Jodie Yates joined us for our issue eight of People of LABRUM to chat storytelling through producing, researching and DJ sets, and the joys and challenges that come with it.
Jodie is a creative producer, researcher and DJ who holds storytelling and community at the centre of her work. You might know Jodie Yates under her DJ alias 'Mama Jo', serving the best music through her DJ sets across the capital, blessing venues such as Tate Modern, Colour Factory and the House of KOKO with her beats strongly inspired by Africa, the diaspora and her Jamaican heritage.
Moreover, Jodie is also the co-founder of an all-female creative collective 'Creole Cuts'. A trio bonded by their Caribbean roots, celebrating their legacy and signature sound through genre-transcending DJ sets that champion African joy and storytelling, as well as through hosting their monthly shows on Worldwide FM.
Now over to Foday and Jodie…
Foday Dumbuya: Can you tell the readers how we met?
Jodie Yates: You and I first met through mutual friends, the Swim Dem/Run Dem community and I’m so grateful! You have such a special energy and a good heart, proud to call you a friend!
FD: What first inspired you to dive into the music scene and DJ?
JY: I grew up around a very eclectic landscape of music. Listening to Foo Fighters + Nirvana on car journeys with my dad, then walking around the streets rapping DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince with my brother. I used to make mixtapes when I was a kid under the stage name DJ JD.. so I was always attracted to sharing and curating music, but the DJing scene always seemed pretty impenetrable. I started doing student radio at university, DJing felt like the natural progression. It took me a couple years to find my way in, but eventually I started teaching myself by experimenting and observing. This is the one tip I'd give to anyone wanting to DJ, don't bother waiting for someone to teach you. Buy a cheap controller, clang them tracks and have fun. It will come eventually!
FD: How do you think your set has evolved since you began spinning?
JY: I've gone through many stages of my DJing style. At one point I was playing a lot of afro beats because though I love the music, that's what I thought people wanted to hear on nights out, I then started putting an emphasis on blending perfectly, through fear that a boiler room bro might come for me in the comments. Now I've learnt to just play what I want, read the room, enjoy and do what I do best - make people dance.
FD: What would you say is the highlight of your career so far and why?
Getting to a stage where I only do work that aligns with my interests and a desire for enjoyment is my career highlight! Highlights are happening constantly and I take them in the micro as well as the macro, continuing to tell stories about amazing people, and tell black stories, through everything I do, be it my DJ sets, researching, producing or writing, is definitely up there.
FD: What's the most fun part of your job?
JY: People!!! I love getting to find incredible, inspiring people and communicate and share their essence with the world. I am always in awe of peoples’ integrity, power and joy, so being able to translate that across different mediums be it documentaries, dramas, radio or writing, is heaven to me.
FD: Most challenging?
I can be outrageously self critical, so again my biggest challenges probably come in the day to day. I always want what I put out into the world to be the best it can be and so I can be very hard on myself if it's not (whatever that means). I'm slowly learning to stop undermining myself and firm that I am excellent at what I do, whilst always still learning and growing!!
FD: What have you got coming up that you're excited about?
JY: I’ve done a lot of work with clients recently but I’m ready to start putting more energy into my own projects. I’m writing this from a solo holiday where I’ve come to massage some ideas that are dwelling in my mind, so I am excited for what’s going to come out of this… Watch this space!!
FD: What is your favourite LABRUM piece you own, and why?
I love all of my LABRUM pieces but I just wanna take a moment to shout out the iconic LABRUM SOCKS. I’ve worn the hell out of them and now they all have holes but that’s because they are a modern classic!!! And obviously I’m waiting for the spirits to align and make me the proud owner of a bespoke Labrum two piece suit!!!!
It's a pleasure to have Jodie chat to us from the spaces of her Holiday trip and bring her presence into this episode of the People of LABRUM series. We appreciate her support and energy towards the brand, always bringing positivity and pure joy with her anytime she comes around!
If you have any questions for the Labrum team, or anyone from our POL series, you can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow us on Instagram @labrumlondon