In the House with Sam Divine
2016 has been the year of Sam Divine.
The Bristol-born DJ is without a doubt a hugely popular favourite on the scene, wooing crowds from London to Brazil with her unique brand of floor-filling House, spinning everything from lesser-known underground bubblers to party-starting anthems. This year has seen her conquer the globe, playing everywhere from The Netherlands to Ibiza alongside the Defected crew and with the success of her own D-Vine Sounds imprint and landing her very own slot in Defected’s coveted ‘In the House’ compilation series, she’s showing no signs of slowing down.
We caught up with Defected’s ‘First Lady’ to chat about the release of her new comp on Defected Records.
Hey Sam! Thanks for chatting to us. 2016 is shaping up to be quite a year for you with the ‘Sam Divine in the House comp on Defected’, jet-setting the globe and the success of your D-Vine sounds imprint.. How do you stay focused and look after yourself?
I hate to say it but I don’t do a very good job of looking after myself, especially in the summer and the busier months but I stay 100% focused. My downtime is on the plane, I get most of my work done in that time because I’m not distracted by my phone. I’m very good at multi tasking at home I can be listening to demo’s, catching up my emails, updating my social media and there’s also a shopping tab or 2 open. Flying is bliss nowadays, minus all the delays.
You started your career in a record shop (as many of us did), an avenue that isn’t really an option anymore, have you got any inspiring words of wisdom for young DJs trying to launch their careers in today’s scene?
Its dog eat dog out there so you have to have stamina and be prepared for knock backs. You can be the best DJ in the word but I honesty believe if you didn’t have the right mind set or even know a little bit of history and knowledge about House music then it’s a very short lived career for you. Harsh but true. Working in record shops taught me a lot about music and the history of house but I also read books, watched documentaries, made a conscience effort to attend big industry parties such as WMC to network and also watch how the big dogs played. Frankie Knuckles (R.I.P), Kenny Dope, Dennis Ferrer and Kerri Chandler are all big inspirations for me. Their sound and work ethic is all on point and they’ve also all given me great advise over the years so don’t be afraid to ask questions.
You’ve been the face (voice) of the Defected radio show for a while now and the bargrooves podcast before that, Defected taking you under their wing is a dream come true for any DJ, have you got any advice for anyone trying to get noticed by Simon and the gang?
I absolutely love presenting the radio show. I used to present Defected clubland adventures before Bargrooves which meant I would interview the DJ’s before their sets at Mambo and Pacha so I kinda fell into the podcast by accident Simon is a very clever man. He has a plan for every artist he signs. He finds you before you find him. It’s just in his nature. Only the strongest survive at Defected. Simon likes artists that are individuals; it takes an awful lot to impress him. Hounding the Defected team with demos or mixes that aren’t the Defected sound isn’t a great start so make sure you have something special to offer and if you really believe then don’t give up. I didn’t!
The Defected brand is synonymous with quality underground House music and the London House scene. How do you think they stay relevant into day’s game?
Simon has been in the game many years so he’s seen the trends change and he’s not silly enough to jump on a bandwagon. He wouldn’t book a bassline DJ for instance it just doesn’t match. I think because the brand has been global for so long and coming into the 16th year with 500 releases which to me is really impressive to stay string for that long in a scene that changes so quickly. Its definitely inspired me to how I run D-Vine Sounds and the do’s and don’ts. I think you if you always follow your heart you can’t fail.
Speaking on London’s current nightlife and recent events (Fabric & Dance Tunnel closing etc.) do you feel there is a future for London clubbing with the way things are headed?
It’s not looking good. Pretty much all of the clubs that I first started raving in when I moved to London have closed down. The Cross, The Key, Canvas, The End were all big favorites of mine and now Fabric, its so sad. I’d like to see it go back to warehouse spaces, no frills parties just a huge rig and quality music, so dark you cant even see who’s playing. Take it back to the old skool. All these clubs proved that you don’t need fancy production, it was about the quality of the DJ’s and the space you danced in.
You’ve been invited to play the closing fiesta at arguably the best club in the world, none other than SPACE Ibiza; how on earth do you prepare for a set like that?
I have no clue how this is happened but I’m so honored to have been asked. I’ve been playing in Ibiza for 11 years and Space has always been a club on the bucket list to play. I played there for the first time this summer for Creamfields and Defected as part of Radio one so to be asked back I’m made up. I don’t think you can prepare for a set like that. I’m just going to play all my favorite records.
It’s been a while since your last comp for Defected (Deep, Down and Defected, 2014) tell us a bit about your new ‘Sam Divine in the House’ compilation, how did you go about selecting the tracks?
It’s taken months to put the comp together so as soon as I was asked to mix it I started a playlist. I selected solid tracks that were either doing it for me week in week out at gigs or tracks that I would buy that I couldn’t necessary play out. I ended up with nearly 100 tracks and had to narrow that down. I wanted the mix to take you on a journey and have a beginning, middle and end so disc 1 was more for the pre party and disc 2 for the after party.
You’re following in the footsteps of some great producers / selectors in this series (Sonny Fodera, MK, Nic Fanciulli etc) did you feel a lot of pressure putting this one together? What gives it that quintessential Sam Divine feel?
It’s crazy because when the Nick Curly In the house compilation came out, I held it in my hand and I told my friend one day I’ll be holding my own CD so it really was a dream come true to do this. I wanted to put the 2 mixes together and look back in 10 years time and still be proud of the music I chose. Its’ definitely inspired me to be more experimental in my club sets. My sound is straight up House, I love a deep bassline with a powerful vocal, I also love a garage influenced jackin bassline. I play between the 2.
I notice that you’ve included the Carnao Beats remix of ‘2People’ on the comp (D-vine Sounds), pretty much a signature in your sets these days. When you signed that record, did you expect it to blow up in the way that it did?
In my heart I knew it would do good. I signed it because I absolutely love the original. I have it on a white label and each sleeve the lyrics were hand written so it’s a really special record to me anyway so when Carnao brought the remix to table I had to have it. Its crazy the support it got from DJ’s, radio and on the dance floor. I’m proud of that signing.
You’ve also included some of your own tracks and remixes on the album, ‘Flashing Lights’ (with Curtis Gabriel), ‘Madre’ (with Qubiko),‘Confessions’ (feat. Nat Conway) etc. and ‘Baby Boo’ with Casey Spillman. This is a relatively new direction, will we be seeing a lot more production from you in 2017?
Yep for now I’m still learning so I’m collabing with artists that I respect a lot. I’m in the process of building a home studio so watch this space :)
Finally, what’s next for Sam Divine in 2017?
Lots more touring, there’s South America, Australia and Asia tours all in the diary. Production will definitely be a key highlight for me next year and also building the D-Vine Sounds empire. We are already getting offers for festivals and will be hosting bespoke parties throughout the year. There’s also a very exciting Ibiza residency with Defected on the cards. I’m in a good place with everything so I’m ready for whatever 2017 throws at me.