SAOIRSE will be speaking on the evening panel and closing the raving display of unity at Backdrop Sounds Of Solidarity : The Power & Politics of Dance Music on February 10th in Cosmic Ballroom. We are chuffed that she is open to sharing her experiences in this ever changing electronic musical landscape, as well as sending us all skew whiff with her much coveted record bag, procured from years of dedication to her craft. In anticipation of this celebration, Dr. Joseph was fortunate to chat with her on getting her first decks in exchange for “shit hash”, the magic of Ricardo Villalobos and how we can make nightclubs safer for lgbtiq+ communities, women and marginalised groups.
Hello, firstly, thank you very much for speaking with us! For those that are totally to new to you, where are you from and how did your obsession with music and records begin?
Well my mother was always feeding me with all sorts of music from a baby, I was going to my first illegal raves at about 9 or 10 and seemed to always be drawn to music that went: DUVV DUVV DUVV DUVV.
By 13 I was adamant that I wanted a set of decks, and by 14 I blagged myself a pretty purple pair of Numark belt drives and a mixer in exchange for two ounces of shit hash. These bad boys…..
How do you spend most of your time when not DJing?
Food and Music, that’s my life, if I’m not mixing records or in the studio I’m out eating, mate I f*cking love food, it’s banging.
We have been following you online for some time and had friends speak very highly of your sets ( I was also at your very special Gottwood closing!) but to some your increasing notoriety may relatively recent. Much like our friend Jane Fitz, often such a “rise” in public profile is firmed up with years of hard work and dedication before your name reaches wider audiences. Can you remember a key moment, or series of such moments, when it all started to look like you could make a career out of DJing and all your commitment was paying off?I guess playing alongside Jeff Mills and the team at the recent RA Hydra takeover is one crowning moment…
Well you’re right about the commitment paying off, to many people they may have only seen my weird name recently but I have been playing gigs for 12 years and collecting records for 16, I have been immersed in this world everyday for longer than I can remember.
With regards to a defining moment, I think it’s when you are able to start saying no, when you can be selective about the parties you play at, any emerging DJ will tell you that for many years you’d take anything, you just wanted to play your music to people, that’s all that mattered, now one of the most satisfying things for me is that I play at events that my mates are already going to! None of this “pleeease come, i’ll give you all my drink vouchers” vibe, it’s like “hey so I’m playing at this party next month” and your mate is like “fuck yea I already have a ticket”. Sweet.
We really enjoyed your release on Tommy Vicari Juniour’s label, Armadillo. We saw him play in Edinburgh recently and had a good chat, what a wealth of music the man has! What other forthcoming plans for your own music do you have?
I’ve been thinking about this alot lately, I feel I previously rushed things out and I sometimes wish I had have waited, I definitely wasn’t ready, I write music all the time but now I will only release something when it’s absolutely what I want to represent me, I’m in no rush, where I am now is I would say 95% down to the records I play and not production so I don’t have as much pressure on me to get stuff out there, so you will only see something from me when I feel it’s totally right, in saying that there will be some releases this year 😀
You have played regularly with Toi Toi, Art of Dark & Half Baked, known perhaps for the headier side of house and techno. You have a far greater ability than most DJs we have heard to play across the spectrum. We tend to have focussed on techno at Backdrop, although not exclusively, a first birthday with Tama Sumo b2b Prosumer was a house and disco masterclass. Other than that, it has been Helena Hauff scaring the heck out of us all with bat-shit crazy records and blowing our minds, or Jane Fitz leading the most recent deep, wild and transcendent trip. Which DJ’s are exciting you most currently and from whom do you draw big inspiration?
Firstly, thanks very much for the lovely comment, it’s right to say that I have a very wide taste in electronic music and that also goes for the DJ’s I love to go and see, I have absolutely no hesitation in saying that I think Jane Fitz is one of the best djs in the world, what I respect about her the most is how she programs a set so naturally, it just flows to perfection, it feels really consistent, you lose yourself in it, the last two years the sets that have blown me away have been hers, it’s like there is no one else around your just in your own trippy space stomping away,
There will be no surprise to hear that I f*cking love Ricardo Villalobos, I’d say I probably argue with someone about once a week about how he is still the greatest, they just don’t know, I do, he is the one.
My belief is that there is something very exciting about not knowing whether the set you are about to see could possibly be the best one you’ve ever experienced, and can often deliver. (cue backlash)
Sometimes I listen to Call Super DJ and feel he is my musical spirit animal, and I also love Leif, Calibre, Mala and Dozzy. These are just djs were it’s a guarantee you will have a good dance.
Any sets where you have had time to lose yourself on the floor start to finish and not jet straight off?
Jane Fitz at free ro 2015, I really needed to loo but I was like “fuck that I’m not leaving this dancefloor”
Do you have any records that have not left your bag/USBs recently?
Jurassic Park theme: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8zlUUrFK-M
We are always interested to know what people’s most trusted tracks are. When selecting new music to buy and to play, is it a very structured process where you know what genre or sound you are in need of, or a more organic “I like that” sort of thing?
I am the absolute least structured record buyer I know, possibly the reason why I play across the spectrum, I walk into it blind and just listen, I don’t know who it is, what label it’s on, when it came out I just think “I could defo use this somehow” and buy it.
It’s funny because the scene I find myself most often in with my friends, (people who aren’t in it like to call it “the minimal scene” even though literally no one plays any minimal in this scene anymore) , so for instance parties who book people like Nicholas Lutz, Andrew James Gustav, Binh etc, these people are absolute masterclass in buying records, I try to learn from them but their brains are just set to understand how to find what they want, I’m super envious and even though I hang about with these folks I still have a very diff way of approaching it.
I am interested in how DJ’s are able to improve their quality control on record buying and make sure each new addition deserves it’s place. If you could only play music by three producer’s and/or labels and you had an extended set to programme, whose output do you love enough that you could play their records all night?
Producers: Carl Craig, Laurent Garnier, Shakleton
Do you know how many records those two guys have produced that have literally never really surfaced the face of earth? It’s totally mental.
What advice would you give to people dedicating their time to their musical craft, but perhaps not gaining the success they hoped for?
“Expectation is the route of all heartache” Shakespeare said that and that fella knows what he is talking about, if you love music then you’ll never regret dedicating yourself to it. Whatever happens, happens.
One of the topics we will cover at Backdrop Sounds of Solidarity : Power & Politics of Dance Music will be the protection of music & arts venues. Much like London is suffering from certain club closures, we in newcastle are battling to protect a vital cultural hub called the Ouseburn Valley. This is being taken over by privately owned student halls of residence, thus risking many of the musical and creative spaces being driven out. What practical advice would you give to people and any authorities reading this on what they can do to prevent this worrying cycle from continuing?
Look, when all that shit kicked off, I was like “DAMN YOU COUNCIL!!” and I passed most of the brunt of blame on to the council and police, when the truth of the matter is (which I believe from doing research since) is that when a country has a huge debt and have a government who tackles this debt by making cuts to public services i.e. Local Councils they then have to get their money from somewhere, although nightlcubs bring in a good economy and make an area cool, which results in more people wanting to live there, as soon as they’ve done that job it’s then “sayonara nightclub, your land is waaay more profitable through other types of rent.”
It’s the exact same with authorities you mentioned, Police budgets cut yet they still have to reach the same stats, how do they do that? try and rid of anything anywhere that may result in a crime taking place, it’s not harm reduction it’s statistical pressure due to cuts to police forces.
A great article here on this: https://www.residentadvisor.net/features/2795
You were particularly outspoken in defence of Fabric after it’s license was revoked. You must have been overjoyed when it was allowed to re-open. Even happier to be playing Room 1 on Feb 4th! Some people never understood the saveourculture campaign, I guess they have not experienced the social benefit of such music and parties. What examples from your own life and career could you give to demonstrate the need to protect this culture in our society?
OK, if you want something easy to digest as to why raves are good things, take for example football hooliganism in the 90’s, an absolute plague on society and what was then a fantastic family enjoyed sport, dance music culture blew up, football fans danced together, subcultures based around music create unity, it’s just a fact, let’s embrace that.
Another issue for Backdrop S.O.S is that of how we can create safe spaces within our nightclubs and associated dancing venues for lgbtiq communities, women and marginalised groups. You have been to many parties all over the world, both as a dancer and DJ, what have you seen work well at doing so?
You know, I really don’t think there is a simple solution to this, misogyny, homophobia and prejudice can be territorial so there is not one answer for all, unfortunately there are not many places as liberal and accepting as Berlin in the electronic music world, especially in the UK, but major nightclubs need to fill their dancefloors to stay open so are unable to have the luxury of having such a strict door policy, it’s just not viable.
What is vital however is the response by the venue or promoter when an incident does happen, for me, this is absolutely imperative, often when I have been harassed/felt up or lets say called a lesbian on a night out and reported it to the bouncers they haven’t done much except ask me to point them out, then I have to spend the night in a room with someone who may have touched me below my waist?! I mean if that shit happened out on the streets they would be arrested and put on a fucking register, but yet because I’m in a nightclub, it’s not as bad?
What are some of the common pitfalls or mistakes made by promoters/club owners/ dancers or DJs that may leave people feeling unsafe, unwelcome or objectified?
I just think that they need make it absolutely clear that harassment of ANY kind will result in eviction and banning of the person and reporting to the police, and be approachable, trust me, it’s really not easy going up to a big burly bouncer to tell him that someone has grabbed yours tits.
I’ve also known clubs to avoid wanting to go public about this out of fear that it will affect their brand, no.no.no. you can not pull that shit.
We first noticed a lack of diversity on our dance floor in terms of a male to female dancer ratio. We also did not do well at reaching out to the trans/non-binary community within our region. Since booking more female DJs this has improved substantially and we hope the February 10th party will further diversify the floor. Understandably the female ravers have come out in force to support another woman behind the decks. One answer seems very obvious, if still forgotten by many, that is to ensure your lineups are more diverse in terms of gender, race and sexuality. What more can the music community do a as whole to keep tackling the gender and racial imbalance within electronic music?
Any woman with a platform to support talented women should do so, any man with a platform to support talented women should do so, it needs to come from those with influence, artists, editorial, management, promoters.
“Dance music was born in LGBT communities, but has this been forgotten?”. Luis-manuel Garcia opens his recent powerful and thrilling feature, “ An alternate history of sexuality in club culture” for RA with this statement. With such a changing landscape in club culture, electronic music is being consumed by new people in new venues all the time. Have too many party goers, music fans and promoters forgotten where much of this music we love so much originated? To those that perhaps had no idea of thelgbtiq, black or latin roots of Chicago House or disco, why is such history important to today’s fan?
I find this question difficult to answer, mainly because I don’t consider my sexuality as a gay woman at all within electronic music, or my gender, I just want to dance, I just want to play records, I think new people is a positive in electronic music, the focus needs to be on a welcome environment,
Ask yourself this, do you think a member of the lgbtiq+ community would feel totally comfortable and not judged at one of your parties in any way? if the answer is no, then it needs to be really thought about what can be done to change that, if the answer is yes then HAPPY DAYS can not wait to come 😀
Finally, what can people expect from your closing set on February 10th?
I would say the most thought out intellectual way to put this would be: I AM GOING IN.