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DJ Venum

Author: Andrez
Sunday, 1 January 1995
Behind the decks at parties you'll usually find a definitive amount of testosterone rather than anything with a feline streak. But here in Melbourne the male content in our DJ fraternity is gradually being watered down with a healthy influx of active female DJs to balance the score.

Briony Wright alternates under the DJ guises of Venom and Clawz and has performed at a number of underground parties such as Zoetrope 4 & 5, Freak Funk, Lotus and Urban Jungle and she's played a number of exclusive sets on Melbourne radio stations Kiss FM and PBS. Briony also runs her own fashion label called Venom which she started this year, she works as a freelance music journalist, and she's been going to techno house clubs and rave parties since around 1992.

There's a story behind her aliases - 'Venom' is obviously also the title of Briony's label, while 'Clawz' was her old graffiti tag in high school - and both are pretty much in-your-face titles. Was this intentional- "They're meant to be ironic," retorts Briony. "And you'll find that as soon as you hear a name, like Fatboy Slim for instance, it instantly evokes a sense of what the music might be like and what the person might be like. I think you can do a lot with the name. For me personally I'm interested in making Venom a concept rather than just a name, and that's why I've linked it up with my fashion label."

Briony has been influenced as much by old-skool hip hop and breakbeats as she has been by the advent of drum 'n' bass and house - but do any particular sounds typify a Venom set- "Well certainly not country & western," she quips. "I guess it ranges from deep house to hip hop and anything in between - anything with a funky edge that takes my fancy, really."

She goes on to list the influences that have shaped what she plays. "Over time it's been people like Tricky and Massive Attack, Beastie Boys, anything on the Mo'Wax label and early house. It's difficult to say because there are so many people I've liked and I keep an open mind. I'm interested in hearing what the other people play - I really like Liz Millar and Cara, and I'm looking forward to hearing people like Chewy and Kung Fu Vixen."

An avenue that made a big impression on Briony's taste was attending the early jungle parties like Panic, while it was still a fledgling movement in this city. "It was a totally different sound and rhythm for the time," she muses. "I still enjoy it even though it's changed so much since then - I mean these days it's merged into really dark jungle and cruisy drum 'n' bass, and I like both directions."

The main interest being thrown around at the moment is the proliferation of female DJs, and this commentary hasn't been lost upon Briony herself. "I think it definitely gives a unique edge to a party, but I don't like to focus on the fact that someone's a male or female DJ," she says. "It's strange that girl DJ's are a bit of a novelty. While it'll create a different tone compared with any other party, the fact is that we don't focus on the fact that other parties have an all-male DJ line up, do we-"

As for her producing own music, Briony remains elusive. The ties with IF- are there, but she's keeping her options open. "Perhaps," she murmurs. "That's all I'll say for now. I don't want to get people's hopes up too high and I want to take my sweet little time."

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