Long associated with the legendary Defected Records, Sam Divine has come a long way since being a record shop employee having spent the last nine years being a key component to the White Isle’s party scene. Her travels have seen her tour throughout Europe as well as Brazil, Chile, Japan and Dominican Republic, with festival highlights including We Are FSTVL (UK) and Pacha Festival (The Netherlands) as well as securing a three year residency at Ushuaia, Ibiza. Without doubt one of the most popular and passionate DJs on the circuit.
Divine’s DJ career initially kicked off when she won a DJ competition in Bristol which led to a club residency. Massively in to her soulful house she began working in record shops such as Chemical Records as a house buyer where she gained most of her music and industry knowledge. It was these moments where she realised her life and house music were inseparable. ‘The warehouse was underneath the offices’ she explains, ‘so I used to spend hours down there rummaging through the vinyls on my lunch break’.
Divine’s sets are a blend of Deep ,Vocal and Balearic house and with a solid experienced understanding of the entire house genre guarantees tasteful and exciting performances and this year sees her playing alongside Sandy Rivera, Noir, Dennis Ferrer, Joris Voorn, Pirupa, Flashmob, Supernova, Maxxi Soundsystem, Osunlade, David Morales, Dimitri From Paris, Copyright and many more.
In addition to a booming DJ career, Sam is also an ambassador for Breast Cancer Research thanks to her annual charity night La Vita of which 25 female DJs helped to launch. This year marks La Vita’s 8th birthday in Ibiza and London, and so far its success has helped to raise over £35,000. In an industry where many artists are praised for their efforts and determination Sam Divine shines brightly as a true example of diligence. She is the personification of someone who genuinely possesses such traits and this is evident in her countless achievements in such a short time span. Her unrivalled work ethic is displayed through her animated and dexterous DJ sets of which continue to build her an ever growing loyal fan base. She is in our eyes an icon for inspiration of what you can achieve if you pour your heart into something you adore.
Grant Richards caught up with Sam Divine for a few moments out of her hectic tour schedule
You’ve not long come back from playing for Defected at Snowbombing. How was that?
These days it’s no big deal DJing on the side of a mountain and the envelope is constantly being pushed where people DJ. Ben Westbeech/Breach played on a crane for Red Bull recently!
Where’s the strangest place you’ve ever played and do you have any desire to play somewhere odd?
Probably at a car show in Belgium, I was reallyyyyy high up on scaffolding, which was rocking from side to side, which was pretty scary. I definitely don’t have a desire to play anywhere where you’re above the crowd again. Eye level is sufficient thank you.
It’s pretty well known within the industry that you are one of the ‘good guys’ in a scene that is often full of ego and wallies. Do you make a conscious effort to ‘keep it real’ or does it all come naturally? And any tips for those with their head too far up their ass?
Ha good question! I’ve had a good working ethos from day one: treat people how you want to be treated and reply to everyone that takes the time to message you. I’m really on it with my social networking, it takes a lot of time to reply to everyone, but I’ve built up a solid fan base. Without anybody supporting you, then you’re just a bedroom DJ. As for the egos, I don’t watch what anyone else is doing. I see it, but it doesn’t faze me. I have a solid family with Defected and everyone who is affiliated with the label is professional. My tip is if your head is too far up your arse, you wont last long in the music industry, people haven’t got time for it.
To compliment that persona, you even do ‘a lot for charideee mate’ with your long running Breast Cancer event La Vita. Not that many people do charity stuff in the industry. We all know it’s a business, but do you think there should be more events like yours? Or people spreading awareness, like the Remember events, that acknowledges depression within the scene?
Yes, that’s my friend’s night, they held it at Fabric, it was all the old faces that come to La Vita. We have a solid raving firm in London and we all support each other when it comes to charity nights or putting nights on. La Vita to date has raised over £35,000 , we’re the longest running charity event in London. This year we will celebrate 8 years, I’m very proud of what we have achieved.
A lot has been written on your relationship with Defected, but I don’t want to skip past it totally, as it’s been an integral part of your growth as a DJ. You’ve covered off previously, what Defected has brought to the table for you, but what do you feel you have brought to the mix for Defected?
Probably the coolest question I’ve ever been asked. Defected has been my life since I very first found Deep Soulful House. It was a burning passion from day one, so I’m 100% committed to Defected. I did my research on the label and I’ve spent hours going through the back catalogue, so I’d like to think Simon Dunmore signed me not just because I’m passionate about what I do, but I also have a knowledge for the label so I’m able to go out there and fully rep the brand and represent Simon’s legacy.
Talking of labels, you’ve started up your own, D-Vine Sounds and just dropped your first release. What led you to want to go down that path, as it’s often a route frustrated producers want to take to get their material out there, rather than wait indefinitely on ever changing release schedules?
It’s been a floating idea for 10 years, but never one I put into practise until now. I worked in record shops for 4 years as a House buyer, so I was constantly in contact with distributers and labels. Vinyl days were some of the best days of my life and I learned a lot of my skill and knowledge from that time, but as my DJ’ing career took off I felt I needed to concentrate 100% on that. Hence why I never got into production either at that time. Soundcloud for me is like my bible nowadays. As soon as a producer makes a track they put it straight on Soundcloud. I was finding more and more artists that I either hadn’t heard of before or had been on my radar for a little while, but I had never really looked into them.
I kind of got a bit obsessed on Soundcloud for a few weeks and found so much good new music, that I was having conversation with a friend and was bewildered by why this music wasn’t out there. I was supporting their tracks in my sets so why wasn’t the music out there on big labels? So he suggested I start my own label and give these artists a platform, so the next day that’s exactly what I did and D-Vine Sounds was born. It was the perfect timing.
Even though you are now taking the ‘Producer’ route, you’ve built your name off of being a DJ as opposed to the now standard ‘DJ/Producer’. Have you felt a little pressure to follow that option or was it the next logical step?
Not one bit, I’m proud that I’ve built my whole career up to this point on playing other people’s records. That’s a big achievement in itself and I’ve gained respect in the industry from that. Production never interested me when I first started. I wanted to master my skill at DJ’ing and I wanted the time to be right for me and that time is now 10 years on. I want to take my time with production and have fun with it. I’m fully focused on DJ’ing and the label. Everything has a time and a place.
I saw that the Abode promoters got you an Easter cake in the shape of some CDJs and a mixer, prior to your gig for them recently, which was a nice touch. Do you think promoters should go that little step beyond from time to time to make the DJ feel more at home, or do you think that the DJ gets enough as it is?
I think the promoter’s give back to the DJ’s what they give to the party. I went to the launch of Abode at Studio 338 and have been a few times since on a Sunday. So I support Kai just as much as he supports me. He’s such a great person to work with, his promo and work ethic is on point, he’s a real pleasure to work with. It’s very rare these days that promoters go that extra mile, so it’s refreshing. I’m just as happy with a bottle of Brandy though!
It’s fairly safe to say, that not many people would argue with me, if I said you were rather pleasing on the eye, however you have never exploited that fact. We can’t get away from the fact that ‘sex sells’ though, so do you roll your eyes at the DJs that do use their looks and/or sexuality as a way of getting further?
Being a female in this industry can have its challenges as people do stereotype you. So for me and probably many other respected female artists in the industry, it’s our duty to remove that stigma. Luckily, all my pals in the industry are real people, naturally talented and haven’t needed to use anything else but their skills to have become the recognised artists that they are today.
Someone who definitely wouldn’t disagree with the ‘pleasing on the eye’ thing is the fan who got a tattoo of your face on them. Were you a bit perturbed at first, or did you just feel it was an honour that someone appreciated you enough to get that done?
I was absolutely overwhelmed when he sent that to me. Considering he has never even seen me play, only listened to me hosting the Defected radio show, it was a really sweet thing to do and shows the power of what DJ’s can achieve through House music. I was very very honoured.
Someone on my FB at the turn of the year said “2015 is going to be the year of the female DJ”. Are we not past having to separate that out now? It may have been different in the past, but now there are so many good female DJ role models, like the raft of Radio One DJs: Annie Mac, Traits and Monk who will inspire the next wave of female DJs that it all just continues in the right direction and that slightly antiquated (and potentially sexist) outlook of ‘Oh it’s a girl DJ’ will be a thing of the past?
In the last 10 years there’s only been a few female DJ’s that I can think of off the top of my head that have made serious waves. Of course you’ve got your sterling bubblers like Heidi, Cassy, Ana Schneider, Hito & Tini but Maya Jane Coles, Annie Mac and Hannah Wants are the one’s press talk about. But then again I can say the same for the guys. The rise of Eats Everything, Dusky, Hot Since 82, Oliver $. These are all artists that have been in the game for over 10 years, but all you need is that one track and BOOM, you’re a sensation over night. Everybody knows the drill, that’s all it takes. Graft and passion is actually the easy bit.
Another thing I can’t let you go without talking about is Ibiza. It seems to be a bit of a spiritual home for you. What do you make of the pretty drastic changes that have taken place over the past few years? How do you feel it is at the moment and where do you feel it is going?
It’s been my 2nd home for many years,. This year will actually be my 9th year as a resident DJ on the island so I’ve earned my stripes. From playing in moody bars in the West End to headlining Ushuaia. I really don’t take any notice of negative press about the island. Its still just as beautiful to me as it was 10 years ago. I still get the same overwhelming feeling of happiness when I touchdown.
I still play with my heart on my sleeve every time and I still always have the best time every time I go there, so nothing has changed for me personally. If anything I think the Island is getting better. There’s a lot of competition now, so the club brands have had to up their game to get numbers through the door. No one wants to go to a half empty night in Ibiza. That would just be wack and not what Ibiza is about at all. You want to be amongst 1000’s of people all going at it as one. Everyone has to bring their A Game with line ups and show production and that goes for the clubbers too. If you’re a half arsed raver, then take yourself and your huaraches to Malia. Go hard or go home son!
Right I’ve got a couple of fun and quicker questions to chuck at you before we’re done: You’ve quite the affinity with Essex. If TOWIE approached you to appear in the show and have a proper DJ instead ofLauren Pope, what would you say?
No way, that is one of the worst shows on TV.
I think it’s safe to say that there’s a ‘garage girl’ inside Sam Divine. What’s your fav 3 UKG tracks and what’s your preferred UKG dance move?
MJ Cole – Sincere
702 – You Don’t Know
Myron – Get Down (Groove Chronicles Mix)
Trigger fingers is the preferred dance move, although I have seen the slut drop, but I’m yet to try that one out, in the comfort of my own home obviously.
Finally, I’ve gotta ask you about our mutual love for trainers, what are your Holy Grails and what kicks would you save in a fire?
My kicks collection has got completely out of hand now, to the point where my best friends as well as my mum are telling me I need to stop and they actually get pissed off if they see another tweet or instgram post of a Nike box. I would have to say my favourite kicks are My Jordan 6 retro infrared 95 release. They re-released them this year and I could of cried, although they’re some moody pink colour instead of red so if you see someone wearing the 95 release it’s a like ‘Yeah you’re a G’ and not just got them in JD. If I had my Jordan 6s on my feet then I’d have to save my Jordan 3s