“I just don’t want the next generation of music to go to shit,” says Imogen Richmond on the line from her home in London, where she’s lived since leaving her native Southampton. At 19 years of age, this fast-rising techno producer has a real maturity, both in terms of her output and her outlook more generally.
“I want to try and do a good job for everyone,” she continues, “and I don’t want people I look up to looking down on younger musicians and thinking, ‘What’s going on there?’ I want them to be happy to embrace us.” Her relative lack of experience, she says, can be a virtue; it might sometimes lead her to overthink her DJ sets and productions in compensation, but that’s what gives them their methodical sense of quality. “I take inspiration from people like Bjarki and Paula Temple,” she says, “because they always have a concept behind their music.”
Among those who have already shown Imogen their support are the now defunct Radar Radio, who gave her a show and launched her career when she replied to an advert: “Young techno DJs wanted”: She went on to programme an International Women’s Day special featuring Temple, Ellen Allien and Rebekah, among other shows. Her reputation has grown so fast that one of her first gigs was at Säule in Berghain, while she’s recently earned a residency at fabric.
Since then Sunil Sharpe has added Imogen’s debut track ‘Flesh’ to last year’s celebratory ‘Eel Behaviour’ compilation series on his Earwiggle imprint, and Mumdance has issued her debut release ‘Katla’ on his Shared Meanings label. Her production style is rooted in techno, but with a fiercely modern cross-genre sensibility; her tracks are heavy, with a dancefloor-friendly, breaks-influenced groove, but there’s a spectral, ambient quality to them, a rich sense of something sinister happening underground.
“With my generation, there’s so much music and so much content out there that it’s easy to be influenced by everything without even realising,” says Imogen. “There’s obviously a lot of crap out there as well, but it’s not like back in the day when you had to go to one place to hear jungle. I live in an age when people are DJing all genres and the music’s coming from everywhere.”
Her biggest formative influence, however, is much closer to home: her mum, a sometime raver who used to play Stanton Warriors and The Prodigy as a child. “I thought she was super weird when I was young, but subconsciously it all seeded into my head,” says Imogen. “She didn’t mind when I was raving really young, she wasn’t that arsed – she saw it as a really good thing to do, because it makes you streetwise. She comes to my gigs now; we go out a bit together.”
Imogen’s earliest clubbing experiences were at warehouses parties in Hackney Wick, because she had no ID to get in anywhere else; she remembers the mortifying experience of being escorted in and out of her first ever DJ gig in Bournemouth for being underage. At 16 she moved to London to study music technology, happy to leave behind the “really bad tech-house” of Southampton. It’s a lot of experience in a little time.
“It’s nice that I’ve been able to start doing this now, because I’ve got years ahead of me,” she says. “I hope I can fly the flag for people my age, so we can make something good out of the next generation of music.”
Imogen plays Dimensions, August 28–Sep 2
David Pollock is a freelance writer, follow him on Twitter
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