Having a DJ name like Sarah Love, there's no doubt that this powerful mackstress has got a lot of passion popping off! Whether it's spinning and grinning for hip hop cats on the flourishing UK scene or winding and grinding for the masses on MTV with her fashion-based show ‘Good Look', Love keeps shooting arrows. And to top it off she's got one killer kick collection to leave you fellas for dead. We caught up with the selector in the middle of her US tour to get the lowdown on how she turned an obsession with hip hop into an affair to remember!
Let's jump straight into it! There seems to be a running thread with old school DJs (meaning those that have been around before the advent of Serato, downloading and digital media) that most were influenced into spinning by either their parents or siblings... Tell us how you got into the game!
My introduction to the official Hip Hop community in the UK was through working at Pete Real's original Deal Real Records store in London. Around that time is when I began to take the idea of being a DJ seriously, did my first ever DJ set and became resident at Kung Fu, which went on to become a legendary London Hip Hop party. But my first taste of DJing was because of my parents, they had records and they had house parties. So you know someone's gotta keep the music going and people dancing and that was me.
Word! You had a pretty full on childhood having been extradited from South Africa because of your parent's interracial marriage - how was growing up in the UK and how did it eventually influence the type of music you played out?
I'm London born and raised and I'm so proud to call it my home. It's an incredible city that has fully supported and facilitated my passion for music. It's so diverse and everything decent happening in the art world has to roll through London, so if that's what you're into it's a great place to be! My parents have broad listening tastes and used to take us to A LOT of live shows around the city, mainly Jazz. So you know growing up I was hearing a lot of very dope musicians in our house and at gigs, from Latin to African to Arabic music and everything in between. My parents and London exposed me to many different styles and scenes of music and that adds to my versatility as a DJ and musician.
What was it about hip hop that tugged at your heartstrings?
Man, I always knew Hip Hop and I were destined to be together. I knew I was gonna be a Hip Hop DJ before I even had turntables or a clue of how it would happen. Hip Hop is renegade music and I'm a warrior at heart. Hip Hop has soul and I love soulful expression. It's arguably the deepest and most influential genre since Jazz. It has so many levels to it, musical, social, political. It's us, the people in reality and I respect its truth, artistry and legacy.
You've been a professional DJ for over ten years - thinking back to the beginning just how monumental was it being a female in the game? What challenges did you face to overcome such adversity and become such a powerful force on the UK scene?
Oh wow Mafia, thank you! To be honest I don't really stop and think about things like that, I just keep focused on progression and doing what I'm passionate about. I've never seen it as them (the boys) vs. me; I just want to be able to tear up the tables like the next DJ. I just believe the only thing that can conquer each of us is in our own minds. I've just tried to make sure I'm good at what I do.
How is the local scene holding up these days? I was in UK when So Solid were ruling the airwaves and pirate radio was the biggest thing - back in early 2000. How has it changed?
That was the beginning of the rise of ‘urban' (for lack of a better word) acts' presence in the charts. Now, UK acts making pop-dance-rap styles are permitted to be showcased, so a lot of people are selling out and jumping on the bandwagon. On the Hip Hop front, the music coming out of the UK right now is better than ever. There's a worldwide renaissance happening in Hip Hop with a massive following, like millions. And yet we're still discriminated against within the industry. Mainstream media doesn't reflect the movement at all. I don't think they have a clue actually. But so what!?
Well speaking of media, you're also working with MTV on a number of shows - tell us about working with them...
Working with MTV has been a great experience for me - being my first long-term TV job I learnt so much. Meeting interesting people and getting a deeper insight into the making of television is fascinating to me and a whole lotta fun too.
Totally, on your show ‘Good Look' you get to delve deep into the fashion side of the game...we peeped the segment you did on trainers! Is there still a massive culture there for collecting?
Hell yeah! I think we have different kinds of collectors nowadays. You know, you've got the connoisseurs and the cats flying overseas just to buy kicks. Then there's the young kids who really take pride in their shoes and identify with particular styles even if they're throwbacks.
Well you've amassed a sweet collection yourself! You're in the perfect position to have a nice crate of kicks - when did you first start getting deep into collecting?
Hmm-good question. Twelve. I can't even remember what brought it on but I became a bit obsessional about adidas! Haha! I knew all the spots to hit for the retro tracksuits and I wanted all the flavours. That's probably when the bug started kicking in really. But I remember being about eight and begging my mum to buy me this pair of BKs! Hahaha. So when I got a pair of Fila F13s when I was 10, believe I respected those joints!
Is it a given that if you're into hip hop and a DJ you gotta have nice kicks? Spin Doctor tells us most DJs are collectors of anything - sneakers being no different - but he points out the most important aspect of rocking kicks is for comfort when you're spinning all night long - what are your thoughts?
Err yea kinda I guess, but I like the rebellious people who refuse to conform and wear flip-flops to DJ or something. Hahaha! Why not? Whatever's clever for you y'know. I ain't gonna snub you cos your footwear ain't right, but trust mine is always on point. Whether I'm DJing in kicks or high heels.
Hahah, no doubt....so what's the first thing you look for when you cop trainers?
Bless! Any shout outs to any particular stores or peeps that hook you up nicely?
Thanks to all the lovely people at Kiks TYO, Puma, adidas, Nike, Reebok and Crooked Tongues. Sorry if I've overlooked anybody!
Funny you should say that - Why has there not been a Sarah Love collabo yet? Can we look forward to one?
YouknowhatImsayin!? Soon come.
We can only wait with bated breath! With a massive 2009 behind you, what's in store for 2010 and the future of DJ Sarah Love?
So much to do, so little time. DJing, writing, radio, A&R'ing, TV... to name some things. I keep my life focussed on forward progression and I strive for quality. I'm really excited about my new show ‘Soul Power with Sarah Love' on Spine TV, which is getting iller with every episode. I've just done a run of gigs across Europe, I'm in the States at the moment and will be touching down in Australasia later this year. I'm always on the move with something fresh, so the best way to keep in touch is right here www.djsarahlove.com
Images courtesy of Errol Photography