As a sudden boom in female DJs takes the Sheffield club scene by storm, among them is the cute and colourful, Vanhessa Fruits. Formed with her male, super sidekick Dane Fresh, their mission was to save your future Saturday nights from boredom. Fast forward a little and you’ll notice those Fresh Fruits cropping up just about everywhere.
I ask Vahnessa who Fresh Fruits DJs are and what they are all about, “Fresh Fruits is mainly a collective of people that just enjoy playing music. [One time] Me and Dane were looking through a book called Fruits Basket. Laura [ASBO a GOGO] would always call me Fruits girl so it all came about from there.” Since then, the Fruits family has expanded and other DJs “Under the Fruits umbrella” now include E.L.E and Koko whom she plays with on Wednesdays at The Common Room.
“So it covers a lot of people but at the moment it’s just me.” Vanhessa Fruits may be the leader of the pack, but she is not one to take all the credit nor does she take success for granted. She reveals how Saturday’s Threads at DQ provided the spring board for more work, “We used to go to Threads quite a lot, and then randomly, they decided to do ‘Threads Idol’. Me and Dane put a set together, entered it, they liked it and we went through a bunch of rounds. We did maybe two weeks solidly learning to DJ because we’d not really done it before and then, we won! Which was the most random bit out of all of it.”
“There’s no point limiting yourself to one style of music because I think every style of music can offer you something.”
In doing so, they won the opportunity to play the 2008 New Years Eve event, Threads Vs. Club Pony and have since become residents. “A lot of it had to do with James Ohara who basically took me under his wing and said, ‘I’m going to promote you and push you to become as much as you can.’ So he gave me a job at The Bowery. Then from there, we were spotted, and Miles from the Common Room offered me a job, and then we started working for Jump Around [The Plug]. It’s been really fun being a part of big nights in Sheffield.”
Musically, Fruits is shamelessly eclectic, as she asserts, “If you want to play Spice Girls, you’re going to play Spice Girls.” She is however, aware that DJs must adapt to their surroundings whilst attempting to “introduce new music to a group of people.”
DQ has provided her with musical freedom, although, she feels right at home playing for the specific needs of The Plug’s indie room, “It’s always going to be an indie, pop-punk night, which is awesome because I feel like I’m 16, in Corp!” She reminisces. Other nights, she is open-minded and doesn’t just stick to one genre, “I think that’s a stupid way to live. There’s no point limiting yourself to one style of music because I think every style of music can offer you something. If it makes you happy and it makes you wanna dance […] That’s what music is all about really.”
Vanhessa admits she too went on her own quest for musical growth, “When you’re growing up, you kinda limit yourself. Up until I was about 18, I thought that metal and punk were the only two types of music that existed in the world. Then I had to realise it wasn’t. And that’s what I’m really grateful for in terms of Threads and The Bowery and even being able to play Bungalows and Bears, I’m thankful for the chance. That I can play whatever I want and make other people realise that one type of music doesn’t rule overall.”
Back to the subject of girl power, I ask Vanhessa which DJs she has joined forces with, “I was recently asked to do a night with ASBO a GOGO, specifically Jo. It was called Teeth and she had all her favourite lady DJs come down. That’s the fun thing about it, having DJs that wanna support you and back you up rather than try and compete against you.” All this oestrogen flying around and no bitchiness? “I’m not going to lie, there’s a lot of DJs who are out for blood but I’m lucky to know DJs like ASBO and Koko and E.L.E and all these female DJs who are just so willing to support you.” I guess it is true what they say.
A good friend is like a good bra, always supportive. Oh dear. That brings me nicely onto our next subject, fashion. I am struck by Fruits’s style. Her hair in candy shades of turquoise and pink, her heart print cardigan, even down to the tiny dog bones embedded in her nails. To put it simply, Vanhessa is a character. Like the ASBO girls, she has an outrageous style that people can recognise. You’ll see her on a night out in bright pink wigs or an Indian head dress, “I think fashion is a way of expressing who you are, just as much as music is and I try to incorporate my style into my music as much as possible. I think that every night out is a chance to dress up and maybe be someone you’re not during the day. So it’s really quite vital. For me, anyway.”
Okay, we are dressed up and ready to go. Which songs will Fruits play to get the party started? “Earth, Wind and Fire, ‘September’. That song is awesome on so many levels. It’s the best pop disco song.” That seems to do the trick. Next? “Meatloaf, ‘Bat Out Of Hell.” She declares with a massive grin. “I am very much, the child of Meatloaf! My dad obsessed over him. I can sing all the lyrics to it. I have actually on ‘Rock Band’. I’m already a pro at that song!” I’m giggling away but it doesn’t stop there, “I make it a staple of a Thursday night [The Plug] and I get so many indie kids looking at me like, ‘What ARE you doing?’ But, this song is so epic!” She’s not wrong. The original version is almost ten minutes long. “I played the whole thing once. I learnt my lesson then. Okay, short and sweet, get people to realise who it is then chip off.” And to cool the indie kids down after that intense ten minutes? “At The Drive-In, ‘One Armed Scissor’.”
Vanhessa Fruits is a breath of fresh air. There are not many DJs who have such a fun approach to music, who put on tea parties with cake, who can please a crowd, whilst not having to sacrifice their own enjoyment, “There’s no point in selling out just to earn money is there? You’ve gotta keep playing the things you wanna play.” So, what’s next for Fresh Fruits? World domination? “Just to go on to bigger and better things. I’d love to be able to grow Fresh Fruits […] So much is available; I don’t want to fade into the background. I think DJing is just the start and once you’ve got that, the doors open. You can just do anything. So yeah, world domination would be quite nice.”