Make way for Jungletek pioneer Mandidextrous and her energetic 190bpm techno and jungle infused sounds. This DJ and producer has been in the music game for over ten years, and after moving to Bristol four years ago, Mandidextrous has firmly planted her roots within Bristol’s eclectic music community.
Aside from touring across the UK presenting her ribcage-rattling, techno and jungle charged noise, Mandidextrous runs Bristol-based Amen4Tekno Records and is the founder of the ever-expanding sell-out nights, Kiss My Kick Drum.
Openly identifying as a transgender woman, this DJ, label boss and promoter abolishes the notion of gender in everyday life and in her music, letting her music break boundaries and conquer the dance floor.
Openly identifying as a transgender woman, this DJ, label boss and promoter abolishes the notion of gender in everyday life and in her music, letting her music break boundaries and conquer the dance floor
Mandidextrous is celebrating 10 years as the figurehead of the jungletek movement – an amalgamation of the hardest jungle and techno sounds.
‘I wouldn’t exactly call myself the pioneer of Jungletek. I pioneer in my particular sound I suppose, but Jungletek was around before I started making it. It’s not really widely known and it’s kind of the off spin from the European hardtek, fast techno sound. I was always a jungle and drum and bass DJ when I was younger, but then I discovered techno and hardtek.
‘And even though I fell in love with Hardtek, the sound wasn’t giving me exactly what I craved. I wanted to hear all the big heavy jungle tunes, but remixed into techno in a really fun, energetic way. With the help from a few friends teaching me the basics on Ableton, I basically merged the two genres together and nurtured the sound into what people know today as jungletek.’
After finding herself entrenched within the techno community, Mandidextrous took the next step by developing a platform for herself and friends to promote and showcase their sounds. In 2011 Amen4Tekno Records was born, featuring a roster of Bristol based DJs, including Fortress, Matt:Scratch, C3B, T-Menace and more.
‘I decided I wanted to create a way to put my music out to the public. It started off as just an internet label on SoundCloud, but then I got some branding together and started becoming interested in other artists who I felt would fit the label. The first artist I signed to the label was Matt:Scratch, who bizarrely enough is someone I live with now.
‘Ever since then it has all just snowballed. I started my own series of events called Kiss My Kick Drums, which started out as just an annual thing, but because tickets kept selling out we started to put on more and more events.
In the beginning I was more interested in artists who had a similar sound to mine, but it was a difficult task finding anyone
‘It’s actually been quite hard finding the right artists for the label. In the beginning I was more interested in artists who had a similar sound to mine, but it was a difficult task finding anyone. I’m very picky about who I want on the label, so finding new artists can be quite hard. But every now and again, someone will come along and blow me out of the water.
‘There is a nice handful of us now and we all work very closely together. When we go out and there’s a few of us on the lineup, we really like to represent. We’ve got the sound, t-shirts, banners and a vibe about us that promoters find quite interesting. With our branding and unique sound, people know what they’re going to get from us and they know it’s going to be big.’
At the start of the year, Mandidextrous and members of the Amen4Tekno crew C3B and T-Menace released their first collaborative album Please Keep Your Sound System Pumping.
‘I actually spent a very rushed three months at the start of last year putting together my own album. The thing is, I’ve recently learnt how to be more patient with things, so I recognise now that I rushed that album completely. I felt a bit bad about it afterwards and wanted to work on something new and C3B, whose work is such an inspiration, wanted to collaborate on a project.
We started out with the intention of making an EP, but then T-Menace got involved and the next thing we knew we were making a full album
‘We started out with the intention of making an EP, but then T-Menace got involved and the next thing we knew we were making a full album. For me, I really wanted to push the album because I felt I had let myself down with my first solo album, so I wanted to do something special with the boys. The final product is a mixture of collabs and solo tracks from us all. Since its release we’ve had a really positive response.’
The Bristol music scene is renowned for its beautifully diverse range of subcultures, sounds and musical practices that welcomes variety to the city with open arms. Mandidextrous reflects on why she fell in love with the new music capital of the UK:
‘The thing I love most about Bristol and find most inspiring is just how open minded and susceptible the ravers are. There’s a lot of student, counter and underground culture within the city. Bristol is like one big sponge that absorbs all walks of life.
Bristol is like one big sponge that absorbs all walks of life
‘It’s mad because there wasn’t really a scene for my music where I originally lived. Even when I played at squat parties in London, I felt people appreciated it, but not like they do here in Bristol. Whenever I go on tour and people ask me about Bristol, I always say it’s the rave capital of the UK, because in my eyes after touring all over the country, Bristol is where it’s at.’
On top of Mandidextrous’ growing musical successes, she is also praised by many for becoming an icon for transgender musicians within the EDM community. However, as we work toward seeing past gender in the music industry, she says that she prefers to remain neutral when it comes to putting her name lineups.
‘Personally, I don’t like gender and I don’t really feel I fit either side. I’m openly transgender and I’m seen as a female transgender person, but for me I’ve battled with my mental state with it for a long time. I’m very open with it and very supportive of people who have issues or gender dysphoria, so I’m very sympathetic to that and happy to talk to anyone about it.
‘As far as I go in the music scene, it’s never been a problem for me. I’ve always just done what I thought was right and done it with confidence. I don’t care if people judge me for it, or say bad things to me because of it.
I’ve always just done what I thought was right and done it with confidence
‘I have always been very neutral when it comes to putting my gender in front of anything. I’d never put something like ‘transgender DJ’ next to my name on a lineup, for example. I sometimes find I’m put on all female lineups, which is nice in some ways, but in many ways I find it irritating because these ‘all female’ lineups probably won’t be in the main room – they’ll be in Room 2 or they’ll put a male headliner amongst it. I don’t think the female aspect needs to be involved. We’re all artists doing something we enjoy and that’s all that should count, not our gender.’