There was a day when ravers didn’t really care who was dj-ing as long as the music was consistently pumping. Slowly, the anonymous disc spinners became overnight legends, musical magicians and icons to be worshipped. When Trade first flung open it’ doors in 1991 to the all-night twitchers, the resident jocks were elevated to pop star status, they were the subjects of chill-out gossip, and copies of their mix tapes were priceless testimonies to the elusive sounds of a Sunday morning at the club. Before Smokin’ Jo became a national name that many clubs wanted gracing their decks and flyers, she became infamous for playing a record that nearly got her the sack. The track was Michael Jackson’ Black or White which she dropped in the middle of one of her house sets. The club went wild, but the promoter went mad; he could deal with a snatch of vocals but had to draw the line at a Jackson jingle. She became notorious overnight, for taking a risk and nearly paying the price.
Jo started her DJ-ing career after noticing a distinct lack of women behind the decks; she wanted to be one of the first. After buying some decks for her birthday in February ‘91 and practising for a few months, Jo was lucky enough to get a set at Trade after one of the DJ’ fell ill. After that first night Jo was given a residency which lasted 2 and a half years. Her uplifting, soulful funky house style insured her a solid following. The name came from boxer Smoking Joe Fraser and from a wish not to be hampered by a name that would be obviously female, as back then it was still seen as a novelty.
Jo went on from Trade to become a regular at Cream, Pushca, The Ministry of Sound, Renaissance, Progress, Sign of the Times and Miss Moneypennies; she also played for the infamous Boys Own, Betty Ford Clinic and Tribal Gathering to which she owes one of her most memorable experiences: “Dj-ing to 30,000 people all with their hands in the air was the most amazing feeling in the world.”
Smokin’ Jo’ talents behind the decks has made her internationally renown as the one who is guaranteed to get the party started. This has led to bookings all over the world to play in places such as Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, USA, a tour of Australia, Russia and all over Europe, not to mention regular trips to Ibiza each summer to play at Space, Pacha, Es Paradis, El Divino and Privilege. Last year Jo held a residency @ Manumission/Trade for the whole summer at Privilege in Ibiza, where her uplifting vocal sunrise sets became notorious with the likes of Danny Rampling and Danny Tenaglia coming down to dance the night away. Danny Tenaglia describes her Dj-ing as “Awesome!”
Jo’ international credibility has led her to work alongside numerous celebrities: Dj-ing at The Pet Shop Boys end of tour party, Grace Jones’ concert, Skunk Anansie’ album launch party, Alexander McQueen and Michiko Koshino after-show parties and top billing next to Todd Terry at The Albert Hall. Jay Kay from Jamoroquai could not resist her funky sounds and jumped on stage to dance to her set. Skin regularly gets on the mic when Smokin Jo’s on the decks. Smokin Jo is still the only female Dj to win the highly coveted award of “DJ OF THE YEAR”.
These days any over-paid person with a pair of technics under his/her arm can ‘build a profile’ in Min-Mix-DJ-Muzik-mag, but as we all know tomorrows magazine paper is even less value than toilet paper. But a book, that’ something else entirely! A book by one of the masters of American fiction has one of it’ deranged characters name-drop you, well that lasts forever. That Brett Easton-Ellis decided to refer to Smokin’ Jo in his high-octane thriller ‘Glammarama’ is proof of her cool credibility. Numerous articles have been written about Jo and her face has graced magazines such as Interview (USA), Glamour (France), Moda (Italy), The Sunday Times, The Independent, Sky, Mixmag and DJ. She recently had her photo taken by Rankin, photographer to the stars for Marie Claire. Jo also featured in a huge billboard campaign for Sega video game “Mortal Combat”.
Jo prefers life on the road to life in the studio, and has played every major club in the UK, but has found time over the years to produce numerous remixes; these include the unforgettable “Make You Whole” by Andronicus,“High” by Hyper Go-Go and “Seduction” by Chrome Seduction. She has also recorded her own tracks under the name ‘Bulletproof’ for Ministry of Sound and ‘Rude Kulture’ on Black Sunshine, Ashley Beedle’ label. Recent releases include remixes for Skunk Anansie’ chart topping track Â“Charlie Big PotatoÂ”. Her own recent production Â“YanuÂ” on defected was an underground hit.
Apart from her usual hectic world-wide DJ schedule Jo has been to New York to play with Erick Morillo at his night at Centro-Fly and was asked personally by Danny Tenaglia to play alongside him at his night at Vinyl. She is signed to Defected Records which means she is producing tracks, mixing Cds and playing tour dates like the Miami Winter Music Conference and Sheffield superclub Bed. Storm model agency have taken her on their books and in the celebrity section alongside Robbie Williams and All Saints. MTV booked Jo to present on their snowboarding show Â“SnowballÂ”. Recent press has seen Jo voted No 26 in Elle magazineÂ’s Â“Hot 100Â”, pieces in Ministry and Seven magazineÂ’s Â“Those who are going to be big this yearÂ” and a two page spread in Ministry. Jo also wrote a column for Ministry MagazineÂ’s Ibiza edition every week and is now doing the house reviews in the UK edition. Expect to hear more Slammin tracks soon as she has just finished another stint in the studio, producing tracks with Erick Kupper, Tim Deluxe and Warren Clarke. There is another Defected compilation released soon and lots more of her own tracks.
Playing alongside David Morales at Pacha in Ibiza, DaveÂ’s reaction was Â“Girl You are Hot!Â”. Need we say more!