She is known as DJ Rap because of the breakbeats she original played, her love of Hip-Hop and the fact that the promoters would not know that she was female. She first got into Hip-Hop because she liked the rhythms, she then moved to hardcore because "The rhythms got faster".
Before she was a DJ she used to "Rave". She says she doesn't believe in going to work. She was a trainee Articled Clerk but she prefered raving so she jacked her job in. (Ok for some init!!!)
Her first record project was "Ambience" by The Adored about seven years ago. The next was "Coma Coma" by Raw Bass on Jumpin' N' Pumpin'. Also "Divine Rhythm" and then "Vertigo" & "Jeopardy" on Suburban Base both made with the producer known as Aston. Under the different name of Engineers Without Fears, Rap & Aston released the massive tune "Spiritual Aura" on Dee Jay Recordings. She then went on to set up her own label Proper Talent. The first release on this new label was "Digable Bass/Get Under". Other releases since have included the "Spiritual Aura Remix" by Ray Keith and "Intelligent Woman" feat. Outlaw Candy.
Her favorite drink is K and MD 20/20 (although probably in separate glasses). She also regards the Akai S1000 as the best thing ever invented and enjoys smoking a great big spliff and watching her favorite TV programme Eastenders*
Tunes include: Spirtual Aura, Vertigo, Switch, Intelligent Woman, Bad Girl
Parts based on Seamus Quinn's Interview in Mixmag vol2 no.28
* Neither the watching of Eastenders is encouraged or condoned. The reader does so at their own risk.
When an interview starts off with a request for 2 aspirin and a glass of water you know for sure that you're dealing with either a DJ or a musician who has spent the previous 24 hours `just getting that last mix right'. And DJ Rap is no exception to this generalisation. But that's where the sterotypes and easy comparisons end. I'd had a tape of Rap DJing live that had been busting out of my Walkman for a week before we met. During this time a lot of issues surrounding the hardcore scene began to fit into place for me and talking to the lady herself put things into perspective. "Rave is so massive but people are missing it totally. It takes a record (eg SL2) to go Top Ten before they realise. Anytime I do an interview they want to know abot the drugs, the this, the that. Why don't they go and see what's happening at a proper rave. I'm not saying drugs don't happen but things have calmed down a lot."
"Things are getting more organised now, but on the bad side there's not enough organisations putting the old feeling back in. A lot of the big raves like Fantasia and Raindance are still doing it but there's a lot of the smaller clubs really rockin now." But the rave scene's dead right ? Luckily I didn't echo that trendy sentiment to DJ Rap cos what she had to say confirmed my belief in those other trendy sentiments... `Don't believe the hype and don't believe what you read'. Unless it's in this magazine of course!... but seriously... the music we categorise as rave evolves so rapidly that quite naturally the authorities, journalists, record companies, whoever, are skeptical about the scene because, on the whole, they don't understand it. And so the conversation continues, but just press the pause button, rewind a little and take it from the top. Charissa christened herself DJ Rap when she started to send out demo tapes and didn't want anyone to know she was a girl. She happened to do some rapping as well. "I didn't want to put DJ Jane or something cos the tapes would've got shoved under the table. So when I turned up people went `Oh, you're a woman'. First I got booked cos people thought it was gimmicky. But the promoters keep booking me so... actually the promoters have turned out to be the most unsexist lot." But rewind further to find that Charissa was raving for a long time when she went to an Ibiza rave and fell in love with the style of playing breakbeats in a hardcore fashion. Coming from an electro/hip hop background eased that transition and she found herself drawn to the decks. "I didn't think there was any girls doing this and anyway, it beat what I was doing at the time! So I started doing it for enjoyment and made a record, (`The Adorned' under the name Ambience, on Raw Bass Records), I thought DJing would be a good way to get on pirate radio to promote my music but DJing took over so I put my music on hold for 2 years." Those 2 years are now up and you should be hassling your local record emporium for a copy of DJ Rap's current single `Divine Rhythm'. A freaky, beaty, backspinning mother of a track, it precedes the release of the follow up single, `Come On And Run To Me', which will be unleashed in the near future. Spinning vinyl on Fantasy FM two and a half years ago led to a Rap residence in the small bar at The Astoria in London. "Then one night Fabio didn't turn up for the main set, so they let me do it and things just went mad after that."
Mad indeed, and this 23 year old is not standing still. She's played in Spain, Germany, Sweden and Greece, and has a busy UK diary. She's set up her own agency, Proper Talent , after dissatisfaction with a number of agents who she found to be "unprofessional". "If you've got your own contacts, which I had, then an agency can help, but going to an agency and you haven't got a name then you'll end up doing all the work. I'd advise anyone not to sign but to have as many agents as you can." DJs Gappa G and MRB are the first to come under the wing of Proper Talent and others will follow but they've got to be special. "It's hard to find a DJ without an attitude. It's amazing but true. You have to tell them it's not you that's brilliant, it's your records. If you love something the money is secondary, so it's attitude that counts. Do you know what I mean ?"
What other advice would you pass on to anyone coming on and trying to find gigs ? "Get every flyer you can and bug the promoters, send them a tape and then give them a ring to see if they got it. Make sure your tapes are labelled clearly and really just get off your backside and do it, cos no-one's gonna come to you. And practice... hard. For instance, I might buy my records on a Thursday and spend the whole of that day getting a set together. I spend on average a good 10 hours a week practicing. I like to get everything from one shop, usually City Sounds, and I go to distributers like Mo's Music. I do get sent promos which is good. Yet if someone's got a slamming track then they won't promo it, so I rely on the shop and the white labels that other DJs send me. I never asked to go on a mailing list, and if record companies phone me up asking for my address then I tell them if I phone you back then it means your record's being played, if you don't get a call then ...!"
As a working DJ, what in your opinion makes a good DJ ? "Live, the music should flow, you know after every 8 bars something is going to happen so it's not hard to put a good set together, I can't bear it when people just pull out any record from the box, I like a set that's well thought over and mixes you can rush to. One problem I have is with MC's sometimes they do my brain in. Good MC's are hard to find, if you've got nothing worthwhile to say then shut up, there are exceptions. I like Ratpack, Shades Of Rhythm and Lenny. The way the scene is going has meant that boys have been sifted from the men. I prefer to see a good rave done legally cos you've got fire exits, emergency services and things from a safety point of view sorted. You can't keep saying I wish the pirate stations and illegal raves were back, we all wish that, but you've got to move forward. As long as people make good music I think we'll be alright but it's all those idiots making crap records that are too fast and have no musical content that might kill it. But it's too big to disappear now, isn't it?"
DJ Rap, with or without the aid of aspirin, is an ambitious woman who should be playing a major league role in the future of DJing, whether that be hardcore or any of the offspring that the rave scene continually gives birth to. "I think you've got to be arrogant with respect to the fact that you can turn around and say I'm worth this much money and yes I know which records to play. I believe if you know what good music is then you can't go wrong. And when I say arrogant, I don't mean like attitude, I just mean believe in yourself. And be nice, if you're a nice person it's a bit easier to get on with everyone."
Gordon Knott - DJ Magazine, November 1992.