set. I’ve even made a dubplate for an intro. I haven’t played out all month, so I’m just itching to play. It’s Room 2. I’ve heard the sound system is mental. I’ve gotta go straight to Spain the morning after. I’m just gonna go straight to the airport from London, rather than go home.”
This weekend she joins the UKF bill alongside Sub-Focus, Netsky & Friction at London’s newest offering, Printworks “It looks crazy!” she gushes, in reference to the new 5,000 capacity venue. Though, she could quite as easily be talking about the line-up. Again, rubbing shoulders with some serious heavyweights.
She is pensive. Considered. Lest we forget she has only just broached her twenties. Behind the playful public persona she conveys a maturity beyond her years. She’s had to. It’s been a necessity to survive in such a cut-throat environment. She’s developed thick-skin, resilient to green-eyed criticism. It’s a defence mechanism. But peeling back the layers, we begin to see a more reflective Mollie. “I’ll try to make it like a job.” A Freudian-slip. It’s telling. Because it’s so clear that, to Mollie, this isn’t a job. It’s a passion. We revisit her earlier self-analysis, “I think it’s turned out alright.” Yes, Mollie. We do too.
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