Europe's hottest new DJ: A 71-year-old granny
GAINESVILLE, Fla., Nov. 16 (UPI) -- Many grandmothers bake sugar cookies. They might knit and be asleep in bed by 9 p.m.
It's unusual for women of a certain age to frequent clubs and even more uncommon for such women to be the center of attention. But Ruth Flowers, at age 71, doesn't just show up at clubs to dance. She's a disc jockey from Bristol, England. She goes by the name Mamy Rock and she's one of Europe's hottest new club stars.
Flowers wears chunky sunglasses. Her gray hair floats out from under her rhinestone headphones. Many nights, she’s out in sequins until the sun comes up, rocking and vibrating along with a sweating crowd. She jams techno-pop until the kids give up and go home. Few of them are even half her age.
She has worked parties for Hollywood royalty. In Los Angeles, about 3,000 people came to one of her shows.
“It’s rather nice to be idolized, isn’t it?” she said.
Following the death of her husband six years ago, Flowers was bored, she said. In her earlier years, she had been active, traveling and singing as a mezzo-soprano. She recalls the day when her senior years changed for good. She went to a club where her grandson was having his birthday party. The doorman warned her, "You don't want to go in there, ma'am." But instead of turning away, Flowers said, she told the doorman that she was the grandmother and that she does as she pleases.
Inside, she was fascinated by the energy of the music and the happiness of the young people. The scene reminded her, she said, of her own youth.
Her grandson teased her, suggesting that she could be a DJ. But Flowers took him seriously.
A few days later, through a friend, Flowers said she was introduced to Orel Simon, a French producer and director. She traveled to Paris to learn the ropes of mixing electronic music.
“I knew nothing of electro-rock at the time,” she said.
In a phone interview, Simon said he was impressed when he first met Flowers.
“I love her personality and her philosophy on life,” he said. “When I saw her I said, ‘Wow…’”
He jokes that Flowers is his wife.
“Ruth and I are working as a team," he said. "We are going the same direction. I care for her a lot.”
Simon’s background is in directing music videos for artists in Paris. He said he felt that something was missing from the music scene: That older people weren’t represented in the cultural landscape. He had an idea about making a granny DJ but he thought it would never happen.
Then he met Flowers.
“You know when you see a girl and you fall in love?” Simon said. “It was evident that it would be her.”
Simon took her into the electro and house music scene. He introduced her to some French DJ's who taught her to mix.
By 2009, she was spinning at the hottest parties in Europe. She even played at the Chanel VIP party during the Cannes Film Festival. Karl Lagerfeld, the fab-goth fashion god, was there and rocked out, politely.
“I stood there thinking, ‘My God, what am I doing here?'” Flowers said.
Flowers' music balances the new with the old. She maintains the energy of mainstream electronic music but brings in older samples.
“I’ve done the top-end of music, you might call it,” she said. “I know quite a lot about music and I can enjoy classics and I can enjoy many musicals. I've loved pop all my life."
Flowers has a taste for Bing Crosby and Brenda Lee and loves to bring tunes from those and other artists to the dance floor.
"Let's have the electro-rock but some of the lyrics in the oldies are fabulous," she said. "The young ones seem to love it.”
News outlets have caught on to Flowers' popularity. She was a guest on "Fox and Friends," and a clip of her was a "Moment of Zen" on The Daily Show.
“It’s interesting to break the generation gap,” Simon said. “You should listen to your grandparents ... spend time with them, it’s important to share with them.”
Flowers sees herself as a different sort of older person.
“We don’t all want to have our faces pulled and our eyelids lifted and Botox in our foreheads,” she said. “A few lines means you’ve lived.”
And she's got a lot of living left in her. Her EP, "Still Rocking," is on iTunes. A new album and a U.S. tour are in the works, she said.
Still, she's under no illusions that fame is anything but fickle.
"I'm fully aware that it could end as fast as it began," she said. "What happens will happen. None of us know which is our last day, do we?"