Mizeyesis - DJ/Producer - New England Junglists, DNB Girls - Boston, MA/CT
Mizeyesis, a Boston-based DJ and producer, has been a staple of New England jungle and drum & bass since the early 2000s, first DJing under that moniker in 2004. Her DJing experience has taken her to festivals in Panama and classic club nights in the UK, and along with releases on Monochrome Recordings and Repertoire, are the mark of a titan walking among the New England DnB scene. We talked about her journey through electronic music from the early 90's to now, a trip that has taken her from NYC to Connecticut, back and forth again, and has her currently settled in Massachusetts. We also touched on how she kept busy during the pandemic and how DJs need to innovate to succeed in partnership with venues.
*interview edited for clarity
My name is Mizeyesis. I’ll tell you the full story. This totally happened by accident that I became a DJ. In the 90s, I loved electronic music. I was in high school in New York in 1992 and my aerobics teacher at that time used to play what we used to call rave music. We knew what rave was, and rave was just sort of beginning at that time in New York.
The stuff she was playing was stuff like Bomb Scare by 2 Bad Mice and all these breakbeat hardcore tunes. I didn’t know what it was called. I used to hear it in school from my aerobics teacher and I used to hear it on the radio station in NY called Z100. I loved that sound, but I didn’t really hear much of it. It kinda stopped being played a lot around 1993 and you had more house and techno and breaks, like real breaks. So I really loved that sound, that really fast, amen break, chopped break sound, but I didn’t really hear much of it after that.
So around 1996, during the middle of high school, I moved from NY and I was living in CT. I was studying dance, and I loved house, and breaks and techno and trance and all that, but I wanted something meatier. There has to be a style of electronic music, that takes all the styles of music that I love including punk, metal, and hip-hop, and throws it all as one.
I was working at Buckland Hills Mall in Manchester, CT and there was a radio store, HMV, and I saw a compilation called Urban Beats for URB magazine, the publication from the 90s. Keoki, who I was a big fan of at that time, was in there, so I thought, “this has to be good, maybe I’ll discover some new music.” I forgot which track it was, but there was the radio edit of Inner City Life on there and when I heard that song, I said, “That’s exactly what I’ve been looking for.”
I had seen the CDs for Timeless in all the music stores before that, and I was like what is this. And (now) I knew what it was, so I went back the next day and bought that CD. I played that CD probably 20 times as loud as possible. My mother hated me for it at the time. I cried after listening to it, like for some reason this was going to play a big part in my life, I don’t know how. I literally said, “I don’t want to be a DJ, I’m a dancer.” I was studying dance at the Hartford Conservatory for Dance Performance, going back and forth between NY and CT studying and taking classes in 1997-98. I graduated in 1998 and then I auditioned in Boston at the Dance Complex for a spot in Alvin Ailey School and I got in.
That summer that I got in, 1999, I got immersed in rave and club culture. I started going out to raves and clubs, particularly in New York and Connecticut. I was living in New York at the time, but would come home and meet up with my friends and we would go to the newly opened Asylum nightclub. While in NY I would go to any jungle night I could think of. I would go to Konkrete Jungle. I met Odi, I met Odyssey. I met MC Zezo1 and TC Izlam, and also Meszenjah.
The first time I went to Konkrete Jungle was with my cousin. No one knew who I was, and I think we were the only two girls in Konkrete that night too, which was funny. But I knew after hearing it live, that I needed more of this in my life. I just loved the music. I would buy whatever CDs I could. I found that I had an immediate gravitation toward techstep. Intelligent drum and bass from LTJ Bukem, Reinforced Records, and Moving Shadow. I loved what No U-Turn Records was doing, what Trace was doing. Prototype Recordings. I would read anything I could find.
I moved back to Connecticut in 2001 after injuries had derailed my dancing career, but was still heavy into the dance music scene. The internet was just becoming a thing, so I would just look up things and find out as much information as possible. One of my friends gave me this little booklet called the Rough Guide to Drum and Bass, and it listed everything. It was one of the earliest books on drum and bass you could find at that time. Simon Reynolds would come out with essays, Generation Ecstasy, and all that stuff, just so I could understand, where did rave culture come from? and how did we get to drum and bass? And I developed my synopsis from talking to people online.
A few years later we had things like Myspace and I already knew of producers that I liked and had heard things of. Around that time (2002-03) I was going through a really bad break-up and my ex and I, before we broke up, were entertaining the possibility of DJing. I was hesitant, and he was like, “well if you become a DJ all these dudes are going to fall in love with you and you are going to leave me.” So when we broke up, I went to Spiritual Emporium, a record store which was part of the Municipal Cafe, and I bought five pieces of vinyl. Because I figured, hey, I’m single now, all these guys are gonna love me.
I didn’t know what I was doing for a few months. I didn’t understand the concept of beatmatching. I remember being over at my friend who passed away many years ago, James Miller Jr. and another friend explained the concept of beatmatching. I always kept it in the back of my head and tried to do it, but it never would work. One day, I was dating a house DJ, a few years later, 2002-03, still the same time period. I was over at his house and mixed two records and he ran into the room and was like “you finally got it”. I said, I know I finally got it. He said just keep playing those two records over and over again, and when you feel comfortable, bring in another one. And so I did that, and then I was able to mix all my records together and it felt great.
So I would just go to house parties around New England. I already knew JJ Blades. I had a good friendship with Jeff Gill, even back then, and Jeff wanted to book me. I told Jeff, “honestly, you know how people are, I’m a woman. I don’t want to come out until I’m fully ready.” He said, “Okay, you let me know when you’re ready.” So another house party came and I played and he was like, yeah, you’re ready. I’m putting you on for New Years. And my friend Dwayne “Mighty Mouse” said my party isn’t until next year, but I’m booking you for this event at the Municipal Cafe which was 100% High Octane and that was July 2004 and was my first official gig as Mizeyesis.
The name came about because I always had an infatuation with Egyptology. It was originally supposed to be Isis and I was going to change the name to Eyesis, but Snafu, a DJ in CT, he was like nah, dude. There’s so many Isis’s out there. I don’t want you to change your name but you need to make it yours, so how about putting Miz in front of it. Because you’re from New York, you love graffiti, you’re a b-girl, you’re cultured, and that represents who you are. So we named it Mizeyesis, and that’s where it came from.
Traditionally, back in the day, your DJ name never came from you, it came from someone else. It was a way of them birthing you, so I felt like I was birthed. Shortly after that set, I met up with some individuals who had a restaurant in Hartford, and they wanted people to throw nights. I said, how about we throw a drum and bass night. I called Torrential, who was another drum and bass DJ in Connecticut that I really admired. He played some really crazy ragga jungle, and One Self. I asked Meszenjah but he didn’t want to get involved yet.
So it was me, One Self, and Torrential. We started throwing this night, our friends came. The guys that owned the restaurant hated the music and said, “We don’t want you guys back here again.”, but there was a well-known pub down the street who used to book DJs and musicians and MCs and they said, “You guys can come here and do your night.” For four years we had a spot called Threshold every Thursday at Sully’s Pub. In that time period we booked Breakage, Liondub, Tester, Arkive, Remarc, Human, Strife, Dave Shichmann, and people who either are not playing now, or who have evolved to bigger headlining spots within the scene or the industry. Some, like Strife, are amazing industry professionals.
When we (Threshold) broke up, I started developing a lot of contacts in NY and Massachusetts, and MA collectives. In 2010 I joined Satellite Records as their Drum and Bass coordinator, so when we would get new releases in, I would be the one to upload it to the website, I would give the reviews, so on and so forth. I would start talking about my knowledge of drum and bass a lot during that time period.
I linked up with someone in the UK named Antidote and Burn Rate, and Antidote put me on to Jungle Train, because he said, at this time you have evolved. I’ve known you since you started DJing, I’ve seen your progression, You need a radio show. Even if you don’t keep it forever, have this radio show, let people know who you are, you deserve it. And he put me on, Antidote was sort of like a mentor, a big brother to me. He would talk to me a lot, some of the things I still even deal with now, the misogyny, the racism, the blacklisting. Definitely at that point in time when I was new, and really, really starting to evolve into higher positions, people were really throwing that on the local perspective in Connecticut. It was disheartening at first, but as you evolve and you start doing more things, people can’t take that away from you.
I moved from Hartford to New Haven in 2014. I started doing Heady and Amen there with Meszenjah and Felicia Moncada. Due to the job market in CT not being sufficient, I made the decision that I needed to move somewhere where there was more music, more DJs, and where I’d be a little more appreciated. So, I chose Boston about three years ago.
By this time, I had already produced, played in the UK and around the country, and had started working with Tribal Gathering in Panama. I put my radio show on hold, I’m debating whether or not I will renew my lease on Jungle Train. I have enjoyed my freedom a bit, since I have so much going on. I linked up with DNB Girls, which happened by accident. I didn’t know they were watching me, and they asked me to join the crew in 2013. I was able to bring on about ten other women onto the crew from various different points in the US, that are strong, amazing DJs and producers, and are leaders within their local scenes.
That’s sorta how everything started. It was kinda by accident, I had no interest in DJing. I saw what a lot of DJs go through and I didn’t want that for myself. I didn’t want the drama, the blacklisting, any of that. Now, here I am, and I’m still dealing with the same things. It’s amazing. Aside from that, I enjoy music and I enjoy sharing it with other people. Drum and bass has always been my heart and soul. I’ve also evolved into playing house, techno, footwork, bass music and dub reggae, and producing it too!
A lot of your experience came from being around the scene and being able to go out to clubs and go out and meet people. Covid killed that for the entire live entertainment industry, so what did you do to stay connected with your peers and other people in the industry?
Right before Covid hit I was going through a really rough time. I was looking for work and got a contract opportunity with Novartis, then hired at MIT. I was going through a really bad breakup and left a very difficult housing situation. I moved into the Creative Zone in Chinatown and one night I went out and it was to see Rakim, who was my hip-hop god. I knew I had to go see Rakim. After I saw him that night I was reinspired and started working on a track. I put a lot of months into this one tune. But then Covid hit and everything got shut down. I was laid off and I didn’t know what was going to happen. I had some money so I ordered an XDJ-RX2 and I had my tables and a bunch of vinyl. I started getting hit up to do recorded sets for streams. So I said sure, I’ll do it.
When Repertoire put out a call for tunes for Streetlight, I knew my track was ready. I didn’t know until then who I was going to send it to, but I knew that tune was ready, and it was unlike anything I’d ever written before. So I sent it. About two hours later, I get a message from Law saying yeah, we’re putting this in there. Just do this, this, this and this. This tune is fucking crazy. I was like, "Yeah, I know right? (laughter)".
All these things just started happening. I got hit up by Hospital Records to do a stream and I didn’t expect that either. I knew I was going to get hit up for guest mixes, and I just kept busy. They weren't opportunities that I seeked out, I just sort of ran with anything that came towards me. Then, I started putting myself out there to other promoters, you know, anyone who wants a stream, hit me up. Left and right I started getting hit up for streams.
That was how I kept busy, with streams and putting out mixes. I got hit up by BPM Artists out of the UK for my UK and rest of the world representation and now have artist management, which is pretty awesome. I go over there quite a bit, so it works. Covid has been a blessing in disguise.
As far as financially for many of us, a lot of us rely on gig work. I drive Lyft or I do consult work from home, working with universities, but as far as musically, it’s been one of the blessings and greatest times in my life that I am absolutely grateful for. Despite anything else I may talk about, the frustration of dealing with peers, and people maybe not appreciating your success as you do, and putting negative things on you, looking back, I know I’ll look at this time with amazement that all this has happened to me. This doesn’t happen everyday.
As things start opening up, do you think you'll keep as much dedication and time to all the online and internet connectivity you have or once live gigs come back into play will that slow things down for you?
With all the responsibilities that I have on my plate, I have to have a balance. I have a mix I have to do for a radio show coming up, and I have commitments for other mixes and a few other streams. I feel moving forward, for DJs who don’t normally play out live a lot, Twitch and various other internet platforms offer ways to connect with a wider audience. For me, it’s just going to add another layer to everything I already do.
Now that things are opening up, do you have any concerns about live events? Or about how we sort of opened up like a flash flood Memorial Day weekend after all these months of going step by step?
Now that I’m vaccinated I’m not worried as much. What I am worried about is if we’ll have venues. Will we have places to play? We’re very lucky in Boston within the drum and bass world, and techno and house, that we have a venue like the Phoenix Landing and the Middle East which are more underground venues where we can express ourselves in optimal ways. But everything is still up in the air in Boston, but in other parts of the Northeast, like New York, Connecticut, Worcester, things are popping off. In Maine they’re popping off too.
I’m more worried about everyone else’s consistency and if people will support events. But I can’t even say that because I DJ’d at Platforms for Feel Good Fridays and it was a packed dance floor and it was amazing. So, I’m looking forward to it. And Valdee (M.A.D.E. Productions) did his birthday party at Echo Lake recently which was amazing and the response there was so great. I think as time progresses if we’re all consistent, we’ll see a major revival in ways we may not expect. Maybe not here in the Northeast, but maybe in certain other parts of the country. But as long as we don’t have an outbreak of some crazy disease and we can remain at the quality of life that we’re projecting towards. It may be an exciting time for all of us DJs and producers, we just have to believe in it.
We have to band together, look at the opportunities that we have, instead of everything we lost, and see where we can grow from now.
We’re really going to have to get creative in the Northeast. Winter is going to be rough, because we’re not going to have as many venues as we did prior to Covid. And the ones that are available, particularly in Boston, are expensive. I looked up the show for Rusko, and I can’t afford that. Even the (cancelled) show at the newly renovated Limelight is $100. I need that $100 right now. I can’t afford that. I’d love to go to Limelight, I would absolutely love to revive that.
*ed. note: the event at the former Limelight was cancelled due to too much interest.
Do you think the pandemic has hit live venues enough that landlords are going to need to get tenants and be willing to be more flexible with lease rights with some of these venues to come back?
I think so. Particularly when we hit fall, if a lot of them are smart, they whittle out more DJs too, happy hour events, and just DJ for a few hours. I’m already seeing it too, a few of my peers, Leah McFlight and Kerry Quirk are doing residencies at a few restaurants. And in Hartford and in CT, my mates out there that are doing more Top 40 stuff are definitely starting to pick up as well. I think for those of us that specialize in certain genres, it’s going to be more difficult for us. Sort of like people who specialize in bass music and drum and bass, even though it’s popular in the United States, it’s not something that everyone likes. You have to have an acquired taste. It’s going to be more difficult for us, hopefully we can all band together, stick together, and make some cool shit happen. That's what I’m hoping for
We need to figure out ways to promote ourselves, but also provide quality business opportunities to these bars and nightclubs to want to have us in there, that makes it better than a Top 40 night or college night or whatever else they might have to draw patrons.
Absolutely. That’s what I would like to help facilitate. I’ve been throwing events since 2004, almost 20 years. I would like to throw an event again in Boston. It’s not something I’m pushing for just yet, because I have so many other things going on, but I would love to collaborate with a group of people and get something rolling. We really need it. We have everything we have, but we need other things, even if it’s a one off thing. I would love to do that, just get us all together so we can just throw down.
Our House w/ resident Sex on Decks (House set) - July 24, 2021 - Electric Haze, Worcester, MA
Glow Hard w/ Elijah Divine - August 6 - 8, 2021 - 4x4 Proving Grounds, Lebanon, ME
Higher Education Music & Art Festival - August 27 - 29, 2021 - 4x4 Proving Grounds, Lebanon, ME
You can find more Mizeyesis at https://soundcloud.com/mizeyesis or https://www.facebook.com/MizeyesisDJOfficial
*Original photo of Mizeyesis by Adrian Feliciano at Adrianfeliciano.com and is used with permission