Fresh from Saturday’s opening of the Defected in the House poolside pre-party at Ushuaia, Addicted caught up with the label’s first female resident to talk Ibiza, Defected and success in an industry dominated by men.
Sam Divine is still buzzing from her opening and closing set on Saturday: “It was incredible – it exceeded all my expectations” and she loved “playing music in the sun…starting off with deep house … chilled stuff and watching the party build up”. She explained that the marriage of the club and the beach (the two things that people go to the White Isle for) has a big appeal “people can go to the pool to hang out – it brings the Miami Music Conference vibe to Ibiza”.
Sam’s Ibizan Saturdays have changed since she was Defected’s Events Manager. Multiple trips to the airport have been exchanged for daytimes “chilled by the pool” with the label giving her the support that she needs to concentrate on ”playing records and making people dance”. It was a valuable experience: “running a Pacha Saturday Night makes you learn so much” and she still hosts club nights – notably La Vita which, now in its fourth year, has raised over £25,000 for breast cancer charities. The party is held annually in London (“bringing back the warehouse crowds to the clubs”) and also Ibiza with the backing of DJ royalty (Todd Terry and, Defected founder, Simon Dunmore have played whilst Judge Jules donated 1000 Euros).
Bristol, the south western capital of UK drum and bass, was where Sam grew up and a formative moment was seeing a Lisa Pin Up set at Bristol Academy. “It was the first time that I had seen a female DJ… she had the crowd at her finger tips. Everybody else was dancing but the young Miss Divine stood transfixed. “It made me realise that’s what I want to do”. Apart from Lisa Pin Up, her inspirations are diverse from Tony De Vit to Andy C. As the Bristol Drum and Bass scene evolved into harder dance Sam had to go to Cardiff to find the kind of soulful house that she was playing, the Masters at Work sound. Working in a record shop in Weston Super Mare she was head hunted by another shop in Notting Hill. The move to London “accommodated my sound” and, once there, she borrowed friends’ records to play Subliminal nights.
But it was Ibiza that made Miss Divine’s career take off. She “rocked up with a suitcase and a record bag” at the start of the 2005 season and worked six nights a week. Her Tuesday nights off were spent partying to the “Defected sound of DJ’s like Junior Jack and Kid Creme. Their music was what I wanted to do”. She “hounded Simon Dunmore for promos” and by 2008 was their PR Manager. “Everybody adores Defected and they have taken my career to a whole new level.” She gives Ibiza credit for her success “I owe my career to Ibiza. You wouldn’t get so much exposure in London. Every night is different. You never play the same set twice”
So how macho is the world of dance music? “It’s definitely still male dominated” but she cites people like Maya Jane Coles and Steffi as putting “female DJs on the map”. “We don’t really produce and without making records it’s harder to get noticed… Women are emotional and we take what we do very seriously.” She predicts that the days of the stereotypical Superstar DJ are now over “I don’t see another legend happening this decade” but says it’s still difficult to obtain respect when you are starting out. “I’ve been really lucky that Simon Dunmore took me onto the artist rosta making me the first female Defected resident…having Defected after my name has been a huge help in getting respect” Sam combines a strong look with sharp business sense “My image isn’t the first thing on the list but I do see myself as a brand… My music complements the image.”
Addicted asked Miss Divine what the future holds and whether radio might be part of it. She loves doing the Bargroove Podcast and “did Pirate Radio when I first moved to London to get my name out there”. “My own show on Radio 1 would be the ultimate dream.” And Addicted couldn’t leave Defected’s First Lady without asking for her prediction of the Summer 2011 tune: “Ray Foxx – The Trumpeter . Chocolate Puma have done some killer re-mixes”.
DJ Miss Divine spoke to Fran Harris (editor of ladyadventurer.co.uk)