Shoshanah Albrecht - aka SHOSH - is a 24hr Garage Girl in name and in spirit; living and breathing the genre she adores and helping to push women in UKG up the echelons of the music industry. We caught up with her to discuss her journey and how her passion for garage has helped get her where she is today.
As KISS’ resident garage expert and presenter of the station’s weekly UKG nighttime show, Shosh knows a thing or two about UK garage. She has her “ears and eyes on everybody in the garage scene”, is personally invested in pushing the genre forward and, as head honcho of 24hr Garage Girls, wants to see that development take shape in a much more diverse and equal way. For dBs students on our Electronic Music Production degree programme, her journey in the music industry, motivations behind setting up 24hr Garage Girls and the unbridled passion she has for her craft is a template to work towards.
On a mission
Joining the KISS FM family in early November 2020, SHOSH was brought in by the station’s new management as part of the ‘KISS Nights’ programming; joining a roster of DJs who had their own “specialist subject” representing ‘The Beat of The UK’. Before that, she was touring by herself and as part of 24hr Garage Girls on the festival and club circuit and releasing UKG bangers as a producer. Although producing and touring are still huge parts of her life, joining KISS was a turning point.
“Like with everything in the music industry, there's no concrete way in,” says SHOSH, “Everyone's got their own story and their own journey about how they get into their little niches. During lockdown, KISS got a new creative director - big up Rebecca, she's absolutely amazing - and she wanted to have more of a focus on diversity and equality. She wanted more female voices. She also wanted to specialise the genres for the evening slots. KISS now has a section called KISS Nights. Every night of the week, there's an artist that's dedicated to pushing a different genre. She was looking for people that represented a genre, not just one aspect or pocket of the genre, but more of a holistic view of the whole scene. She also wanted someone who was up on their particular knowledge of their genre but was very deadline focused and reliable and I fit the bill… The experience so far has been amazing. I don't feel like I've started a job. I feel like I'm part of like a whole family. Everybody at KISS is so proud of what they do and it's definitely got a specific vibe. It’s very poppy and funny and doesn’t take itself too seriously. It's accessible. Everyone there is out there for the same mission and with the same energy.”
Since joining the KISS family, SHOSH has had a residency in Ibiza, met Craig David, performed and filmed at Outlook Festival, interviewed Steves from Kurupt FM for a Christmas special and has been able to utilise her KISS show as a conduit to promote projects from 24hr Garage Girls. To top it all off, she's currently touring with the original Sugababes - the most successful British female group of the 21st century - as their support DJ on a largely sold-out autumn UK tour.
Just like her career producing and DJing, SHOSH’s ascendency in radio has been rapid; facilitated by her passion for the medium and how embedded she is in the fabric of the genre. In step with KISS’ Content Director Rebecca Frank, her drive, particularly with 24hr Garage Girls, has been to empower the women around her as well as women who want to make it in the industry.
The rise of a 24hr Garage Girl
SHOSH’s 24hr Garage Girls project is an “all-female collective bringing big vibes”, driven by SHOSH as the DJ and main musical thrust of the collective and fronted by singer Kelsey and professional choreography teachers and dancers Millie and Jaz.
Starting as a vehicle to “blag” her way into Boomtown eight years ago, SHOSH and 24hr Garage Girls now regularly play to 10,000-strong crowds at festivals and clubs across the country going “f**cking ham for the energy on stage.” Although the project was born from the simple personal ambition of getting into a festival for free, it’s transformed into a greater ambition to create the best show possible and, crucially, to empower other women in dance music to do the same - including dBs alumni Oppidan, who has released a tune through the 24hr Garage Girls label, who’s been shouted out by SHOSH in the past and who joined 24hr Garage Girls at their massive show at XOYO earlier this month.
“It's so nice to do something with a group of girls that have their heads screwed on,” says SHOSH, “We don't really care if we look cute, if we look perfect, we just want to make it as professional and tight as we possibly can. The girls train, they're actually in the process of doing new choreography now for our winter shows, so that we've got a fresh set to bring to people… A couple of years after starting 24hr Garage Girls, we were like, ‘People are really loving this and garage is actually on the way back, so we really should be capitalising on it.’ So, it became a lot more about the music and we tightened up the whole stage show… It's come on such a long way. This summer has been amazing. We've done absolutely huge, huge shows. We did Glastonbury Boomtown, NAS, MADE and we supported Becky Hill out at Ibiza Rocks. We're doing all these things that I've wanted for the brand for years. I definitely feel that the whole female equality thing is really helped of late as well. People are more up for female energy. They're more up for giving women the chance to see what they can do.”
Although 24hr Garage Girls have shown what can be possible for talented women with drive and passion in the music industry, it wasn’t always a simple journey.
“There's been loads of barriers,” says SHOSH, “It's hard to put into words. The issue itself has been spoken about a lot, but the way in which the problem manifests isn't really spoken about a lot. People talk about inequality in the music industry, but they don't necessarily talk about specifics. So, something as simple as getting booked for a lineup and then realising that we've been put at the bottom of the bill, but at the top of the poster. The promoter is signalling to everyone that they've booked some girls, but then when it actually comes to the billing of the event, we've been given the time where there's going to be the least amount of people in the room. I've literally gone and looked at billing like that, and thought, ‘Okay, so we've been swapped with this person who's got way fewer followers than us and has only just started DJing, but he's a guy.' Those kinds of things were real issues before. On the other side of it, some people are only booking women, because they’re booking women, and they haven't actually looked at whether the lineup is going to fit together. As a promoter, you have to think about your audience, you have to think about set times. We've been invited to do all-female lineups and then I look at the lineup and I'm like, ‘This promoter is literally just virtue signalling. They have no idea what we do.” We were booked to play a show and it didn’t even have a stage because the promoter didn't know that there were dancers. Like, did you even know who you booked? Or did you just type in ‘girls’ on Google and click search? Another really difficult thing has been some people will talk about you behind your back, instead of giving you actual credit. There's been a lot of girl-on-girl hate, which I think is a real shame because the focus for Garage Girls has always been to empower other women around us and to be a collective, group energy. I don't really like to focus on those difficulties too much. I want to focus on the good things. We've definitely had a lot of wonderful opportunities as well because of that same issue.”
For young DJs and producers who want to make waves in radio, on festival stages and in the music industry, SHOSH’s ambition and passion for what she does is a template to work towards. As well as that, one crucial thing that young artists have on their side is their age.
“One thing that I would say to students, in particular, is that you're young and there's nothing more powerful than being young, fresh, being a new name on the scene and being unheard of. You're only a new artist once. People love that, they eat up that freshness. I don't think you realise it when you're young, but it's so powerful.”
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