If you ask me what Mod means to me, then I’m with Penny! To paraphrase: Mod gives me a wardrobe full of head-turning, confidence-inspiring pieces, and music to lift my soul and move my feet. It gives me a scooter for fun and freedom, and a community to share it all with. Mod is my dear friend.
“Mod is my near and dear friend”
…and, if you’re asking me what Mod sounds like? Well, it sounds like Penny. I mean, quite literally it sounds like Penny! DJ Penny Lane is the velvet voiced, talented broadcaster of the Mod airwaves, and Penny has been the inspiration behind many of my Mod adventures, including this Icons & Influencers series. Hearing Penny & Warren Peace interview Gill Evans made me reach out to the Original Mod, who I am now able to call my friend. This, in turn lead to me meeting Margot McClane and many other adventures in between (you can read more about Gill & Margot in previous Icons & Influencers posts). Penny is also the voice of my Mod Closet. Again, quite literally! I am most likely to be listening to Punks in Parkas and Maximum Rhythm and Booze (Penny’s show with co-hosts Warren Peace and Jonny Owen) whilst hanging out in my closet, which I spend an inordinate amount of time doing; discovering forgotten pieces tucked away in the dusty regions.
It is testament to this wonderful community we call Mod, and by virtue of social media that I am able to call Penny one of my friends, someone who I very much look forward to sharing a bottle of something rich and full-bodied with the next time she finds herself this side of the Atlantic!
Without further ado… *fanfare* …Ladies and gentlemods, it’s my pride and pleasure to introduce you to the velvet-voiced siren of the airwaves: Super-Mod DJ Penny Lane…
Tell us a little bit about yourself and where you live?
I always seem to have a hard time talking about myself! I grew up just outside of a small town in rural Manitoba, Canada. In my early twenties, I moved to Winnipeg, where I live now. I’m a single mom with a wonderful seven-year old son, Hunter who is the center of my life! By day I work for a very large crown corporation in Canada and by night I’m a radio show host and occasional DJ! I’ve been hosting my solo show, Punks in Parkas for over ten years now and I’ve been working with my ‘partner in crime,’ Warren Peace, first on We Are The Mods, and more recently on our new show Maximum Rhythm and Booz with our cohort Jonny Owen.
What are your passions?
Music is a big one. I’ve been collecting vinyl since I was a teenager and I’m always trying to expand my knowledge and collection. I’m also a bit of a sucker for fashion too; I’ve always been drawn to clothing, both men’s and women’s and often view outfits as pieces of art. Speaking of, I do have a soft spot in my heart for art, architecture and design. I guess that kind of goes hand in hand with my love of fashion. I view all those things as off shoots of the same tree. A suit can have has much grace and complexity as a beautifully designed house or a classic painting.
Some people might not know this about me, but I’m also a lover of the written word. I read like crazy; a real book-worm and I love to write both poetry and prose.I write the odd article and book excerpt, and have written two bad works of fiction that will never see the light of day. I wrote them as part of a month-long challenge called NanoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) where you try to write a 50,000 word novel in the Month of November. I did it three times and was successful twice.
How did you first become involved in the scene and why is it important?
I had seen the movie Quadrophenia when I was in high school. I was a big Who fan, and when I heard that the Quadrophenia album was made into a movie, I recorded it onto a VHS tape and watched it over and over again. I loved the style, the music, the clothes; everything! I didn’t really get into Mod until my first year of University. A close friend of mine was invited to a birthday party that was going down, at a weekly event night in the city called ‘Loaded Club.’ She was told they played a lot of old 1960s music and she asked me to come along as she knew I was a bit of a retro music nerd. Her friend had informed her that people tend to ‘dress up a bit’ at the night, so she and I put on our best outfits and went. Walking into that club for the first time that night, has been permanently etched in my brain. It was small and dark, and I remember a line of four guys in suits at the bar. A huge roundel hung behind the DJ booth and, on TV screens throughout the bar, a recognisable movie extravaganza… Quadrophnia! I danced until my feet hurt. The music was everything I loved, and nothing I had never heard played before; anywhere. And the clothing! The guys looked sharp in their suits or crisp Fred Perry’s and the handful of girls in the club were dressed nicely too. My friend and I vowed to come back, and we did – week after week after week.
We became friends with the DJ, ‘The Invisible Man’, who hosted a weekly show on UMFM; a campus and community radio station in Winnipeg. Going to that club and listening to his show, I started to hear the word Mod used more and more. The DJ and I became close friends, sharing music with each other. I would often joke that I wanted his job; to be in charge of the music, to make people dance. It was his suggestion that I apply to host a show on the same station and, with his help I created a show proposal and submitted an application. A few months later I found myself behind the board at UMFM; Punks in Parkas was born!
Finding the Winnipeg Mod Scene was monumental for me. I found my tribe! I knew what I was drawn to: The music, the clothes, the scooters. Quadrophenia spoke to me in a way that I couldn’t put into words. Walking into Loaded club for the first time cemented it for me; these were my people! Here was a group who were all into the same thing. I didn’t know there was a name for the things I was into until I started going to that club: Mod! Once I had that I was able to use it to connect with like-minded people. Some of my nearest and dearest friends are those I have met through Mod; we share a common thread that binds us. I can spot someone across the street, or in a bar and know instantly, by the way they are dressed, how they react to specific songs that we share this great thing together. It’s amazing to belong to such a world-wide community of great people!
A selection of Punks in Parkas podcast ‘sleeves’…
What does Mod mean to you?
Oh, this is a question that has gotten me into trouble before! I think the fantastic thing about Mod is that while at the core we all know what is and isn’t Mod, it has such a wide array of interpretations. I love that about it. My friend Warren Peace has often said that in Mod there are no rules, but yet there is something that we can recognize in another person that screams Mod. For me it’s a combination of things. It’s attention to the details – in your style, your music, the way you live your life. It’s loving great new and old music and about presenting the best you at all times. For me, its given me a sort of security blanket that I can go to whenever I need it. If I’m feeling unattractive, I have a wardrobe full of beautiful dresses and shoes that I can put on to help boost my confidence. If I’m sad, I have a huge collection of vinyl that I can turn to and beyond any of those record sleeves is a song that is either going to lift my mood or tell me that everything is going to be alright. If I am feeling weighed down, all I have to do is call a friend, get on the back of their scooter and go for a ride and feel like I’m running free. If I’m lonely, I have a great crew of friends in the Winnipeg Mod scene and I know they will all be out at any event I go to. Mod is my near and dear friend.
Describe your personal style and its influences and inspirations?
Over the years, I’ve watched my personal style change. I guess that happens as you get older? I used to be a little all over the board, grabbing anything that looked retro and slapping it on. I learned as I got older that just because it’s a vintage piece, doesn’t make it the right piece for you. I stopped buying vintage and my wardrobe is now full of vintage inspired pieces. I like the modern flare that many of my outfits have, but enjoy the fact that they have simple, classic lines and a timeless elegance to them. I now go for things that look good on my body, that are a bit more tailored and well crafted. It’s rare to see me in pants; I like dresses & pencil skirts; classic and timeless pieces.
Audrey Hepburn has always been a huge inspiration. Not only was she a naturally stunning women with amazing style, but she personified compassion and grace. She was kind, generous and loving with a great wardrobe to boot. How could you not love her? I fell; in love with her and her style in Breakfast at Tiffany’s (my all time favorite movie) and try to live my life the way she did; with dignity, grace and love.
Another style inspiration of mine is, of course, Mad Men’s Joan Holloway played by the beautiful Christina Hendrix. Joan is a bombshell of a goddess. Her outfits were sexy without objectifying her. And her confidence! She was a go-getter; a determined women. I loved how costume designer Janie Bryant consistently dressed Joan in these amazing jewel tones; blues, reds, purples, greens. I used to shy away from too much color, but recently I bought a ruby-red dress; it’s bright and loud, and I get stares and compliments every time I wear it. I love my black and dark shades, but there is something about that flashy red dress that makes me feel amazing.
Where are your favourite places to shop?
I’ll admit it – I’m an online shopper. I’m addicted to Modcloth. They have amazing styles and I always seem to have luck on their website. Until recently there weren’t too many places in Winnipeg to find the retro inspired clothing that I like.
There is a great little shop in the city called Foxxy Shoppe that I sometimes go to. While their clothing is in more of a rock-a-billy vein, every so often they have some great pieces that fit my style and budget.
What do you scrimp on?
Accessories. I really don’t spend too much money on necklaces, earings, bracelets and the like. I honestly don’t wear them all that much so only pick up a piece if it’s inexpensive and I like it. I think it was CoCo Chanel who said that you should look in the mirror every morning before you leave and remove one accessory. I think I took that a little too much to heart and don’t leave the house with many at all!
What do you splurge on?
SHOES! Sure I’ll throw twenty or thirty bucks down on a pair of cheap every day flats one in a while, but when it comes to heels or boots or most anything else, I’ll spend a little bit of extra money. We can be on our feet a lot and there is nothing worse than being at a Mod do and suffering because your feet hurt. Investing a bit more in a well made pair of shoes means that they will last you a lot longer. I love Mary Jane’s and invested a fair chunk of change in a pair about five years ago; and you know what? Apart from having to replace one of the lifts, they are still as comfortable and beautiful as the day I got them.
Here in the UK we’ve had (and still have) some incredible and high-profile women DJ’s (Annie Nightingale, Jo Whiley, Mary Anne Hobbs, Annie Mac, Samantha Ronson to name a few) who have been your biggest inspirations?
When I started DJ’ing in early 2005, there weren’t really any female DJ’s in the city. I spent a lot of time with the crew of Mod DJ’s in the city, all male, who not only took the time to teach me, but took me under their wing. I really have a lot of love for my fellow Winnipeg Mod DJs; The Invisible Man (Aaron Young), DJ Chico (Sean Allum), Mod Marty (Marty Emmanuel) and Mr. Buckles (Jon Carr). They not only taught me the ropes, but made sure I made it home safe and sound after every gig. I try to learn something from everyone I cross paths with; both of my Maximum Rhythm and Booze co-hosts Jonny Owen and Warren Peace have both taught me so much about music and the entertainment industry. I also admire all those who get off their asses and do something. You with the Mod Closet empire, Gill Evans who has stayed true to her roots all these years, while continuing to move forward and adapt with the times; and the many strong female DJs around the world, like DJ Say Yes in Texas. It’s easy to talk, not always so easy to put yourself out there and take action and I admire and take huge inspiration for anyone who goes out and does it for themselves!
During the course of your career as a DJ you’ve had the opportunity to meet and interview some incredible people – who’s the elusive person that you would feel disappointed to have never met/interviewed?
I guess I’d have to say Paul Weller – it would have been the icing on the We Are The Mods! cake. But we are not giving up on Weller yet! To be honest, I feel so completely blessed that I’ve gotten to talk to some of the people I admire and idolized, like PP Arnold, Dave Davies, Alan Magee and others!
Dead or alive who would be your dream dinner party guests (and why)?
My dinner party would be such a mis-match! Audrey Hepburn as I’ve always admired her beauty and grace. Hunter S. Thompson as, believe it or not, I am a huge fan of his writing and found him fascinating. All four Beatles as their music was my first love and is the soundtrack of my life. The Dali Lama for his wisdom, humor, which inspire me often and get me through difficult moments; and Billy Childish as I think he is one of the most underrated artist of our time.
And, what would be on your dinner party playlist?
Oh wow! Hard question to answer! I love listening to jazz during dinner, so it would probably be a mixture of modern Jazz, with of course, some Childish throwing in for good measure!
Listen to Billy Childish by clicking each of the track images below…
What is your advice for the next generation entering the scene?
I think the next generation have it right! They are strong-willed, determined and are smart enough to make their own decisions. IF I could give them any advice, it would be to do what feels right and screw the opinions of middle-aged Mods. I think we sometimes get to caught up in rules and the idea that due to our seniority in the scene, we feel we know better; that’s not always the case. I’m always learning, always evolving and observing what the next generation are latching on to and how they are taking the Mod scene and making it work for them. I think the morphing of Mod is fascinating and needed for the scene to survive.
And finally, what’s next for Penny Lane?
I am working hard on Punks in Parkas; enjoying my tenth year on the air on UMFM! Warren Peace, Jonny Owen and I are working hard on our new show, Maximum Rhythm and Booze which is starting to gain some traction. It’s been likened to three friends in a pub talking about current events and I couldn’t think of two better men to have as co-hosts and dear friends in this project. Subscribe to the show Maximum Rhythm and Booze, we have some amazing things coming up!
A selection of MR&B Podcast ‘sleeves’ …
Thank you DJ Penny Lane xx