Housemates – Interview with DJ Sabrina the Teenage DJ
During the dreary year of lockdowns that was 2020, a beacon of hope came in the form of DJ Sabrina the Teenage DJ’s ‘Charmed‘, a nostalgia fuelled house odyssey that gives a similar warmth and comfort as The Avalanches’ ‘Since I Left You’. We had a chat over email in anticipation of her guest mix on Housemates, which you can hear here !
You’ve mentioned that digital is great for longer length albums, but is never utilised. Why is the digital format under-utilised? And what do you prefer personally about releasing longer length albums rather than shorter ones?
Because everyone still releases albums that would fit on two sides of a vinyl or a standard CD at best! Digital is limitless, you could make a 24-hour album and you’d have no trouble distributing it anywhere digitally*, just no-one has done it yet (I don’t think?)…
*this may not be true, distributors may have limits, I don’t really know
Does society have long enough attention spans to listen to whole albums anymore? Where do album long artistic statements fit into the age of playlist culture?
They probably don’t, which is why I always release a singles version so people can listen to whatever songs in whatever order they wish! I don’t care at all how anyone listens to the album, that structure was merely my preferred way of hearing it. We have long enough attention spans to binge-watch entire series of shows on Netflix, but maybe music has had it’s day… after all, music is only satisfying one sense, and TV is satisfying at least two of them. I need to be doing something else if I’m listening to music, but I can get lost in it as long as I’m not just sat in front of the speakers in the lounge on the couch with my pipe and slippers… maybe that’s how we can focus on music in the digital age: long albums on the phone, airbuds and doing something else…
Why is nostalgia so important in electronic/dance music especially?
I guess rock had nostalgia a few years ago when they brought the sixties back, then the seventies, but when it hit the eighties the rock started to morph into dance music. Dance music’s kinda just coming in where rock would be more appropriately be referencing 80’s shoegaze or early alternative rock. Plus dance music (much like rock) became suuuuuper commercial and it’s a way to rebel against that I guess?
What do you think nostalgia will look like in the future?
Well, I’m still waiting for the big millennium comeback, so much style and sound from 00-10 that’s looking pretty dated now and will be fresh for revival very soon…
Is there too much theory and discussion in dance music? Do we need to return to “less chin stroking, more dancing?”
Depends, IDM was nicknamed Braindance by its own artists as a way of distancing themselves from the idea that IDM was more intelligent than other styles of dance music. I guess the clowny dance music stars come and go, right now they’re buttoning up their grandad shirts and pulling their three-quarter profile gazes, but in a few more years we’ll probably go back to more shame(ful)less Mad Decent antics…
Now that the first phase of the DJSTTDJ Cinematic Universe has finished, which album deserves a revisit or a sequel in the next pentalogy of albums?
Witchkraft! Everyone missed this one (and Spellbound, but that’s another story) but I still think it’s surprisingly consistent, considering I didn’t think I was making any more music after that…
How do you feel about people sampling your work just as you have sampled others’?
That would be pretty cool, if people kept doing that we’d end up with a sampling hall of mirrors!
Do you think there is ever an end point in the life of a sample?
Maybe it’s a fixed point in time, like, no-one really wants to sample anything pre-60’s anymore but it was gimmicky back in the 90’s. 60’s music will always be samplable though, I imagine, it’ll just keep rolling…
It’s been proven time and time again that sampling is an art form just as much as any other form of music. Will sampling ever break free from the connotations of ‘low effort music’?
If a really clever and high-profile and rich and influential artist goes to court and makes people see that copyright is dead and fair-use is broad and Mickey Mouse should be royalty-free.
You’ve been asked a lot about your favourite albums, what about live sets and performances you’ve heard or seen that inspire you just as much as studio albums?
I love The Avalanches mixes, they are my main source of inspiration. I do like mixes (and songs) to be as active and “alive” feeling as possible. If I’m listening to a mix and it sounds like I could just put the songs on one after another, I’d prefer to just do that instead of listening to someone else put them on for me. Mixes are more “mashpilations” to me, compilations of mashups that just seem to constantly wash around themselves and evolve. The songs become kinda non-linear samples in a way, the line between what a song is and isn’t becomes very blurred.
Does performing your songs live interest you? And if you perform your own songs live, would that just make you Sabrina the Teenage?
Haha, I guess it would be neat but nobody’s ever really asked! I don’t think many people would be interested in me playing live, to be honest, I think they like the online mystique much more…
Why is Janet Jackson so underrated?
Because of the disproportionately unfair treatment of her following Nipplegate.
DJSTTDJ’s music is available on Bandcamp and streaming services !
Give the Housemates mix a listen here !
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