Josh Dawson

Saskia

Saskia has demonstrated her formidable talent behind the decks at Playtime, Avant Gardening, ARCSOC and even the Varsity Trip. While she may have looked out from the Fez DJ booth more times than she's had hot meals, her selections still keep dancers on their toes. She's been known to drop punk, gritty techno and Ipswich Town FC anthems into her sets, taking the audience's enjoyment more seriously than giving them a musical education. This mix, however, takes a more relaxed tone as it ebbs and flows through melodic synths and vocals. Sit back, turn your headphones up, and distract the next person in the library with Saskia's mix. 

What ideas did you approach the mix with?

I was in revision mode, so I’m not listening to a lot of new music at the moment. I chose most of the tracks from my revision playlist as I was going into it thinking that people are probably going to be in exam term revision mode, so I’m not going to do a massive banging techno set. It gave me a chance to play some songs I don’t normally get to play in a club, because you don’t want everything on 122 bpm the whole night but when I’m listening to music that’s what I tend to listen to. The vibe ended up sounding very much like Ibiza house music. So, on any given club night in Ibiza it’ll tend to be quite easy going. Nothing’s ever super heavy but the energy is always really high regardless.

The music you have put in varies from the house pioneers like Frankie Knuckles, to stuff that’s a bit more well-known like Disclosure. How did that come about?

That Disclosure song specifically, I don’t think it really fits in the mix but I was like I’m going to put this in anyway. My diss deadline was at the end of last term and – I shit you not – for 2 straight weeks I listened to only that song, literally about 100 times a day. Then when I was starting to do the mix, I was like ‘this is all revision music, how can I not do a little hark back to that time when I listened to this one song for 20 hours.’

I think people might have an aversion to playing something that was popular in 2013 but I still like Disclosure!

"For 2 straight weeks, I listened to only that song, literally about 100 times a day"@disclosure/Instagram

Based on the range of songs in the mix, you clearly have a wide music taste. How did you develop an interest in dance music and DJing?

So basically, my dad DJs as a hobby and he just really likes house music. About 10 years ago he started to buy music equipment and do it himself, and so it was super easy for me to get into it. Every 6 months or so I’ll come home, and he’ll be like ‘Darling! I just bought a new thing off gumtree!’. I was very lucky in that everything was at home already, I didn’t have to download anything or watch how to do things online, I would literally just spend the afternoons with him and so that’s how I learnt to DJ. With finding music, every few months I can ask him what new stuff he’s been listening to and he’ll just give me a memory stick of a load of the best, high audio quality music. He’s always been into house music, so it’s been the only genre playing in the house. Me and my sister actually really hated it when we were younger, he would put on a Mixmag CD in the car and we’d literally be screaming at him to turn it off and now I play those CDs.

What is your musical guilty pleasure?

Actually, a guilty pleasure that I’ve never ever told anyone is You Got It by Roy Orbison. I think it’s the most romantic song in the world. There’s other stuff where other people would say that’s my guilty pleasure, but I just feel no guilt.

What was the best party you’ve played?

I would probably say the Moorfields Eye Hospital Christmas Party. It wasn’t house music, but it was the staff Christmas party and I put on Whitney Houston I Will Always Love You. There was this elderly couple who hadn’t danced the entire night, then when I put that on they got up and started slow dancing together and I just burst into tears. That was real love.

Laksh

Laksh at Slipped Disc@lakshaithani/Instagram

Laksh is everywhere at the moment. If you didn’t catch his storming set in the early hours of last term’s ARCSOC Cabaret, then you may have seen him warming up at Slipped Disc or Urban Bass. However, he’s not only good at spinning records but making them too, releasing his debut single ‘Prefer To Stay’ on Dancers End Records last September. Here, Laksh takes us through an almost trance-like hour of music from his liquid DnB vinyl collection.

What were you trying to do with the mix? 

I love collecting quite ambient drum and bass and jungle. I was trying to go for a mix that included a lot of tunes you would rarely hear on a DnB, or even liquid DnB night.

Drum & Bass is hugely popular in the UK, particularly at universities. What do you think of the DnB scene in Cambridge? How has it evolved while you’ve been here? 

In my first year there was Warning and Hospitality which put on events at the Junction. They are really good fun and I’d definitely recommend going if you haven’t. Warning has been going since the 90s jungle days so it definitely has a culture. Hospitality put on one event a year at the Junction and normally bring in a very good lineup so it is definitely something to look out for.

One thing that is a bit of a shame is the lack of female DJs and producers in DnB (it is still an issue in other genres, but DnB suffers maybe the most), and I hope that in the times to come, big labels like Hospital try to spend more effort seeking out female talent.

In my second year, Urban Bass started and in my opinion this has given the DnB and Bass scene a lot more exposure to Cambridge students (most have never been to Warning or Hospitality). The acts they normally book are of great calibre and I’d recommend going to one if you haven’t

You have played at both bass and house/techno nights. They can often seem quite separated whether that is between social circles or even just in a set, mixing the tempos is hard. Do you look for something different in a DnB track versus a techno/house tune?

I have discussed this a lot with one of my close home friends. We think the change in tempo can often be quite jarring for us (even though we love both genres). The energy of the two genres can be very different too: on average, DnB is a lot more energetic and this adds to the complications of blending the two. Having said this, more and more people are dropping in jungle and DnB tracks during house and techno sets and I praise them for doing so.

Laksh released 'Prefer To Stay' in 2018Moskalus/YouTube

Anyone that follows you on Instagram will know you produce a lot of music yourself. When did you start that and what route has it taken so far?

I started producing about a year and a half ago. It is possibly the most enjoyable thing ever (for me). I find it a great way to unleash my creativity. For people who love music and have given thought to it, I really recommend it: there is free software out there and a wealth of knowledge on YouTube to get you started. All you really need is a laptop and headphones.

Last summer I was record shopping at my local shop and came across a brilliant record from Elkie Brooks. One of the songs had just singing on it and I ended up sampling that. The sample was so good that the entire song pretty much wrote itself in two days. That ended up being the first record I released on a label (Dancers End Records, shouts to Clay for believing in me).


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Who is your favourite producer/performer at the moment?

I am really loving Jensen Interceptor’s productions at the moment. His output is insane and his sound design is wicked. He’s really pushing the electro sound forward. I would love to see him live at some point – he recently moved to Berlin so hopefully he’ll play in the UK soon.

What is your go to tune to bring a party up/banger?

I do like to play a lot of deep stuff but if a party is dwindling in energy then Maceo Plex – Conjure Balearia is always a great one to play. It always perks people up whenever I play it.

Listen to Laksh's debut track here: https://bit.ly/2VkHkQn