Get To Know: Sam Divine
So this year you’ve begun producing, when you started DJing 10 years ago did you plan to produce one-day aswell or is there something recently that has influenced the move?
Yeah its been a recent thing, I mean I’ve had a lot of people tell me over the 10 years that I had to produce to get anywhere with DJing but that has not been the case. I had good advice from people that had been in the industry a long time and they just said nail what you’re doing with your DJing so that was always in the fore front of my mind. As time went on it became very apparent that I didn’t need to produce to get further in my DJ career because I got signed to Defected and was playing all over the world and it was like well how is production going to make my DJing career bigger than it already is because within my profession I would call myself a vocal House DJ, I’m not underground, I’m not commercial, I’m sitting in that middle bit. At the time I thought I don’t even have the time because I tour so much especially during the summer, so with production for me now it was something that, well I started a record label and production goes hand in hand with that, it was something that I’ve wanted to do, it was just the right time for me to start. I want to learn more things about my profession and it was a case of I’m not going to do anything because I don’t know how to make records on my own, but I’m collaborating with friends and artists that are on my label and it works. The first track that I ever made Hannah Wants ended up remixing and we gave it away as a free download, but the first remix that I did officially was of a Low Steppa track and it got signed to Universal! I've got another remix off the back of that from the old Sweet Female Attitude single ‘Flowers’ , a remix of that that’s coming out in June. It’s mad that the first time I go into production and boom it’s happened, really quickly!
How’s the feedback been on yours and D-Vine Sounds artist Curtis Gabriel’s remix of Low Steppa’s ‘So Real’? Online it looks like its doing really well.
Yeah every time I play it it’s getting a huge reaction and also the ‘Flowers’ remix is. The next day I’m getting reaction on Twitter, ‘Oh what was that Flowers remix you played?’ So I think its going to do really well, I’ve got a lot of festivals lined up for this summer, well over 10, and it will definitely be a big festival hit. Both remix’s are coming out a week of each other in June. The feedback has been great so far, and no one has been like ‘Oh you’re producing now?’ (in a bad way), it’s a steady thing and something I want to do for myself and the time is right to do it now. I’ve nailed DJing in the fact that I’m confident and I can do it now, over 10 years putting my graft together and now its a case of what else can I do, how can you make yourself better and I’m learning a whole different side of the industry, its exciting and a really nice process aswell.
So with producing you mentioned that you’re collaborating with other artists, is that the plan until you've learnt enough and then to go solo?
I don’t know, for now I’m not going to be thinking that far ahead. I’m just really enjoying the moment of production, I think if you look into something too much then you put added stress onto yourself. If I actually learnt how to make a record, I will do a course or something like that. I don’t really want to think about it like that, I want to keep it fun because I see some of friends that are in the studio 6-7 days a week and they’re amazing producers but I don’t want to be that person. Who knows in time, maybe, but at the moment I want to have fun with it, I want it to be a fun process. If something is not fun, then it becomes and chore and I don’t ever want anything to do with music to become a chore.
Do you think you have pinpointed a particular style you’re going for with your productions, should we expect to see productions similar to the records you play out?
I think with production I have to be able to play those records out, yeah it very much slots into what I play, they’re the big hitters in my sets. That’s happened naturally, I love my vocals, and I’ve got a lot of vocals in my tracks hitting it every time. I’m going to make tracks that are going to be my big time bangers, and I think every producer goes into it thinking that. You can make a really cool warm up track, but then not many people are in the club that early doors so that would be something for myself. I’m also working with Gabby Mills who’s one half of Copyright, who I’m working on a Deep house track with him at the moment. I just want to work with people I’ve looked up to for a long time, you’ve got to gel with someone when you’re in the studio and if you don’t it really shows in the music and in the end result. For now I’m going to have fun with it and work with people that I love and I know I love in the scene and hopefully something beautiful can come out of that.
Is there anything on the horizon, production wise, that you can talk about that you haven’t mentioned already?
Curtis and I have got a single that will be out in September. So yeah we’ve got two remixes and a single coming out then I’m working on a project for another single aswell, so by the end of the year I should have at least four or five tracks out.
Will the singles be out on your imprint D-Vine Sounds?
Yes, the one with Curtis coming out in September will be. I mean it’s a great platform having my own label but I have got a really tight release schedule with artists that I’ve signed tracks with already. The whole point of setting the label up was to give these artists a platform, its not for myself. I’d rather shot them out to other labels, obviously to have my first single on my label, that’s going to be great because that is always going to be a story that I can look back on. In regards to moving forward with my other productions I would say it’s a case of what other labels would they work for.
What are your aspirations for your label? Would you want to create something as big as Defected one day…
For me it’s a hobby, I think every DJ needs a hobby and mine was production. DJing is always going to be there but for me I needed something that was going to carry on after DJing. A label for me was that avenue, because for female DJs they want to settle down and have a family. There’s not many female DJs that can go back into it after they’ve done that, Annie Mac is a prime example though, she’s nailed it but when you think of someone like Lottie who was a massive female DJ back in the day, she went off had her family and then didn’t really do anything after that. I don’t want it to be like that, I want to fulfil everything that I can do before I make that decision. With the label its something I’m very passionate about, I worked in record shops for a long time so I was always around distributors and labels and artists, but I never had the time because I wanted to put 100% into DJing. While I’m still doing that I think its great I'm opening up other avenues that are helping other people come through aswell, which has always been a big thing for me. With the label its like my baby now, the first release that we had went in the top 10 on Traxsource within 3 days and for an unknown label you know, and Curtis has been around for a while but in terms of the platform that we’ve given him you know to get a top 10 in the first release is incredible and we’re really proud of it. We’ve just released the Various Artists album and all five tracks are in the top 100 on Traxsource. We’re doing an exclusive with Traxsource first because I’m more home to Traxsource, I’m very much into my soulful house and Traxsource is the one place that I go to to find the music that I play out, I rely heavily on promos aswell but Traxsource was the first outlet when I went from vinyl to digital, it was my record shop, so its something I’m very close to. I feel our tracks will work better on Traxsource , so yeah we go exclusive with them before we go to Beatport for example.
Talking about Defected, I mean Defected is obviously going from strength to strength and you’re dubbed the ‘Queen of Defected’, why do you Think the label does so well, do you think its due to merely the quality of music or is there more to it?
Yeah massively. Simon (Founder of Defected Records) has a vision and that is to release quality music, time after time . You can ask any DJ from back in the day before vinyl to digital and every DJ will have a Defected vinyl and that’s what got me into Defected from their artwork to their branding. Once I got signed to Defected I could see how strong the team was in the office, everyone has got their own piece that makes Defected what it is. Everyone works around the clock to make the label what it is. With Simon’s strong vision leading his pack, if you like, but from the music to the events the branding just the pure love that everyone gives Defected aswell. It’s unmistakeably the biggest House label in the world, we have branding nights all over the world and we sell out shows all over the world. You can go to some place in Brazil, you can go to some tiny village in North Wales or something and you always see people with I Am Defected t-shirts on, from the radio show which is broadcasted over 40 different countries. So we’re literally like right at the top and like the umbrella of music that comes down across the board is incredible and I think that’s what makes it so strong is that we’re out there and talking to literally everyone. The ethos behind the label is incredible, and even with the compilations that come out, Simon is so clever, with the Ibiza themed, most rated, its just a constant flow of good music and especially the radio show that I host every week. Its incredible how well Defected has done, 16 years and still going just as strong, and to go from a vinyl era into a digital era where a lot of labels dropped off after that, Defected are still up there selling out shows and getting number one tracks on Traxsource and Beatport.
You have said that being part of Defected was the most natural move for you, in what sense do you mean this by?
In the fact that Defected played a huge part of carving my sound. I worked in record shops for many years so I studied the back catalogue and gained my knowledge through spending my lunch breaks in the warehouse where Chemical Records stored all the vinyl. When I did my 1st season in Ibiza I was playing 6 nights a week and my one night off was a Tuesday which happened to be Defected at Pacha. Copyright, Junior Jack & Kid Creme and Sandy Rivera were playing, I instantly knew I wanted to play for Defected one day.
Favourite Defected record?
What other labels do you rate highly?
Gender shouldn’t affect DJs rise to fame but do you think it does in any way?
It’s never effected me, I’ve always looked at myself as an artist so I've gained respect in the industry from doing just that. There probably are females in the industry that use their looks but the music industry doesn't suffer fools, looks will only get you so far. If you don't do the do when you're performing and you're not the whole package then there's no longevity for you. Maya Jane Coles flew the flag for female artists high, I have a lot of respect for her, she is the whole package, her DJing and Production are on point and her sound is very unique, I have a lot of time for that. Other female Artists I respect are Annie Mac, she's nailed it with radio and recently put her own weekend on in Malta. I also have massive respect for Heidi who still plays on vinyl and tours as much as she does. All these ladies offer the whole package and will be around for a very long time.
With the summer fast approaching how is your calendar looking, what are your highlights?
WeAre FSTVL is a big one for me in the diary and also the official start of the summer , I played the 1st one in 2013 and I hold very fond memories of that day, its continued too be one of the gigs I most look forward to playing. Another massive one for me this summer is my debut at SW4, I have supported many of my friends at the festival so to be asked to play main stage this year will be an honour. I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into my residency at Amnesia this summer for Defected where we will be hosting the terrace alongside together, I have 8 dates all together and then the next day flying to Mallorca to play a Defected pool party.
You have done many seasons over in Ibiza, tell us about your relationship with Ibiza and what makes it special for you?
I have been going to Ibiza for over 10 years, after twice going on holiday I decided to do a season; this year will be 8th year as a residency DJ. I started at the bottom of the west end playing for free then gradually made my way up to the top where I held a residency at Hush bar for 4 years, this was a cruel time in my career, I learnt a lot, how to read a crowd, how to play experiment with music and worked on my technical ability. After 4 years I was signed to Defected and held residencies at Pacha, Cafe Mambo & Savannah, had a weekly radio show on Ibiza Global Radio and last year had a residency at Boom. Ibiza is and will always be just the best to play, it started my journey as a young DJ and created the confident successful artist I am today. I owe a lot to Ibiza.
Favourite club in London?
Ministry of Sound
Favourite club in Ibiza?
What is your prime set time and why?
2-4 because people are raring to go at that time, they've had their warm up and now its time to get real on the dance floor.
Who would you most like to play b2b with?
Which 10 artists would you choose to perform at a Sam Divine Electronic Festival?
Richy Ahmed - Simon Dunmore - Sonny Fodera - Heidi - Kerri Chandler - Skream - Jackmaster - Low Steppa - Dennis Ferrer - Dale Howard