I first came across Jemma Hatherill on a spontaneous night out to The Art School during my fresher’s experience in Glasgow. Drunkenly, the first thing I said when walking into The Vic Cafe’s smoky room at 1AM on a Thursday was “Oh my god, she is so cool. She is just so cool.” She just oozed cool, with her precise blonde bob, colourful jacket and just-smiling face. As a tiny little first year I was hardly a DJing expert but I could tell she was masterful in her craft and I danced for two hours straight, dreading the closing time. Jemma Hatherill is Glasgow’s undeniable cool girl. She has, and does everything, and I was lucky enough to talk to her about it all.
What initially got you into DJing?
Getting into Djing was a complete accident, really. That much was probably self-evident from my first little while doing gigs (I’m sure some would say the same even now! But fuck a purist). I had started a tumblr page in 2011/2012 with basically zero followers, which then turned into a radio show, Tigerbeat, on Subcity at the end of 2012. I went very quickly from playing an itunes playlist in the studio, to being asked to DJ at Deena Jacobs’ Weirdo Wednesdays at Nice N Sleazy, and bar gigs at The Art School when it was on Sauchiehall Street. I had to try figure out the basics pretty quickly with 0 time and 0 equipment to practice on. Next thing I was doing my own little bar residency at The Flying Duck all summer, playing the Africa In Motion film festival opening night, and it all very quickly snowballed, faster than I was really able to keep up. A lot of blagging was in play around this time, for sure.
As the founder of PVC, what led you to start that? Did you expect its popularity?
After a little while of playing around Glasgow, I was approached by Stereo and given the chance to start up my own night, Poisoned Chalice, with long time creative collaborator and flatmate at that time, Tara Masterson Hally (who now creates the visual aesthetic for PVC). Financially this was difficult, but in hindsight I am so pleased with all the great people who played, the work that went into it, and the 3 really fun and crazy parties we hosted. The last party was such a success, and basically my perfect clubnight (Joe Howe, Tonal, No Globe, Letitia Pleaides and DJ Sports played, all of my absolute faves) .
This was actually where DJ Femme Fresh was born, too. I wanted to play something different to my usual Tigerbeat set and had come up with the name as a dumb joke, not expecting it to go any further than the Stereo basement.
Whilst continuing the night wasn’t financially viable, finishing on such a high definitely gave me enough confidence to approach The Art School, particularly since they’ve been so supportive from the get go. I spoke with Matthieu, Vice President and Events Convener up at GSA, and we spent months getting together a team and formulating a plan to make sure that PVC was the antidote to the chin-stroking purist boys club so often dominating the Glasgow scene. ‘Dumb fun for everyone’ was my raison d’etre from the start. Whilst a weekly night can be a tough gig, PVC kicked off with a real bang in freshers’ 2015 and has received so much love and support since. It’s sort of become it’s own autonomous party monster now, with so many artists and creatives working together behind the scenes, and I couldn’t be any happier about it! We’re looking forward to seeing out the school year with some big, secret plans and guests in the works, and hopefully coming back in the autumn (which would make us the first Thursday club to do so since The Art School’s reopening, I believe).
You’ve DJ’d at several clubs and nights across Glasgow and Scotland – which nights have been your highlights and why?
My favourites are pretty varied. Playing to 800 people in the ECA’s sculpture garden and then again at their Hieronymous Bosch themed degree show was so much fun. I never realised how up for it the crowds outside of Glasgow were before then so it was a real eye opener. Also way back in the early days, I played TYCI at Bloc with Naked (LuckyMe). This was the first club set I did that was just me on the lineup, so suffice to say I was freaking out about it. Realising that the crowd were actually enjoying themselves was a huge turning point for me and my self confidence at that point.
Also last year I played Not Moving at Nice N Sleazy. It’s my pal Laurie’s night, and I went b2b2b2b with him, DJ Tabako and JXN XOXO. All of our kit was breaking so we’d maybe only play half a song each before having to jump to the next person. It was totally ridiculous and stupid but we didn’t care and neither did the punters. Plus PVC opening night at freshers’, of course, but that’s a given.
You’re also in a band, Stern Lecture: what’s it like being a woman in DJing and in the rest of Glasgow’s music scene?
Honestly, it’s fucking tough sometimes. I’m really lucky having the friendship and support of the other ladies who DJ as part of the PVC collective, and I think having a female support system like that does make a huge difference. We all know that even when we’re struggling to have our voices heard, we’ll all back each other.
With Stern Lecture, I’m also very lucky to be playing with my good friend Niall (who also plays as Sham Gate). He’s been playing in bands much longer than me and is great at pushing me to be confident and secure. Even being a booker in Glasgow, you’re still never quite on an even footing with a lot of the boys club doing the same job, and trying to get the same chances. That might not be what they want to hear, but it is true. Knowing how hard it can be, and how much the support of other ladies in the industry can mean, is certainly pushing me harder to care for and work with fellow women, and for that I am appreciative.
There will always be nights you play where you get harrassed by men who will come round to the booth just to do so, deal with rude mansplaining sound technicians, other boy djs ‘checking your levels’ and offering uninvited ‘critique’, people trying to grab at you and all sorts of shit I know that other dudes doing my job are not having to deal with. Living through how awful that can be keeps me striving for better, at the very least.
As we are celebrating woman’s history month, who are the women that influence you most?
At the moment, I am really appreciating the ladies of PVC, Tara Masterson Hally (always), Discwoman, Nidia Minaj, Kelela, Nightwave, Nonku Phiri, Arvida Bystrom, Nap Girls INTL, Barf Troop. These are women, in my opinion, unashamedly representing themselves and their creativity, as well as supporting the creative women around them, and giving no fucks. Unsurprisingly I live for all of it.
I’m really interested to hear about your new vegan anarchist zine – what made you start that and how do you feel about the growing popularity in Veganism?
This is a joint project between myself and Jack Paton (Gloss Catering, Govanhill Monday Free Dinner, also started the kitchen at The Hug and Pint, all with his sister Hannah), hopefully the first issue will be out within the next month.
The gently-gently, twee and friendly approach to veganism all fine and well, but certainly seems to be the most prevalent. We both desire the re-politicisation of the animal liberation movement in popular culture and want to start conversations about veganism as activism; be it with regards to intersectionality, feminism, environmentalism or the food crisis. Through working with artists and activists and creating a medium that’s accessible, researched and funny, hopefully we’ll make something that’s radical and political but ultimately engaging, and asking the right questions of the right people. We’re also hoping to host some talks and bring it into real life, but it’s all a work in progress right now. I suppose we’ll see how it goes though.
You’ve been an important figure in Glasgow for a while now, what made you take your sabbatical in January and what was that experience like?
In January I took a little time out and went to Ghana with Green Door Studios on a study tour, learning the music, drumming and dance of the Volta Region. Whilst I did end in hospital over there, taking the time out to work exclusively on music self-education was for the most part, a really restorative and reinvigorating experience. It certainly helped me to become excited for what I do all over again, and full of new ideas and experiences to build upon going forward. I have the utmost respect for Green Door for allowing so many musicians from Glasgow this opportunity. They remain a crucial force in empowering young creatives in this city.
You’re organising The First Big Weekend – can you tell me a little about that?
So I’ve been working with The Hug and Pint for a few months, booking some gigs and working behind the scenes, and basically asked them if I could run a mini festival out of the venue. Strangely, they said yes and thus the first of the Big Weekends was born. I’ve asked a bunch of my favourite Glasgow electronic music people to play, as well as some super new projects as yet unseen, some weird performative stuff (including Toby Webster LTD, aka James Stephen Wright, performing on an interactive live stream from Leipzig), Djs, and some special vegan food surprises. Oh and Bamboo (of that DIY Space for London sort of scene) are coming up to play their first ever Glasgow which I’m really excited about because I bloody love Bamboo.
I wanted to keep it as cheap and accessible as humanly possible, since that’s kind of my favourite thing, so the limitations I’ve given myself are sort of crazy but I like that. Working within very confined parameters is something I am getting increasingly used to.
I’m organising the lineup, the production, made the poster with Jack, the whole thing. It’s hard work and has involved a lot of time writing lists and plans and long winded logistical stuff but I’m looking forward to seeing it through to completion, and hopefully giving some people a really good weekend.
What are your creative plans for the rest of 2016?
Usually Djing gets really busy around degree show time (last year I did GSA, ECA, and DJCAD) and then has a big dip all summer. Particularly since I mostly tend to DJ in Glasgow (though I’d definitely like to start playing more outside of the city).
This year though that dip will be filled with working on the zine and band stuff I think. Now that me and Niall are back in the country and playing gigs I think we’ll be focusing on creating as much new material as possible, getting it recorded, and hopefully down the line we can spend some time on a video. We’ve decided to just do everything fun together as long as it remains fun, which seems like a good plan to live off.
There’s a big part of me that sometimes wants to just take a step back from djing and music and everything and enjoy a quiet life for a little while, but it never seems to quite come to fruition. Maybe it’s for the best – it was all an accident, but a happy accident.