Doris Woo is not like other DJs. There's her stage outfit, a costume of North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-un, which she faithfully wears to all her gigs. But that's actually a minor detail compared to the music she plays. It's hard to neatly summarize what happens in a DJ Bus Replacement Service set, but you might start by comparing it to a stand-up comedy act, one that playfully antagonizes its audience while making them dance, peppering club music's most unhinged styles—ghettohouse, gabber, hard techno—with the most bizarre of musical novelties (consider one of this mix's track titles, "'Roxanne' by The Police But Every Time They Say "Roxanne" It Gets Faster"). In the interview below, Woo herself puts it best: "I simply love playing bad and incorrect music at people for my own amusement."
She is far from the only one amused. DJ Bus Replacement Service is becoming something of an unlikely phenomenon, with 2017 gigs at such esteemed events as Sónar and Freerotation (she'll be returning to the latter festival this summer, both on her own and with her husband, Anthony Child, AKA Surgeon, as Little Baby Cheeses). How to explain her strange appeal? As Angus Finlayson said in a recent edition of The Hour: "Pissing yourself laughing on the dance floor is not an experience that comes around every weekend, and I would highly recommend it." If you find that prospect weirdly tempting—or even if you don't—we'd highly recommend RA.610.
What have you been up to recently?
It was a treat to play at Room 4 Resistance in Berlin at the end of last year. In the past few weeks I attempted to be down with the kids in Stokes Croft, Bristol, and hopefully by the time this mix goes out, I will have survived a BYOB party in Sheffield without being chased out of town for not playing "Waitress In A Cocktail Bar" enough times.
After hearing some amazing sets at the Them vs DSNT party, I've developed a second wind of crate-digging for fierce, hard techno coming through the likes of Perc Trax, South London Analogue Material and related labels—if not for playing these and the occasional hardcore/gabber tracks, I would lose the dance floor. And is it wrong that every time I see the cover of Ansome's British Steel I kinda get a phantom boner?
How and where was the mix recorded?
First of all, this is no lie: I made up a totally juvenile answer to this question literally the day before you DM'd me about doing this podcast. Unfortunately, I'm going to disappoint you with the factually correct answer: 1x Pioneer CDJ-2000-NX2, 1x Pioneer XDJ-1000, 1x Pioneer XDJ-700 (collectively known as daddy, mummy and baby decks), and a Pioneer DJM-750 MK2. The setup is in the dining room so I can eyeball what's going on with the cooking in the kitchen; dinner DJing is a favourite household pastime here.
I fed my cats first, recorded the mix in one take, cooked and ate my dinner, and then I passed out.
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
I suppose there are couple of ideas at play: I wanted the mix to demonstrate how far back my musical references go while indulging myself in my never-ending love for cheesy pop music, and to show how I construct my sets more like how a comedian constructs a full-length routine. There will always be a few set pieces within any mix I perform that I have to try out before playing out so that, as a comedian might put it, the joke lands. But I don't pre-mix anything; all the goofy timing and phrasing are in real time!
Using rekordbox has made this technically much easier in a live performance. Previously, to make some of this work I would have to make an edit in Ableton or whatever. It's nice to finally execute something I wanted to do for years, like mixing Sir Mix-A-Lot and KMFDM together, without spending half a day composing the mashup in front of a computer.
The way I pair incongruous tracks now isn't that much different from mixtapes I made as a teenager (for myself to play on road trips before I discovered the MW-Raves experience), except I can obviously mess about with the tracks more using live loops and edits now.
Tell us about the origin of DJ Bus Replacement Service. What first compelled you to don a mask and play all this absurd music?
The mask is an extension of my interest in North Korean pop music, which started from one unnamed sample of a song I heard on a Sublime Frequencies compilation. I eventually tracked it down as Ri Kyong Suk's "Don't Ask My Name," which led me down to a rabbit hole of gathering everything I could find by the Pochonbo Electronic Ensemble.
May I also point out that you've not mentioned my matching Mao jacket? I like to think my preference for wearing sweatpants and colourful trainers at gigs completes the look on the basis that Kim Jong-Un is a millennial and is in the correct demographic for athleisurewear.
[THE SLIGHTLY MORE SERIOUS REASON FOR WEARING THE MASK HAS BEEN REDACTED]
It seems like your digging process is pretty unique (this is the first RA Podcast tracklist to include footnotes). How do you find this music, and what exactly are you looking for? What is it about this sort of thing that speaks to you so much?
Terrific, I can't wait to make a meal out of "first RA podcast with footnotes" in my promo materials.
There has never been a defined strategy for amassing the pile of music I have collected over my lifetime, except it usually results from my very completist tendencies. Often it turns into listening to entire compilation collections or discographies (e.g. the 50-CD I Love Disco Diamonds series), which takes several months if I'm quick. For better or worse, I'm currently working through 400+ tracks and mixes of every type of donk imaginable (most of which I won't play out, but big ups anyway to Shitmat and Queerhawk for the collection).
I also want to make a call-out to the radio shows and stations that really influenced my love for wrong music and music to be played funny:
1) Dr. Demento, which I started listening to on AM / mediumwave around 1988 and recently resumed listening to online.
2) The Annoying Music Show, a three-minute show which aired on WBEZ in Chicago from 1996 to sometime before host Jim Nayder's death in 2004. Monster jams from the likes of John "Bowtie" Barstow and Young Rick came from here.
3) Pretty much anything on WFMU, a freeform radio station from New Jersey, but the show that got the ball rolling was Incorrect Music, which ran from 1997 to 2002. I'm currently very into the shows Music For Mind Control, Serious Moonlight Sonatas, and any show featuring Clay Pigeon and Fabio throwing insults about each other's music.
To answer your last question, I simply love playing bad and incorrect music at people for my own amusement.
What are you up to next?
1) Continue to juggle my current DJ career-like situation with my actual career as a commercial/data protection lawyer without derailing either of them. I am always on the lookout for ways to make both worlds collide, so hit me up if you are a budding trap producer who wants to make a track about GDPR. In the meantime, I'll be disgracing the airwaves via Steve Davis & Kavus Torabi's Interesting Alternative Show and Bang Face TV.
2) Deciding what form of liquidated damages should go in my artist contract if my technical rider isn't provided on spec at my gigs: playing either Steven Wright's "I Have a Pony" or Judy Tenuta's "Buy This, Pigs!" in its entirety. Suggestions in the comments section please.
3) Performing as 1/2 of Little Baby Cheeses (alongside my #1 fan/husband) at Freerotation this summer. Big ups to anyone who ID'd the reference toot suite.
Ivor Cutler – I Believe in Bugs [Virgin]
M.C. Fosty & Livin' C. – When Doves Cry Rapp (Pt. II) [Rappers Rapp Disco Co.]
Roxanne – Boys In Black Cars [Coconut]
Sir Mix-A-Lot – Posse On Broadway [Nastymix Records] *1
KMFDM – Piggybank [Wax Trax! Records] *2
Einstürzende Neubauten – Die Interimsliebenden [Mute]
2NE1 – MTBD (??) (CL Solo) [YG Entertainment] *3
M.C. Latina – Boom! I Got Your Boyfriend [Heat Wave Records] *4
Cover Girls – Show Me [Fever Records]
MC Mr. Napkins – Mussolini Miscellany [Comedy Central Records] *5
Minupren – Fickende Eichhörnchen [Minupren Records Digital]
AnD – Fierce [Perc Trax]
Charlie The Hamster with Floyd Robinson – The B-I-B-L-E [Singcord]
James Vincent – "Roxanne" by The Police but every time they say "Roxanne" it gets faster [the Internet]
Riverside Community College Marching Band – Personal Jesus [from the documentary The Posters Came From The Walls] *6
Synth Pop Isn't Coool – Alan Charles Wilder Is Never Coming Back To Depeche Mode [LOL Records] *7
Rene Bendaly Family – Tanki Tanki (Rabih Beaini Edit) [Strut]
Karl O' Connor|Peter Sutton – Join Us In Paradise [Tresor]
Queen Latifah – Come Into My House [Tommy Boy]
Debbie Gibson – Electric Youth (House Mix) [Atlantic] *8
The Little Dabs – E.T. (Every Time) [Musicworks] *9
"Young Rick" – Over The Rainbow [The Annoying Music Show Records] *10
USA Freedom Kids – Freedom's Call [USA Freedom Kids] *11
Johnny Violent – North Korea Goes Bang [Earache] *12
North Korean newsreader, circa August/September 2010 *13
Ghost In The Machine – Hold My Drink [Perc Trax] *14
Deadlift Lolita – Muscle Cocktail [Opalus Records]
Ethel Merman – There's No Business Like Show Business [A&M Records]
Shitmat – There's No Business Like Propa' Rungleclotted Mashup Bizznizz [Planet Mu] *15
"Weird Al" Yankovic – Mr. Frump In The Iron Lung [Scotti Brothers] *16
*1 Several tracks at the front of this mix made it here thanks to my early 1990s diet of watching caller-requested music videos from a UHF TV channel The Box. Sadly, Charlie the Hamster didn't feature.
*2 Big ups to the person that bought KMFDM's Naïve and other industrial/electronic music for the Indianapolis Central Library in the early 1990s.
*3 Putting this track in this mix will hold me over until I finally see a drag queen lip sync to a CL rap track.
*4 See also "Mentirosa" by Mellow Man Ace.
*5 I wouldn't have come across MC Mr. Napkins if I didn't start listening to Dr. Demento again last year. He now records under his real name Zach Sherwin; one highlight is a trilogy about his quest to re-home an aggressive duck.
*6 I wished that my time murdering music in my high school marching band was as amazing as this.
*7 I'm gonna say it: Alan Wilder leaving DM was a bigger shock to me than when Dave Gahan nearly died or when they confined Fletch to clapping his hands at their shows.
*8 If you hear this Shep Pettibone remix in its entirety, you'll come close to discovering what a big bag of money and a kitchen sink sounds like.
*9 My incorrect/outsider music collection started from AM/mediumwave radio, and much of it still comes from Internet radio today. This nugget was discovered on Horse Meat Disco's Rinse FM show and it was apparently Artwork who introduced it to them.
*10 When [Chicago NPR station] WBEZ's Jim Nayder passed away in 2013, he took everything else he knew about Young Rick with him.
*11 In the interest of balance, USA Freedom people of other age groups singing about the Dotard/Shithead-in-Chief are also available.
*12 My husband likes reminding me every so often that Mick Harris made Johnny Violent cry once.
*13 Although Ri Chun-hee is the best-known North Korean newsreader, my recording is more likely from this woman whose name eludes me.
*14 This strapline that I just made up: "It's not a DJ BRS mix unless there's at least one AnD or Perc Trax number in it" is probably going to haunt me.
*15 I chose this track to give props to Shitmat (as well as linking the horror of Ethel Merman disco). It was a revelation when I first heard it on John Peel's show, so to see Shitmat mentioning me in an interview about meeting Peel was amazing. Here's a photo of us playing together many years ago before I settled on my current aesthetic. And through Shitmat, I started collaborating with DJ Detweiler and Chin Stroke Records. I'm still undefeated in Chin Stroke Soundclashes, by the way.
*16 I love me all sorts of "Weird Al," so here is what I think is his most sinister track.