In this feature we ask an artist to bring us “Through The Keyhole” of their personal living space and let us know what it’s like at ‘Chez Artist’…
Nestled in Homerton, one of few areas in East London yet to be completely swallowed by gentification, lives DJ and radio host Amy Becker. Since starting out at the age of 14 she's been stacking up feats including a residency on MistaJam's Daily Dose at the age of 19 as well as long standing radio shows on NTS, Rinse FM and Radar. Since then she's been pushing her party brand Acrylic, which she's recently been taking to different venues around the UK, on top of that she'll be debuting her A/V show 'Synthetic Sensations' at Oval Space next month.
As a person, she comes across as warm, self-assured, someone who doesn't take any shit from anyone. Although she'd only been living in her flat for six months or so, with Well Street being my old stomping ground, I was keen to hear her observations on the comings and goings in, what I consider to be, one of the best areas in London to live. Ahead of the International Women's Day event she is curating at Patterns next week, we sit down at her table in her open plan living room, surrounded my boxes of Acrylic merch – some of which will be dropping in the next few weeks – to chat about the place she spends most of her time.
What’s your favourite room in your home and why?
My favourite room in the house is probably the living room. There are only three rooms, but the main room is my favourite one. It's where I spend most of my time, because there’s the kitchen, table, TV, everything I need. This is the room I spend the most time cleaning and looking after.
How would you describe the decor in your home?
I would describe it as… well, I didn’t choose it. All I did was change the feminist wall art for my Tupac and my Gucci Mane.
What was here before?
So my sister had some feminist shit, some very political artwork which I decided to change for those. These are still her plants that I’m attempting to keep alive. So she used to lived here? Yeah I rent from her, so she owns it. She moved to America and the spirit of her lives on.
Except through the feminist art…
Yeah except for the feminist artwork. That’s stored away. My bedroom is solitary confinement chic, whereas hers I think looked a lot better, she had pictures on the walls and stuff.
Where do you listen to music in your house and what’s your setup?
It’s a bit shit to be honest. I have to admit I often listen through my headphones or on my laptop, which is obviously not ideal. I do have my decks here and a speaker down there but I struggle to practise here because it’s boring. I’ll normally go to NTS to practise so I can actually have it loud, because obviously I live in a flat and I don’t wanna disturb the neighbours. It’s annoying because I have to put music on a USB to listen to it. Generally it’s just not great off my laptop.
What would you change about your home?
I would have more memories. I wanna have pictures from my Instagram in frames. I haven’t got round to that, but I will.
Are you handy at DIY or do you get someone in?
Funny you should ask. I haven’t got enough room in my wardrobe, it's a really small wardrobe and I have too many clothes so they’re just spilling out. So I ordered a rail from Amazon last week and I thought it would either come whole, or at least just a few bits I have to put together, but turns out I had to build the whole thing. I actually did it all myself, I was very impressed. I sent all my family a picture. I couldnt work out how to tighten the screws so I thought I should use pliers. I ended up using pliers and I nearly cut my finger off because I had this bad cut already, and then I found an allen key in the packaging that I should have been using the whole time. It was a struggle but I got there in the end then I text my mum saying “who needs a man eh?”
It’s the start of something new, you should get yourself a tool box…
Yeah well actually last night I fixed a pan that I had with a screwdriver and again I thought who needs a man, I can do all of this stuff myself. All I have in my drawer is a pen knife and a screwdriver, it’s all you need.
What’s in your fridge right now? How often do you clean it?
I have nothing in my fridge because I’m broke as fuck and I never clean it. Never really thought to clean my fridge, probably should do that…
What do you eat for breakfast?
I have quite a healthy breakfast every day, also because I’m broke. I have porridge. Gruel! With almond milk or oat milk, then I usually put in banana or apple, or both, with some honey.
What's your favourite recipe? Your go to meal?
I’ve only recently got into cooking. When I first moved in I used to just get loads of takeways and now I’ve actually started to cook. My go to recipe at the moment is courtesy of Natalie Portman on Twitter. She put up this video of her cooking her favourite vegan meal for her kids, not that I’m vegan but yeah. It looked easy so I did it, it’s a vegetable stew basically. My friend keeps telling me to stop making the stew because I’ve overdone it now, but I was like I’m perfecting my recipe, I’m adding new things. I’m really getting into the swing of cooking and I’ve never really been good at that shit, but I’m teaching myself slowly but surely. I have no other choice, in order to survive.
I bet Uber Eats took a hit when you started cooking…
Yeah 100%, I was reckless. Ordering every night, I once ordered from the Jamaican spot down there not knowing it’s literally outside my door. I couldnt believe I’d paid them £2.50 for them to literally deliver it up the stairs. So embarrassing, what an idiot.
Who is your neighbour? What do they do?
I don’t talk to my neighbours, it’s not in my nature. Even when I’ve got in the lift and people from the flat have got in and they’ve been like “hi”, I’m like why are you talking to me, this is weird. There’s this whole weird union in these flats. There was a problem with the lift, so everyone talks on some sort of facebook group that I’ve refused to be in because I’m like I’m not going to deal with this trivial shit. It’s things that are really not important and they are just massive snobs so I’m just not involved in that. There’s a lot of kids in this building. They’ve got kids next door and they probably think who is this girl living on her own in this place. Even someone came round the other day offering that recipe thing where they deliver all the bits and he was like "oh Alice from number 24 she does it, do you know her?" And I was like "no, I don’t know her."
Have you ever locked yourself out? What did you do?
No, I haven’t been here long enough really. Although because I live on my own I’m always checking I’ve got my key, otherwise I’d be fucked.
Bath or shower?
I do actually prefer a bath but this one here isn’t good, it’s not a very big bath so generally just showers.
It’s a lazy evening, no time for cooking. What’s your takeaway option?
The day after I played on Saturday I was so hungover I just ordered Dominoes and cookies and inhaled the whole thing. Which made me feel sick but it’s just one of those things that’s a good idea at the time then afterwards you’re like why did I do that. Or that Jamaican spot down there, but now I’ll actually walk there and get the curried goat rather than paying someone £2.50 to deliver it.
Any other favourites in the area?
Well Street pizza is good, I mean super gentrified pizza but its good.
Do you eat your dinner at the table or on your lap?
I sit like a lonely old woman at the table, I don’t wanna make a mess on the couch.
Do you have a local shop or are you a supermarket whore like the rest of us?
Due to my financial situation I can’t go to Tesco anymore so I’ve been reduced to the shop next door. The Turkish shop which is actually really good. I've found some great things in there, I’m already used to doing my weekly shop in there. They know me now. I’ve got to the point where I can get everything I need from that one shop, which I think is quite impressive. The only thing I will say, here’s a little tip for you all at home, the toilet paper I buy from there is worryingly thin so if you are ever in need of toilet paper, do what I do and steal a few from Shoreditch House. Or any public institution, there’s no CCTV in the toilet. If they're one of those places that stacks up toilet rolls behind the toilet, just stick it in your bag. So I took two last night and I’ve got great quality thick toilet roll now. I’m trying to cut costs where I can so where I can nick a few toilet rolls I’ll be doing it, so hide your toilet rolls if you ever invite me over.
It’s a life hack! Is there a piece of art or ornament that holds particularly fond memories for you, from childhood or travels perhaps?
It’s kind of bare at the moment. There’s a picture of me and my sister and my mum over there in St Lucia two years ago and that was the best holiday of my life. We just went and had a week the three of us and just ate and sat on the beach and it was great. That’s us on Christmas Day. Yeah, me with a coconut in my hand on the beach and all Santa’s elves. They had a Santa come in on a jet ski or something.
Animals. We love cats here at R$N, but just love people with pets. Is there a special furry/ feathered/ scaly creature in your life, tell us a little about them?
I’ve had many pets over the years. Many crazy pets. Me and my dad used to have an obsession with rodents. I had every rodent under the sun from gerbils to chinchillas to these things called jerds – they are the cousins of gerbils. Most of them ended in tragic deaths. I once had two hamsters and one bit the other ones head off. A Russian hamster. It was like eating it's neck. I said to my dad it looks like it’s eating a grape but it was the flesh from the other hamster's neck. So my dad wanted to put the other one that was alive outside to fend for itself and I was like you literally can’t do that dad, so we took it back. We bought them from a shop that was really far away. We went back to it and were like you sold us two hamsters and one has killed the other one. They were like we categorically never sell two of these hamsters together as they can’t live together when they grow up, and we were like well you did and we just gave it back to them.
Then we had chinchillas which was great, they just fly all over the walls. We really wanted to get rats at one point because apparently you can train them to come to the call of their name and stuff but we didn’t in the end because they’re really prone to brain tumours. I'm definitely more of a dog person than a cat person, in fact I’m more of a dog person than a human person. I’d rather have a puppy than a baby, so I think when it gets to the point where I’m feeling like it’s time for a baby, I would get a puppy and that would sort me out. There’s a feeling that I get when I look at puppies that I probably should get when I look at a baby, it's like a very maternal thing for a puppy. I’m actually thinking of having a snake too, they don’t require much looking after. I do love animals and if I had the time and the space I’d be getting some sort of rodent that ends in a tragic death. Inevitably, because I’m cursed.
Are you a messy person?
No I’ve become a very tidy person. I think when I was living with my mum I would always make a mess then when you move out, suddenly it all becomes clear. Now I’m OCD crazy about mess and tidiness. Living on your own makes you tidy because it’s your own mess. I feel like I’m constantly cleaning which isn’t good.
What’s your most annoying habit as a room mate if indeed you do have a room mate?
At uni I lived with three boys and three girls in a massive house in Leeds and I actually became mentally deranged with the cleaning. I became the cleaner. I’d be constantly on edge if people were cooking, I’d always get really anxious if I smelt the boys cooking at night. I’d go away a lot at the weekends for gigs, there was a point where I was never there at the weekend, and every time I’d come back and it would be a tip I’d just go round slamming the doors. I was so pissed off. Honestly I don’t know they dealt with it because I couldn’t live with me, I was a bitch. They all had fun when Amy was around!
What’s the worst room-mate you’ve ever had?
There was one of them, my friend David, who won’t mind me saying this now as he’s changed his life around and he works in music, but at the time he was such a complete stoner bum. I used to come back from uni at 1pm and he was ordering takeaway for lunch in the middle of summer. Like it was bad; he would never leave the house, he wouldn’t do anything, he would never go to uni. He ended up gambling poker in his room all day. We didn’t get on too well at uni but now luckily we do.
Is there a view from your window, balcony, front door, terrace? Can you share that with us? Who do you look for coming along the street?
There’s a shotter over there and see him go lift a shot every day about 11am come rain or shine and I’m like oh I know what he’s doing.
Have you given him a name?
Nah not yet. Eventually I probably will speak to him and maybe get his number for those purposes.
What else is going on round here?
There’s a Mosque opposite so I see a lot of people coming and leaving there. I get all the noise from the pub, it’s like the juxtaposition of everyone going to the Mosque quietly and all the loud drinkers in the pub, which is quite annoying. I always think you never invite me to what ever party is going on down there. I think I wish they’d be more quiet then I’m like oh my god I’m actually getting old.
I’m probably in there…
Yeah you’re probably one of those people. There's always people in the streets screaming. I get a lot of characters screaming in the street too, a lot of that. It’s never a quiet moment in Well Street. It’s great, that’s why I love it. There’s a lot going on.
Pick 6 dinner party guests from history, real or fictional to invite to your home?
Number one: K Trap because I think it would be quite nice to have a dinner guest with a balaclava on and I can sing all his songs to him. Number two: Kodak Black, again because I love him. Love of my life and would just like to have dinner with him and talk about life. Erm who else, have I gotta do six? I’m stuck I’ll have to come back to that.
You're curating the International Women's Day line-up at Patterns. Who are you doing it with and what made you choose them?
It’s the Brighton stop of the acrylic tour which on the 8th March at Patterns and it was kind of co-curated with me and the promoter and Foundations. We went for Jossy Mitsu because I’m a big fan of hers and she’s a good friend of mine from the Radar days. I think she is quite highly underrated when it comes to the stuff she plays around the footwork, jungle side of things. Great DJ, lovely girl. The other person we have on the lineup is AG, another good friend of mine. I think she’s getting her recognition now as we speak, from the grime side of things. She’s been on radio for years and years, every radio station, she’s really put in the work. I don’t think there’s many other girls that holds down a grime set like she does and can do those big 50 man grime sets on Rinse and has the respect she does. Plus she’s a Hackney girl, so even more respect.
What was it that made you want to do an International Women's Day event?
I didn’t actually know it was International Women's Day at first but when they told me I said it would make sense to do a female focused line up. Then again it’s not really something I think about because I always have girls on lineups most of the time, and that’s not even through me thinking I should have a balanced line up and have a girl, it’s just that DJs that I like happens to be girls and boys. We’re still organising it but I think during the daytime we’re gonna be doing a talk and a workshop that people can come along to.
Why do you think these type of events important?
I think it’s getting better. In London I feel like it’s something you hardly notice. I can’t speak for people outside of London but within London the line-ups these days are really balanced. I can only speak for my sort of world, the clubs that I go to and the scenes I’m in. I think outside of that it might be a different story. But from my experience, since I started DJing out in clubs and stuff, which is now eight years ago, then I was one of the only girls. There was Siobhan Bell, I remember her being about. There were a few other girls about but only a few. It wasn't like it is now and I think we definitely stood out and it was a lot harder, well actually not necessarily harder, in some cases it was an advantage, a selling point. It was like, you're a girl and you're a DJ, whereas now that doesn't really cut it. It's just not something I've ever really seen as a negative thing being a female in a male-dominated industry, and I definitely think that it's becoming much more balanced and almost in favour of girls. I've seen line-ups that are mostly girls or all girls purely for the reason that those are the best DJs from that scene to book, not just as a tokenism thing.
Follow Amy Becker and Acrylic on Facebook. Find out more about Amy's International Women's Day event at Patterns.