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Interview with ‘Next Girl DJ’ Sam Red


Always on the lookout on encouraging better representation of girls in so-called male dominated areas, you can imagine how delighted we were to hear about the Next Girl DJ contest, that Roxy set up in cooperation with JBL. After a bunch of application rounds, live sets and a massive online voting, Sam Red from the UK was chosen by the judges and the public vote to be next Girl DJ. We caught up with her

You were announced winner of the JBL/Roxy Next Girl DJ comp last week. How does that feel?
Amazing!! I am still buzzing from it all. The whole contest has been a complete roller coaster ride – but what a ride! To sum it up in three words: nerve-wracking, exciting, exhilarating

Were you surprised you won?
More than surprised, I really didn’t expect to get through to the semi-final, let alone to win the whole competition. I just hoped I wouldn’t come last. As the competition progressed I found myself becoming quite competitive and wanting to win, although I really never expected too. I nearly fell off my chair at work when JBL called to tell me!! It really has been an amazing experience and such a great opportunity.

The semi finals was a live set, right? How did that go?
Oh my God I was so nervous, probably the most nervous out of all the girls. The other contestants were all great and very supportive and we have actually all stayed in touch. I only had 20 minutes to try and impress the judges – and was up against some really tough competition! I felt I had done the best I could have done on the night, and amazingly for me the judges thought so too.

Did you already think you could win then?
Not at all!

What do you think gave you the advantage over the other girls?
I think we all had our own individual styles and it was down to the judges to decide.

What makes your style special?
I just love electronic music, and  play what I feel is right for that moment. I’ve spent many years on the other side of the decks, and try to imagine when I’m playing what I would want to hear if I was on the dance floor.

What have you been up to since you got the great news, lot’s of partying?
I went out celebrating with my friends on Friday and there was definitely lots of partying. I think my friends were just as excited as me and were so supportive all through the competition; I really couldn’t have done it without them.

How did you get to enter the JBL/Roxy Next Girl DJ contest in the first place?
A friend suggested that I entered and I actually thought it would be a good reason to do a new mix at the same time!

Have you always been into music?
Ever since I can remember!! I’ve always been surrounded by music. My Dad actually used to be a DJ in his younger years at the local disco and my brother James also produces music in his spare time. I always remember having music on no matter what I was doing when I was growing up, and I guess not much has changed.

How did you start spinning records yourself?
I remember always being jealous of my brother when he got his first turntables but he would never let me play on them. I always wanted to get some turntables but it was some years later I finally started DJing. My friend Sam bought some technics 1210’s and we set them up at my house so her parents wouldn’t complain about the noise. After that I was hooked and was determined to master the art of mixing.

What do you like most about it?
I love playing music and the art of being able to take tracks and blend them into a unique musical journey. I never intended to start playing to other people, but after I did I loved the feeling of sharing the music that I had found and enjoyed with other people, so they too could enjoy it. There really is nothing better than playing a track at the right moment and looking up to see people dancing, smiling and connecting.

I read a quote from you saying music is like your religion…
Ha ha I wrote that a long time ago when I first started DJing although I guess it is true in some senses. For me music, is my passion. I refer to it as my religion in a more spiritual way. It’s an escapism that not only gives me great enjoyment but also gives me time to think and make sense of the world.

You also say, house music becomes part of your soul. What exactly do you mean by that?
I guess I often relate music to life experiences and feelings. Music often makes me feel good and happy. It reminds me of how rich and multi-layered life is and gives me time to respect and think deeply, which for me can only be good for my soul.

You also work as a nurse, how does that work out with moonlighting as a DJ?
I seem to balance it quite well. DJing is a hobby that I enjoy doing and nursing is my job. I work in the week Monday to Friday and on the weekends I play. I would never play all night and then go to work. For me DJing is a great way to relax and loose some of the stresses and demands that I experience at work.

Did you ever think of doing DJing full time?
I would love to if I had the opportunity, but unfortunately I have not got to a stage that DJing could support me financially. I often play sets because I like to play and share my music. If I could do something I love so passionately as a full time job, I would do it tomorrow.

DJing still seems pretty male dominated, how do you deal with that?
It is largely male dominated but there is an ever increasing number of women appearing on the scene and there is some amazing female talent already out there too like Anja Schneider, Magda, Smokin’ Jo, Tania Vulcano….the list goes on. I don’t find I have to deal with it being a male dominated industry, as long as I’m playing music people are enjoying and doing my job as a DJ – that’s all that matters. Anja Schneider was also one of the judges on the Next Girl DJ competition, and part of my prize that JBL have arranged is playing a set on her show – so I’m particularly pleased about that.

Did you have any bad experience with guys not taking you seriously?
I can’t say I’ve ever experienced anything negative, if anything quite the opposite. I think people like to see a female DJ because it is not as common, and are quite often pleasantly surprised if anything.

What tips / advice can you give girls who want to get behind the decks?
Get involved, be determined and believe you can do it.

What’s your favourite track right now?
There is so much great music out there at the moment, if I have to choose one I would say Mihalis Safras There is No Place (Hugo Remix) on Trapez.

What other stuff do you like to listen to at the moment?
I listen to all kinds of music but mainly electronic dance music. It depends on what mood I’m in to what I listen too. I enjoy listening to music I grew up with; some of the classic rock bands such as The Who, Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd along with artists such as Tina Turner, Stevie Wonder and Paul Weller.

What do you do besides DJing and nursing?
Ha there isn’t a lot of time left when you take these out of the equation! I love to spend time with my friends and family, although it feels like there is never enough time for this. I also love to travel experiencing different cultures, and of course from time to time you will catch me dancing the night away!!

Are you into any board sports, surfing, skating, snowboarding?
I’ve always wanted to learn to surf but never got round to it. One of my prizes from winning the Next Girl DJ Competition, in addition to audio products from JBL, is a custom made Roxy surf board so now I have no excuse, and I can’t wait to go get some lessons and try it out.

What are your plans for the future?
Well to win this competition has not only given me an opportunity to believe in my skills as a DJ, but also to use it as a platform to show people what I can do. I’m also involved in an exciting new project called sync-live.com were I’m collaborating with 3 other artists to produce a show based on embracing new technologies, forward thinking music and live performance. We’re showcasing at Arenal Sound Festival in Valencia in July, and of course I’m very much looking forward to the playing at the Longboard Festival in Biarritz, France for Roxy Jam.

Anything else you want to say…?
A huge, huge thank you to everyone that has supported me on my amazing Next Girl DJ Journey and a big thank you to Roxy, JBL, Lets Mix, all the organisers, judges and everyone else involved in the competition for giving me this amazing opportunity. I intend to grab it with both hands and hope that this is just the beginning!

Oh, we’re sure it is!

Listen to Sam’s amazing winning mix at letsmix.com/nextgirldj and make sure you hear her playing live at the Roxy Jam in Biarritz, should you be around the Basque coast on July 10-14th.

jbl.com

roxy.com

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