18 Years Of…Missrepresent
Missrepresent has been working as a DJ and Producer now since 2001. This year has marked 18 years of a busy career for this inspirational DJ. From working in the UK to as far abroad as Asia she is still headlining events 18 years on, still releasing music and still banging the drums in drum and bass. We invited her to come and talk this year at our Hack The DJ event on International Women’s Day at Unit Nine in Milton Keynes and a lot has happened in the last couple of months. So, we decided it was time for a catch up!
Hello! It’s not been that long since you last spoke to us all but a lot’s happened, right?
Haha, yes…I’ve just started as a resident on rotation for the Raver Tots brand which is currently touring up and down the UK with sell-out events. I’m working on a new track with Brian Brainstorm and UK Apache… that is sounding good and hopefully get that tied up before the end of the year, and still headlining events, just played Norwich for Rewind, it was off the hook, sick sound system and most of all saw loads of old friends, oh wow… we have a new clothing line, new events in Leicester Club Below October 26th with Basskicks. Stardust with a headline jungle set planned for 15th November, gigs up and down the UK and releases on my Sliced Note Recordings label lined up. I have a 4 track EP coming out as the 30th release by an artist called TNT Sounds, he really is a great producer and then release 31 is Metalman with another 4 track EP, he has really stepped up his sound and mixdowns so I’m excited to be releasing his music again…. it’s certainly going off right now!
Wow! Do you ever sleep?
Sleep? What’s that?! Yes, though this weekend was hectic! I didn’t get in till 5 am and was back up at 9 am, I have a beautiful big 2-year-old Warmblood gelding to turn out at weekends, but I was certainly feeling tired by 1 am Saturday night. I’ve actually recently followed Tom Middleton on Instagram who promotes a lot about correct sleeping and mental health, so even though I don’t get a lot of sleep, I certainly recommend it, and I bank sleep where I can which I’ve watched on science programmes and read up on, and that really does help.
Talking about Mental Health, you told us at our event about your Mental Health and living with BPD, how do you manage it on a day to day basis and is there anything else that helps other than music?
It was recently World Mental Health day, which always knocks me a bit. It’s between the Birthday of my Dad and the time he died in 2014. He had manic depression so I’ve understood about mental illness a lot, seeing him sectioned and off his rocker. I ended up myself in mental hospitals in Gloucester after leaving care, and I had a wobble about 8 years ago. I’ve never been sectioned, it’s been voluntary. Stability is something that is needed for a good mindset but that is really hard to establish when you’re living in poverty for example, worrying about food, bills. No family support causes anxiety, so the fact I am now in a loving kind safe environment with my husband helps me a lot. Not having money affects your social life, which can leave you isolated so now I am more financially secure I don’t worry as much. So many factors can affect everyone and everyone is different, but music has really helped me, it calms my moods. Having music to concentrate on takes my mind off negative thoughts. Working, having goals – stops me from worrying about finances and day to day I used to manage on medication but I’ve been off all that now for a good few years.
For my anxiety, I was prescribed Chlorpromazine, which literally stopped me thinking bad things, pretty much knocked me out. When I was diagnosed at 20 with BPD (Bi-Polar Disorder) it was the only drug that stopped me thinking about everything and I was in bliss for a couple of days while I literally was numb, not worrying. Part of my problem is I dwell on the past. I hated my childhood and I resented being in foster care, it was a horrible feeling growing up feeling unloved and moving around all the time. Later, as I calmed down and my moods stabilised, I was medicated with prescription Diazepam. CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) helped as it helped me realise I wasn’t worthless. I was under a consultant psycharitrist Toby Moate, who really did help me. The CBT sessions and therapy re-trained my brain to think about how to be happy even if I wasn’t really that happy. To be honest, who is. If you are happy all the time I wonder with all the sad weird stuff in the world, how can you be that happy, and if you are really miserable and grumpy, you get told to stop and be happy. I know I portray a happy lovely life, and I am grateful for my life now but deep down I was really broken, and telling anyone to try and be happy when everything is dark and gloomy inside is difficult. Depression isn’t an easy battle. There are emotional and psychological symptoms I have to deal with daily, and then there are physical symptoms. Earlier in life, it was insomnia. It was so bad I would hear things and then wake up with terrifying nightmares. I was constantly agitated. The emotional side would be guilt and shame. Self-blame was a huge thing. Constantly feeling sad and hopeless, and then feeling sorry for myself.
Being in a stable loving relationship now has probably been the one thing that’s settled me the most but I would have probably stayed in abusive negative relationships as a self-fulfilling prophecy if I’d not told myself over and over from CBT and therapy that I deserve better. What a lot of people don’t understand is how your childhood can shape your mindset for life. I was drinking a lot of alcohol at a very early age. Hanging around with kids 17 and 18 when I was very young. None of that did my brain development any good. I didn’t want to be at home or be near home. People tell you to “move on” or “forget about it” or the famous one “the past is in the past”. People who have suffered emotional or psychological trauma, know this isn’t always possible and tend to struggle with emotions, memories and anxiety. On top of that, trauma at a young age also affects your brain development. Neuro pathways are disrupted. You have issues trusting people, dealing with stress and sometimes quite scared generally. Normal feelings become overwhelming. Several traumas happened to me. An unstable unsettled environment, separation from parents, neglect and abuse. It’s depressing thinking about it all, to be honest. The positive side is that I’m now very sensitive to other peoples emotions. It’s a trait of BPD.
Is there anything else that helps?
I can do things to take my mind off things but I can’t do much else. Unless I destroyed my memory I can’t forget. Things remind me every day of my past. A song. I feel sick sometimes hearing them. Sometimes a TV advert or I see a certain car or item of clothing. My husband, however, provides a great deal of comfort and security. He knows I have up days and down days and completely accepts me for who I am. He will help me with taking my mind off things, one of the reasons he bought me a horse. His mother had a similar experience as me as a child and he says often how alike we are, how we look at the world. Well, she brought up an amazing human, he really is brilliant, so all I can pray is my children benefit too. Sometimes so many negatives really do create positives.
I do think about all the vulnerable kids I grew up in care with, who haven’t overcome the demons. I feel very lucky to be able to function so highly when a lot of the kids I grew up with aren’t doing so well. I can’t thank my social worker Jane and Barnardos enough, or my headteachers and first employers who bought my decks for me, all those who saw past a disruptive chaotic little girl and showed so much love, I’ll be forever grateful. It’s been a long hard road but I’m more at peace now.
If anyone is experiencing anything I’ve talked about here, my advice is:
1) See a Doctor first. Suicidal thoughts need medical professional help. Don’t self medicate unless advised.
2) Get everything into a routine. Sleep properly, eat healthily and drink plenty of water.
3) Do some exercise. It releases endorphins. Stay healthy.
4) Understand your nervous system. Breathing techniques. Candles and nice smells help me. Lavender to sleep helps me loads.
5) Read up on https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/emotional-intelligence-toolkit.htm
6) Don’t feel guilty, or let anyone else make you feel worthless or bad. Get out of situations and groups of people as soon as possible who aren’t lifting you up.
7) Read. Self-help is the best thing. I’m currently reading a book on emotional intelligence and I’ve just finished “Healing Emotions” Conversations With The Dalai Lama.
To be honest, I could talk and write for hours about my past and things that can help. I do apologise for the long winded reply but it’s such a complex topic. The issue is everyone is an individual so needs to be treated and dealt with individually, but most of all, Doctors are there as the first point of call. Sometimes medication is needed and medical professionals are the best people to see. My BPD was diagnosed in my early 20’s and I would class myself as recovered, I am no longer depressed, no longer have insomnia, not on medication and I rarely have bad mood swings. I have a stable home life and social circle and I have a whole list of achievements – so don’t be disheartened, if I can get through it, so can you! Hopefully, we can demolish some of the stigmas around Mental Health as well.
Thanks for being so open and honest and Aliina, if this reaches and helps just one person it’s a step in the right direction! Hearing other peoples experiences definitely helps people to realise that’s it’s not just them and it’s not all in their head.
Let’s move on and talk about 18 years! Does 2011 feel like a long time ago?
Not at all. It feels like yesterday. I remember my first set in Stroud alongside Micky Finn as clearly as I remember sets last month. I still feel like that 20-year-old even though I’m 39 in January. I just feel incredibly lucky. It’s hard work, you’ve got to keep on top of the music, ideas, networking but I love it. I have loved it for 18 years and I will love it for 18 years more…I’m sure.
So, to the up and coming budding DJs, how are you still headlining events 18 years on?
Honestly, I think it’s due to crowd reading. You can play banging tunes by watching what everyone else is playing, you can learn to mix or produce, that’s all just science but the ability to crowd read, feel a mood, understand what a crowd wants to dance to, making the right tunes, sense a dancefloor – it’s all something that comes from intuition and experience. I have nothing but gratefulness and thanks to all the promoters that are still booking me to headline events, and re-booking me. I love it. I’m always buzzing after a good set. The energy and vibes just takes me away. Watching people happy, dancing and having a great night just makes me feel good. That happiness is infectious.
Tell us about Raver Tots…
I’ve had some residencies over the years but this is such an experience. I have 2 young children, baby boy has just turned 2 and Portia is 4 in February. Both I carried and I played out at huge festivals and clubs while pregnant, so they literally were at raves before they were born. They both love music. Portia has an uncanny sense of time, she’s clapped to music in time since she was 2 and loves dancing. It was just a natural move to Raver Tots where not only can I work but take my kids, family and friends for these experiences. They really are fantastic events, stimulating for the children and so much fun. Liverpool was my first one last weekend, I played a mixture of dance classics, garage, old school rave and then dnb and jungle it was mental. I didn’t expect it to be so amazing. I knew it was going to be good, the promo videos and the press, but I’d recommend people to take kids and family. It’s such a great idea so hats off to Mike and all the team, the production, the sound, the way the venues are dressed up, it’s just first class. October 27th I’m at Teeside Uni, Northampton with DJ Phantasy on 24th November, Middlesborough and then New Years Day at Tunnel Club in Birmingham 2020.
So with kids, horses, touring, you still have time to produce? UK Apache….?
Well, we started the track a good few months ago and it will get finished but as I’ve said to Brian and UK, good music doesn’t have a sell-by date. I guess a lot of people would be jumping on it, rushing to get it finished but the main track is written, it needs tweaks. Yes, I feel honoured and blessed to be able to work with such massive huge names but it’s always been about the music, and God has a plan for us! God just needs to give me some more time in the studio! That will happen though when my youngest Josh starts nursery. I really can’t wait to get back in the studio more. Kids take up a lot of time.
You’re running an event in Leicester this month?
Basskicks and JDNB are linking up for Club Below October 26th for Halloween. Bellyman and I made a track recently which went out on Formation Records, so it felt natural to get him up to Leicester. Jay who I’m running the event with is a great DJ and friend, and a great promoter, and he wanted Bellyman up so we are going for it. Leicesters D&B/Jungle scene is really healthy at the moment, the club’s wicked, the sound system is right. That’s what matters. Good people. Good music. Good memories.
So, clothing as well? I saw those JDNB hats, they look smart!
Having my own clothing line now as part of JDNB seems surreal. I honestly can’t thank everyone enough for the support over the years, and the team we have on board, Brenton, Mike, Dan, Michael, Jay, Vince, Barry, Mark. I wouldn’t be doing all this without people helping and supporting me. They do look sick I have to admit, I’ve not had time yet to get everything up online and people are already hitting me up for the hats, but JDNB is a huge part of my life and I am just proud to have branded something which looks quality. To everyone who keeps emailing me for hats, they are coming! I have them here I just need to finalise the shop!
What more do you want?
I’m always totally grateful for what I’m doing, I’d probably like a few promoters out there from the bigger brands to take a leap and book me more. I can mix, hold a crowd and shake it up, so to be able to nail residencies for the larger festivals in 2020 would be wicked. I had to take a bit of time out with the 2 young babies, I couldn’t fly the international gigs as much but still holding it down! I’d like a bigger studio. I’m constantly runnning out of space for eveything! I’d like the world to be a more peaceful and kinder place. With my BPD I’m extremely sensitive and I think I’d like the world to be a bit more understanding towards people with mental health issues, and be kinder to each other. Kindness and more good music!
What’s next for 2020?
Good music, good vibes and good memories! I’m in Corby for December, Birmingham for Stardust and I’m really looking forward to playing for the Corby guys at the Football Club, and local to me too! I really feel blessed to play up and down the UK and at all the local events too. I’ve made a lot of friends in this business, good people, and it’s a great social life as well.
Huge respect for 18 years and best of luck for 18 more!
Thanks, Shelley! DT really is a great platform, I love what you guys do and thank you as always for the support!