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Girl Bosses of St Andrews – Nat Nourry, founder of Bassment

In the midst of an extended lockdown, I found a worthy interview subject for my ‘Girl Bosses of St Andrews’ column in the only person I can (legally) sit down and have a cup of tea with – my flatmate. Nat Nourry founded Bassment, a jungle music collective based here in St Andrews, at the beginning of her second year. Now in her final year of university, she has an incredible resume for a student DJ, and has put on a number of successful events here in St Andrews with Bassment, taking over the Vic and Madras Rugby Club. In addition, she has opened for Mungo’s Hi-fi (twice) and Jossy Mitsu, and has played at countless events here in our university town. She has also extended her reach to Edinburgh, playing in plenty of Edinburgh venues and also on EH-FM a number of times. Weeks before lockdown first hit, the UK Bassment held perhaps their most exciting event to date in Edinburgh, and since lockdown, she has unwaveringly featured on our airwaves via live streams and radio mixes. 

So how did Bassment begin?

In first year, when I was first going out in St Andrews, I loved the events, particularly Wax Collective, but I felt like there was a gap in terms of certain genres of electronic music. There also weren’t really any female-run music events at the time, and very few female student DJs. At the end of first year, I broke my ankle. To give myself something to do, I saved up, bought some small decks, and taught myself to DJ over the summer. 

When I came back in second year, I DJed my first night at a surf party (in a shed, on top of a washing machine) in Freshers week, and it was so much fun. Separate from that, I had been trying over the summer to organise the first Bassment event and faced various different hurdles along the way. These frequent obstacles really made me question whether setting up the event was feasible at all, given that I had no idea what I was doing, and whether it would even be something that people wanted to attend. In hindsight, it was the support of those around me and those I met along the way that gave me the confidence to do it despite the setbacks, which I will forever be grateful for. 

The first Bassment night was in October and was jungle-themed, and bless my friends – they bought inflatable jungle animals to decorate the Vic with. For me, the most important thing was that these events would be as affordable as possible, and that the space we created at Bassment events would be safe and inclusive; where people could really just enjoy themselves listening to good music! I asked older student DJs who I really admired to play – obviously at this time Bassment had no money so I couldn’t compensate them at all, so I was hugely grateful for their support. I learnt very quickly that St Andrews is full of wonderful people who will offer their time, expertise, and creativity with you, even if they barely know you at first. Bassment really relied on that in the early days. I brought two of my close friends (shoutout to Emma and Anna) on board to help me out with Bassment, and we put on a few more events that year. Soon, we were able to start bringing in DJs from outside St Andrews (and could actually afford to pay them).

The main problem at that time was venues – St Andrews has such limited event spaces. So, I started looking outside of St Andrews. At this point we also decided to expand the team, which was also really exciting.

I had always dreamed of booking my favourite DJ – Jossy Mitsu – and in third year I decided to reach out to her, and when she replied I knew we had to work really hard to make it happen. Because of the issue with venues in St Andrews, I quickly realised that in order to afford her, we would have to take Bassment to Edinburgh. This presented its own problems, because you don’t have the established audience that you do in St Andrews, and you’re competing with a lot of similar events. In Edinburgh, we found that again, it was the people of St Andrews who really came through for Bassment – so many people made the journey down to be there for our Edinburgh debut. Being able to open for Jossy Mitsu’s set that night has probably been the highlight of my life so far!

And then the pandemic struck, which has of course hit live music harder than perhaps any other industry. How has Bassment moved on since then?

The timing was a real shame, because our team had just done our first night outside of St Andrews, and I had already started planning a fair few more events. My last night DJing was actually at a drum and bass event in Edinburgh called Midnight Bass. I closed the event, playing from 2 to 3am, and it was the first time that I had been properly booked for something which was super exciting.

But I think since lockdown, my appreciation for radio has really grown. DJs were of course very active on radio before, but over lockdown, with it being the only place to hear new mixes really, I loved using it as a medium to listen to DJs and producers. And there are so many different radio stations out there! I’ve also been really grateful for the opportunities I’ve had this year, especially with being able to contribute to a few EH-FM shows.

At the beginning of lockdown, I also wanted to do something with DJing that could possibly help in some way. Some DJs were already doing live streams for charity in April, and I thought it was a great way of potentially entertaining people when there is nothing to do, as well as raising money for an important cause. I did a 12 hour livestream for Women’s Aid in May, a charity which is of course even more important during lockdown due to the increased rates of domestic violence and abuse. I hoped to raise £100, but I managed to raise over £400 which was really great.

What does it mean to you, that Bassment is a female-run event?

I was really proud that it was women-run, with a team of mostly women, and I felt like that helped to foster a space for women to enjoy electronic music and just have a sick time. It’s been great to see how the landscape of the St Andrews music scene has changed since my first year. Now, there are so many more female DJs and women-run events, like Copper Coil, who also really encourage other women to learn to DJ, and Passport, which has held some disco nights celebrating exclusively female DJs in St Andrews.

In general across the music scene, there are also many more female DJs than there used to be; although, I think it is still somewhat a male-dominated industry, especially in terms of producers. I recently did a mix for EH-FM for International Women’s Day in which I tried to focus on tracks produced by women or on labels run by women, and it made me realise how many fewer women were in my music collection, which was very eye-opening. The proportion of female producers across the genres I love – the heavier side of electronic dance music – is pretty low still. We’ve got to make sure we support them!

And of course, diversity in the music industry is really important. I did a mix for Szentek last year to celebrate black and Asian producers. Of the music genres that I play, the majority originates from black communities, black musicians and artists. But often these artists don’t get the full recognition that I think they deserve – I wanted this mix to celebrate the diversity of music, and the communities to thank for developing these genres.

Who is a woman you really admire, and why?

This is by no means the number-one woman I admire, but in terms of the music industry, I think an incredibly admirable woman is DJ Storm. DJ Storm was a part of the jungle scene in the 90s, and her and her partner, Kemistry (who tragically passed away), were hugely instrumental in the development of the genre. They were incredible DJs working in an industry with very little female representation. In fact, they co-founded oDJne of the most influential record labels in the scene (Metalheadz), and paved the way for many more female DJs in the heavy-bass scene to come! DJ Storm is still prominent in the scene – it was incredibly special to be able to watch her close Dekmantel festival in 2019.

Nadia Lee

St Andrews '21

Nadia is an Iranian-English final year English literature student. She works as Senior Editor for Her Campus St Andrews. In her spare time she loves writing and reads any books she can get her hands on. She currently edits a number of student literary magazines and is also Vice-President of the St Andrews BAME Students' Network.
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