The Beat LDN’s very own LadyInTheTRAP, Sarah Harrison, tells us about life as a passionate Hip Hop DJ.
And, if that’s not enough, Sarah is also Nike’s Official DJ.
Eager to find out more about Sarah Harrison’s life as a Hip Hop DJ, we arranged a sit-down chat.
You can read the full interview below:
Sarah, Let’s do a quick background check…
I attended Laine Theatre Arts college until the age of 19, where my studies were based on Performing Arts encompassing intense dance training, singing and acting.
At what moment did you decide to become a DJ?
Midway through college, I began immersing myself deeper in Hip-Hop; mostly as an escape route from the world of performing that I wasn’t connecting with.
Growing up in Malta did not expose me to the genre at all, so when I moved to London, I was slowly, but surely getting accustomed to the culture.
What’s your passion driver?
Music was always my number one passion, which started via singing and throughout the years branched out to piano playing and music production.
I was always keen on taking up drums, but I couldn’t afford it, nor make room for a drum kit; so, I was hot on making beats during my late teens and early twenties. All I needed was a MIDI keyboard and Logic! To help in my beat making, I began digging further into the history of Hip-Hop and geeking on the producers cultivating the sound; which, in turn, led to building an extensive archive that naturally called for the DJ in me!
Without a single piece of equipment, I constructed mixes in my head, bagged enough gigs to earn me money that could buy me turntables, and here I am!
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Some say DJing is a dying skill. What do you think?
It’s one of the most underrated roles in the industry. We hold the pieces to puzzles and connect a lot of dots, but can be taken for granted quite often.
DJing is one of the core elements of Hip Hop. I cannot speak much for other genres, but one thing is for certain, when DJ’s put themselves behind those decks, they all have responsibilities to fulfil.
Well, would you say the role of a DJ has changed?
In the beginning days of Hip-Hop, the DJ was considered as much of a performer as the emcee and break dancer, so it was imminent for he/she to put on a show and display mad skill through Turntablism.
Although the latter may have vanished, the features being installed into modern equipment are allowing for new skills to form.
Having said that, considering the era of DJing that I landed in, I could have easily bought myself a controller and learned 100% the digital way, but for the culture’s sake, I couldn’t dismiss the foundations.
I believe one needs to have a real understanding of music, and I mean the sonics of it, to be justified as a “good DJ”.
Yes, certain technologies have enabled less than capable individuals to produce a decent mix, but when it comes to standing the test of time, the natural ear prevails.
Explain the feeling you get from DJing
In a nutshell, DJing gave me back the confidence I lost during my pursuit in Performing Arts.
I don’t want to say that I use the decks as a safety blanket, but (I can’t say this without sounding corny) it’s like a match made in heaven!
I found the tool that enables me to express myself, whether in front of a crowd or at home by myself. And, I think that’s the beauty of DJing.
What do you enjoy most about being a Hip Hop DJ?
I still get excited about a new artist and their banging track which I feel might be the next jam. Being a DJ allows me to build relationships with a lot of creatives and have an undeniable voice in the culture both via radio and club night sets, not to mention the online following earned from building a brand that has already taken me overseas.
Do you accept song requests?
Requests are a complete no-no! I am behind the decks for a reason. Otherwise, you should have booked an aux cord; and good luck with that one!
Being female, is it harder to be accepted as a DJ?
I never came into the game with that mind-set, and I will never allow it to affect me. I have the same pair of hands and ears as a male, and I make sure people know that when they see me perform and my work.
What’s the best clubs you’ve ever played at?
Although I’m in a raised DJ booth at Ministry of Sound, I still feel close to the crowd, and you can feel the energy coming from all the way across the back of the room. I love the living room vibe of Ace Hotel and the gritty New York feel of XOYO.
The Sarah Harrison Show airs live every Wednesday 9-11pm GMT on The Beat LDN 103.6 FM
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Sarah Harrison: Talks Life as a Hip Hop DJ – LadyInTheTRAP