Smokin’ Jo TAlks

This is Smokin Jo… you might have heard of her. One of the hardest working DJ’s in the electronibiz (made that word up, do you like it?) she’s continually carved out a niche across this thing called clubland.
With a residency for We Love at Space in Ibiza each summer and still the only female DJ to have won DJ magazine’s coveted DJ Of The Year award we had a chat to her about Trade, Ibiza and embarking on a new club night with Skin from Skunk Anansie no less. 
Hi Jo, first off can you tell us how your initial residency at Trade @ Turnmills came about?
I was working at the Junior Gaultier shop in Soho, the manager was friends with DJ Martin Confusion (Trade first resident)  I was making loads of mixtapes and playing them non stop in the shop, the manager loved them and when Martin was ill one weekend he suggested to Trade that I take his place, after that first gig they took me on as resident and I never looked back.
Who were the DJs who most inspired you to take it up yourself?
At the time Tony Humpries, Kid Bachelor , Evil Eddie Richards, Colin Dale and Paul Trouble Anderson were my favourite DJ’s.
What was the music of your teenage rebellion?
I used to listen to everything from Blondie, Adam and the Ants, The Police, Parliament, The Human League, Grace Jones, lots of soul, funk rare groove and some punk too.
Whos the greatest DJ youve ever had the pleasure of witnessing in the flesh?
OOh tricky to choose only one , definitely Tony Humpries at his peak, his seamless mixing and choice of track was amazing, and of course the mighty Danny Tenaglia , I have been on many a spectacular journey with that man behind the decks.
Youve played all over the world, whats your number one favourite club to play at?
Panorama Bar in Berlin is undeniably the best club and vibe you can get as a DJ, and what a sound system, love love love, but I do also still enjoy playing the Space Terrace in Ibiza, the energy and enthusiasm of the crowd is such a great buzz.
Having been quite heavily involved with the music scene on the white isle, what do you think about the way Ibiza has evolved into what it is now, in 2014?
I am not gonna moan and say , it is not like the old days, because of course it is not, I am not keen on the EDM scene at all and I think the proliferation of these kinds of nights attracts a certain type of punter which for me is not the ‘Ibiza vibe”, a lot of the joy and the fun seems to have gone and has been replaced with  greed and people with too much money and not enough sense or a love for the music. Saying that, if you look hard enough there are still good parties to go to.
The last production I heard of yours was from 2012 – have you got anything in the pipeline, production wise for 2014?
Yes I do, I can be quite lazy in the studio to be honest, I get my buzz from being live in front of a crowd so I do not go in nearly enough. I have a new track coming out in May on Area Remote called I See Sunrise which I made with upcoming producer Sergio Falomir, I have also hooked back up with my old production partner Pete Gleadall under our moniker TRNSSTR , so we will be releasing more tracks this year.
What does your studio setup consist of and has it changed much over the years?
I used to have a load of analogue equipment and samplers, now I only have my mac and a keyboard with a shed load of plug ins, I tend to only do pre production and then go in with my co producer to finish it off.
Is your TRNSSTR production pseudonym still active?
Yep see earlier answer
In a career thats close to clocking a quarter of a century, what have been the highest and lowest points?
Highpoint was winning DJ Magazines DJ of the Year award in 1992 after only a year and a half of becoming a DJ, playing at Global Gathering in front of 30,000 people, my whole time at Trade was just the BEST!!!, travelling to places like Rio, Tokyo, Cape Town, Buenos Aires, Sydney, Thailand getting to play in amazing outdoor settings and getting paid loads for it, moving to Ibiza for 7 years and loving every minute of it.  Lowpoints, late nights,  early morning flights, missed planes, delayed planes, long car journeys, not seeing your mates at the weekends,failed relationships, the constant travel and lifestyle does take it’s toll, luckily I am very healthy living on the weekdays.
As an aside, I see you played alongside Idris Elba not so long ago, what was that like? My sister and her friends wanted to go and see him at his residency in Kilburn and on the fb event page  there were about 15,000 people attending, with something like a 20 to 1 female to male ratio. Was he constantly batting off a hail of knickers and bras? 
I played with him at his Ibiza party at Pikes, Ibiza Rocks House which was not too overrun with girls.He is such a lovely generous guy, what a gent, and hot to boot! He just loves music and DJ-ing, you can see how much he enjoys himself, when I went on to play after about 30mins he said he had to go to bed as he had an early flight next morning, he came back after 5 mins and stayed all night in the DJ booth dancing behind me, aaahhhhh…. 
I was acting like his bodyguard fending off the girls who were trying to get in the booth lol.
Whos making the best music in 2014?
Couldn’t say so far lots of good tracks out there.
First and last record bought?
Diana Ross- Upside Down 7″ and Dario D”Attlis- The Good Old Days
Are you a kick drum, hi hat or a snare? And why?
Kick, gotta feel the beat
Whats been the funniest moment of your career so far?
Falling asleep under a bunch of coats in the DJ booth at Trade in the middle of my set, record running out and no-one being able to find me, oops
Whats the best piece of music youve ever heard?
Dunno probably any early Kraftwerk  or Ryuichi Sakamoto -Riot in Lagos
Whats your favourite place on earth?
My bed
What are you obsessed with at the moment?
Benedict Cumberbatch, dunno why?
What’s your answer to everything?
“Let me have a think about it”
Finally, what have you got coming up for the rest of 2014?
I am planning a new club night with my good friend Skin from Skunk Anansie, we want to create a small family affair type night with lots of eclectic music and a happy fun vibe.
Jo plays Banjee Boy Realness this weekend. Full details here.
Illustration by Wollerstram