It’s Friday afternoon when I sit down with Paige at a café in Bethnal Green. She’s pretty spritely considering playing Boxpark the night before, and alongside her day job, is currently juggling her own gigs with running events and collaborations through label and collective, Night Service. Despite being involved in the clubbing scene for several years now, it is only over the past year that Paige’s renown as a DJ has moved from strength to strength. “It’s just happened really fast, and I couldn’t really process it at the time,” she tells me. “You know when you do something and you don’t get that sort of proud feeling because it all happens so quickly? It wasn’t till over Christmas that I realised I actually did a lot last year.” Since gaining serious traction on her first mix just over a year ago, Paige has played across the UK taken over the airwaves at Rinse FM, Foundation FM, Balamii, and Kindred, and brought her multi-genre skills to Germany’s most famous bathroom, HÖR. Busy then? “Yeah, it’s been really busy!” A big shoutout also to Kindred for their support and the incredible community they are creating!
That’s not to say Paige is alien to the world of dance music. Part of the Birmingham-born DJ’s rapid ascension might be due to her dedicated years spent building up a network and community through Night Service, which she co-runs with her long-term boyfriend, and fellow DJ/producer, Bailey Ibbs. “We actually met through music, having the same musical interests and going to the same clubs,” Paige says. “But we also have our own creative outlets that we’re focusing on as well, and I think that’s the main reason [Night Service] works, because we’ve got this middle thing and there’s not too much pressure. We grow together, we like the same thing – so it works well.” Night Service is the pair’s labour of love, if you will, and after hosting their first party in early 2018, the duo’s drive to nurture a community is constantly evolving as they explore new ideas. Frequenting London’s venues like FOLD, The Yard, and Tola, Paige has had her own parties to play at from the start. “I think it’s important to have your own creative outlet rather than just rely on other people’s creative outlets to give you opportunities. You’ve just got to create your own!”
Growing up on the outskirts of Birmingham, Paige was immersed in an abundant mix of underground genres. “My dad was really into trance, and him and his mates had a lot of vinyl. So I’d definitely say he’s a huge influence, and he loves [my DJing],’ she laughs. Paige also took interest in the city’s divided camps at the time which fell either between the house + techno genres, or more bass + garage. “People were very much one or the other, and that’s definitely influenced me to play more of a mix of stuff,” she reflects. Now, her own style incorporates harder techno with influences of the UK’s musical melting pot, including tribal elements and UK funky and bass. “Since becoming a DJ I think more about how I feel in a club as a customer,” Paige tells me. “I put more emphasis on when I go out, how do I feel when I hear different music?” Tuning into the sensations and experiences of clubbing helps Paige connect with her audience, which translates into her sets. “More recently, I’ve really realised the importance of dancing and the sounds that make you want to move. It’s really important to me now.”
In December, Paige brought this genre-bending approach to Berlin, as she was invited to HÖR by German collective Dimenzione Danza. The YouTube comment section has some viewers blown away by the ease with which Paige traverses her sounds. “Doesn't sound like normal techno,” one baffled viewer writes. “Is this breaks? Wonky? What is this?” Amused, Paige pushes these boundaries with pride. “I really like the way recently they’re keen on getting British talent,” she says, “because in Berlin there is a huge focus on techno. It’s only recently that like Berghain has started accepting anything that’s even slightly off the 4/4 techno.” Of course, the city is loved for that same reason, and being strict on the clubbing lifestyle, from genres played, to their renowned door policy, has its advantages in sustaining safe spaces for people to party freely. “The Queer party scene is definitely doing it amazingly right, and I understand why they want to keep the safe space - safe.”
Indeed, a nightlife which doesn’t consider these factors can often see those with financial or social advantage squashing the freedom of others. “The whole outing people if they’re trying to touch the decks when a girl is playing is so important,” Paige says, of an experience many of us have had all too often. “That is probably one of the most uncomfortable things when you’re a girl. But if there’s no fear of being put down they’re just gonna keep doing it.” Unconscious actions like these make it difficult for women and girls to learn freely, experiment and make mistakes –the male dominated scene often feels too impenetrable and intimidating, even in casual settings which men so often appear to navigate with ease. “Obviously, there are loads of massive female DJs out there, but as a woman I just didn’t initially feel like it was something I could pursue,” Paige tells me. “Even when I was getting good at DJing, I still didn’t feel like the sort of person who would like go to an afters and be the first one to put my USB in.” But it was with the help of initiatives for diverse and equal lineups, and her own careful curation of Night Service, that helped Paige realise she’s already creating an important space for herself and others like her within the scene. “You get to a point where you don’t care as much if you do a bad mix, and that’s fine. It’s better than no mix at all – that’s how you grow.”
As her important role in London’s underground scene continues to evolve, Paige is artfully navigating the line between inclusivity and exclusivity, embracing curiosity in her mixes whilst staying true to her original influences, and keeping a firm hold of her & Ibbs’ community as they explore new terrain with Night Service. With her first headline show in Manchester coming later this month, and a very exciting Night Service collaboration expected in the summer, as well as plenty more nights planned at FOLD, be sure to expect much more of Paige.
Catch Paige this Friday (22/02) as she joins us at The Jago, Dalston, for Bleached Club’s first party of 2022. Please get in touch if you’re looking for advice & resources on starting out as a DJ.