Though she resides in London, Lithuanian-born Mamiko Motto lives in a universe of her own. A true one-off, her cult-followed Hepcat Radio show and live DJ sets pack as much punch as the globetrotter’s personality. 11 years strong, Hepcat Radio has travelled from Antwerp to Amsterdam to its current home at London’s NTS Radio. With off-the-wall dialogues and beats of every persuasion, you never quite know what thought Mamiko might pull out of her head, or what record out of her bag. She keeps listeners on their toes, as well as the electronic music world as a whole, constantly uncovering tucked-away records and underrated artists. Mamiko’s latest project AMADA (All City Records) is a compilation with a pristine selection of producers and sounds that brings her many talents together, all seamlessly mixed to tell a love story. Many roads led to this point, but here’s Mamiko’s own story, live and direct.
I was born in Lithuania in capitol city called Vilnius. My father used to sponsor this international jazz festival. He would take me there every year from the age of 3, and this was the first time I saw other races. In Lithuania there were only Lithuanian people. Imagine. Not even on TV! This festival was my first biggest inspiration and eye opener. I got to see people like George Benson, Jimi Tenor and Herbie Hancock.
I started going out to raves when I was about 12. And that was it: the change was there. I can remember very well because I packed up all my toys, drove with my father to an orphanage house and gave them away. Overnight I became an adult! There was this really famous DJ at the time called DJ Saga who used to put up these massive raves. They'd usually be in all these really old governmental buildings, near some post second World War cultural spaces. It would always be 5,000-7,000 people and they would play like happy hardcore.
“In Vilnius there were like 10 DJs so we'd all swap records with each other, which means the same 10 records would be played over and over by different people throughout the year”
I met a guy whose father owned a nightclub. He would teach me to DJ on reel to reel tapes, just before the club would open. I was 12. I was into electronic music, more like Orbital stuff. It was incredibly difficult to get records in Lithuania - or any kind of music - because there were no record stores at all. When I did start playing real vinyl, we'd have to get records from someone in Germany, which would take about 2 months. Ordering via internet was impossible because no one wanted to ship to Lithuania. In Vilnius there were like 10 DJs so we'd all swap records with each other, which means the same 10 records would be played over and over by different people throughout the year.
Adventures in Belgium
I finished high school much younger than other people, at 16. I found out Antwerp had the best fashion academy in Europe, so I bought a bus ticket with my best friend and just went. We ended up spending three days on the street in Antwerp, just going from club to club. We left our suitcases in a locker in the train station. We would have a little nap near the river here and there. I met this house DJ from Paris named Jef K and ended up hanging out with him. He introduced me to the entire creme de la creme of Belgium, all the successful artists of every kind. And suddenly I was a part of this amazing Belgian scene, hanging out with them every weekend.
When I ran out of money in Antwerp, I met this gay guy named Frank and he invited me to his New Year party to watch and clean the toilets. I became a cleaning girl for Frank’s house. In the middle of the night at one of his parties, I asked one DJ if I could DJ with his records. I did it and everyone loved it! People were going up to Frank like, ‘The toilet girl is such a good DJ!’ Frank loved it too, and he ended up asking me be his assistant at his hairdresser salon. He was this high fashion hair dresser that was cutting hair for all these models and Belgian French fashion world people. When I was 17, I got myself a radio show on this radio channel in Belgium, a community radio called Radio Centraal. Everyone at the station were Aquarius looking men: over 50 with long grey hair. After three months, my radio show became the number one listened to show on the station and they gave me a peak time, on Fridays from 6-7pm. This was the true beginnings of Hepcat Radio.
“I used to record funny voice-overs for (Hudson Mohawke's) sets, pretending to be Whitney Houston or Grace Jones”
I got asked to create a soundtrack for the opening ceremony for Museumnacht (Museum Night) in November 2009, for the entire city of Amsterdam. It’s a yearly thing - over 40 museums are open all night and they have special exhibitions and loads of live music. Hermitage Museum had been closed for restoration work for 7 years, so the opening ceremony of the museum night was held in the inside garden. The soundtrack I created was seen by 27,000 people or so. It was really atmospheric and abstract music, I wouldn’t say it was a hit!
I met Hudson Mohawke completely, accidentally, somehow, and ended up going with him on tour for two years as his support DJ. Apparently he was a fan of my show and had all the archives on his computer in Glasgow. We ended up going to Australia, Japan, America, all over the world throughout 2008 to 2010. We also recorded a song together (me under my Wednesday Night alias) ‘ Paint The Stars’ that came out on Warp, on the 20th Anniversary box set & compilation. I used to record funny voice-overs for his sets, pretending to be Whitney Houston or Grace Jones. We were just kids traveling 3-4 times a week, from city to city, from country to country, having fun.
NTS & Beyond
At the end of 2010, I met Femi Edmund Adeyemi, who’s the founder of NTS Radio. I ended up spending the rest of 2010 and all of 2011 just working setting up the station and dedicating my time to NTS. I’m very proud of what NTS has become. It has reached the ears of people from all over the world. It’s funny because we still broadcast it from the original “shack’ lookalike place. A very small team started the whole adventure, just a small bunch of human hands. Right now I’m going to university. It's a fast course of 3 years jammed into 2 at SAE, studying audio engineering. I’m excited about 2014. I’m very excited about my TV show called CHATTO MAMIKO - it will launch very soon on Youtube. It’s a special collaboration with my good friend and amazing artist from Detroit called GMCFOSHO. It’s a sort of chat show but not your regular chat show at all. Just wait and see.
'Amada' in Mexican means "loved one /lover." It makes me think of a planet. Adam Rodgers created the artwork; he’s out of one of my very favorite record labels and crews in UK, Numbers.
I built the tracklist as if it were phases of relationships. There's the exciting, the unknown part where everything is great. Then with James Pants' 'Ritual Magik' (track 5), things are starting to be complicated and fights are coming through. Later there is a break up and the stage of feeling lost. The comp ends with with a possibility the relationship to go both ways, either getting back together or moving on. That part I wanted the listener to be able to decide. I just hope that people will hear this compilation in different places on this planet and these tracks will touch them in some ways.