As a pioneering female DJ duo, the two best friends were integral to the rise of the 90s dance scene, before a car accident changed everything. Storm talks about the soul sister she lost

Storm remembers the sound of glass shattering, but not how many seconds or minutes had passed before she realised something awful had happened. A 4.5kg metal cat’s eye had been dislodged from the road ahead by a passing van, and had smashed through their car windshield on the passenger side. It left Kemistry – her best friend and partner in one of the UK’s most pioneering drum’n’bass outfits – with devastating injuries. Minutes later, she died.

“I’ve had some really dark times and really dark thoughts,” says Storm, 20 years on from the accident. “Thoughts about me not being here, about going to join her.”

For many fans, the legacy of drum’n’bass is inextricably linked to Goldie and his mercurial energy. But it was Kemistry and Storm – his business partners for the genre’s most popular label, Metalheadz – who shaped the imprint with their collaborations and relentless work ethic. As female DJs, they were pioneers in a mostly male world and their ability to mix heaving industrial rhythms and celestial minor chords set them apart. Their 1999 DJ Kicks mixis still seen as one of the genre’s most influential.

Valerie “Kemi” Olusanya was born in 1963 to a Nigerian father and white English mother. She grew up in Kettering, a south Midlands quarry town, and it’s there that she befriended Jayne Conneely, AKA Storm. “I was a new romantic and she was more new wave,” Storm recalls. “I worked in this restaurant, and she’d come in with these two guys who looked like David Sylvian from Japan. I thought: ‘Ooh, hello, I’d love to know what they’re up to.’”

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