Any conversation about jungletek will inevitably always come back to Mandidextrous. The self-professed Underground Queen has almost single-handedly pioneered the genre, started her own record label Amen4Tekno and made it as a transgender underground artist in a predominantly cis-male dominated scene. On top of her musical achievements Mandidextrous, otherwise known as Mandi Gordon, has strived to change attitudes and expand minds on the subject of transphobia. She said: “I’ve always been very trans-empowered. I want equality and I will make a point about it. I am trans-gender and there are other trans people out there. We are normal people.”
**Trigger Warning: Mention of recreational drugs**
Q)So Mandy, you’ve been DJing since the 90s, right? How do you think the rave scene has changed since you were emerging?
A)Yes I have been DJ’ing on the rave scene for quite some time. I learnt to mix in the late 90’s on an awful set of Belt Drive turntables Soundlab DLP1600 to be precise. I used to go into school with fresh mixtapes every week for my friends then when I got kicked out of school and home (aged 15) I found the illegal rave scene in the south. Mostly Survival Soundsystem and STS Sounds. I started playing at the rave’s mixing D&B and it all just escalated from there to being part of a sound system called Vortex that my close friends and I started and we ended up a regular at loads of the UK Multi rigs. The scene back then was so different. No one had phones for a start and social media culture was not a thing. We didn’t even have google maps ! Everyone used to just gather in car parks late at night in the surrounding towns of which there were a few regular ones that everyone knew if you were to be there on a Saturday night around 11pm you would end up at a rave. People would literally be there for the music. It was super focused. The drugs were clean and strong and hardly any Ketamine which made such a difference and also no Gas. It was such an amazing time and amazing community plus the D&B was so future back then
Q) As an artist, you’ve produced a huuuge variation of vibes and have your own niche segment on the scene. I read in an interview with RAM records that you get inspiration from getting the crowd moving and raving – do you find after festivals, you’re most inspired?
(A) So I am pretty prolific in my career as a music maker, I’ve been deep into Ableton since like 2008/2011 and I would constantly be writing music. I have always been hugely inspired by Techno and D&B/Jungle but I am open to so many genres. I honestly think it’s a bit naive to hate on any genre as there is good in every aspect of Dance music. I get so inspired by seeing people dance at raves noticing how certain grooves make people feel and how tracks build over time create this intense feeling of euphoria when they crescendo into just the raw groove and how people just go crazy for those parts of any dance track. For me starting off it was all about trying to take my favourite D&B tracks and merging them with Techno. This came about as I was mixing. acid techno a lot when the ketamine and Gas started to take hold of the scene around 2005 and when I started going to London Squat parties. A dark and immersive experience and one that shaped my musical visions immensely. I got lost in Ketamine for a while and Acid and when I stopped after a year or so I came away from Drugs all together and started to focus on myself and my gender and started to write on Ableton. Taking my favourite D&B tracks and layering 4×4 kicks over them to start my own sound that I could play in my shows but it was all those poignant memories from rave that inspired my production and still does to this day!
Q) How did you find the lack of events over the pandemic? How did you maintain a creative flow?
A) Wowzers so the pandemic. What a trying time. I was sort of okay for a short while. I was living in a huge shared house with some amazing friends where we had lived quite harmoniously for 4 years or so here in Bristol. We were all DJ’s and Music producers doing our own thing but during the pandemic we all became very on edge and worried about our own futures. Some of us had successes during that time and some of us had to drop off from the music world. We were turning our lives upside down, converting living room spaces into live stream setups desperately trying to keep hold of something. In the end I dropped out and moved house to live with a friend in a flat and found a job working for Amazon and then delivering groceries for Ocado. Weird times but a great time to reflect and I got massively back into D&B romping around in work vans listening to artists I’d never even heard of that are now dominating the scene feeling some mad excitement for this music I had left behind after ending up in the European Hardtek scene. I ended up writing a lot of D&B in my spare time and starting to refocus as I knew the pandemic would come to an end and I was so blown away by all the new D&B I was hearing
Q) You give off a really nurturing energy; I noticed you offering a production masterclass on Instagram earlier in the year. The fees for the class were very accessible which means the world in this economic climate. What motivated that??
A) During the lockdowns when living in the shared house I got into going online and doing music production videos, trying to explain my methods of my madness in a hope to still stay visible on socials as with no gigs it was a huge worry of mine and many. I found I really enjoyed doing them so post pandemic I built a music studio here in Bristol and decided to offer out my time to try and help people with their music prod. I don’t claim to know everything about it as it’s like the hardest video game ever with a never ending boss level but I certainly have a way with it and people seemed to want an insight into. I also opened up my studio to any queer and non-binary artists to come and work with me for free and for those that were outside that remit I just wanted to keep things cheap and affordable as money is tight and also I love to help, its one of the things I feel I was brought to this earth to do is help and guide people and share my human experience whilst I am still here (I have always felt I maybe an Alien, not gonna lie).
Q) Speaking of you being a hero, in February you arranged a 6 hour day rave in Bristol and donated all profits to charity. How did that go? And tell us about the charities!
A) I wouldn’t call me a hero just someone that has written too much music 😂 so yeah, back in Feb I was sort of in one of those tech dilemmas as my laptop had updated and loads of my plugins stopped working and I had all kinds of issues arise so I backed up my computer in order to re format the thing and go back to my previous OS. In doing so I noticed just how much music I had written and me being me went online and wrote
“I could probably play a whole night of just my own music”
I have a fairly strong fan base and the reaction was mad. It seemed like people really wanted it so with the help of my amazing Agent/Manager and some awesome club promoters/owners here in Bristol we turned it around in a matter of weeks and went for it at the Lost Horizon. This was super special as the Lost Horizon is truly an amazing home for the local queer community and also a rather bloody good space for events. I decided to charge 10 quid on the door and we did it as a day party starting at 2pm through to 8pm and it was busy from the get go. I wanted to donate the proceeds after costs to 2 charities one close to home here in Bristol called Help the homeless, Homelessness is something I feel so strongly about as there are people out there that really, really need our help and the housing crisis in Bristol and increasingly around the UK and the globe is getting out of control. Also a Trans charity working with trans youth called Just Like Us being young and trans is so tough and having felt what I did and gone through what I have I felt it would be a great place to send the money. Each charity got £1000 ! Super gassed.
Q) Are there any charities you’d like to give a special shout-out to? Any charities you think could do with increased awareness?
A) Just a general shout out to any charity. Honestly it’s such a sad state of affairs that so many rely on charities now to even get by. The vast polarisation of society is spiralling out of control and no one should be without the essentials in life especially when we have people becoming Billionaires now. People need support now more than ever. My heart always lies with trans charities and the homeless though.
Q) You’re clearly a people oriented person and I’ve noticed that you use your platform to increase awareness for transgender issues and are a transgender inspiration. I was listening to your Nathan X interview from last year and found your story about personal growth coinciding with your musical growth and I found that really heart-warming. Do you receive a lot of feedback from the transgender community within your fan base? I like to imagine you’ve amplified safe spaces at tek and D’N’B events.
A) You know I do! and it blows me away really. I have always worn my heart on my sleeve in my day to day and also through my socials as gender has played a huge part in my journey to be the person I am today. I have experienced so much although never by choice but by walking the path most naturally to me and that’s also reflected in my music even when I didn’t realise it. I have always tried to educate people online and give insight as to what life is like as a transgender person and someone of great variance. I have received a lot of negativity and hate over the years but as much as it may have at times, rocked my boat it has always been an experience of growth and helped me focus on what I know to be right and true. I hope I have helped change some people’s opinions or at least sparked healthy debate and expansion and especially in D&B, people within the queer communities have messaged me and spoke to me at shows on how I have helped them. It’s really something I feel so blessed to have experienced and have been a part of in life and slowly but surely the dance industry is coming around to being more open and inclusive to queer cultures within predominantly heterosexual and cis areas of the dance music industry, Crazy really as most of the heritage of dance music came from queer culture!
Q) So aside from having a massive portfolio of music, you also have your own record label, clothing line, manage events as well as providing continuous performances on an international scale. What do you do to keep yourself so grounded? Do you have any advice for any other busy creative people?
A) Yes take time to gather your thoughts relax and rest. In today’s climate what with social media, online promoting, being a presence through media as well as socialising, networking, dealing with bookings (GET A DECENT AGENT!) it will make so much difference. Also the constant pressure we feel through looking in on others’ lives and successes it’s very easy to get caught up and burn out. Trust me it happens to me all the time and the best of the best. Wellness and self-care is vital in this game. Look after yourself. I stopped doing drugs and drinking a long time ago luckily before my career really started to take traction and I am so glad I have as it’s so easy to get caught up in the party eating and sniffing all the drugs and drinking all the drink. Also remember that your journey is personal to you and everyone’s is different but be proud of what you do and achieve and do it with vigour and dignity, self-respect. Don’t take the easy road and get a ghost producer or cheat your way to the top. It’s a long road and one that is best to feel accomplished from. Be independent be your own boss think of your legacy.
Q) So we’ll be tearing up the ground at the Garden Stage to see you this year, how excited are you? (I can’t contain myself personally, no pressure)
A) Heard so many amazing stories about Nozstock and it’s always great to experience new events and new dancefloors so I can say now I AM GASSED for it ❤️
Q) What can the Nozstock crowd expect from you this year Mandy?
A) Well you can definitely expect a lot of energy, happy vibes and an interaction and connection that’s gunna blow you away 😂 Loads of new bangers and mostly my own production with some seasoning of tracks from some very talented choice producers. It will be D&B with so many twists of 4×4 and unexpected remixes. I cannot wait!
Q) Do you have any upcoming releases or news for us to get the vibes rolling with?
A) Yes definitely I have a string of releases later this year with the infamous Ram Records and by the time this comes out some Speedbass bangers on Crucast . This year’s full of potential from me and my music exploits 😁
Thanks loads for the Q’s . Oi Oi !
Written by Kacey Fox