Brighton has been a mecca for clubbing since the acid house and rave nights in legendary venues under the Kings Road Arches in the 1980s. Today, when you imagine a typical Brighton club DJ, our mama spinners may not be the first thing that comes to mind.
“I can’t believe you’re a mum!” people often exclaim to DJ Molly Pop. “DJs are the people who make the party, the party-heads, so a mum party-head is unusual,” says Molly Pop. Her impressive DJ CV includes working in Soho with the likes of The Wiseguys in the late 90s. She now has regular nights at Bohemia, The Tempest, The Black Lion and will be playing the Spiegeltent during the Festival fringe. Remarkably, she balances the work with single parenthood, relying on help from her family and friends with childcare at weekends.
DJ duo Hannah Sherlock and Sorcha Bridge actually met at the school gates. They call themselves the Instant Sisters, after their first venture together before DJ-ing, a photography business named Instant Forever. They’ve recently snagged two monthly residencies at Hotel Pelirocco and The Tempest, and are about to launch a radio show on the fledging station, 1 Brighton FM. “I spotted Sorcha on the school run, and I thought, I need to make friends with her. She had the best outfits on the school run. She’s a ‘bird’,” says Hannah Sherlock.
Professional DJ-ing is not the most obvious career path for anyone, let alone a mum. “If someone had told me 10 years ago, I’d be a professional photographer and a professional DJ I wouldn’t have believed them,” Hannah grins.
Before Lucy Smalls, aka DJ Elle J, became a mum she had established a career in London as a freelance music journalist. She then went on to start a popular club night called Rio Rocks, with Brazilian underground DJ talent that the likes of Basement Jaxx came along to check out. “I lost a little confidence after having my two boys, so don’t think I could perform in London, but Brighton is much more open and accepting. People don’t care that I’m not a fully capable mixer or scratch artist, they like the music I play,” she explains. Lucy prides herself on her ability to read the crowd at Funk The Format and the popular Brighton festival, Funk The Family: “I always get people dancing, that’s my mission.”
Juggling motherhood and evening work is no easy task, as Molly Pop describes: “Mums are trained to wake up early, so I can get in at 3am on a Friday morning, wake up at 7am, do the school run and be ready to start work again later that night.” She has thought of a career change, as her weekend routine means she doesn’t always engage in typical parent activities such as trips to the country. “But I have to weigh it up. Lots of people do night shift work, they make that sacrifice for their career. This is my main job and at least I’m there during the week for my daughter, I can do the school run.”
When I ask all the DJs if their children listen to the music their mums play, the answers are similar. “They’re always asking why it has to be so loud,” says Sorcha. Molly concurs, adding that unlike her, her daughter is into rock music. Lucy Smalls’ two boys also like guitar-based music, which she also finds strange as neither she nor her partner like rock. Perhaps it’s some sort of rebellion, or the children trying to carve out their own music identity. After all music is a personal journey.
Claire Jones-Hughes of BrightonMums.com explores the latest DJ sensations sweeping the city: mums by day, hip club DJs by night