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Dj Hot Lipz: Thimbles to turntables - Hot Lipz makes golden switch

Published:Tuesday | April 9, 2019 | 12:08 AMKimberley Small/Staff Reporter
Dj Hot Lipz at the recent official book launch of Cuts of a Diamond by Sandra Rodriques Bicknell.
Dj Hot Lipz at the recent official book launch of Cuts of a Diamond by Sandra Rodriques Bicknell.

Many will consider DJ Hot Lipz an inspiration. At 49 years old, she ­decided to learn how to spin and mix records – a testament to the fact that it is never too late to realise a dream.

Known in her private life as Janette Armstrong, the UK native has been settled in Jamaica for the past four years – after leaving the ‘rat race’ of the fashion industry to pursue her passion. Now 54 years old, she boasts a track record that includes playing EDM and house music in venues in Ibiza, Spain; Amsterdam, Holland; and Kingston.

Armstrong attended London Sound Academy to hone her skills at the turntable, telling The Gleaner, when “I thought I was a bit too old, but there was another woman in her ’70’s or ’80s called Flower. She was inspired to learn after attending a kids’ party.”

Armstong first visited Jamaica 16 years ago, when she fell in love with the island and a man. “The typical tourist thing – meeting this guy on Negril Beach,” she shared. One and a half years later, she was married. “It didn’t work out, but I still decided that Jamaica is for me. I think I like to be in hot countries, that I’m attracted to the easy lifestyle, no stress.”

DJ Not a respectable profession

Growing up in the UK, her wish to be a disc jockey was thwarted by the notion that it was not as respectable as office administration. “They thought I was crazy, that I should get a sensible job – secretarial stuff, work in the office.” To nurture her creative spirit, she entered another creative industry instead. “I ended up in fashion.” Armstrong attended Croydon College of Art and studied fashion and design. She enjoyed decades in the industry, parts of which she served as head of the technical team at French Connection, London. She was responsible for assuring the fit and quality of garments from brands like French Connection, Great Plains, and YMC.

While still working full time in fashion, Armstrong completed three courses at the London Sound Academy, with distinctions. “And the rest is history,” she said. She ­currently plays regular online radio spots and at events all over the world. “Some deejays spend years in their bedrooms. I’m very fortunate,” she said.

She specialises in spinning EDM and house music because she grew up on it. “I like house music, disco, and funk. I like the way you can mix house music on consoles. I like mixing the beats and mashing up the tunes. I really just like to see people dancing and having fun,” she told The Gleaner. Her first gig as a DJ was in the renowned Market House in Brixton, London. That led to a spot on City Links Radio UK – an Internet radio station – which sent her on tour across London and Amsterdam. She played her final gig at Pacha before relocating to Kingston, Jamaica.

Relocating to Jamaica

Another reason for relocating to Jamaica was to get out of the fashion industry rat race. “I’d been in fashion for 30 years,” she revealed. Nevertheless, she carried her garment expertise with her. In November 2014, Armstrong arrived in Jamaica to assist in ­reinjecting some creative appeal into the fashion industry. Now, she volunteers as a quality consultant and offers lectures to aspiring designers across the Caribbean. Fashion also happened to be the gateway to her shining career as an EDM and house DJ in Jamaica.

She was invited by Kerry Ann Clarke of Kerry ManWomanHome, and managing director of The Collection MoDA, to conduct a workshop with young fashion designers. When they learned of her DJ history, she was asked to play at The Collection MoDA cocktail party. The crowd included celebrities like Usain Bolt, Bunji Garlin, and Sean Paul, launching her local reputation as one of the most popular house and EDM DJs.