Hellraiser from Helsinki… DJ Sofa is the perfect selector for the first ever 1 More Thing guestmix.
On the radar since I wrote this feature on Finnish drum & bass for Bandcamp in summer 2020, Sofa‘s take on jungle and foundation drum & bass flexes across some of the most important cornerstones of the sound from venomous breakbeat assaults to ludicrously gritty old Bristol flavours.
So far it’s been supported on labels ranging from native stables such as Straight Up Breakbeat, Midnight Sun, Breaking Point DNB and Bass = Win to UK imprints such as Natty Dub and Future Retro.
Strictly releasing music that’s available on wax, Sofa is currently at the mercy of the ever-increasing pressing delays happening around the world right now. But, as she explains in this interview, this just means she’s packing high levels of dubs while we wait for the release. Listen closely and you’ll hear them in this mix. Read on for her story and enjoy an hour of total jungle bliss as Sofa shows us how things are done from her unique perspective. Full tracklist below. Get to know…
That set at Rupture! You had to do the first guestmix for my new site from the moment I heard that. Blew my mind. That was your Rupture debut, wasn’t it?
It was actually my UK debut! The three weeks before I was very nervous. I could barely sleep or eat. I’m very sensitive by nature and was so nervous about it. Everyone kept telling me I’d be fine at Rupture as long as I played authentic jungle drum & bass but I still worried a lot. I pre-plan most of my sets so I have as many tunes as I need, and I spend a lot of time pandering the set for the occasion and that helped me with the nervousness. But it was amazing. So amazing. Thank you.
Thank you! I was going to ask if you were a set planner or if vibed off the crowd? You were so in-tune with that room that it felt like you knew what everyone wanted…
That’s good to hear. I always have a back-up folder in case I do need to do that, but after listening to this music, and making it for so long in my life, 10 years almost, I feel I have a good estimate on what to play for what crowd and what time. If it was a 6am set I wouldn’t assume I know what people want to hear. People at 6am might have a lot of energy or might want to listen to something more like Coco Bryce, you never know.
6am at Rupture is a golden hour haha. So about your mix… It’s wicked. Timeless vibe. Great amount of classics. Loads of dubs. You weave between the eras!
I like to keep this vibe to my mixes. I like a balance of around 33% mine, 33% old and the rest from artists I love. I always try and have at least 15 or 20 minutes of jungle techno in there as well.
Yes! In the mix there’s this sick tune from Kid Lib where you go into the jungle techno
Yes! I love that tune so much!
What is the difference in how you approach a studio mix and a live mix?
When I make a club mix, or pre-plan my sets, my transitions are faster and there are more tunes in a set. Lately with radio and guestmixes I ease off with trying to push too many tunes in an hour and make the mix more mellow. Some tunes I play completely. I’ll try and mix things with long intros into the end of a track so you actually get the full five minutes in the mix.
Letting it breathe!
Yeah I used to have 20-25 tunes in an hour on a radio set but now it’s more like 15-17. The first time I did it I got really nice responses from show the producer and my girlfriend saying they preferred it that way so I took that feedback on. I wanted to keep that same vibe for the guestmix for you too – I want to make it into a nice blend. When I play live I like to cut up the breaks and be more energetic.
They’re very different experiences, aren’t they? A mix like this is all about telling a story and sharing things you love while a club set is much more physical interaction and a dialogue with the dancing crew…
That’s what I think too. And I also feel I want to give tunes more attention and lifespan. We’re living in a time when there’s so much music available. Just with jungle alone I have trouble staying in the loop. I feel like back in the day you’d hear a tune for a year before it came out. But I feel we’re at such a place where you could play a tune once and then put it down. And I feel that’s disrespectful to the music. We should get back into giving a single tune the attention it deserves instead of moving on too fast constantly.
100%! It’s impossible to keep up with everything and the longevity should be definitely be celebrated…
Yeah and actually it is kind of being forced on us with vinyl pressing the way it is. I’ve been joking with Tim Reaper recently that we cuss the pressing times, but if it takes a year for something to come out then you’ve got no choice but to have something on dubplate for that time.
That is a nice accidental silver lining! Do you play strictly vinyl or a hybrid of digital and vinyl?
Oh I only sign music to be put on vinyl and I’m not doing any digital releases right now. But so far all my gigs have been on CDJs. I don’t have a lot of my music on vinyl yet because we’re waiting for it to be pressed. So I’m waiting for those to come through, and for me to become a little more confident playing vinyl, then I’d be up for playing vinyl sets. But I’ll probably play digitally mostly because it’s a hell of a lot easier flying to UK or somewhere with two USBs than 20kg of vinyl.
Totally. I know you’re not alone with refusing to release digital-only. Puts a bit of value in the music, right?
Yeah I feel like even though I’d get my music signed on my most favourite labels if it’s out on MP3, it wouldn’t have as much value. When I get older I want to be able to look at a shelf and physically see I’ve made music and achieved something. That’s important for me; to see something and hold it, rather than 1s and 0s on the internet or my hard drive.
That helps with your confidence and it changes your relationship with the music too…
I think so. There’s a process of releasing a record. It takes time and effort and money to do it. Someone has seen enough potential in you to go through the trouble of putting it out. Especially these days when it takes a lot of time and costs a lot more music. it helps me see my own music in a different light maybe. Slowly but surely.
Slowly being the key word, I think. Having to wait for vinyl to come back and to go through that process stops you from wanting everything to happen too quickly.
For me, for sure. I have very very very bad ADHD which I don’t have medication for at the moment, so I do want everything now, all the time. It’s done me a huge favour having to learn to wait and plan ahead and suddenly I’m at a point where I’m okay with something being out in a year and how I’m able to keep things rolling all th. in six months time there’ll be something from me coming out every month moving on from there. Hopefully. I don’t want to go back to the old feeling of waiting for a release coming out.
You’ve been busy! It’s interesting to hear about your ADHD. I guess your music a reflection of your mindset?
It’s a direct translation of what’s happening in my head. Yes! When I was younger I was into hardcore punk and grindcore. I get a lot of fulfilment from things that are very fast with lots of energy and drumming and things going on.
Learning the discipline as a producer and developing patience in the studio must have been an extra challenge?
Yeah. Even though I make tunes that people want to play out and that I’m satisfied with, I’m still an intermediate producer. I feel like having ADHD and never studying music – I started making beats when I was 18 / 19 years old and I’m 28 now – it’s taken me a long-assed time, much more than some other people to get to the same point. Of course I can’t speak for other people but that’s what I presume.
I’m always very hard on myself and seeing myself fail at not learning so quickly has been hard for me. To get to this point has been me banging my head through a wall for years and years, so I try to appreciate and be happy about this spot where I’m in right now and the people who have supported me and my friends within the scene. I have days where I feel like I’m no good and I should stop but luckily those days are less and less.
Good! That’s important that there are! It feels like you’ve tapped into a wicked community here in the UK with nights like Rupture and artists like Tim Reaper. Is it the same in Finland? I first heard about you through Straight Up Breakbeat and Finnish pioneer ODJ Dizzy…
The scene in Finland is more focused on drum & bass and the jungle heads are in the minority. There aren’t many jungle-only parties where I live. Straight Up Breakbeat nights are the ones where you’ll hear the most jungle. I feel because the scene is so small the crowd isn’t as demanding or discerning as you are in the UK.
When people arrive at a party here they’ll enjoy drum & bass and not be so specific about the type of drum & bass or jungle they want to hear. I feel that my following is more in the UK, but here I’ve been playing every weekend for the last two months so that’s good. I think people might be a bit scared to invest in events because we haven’t had club nights for the last few years with covid.
There is a night in Tampere with Infekto that we’ve been organising. It’s a jungle, D&B and 90s rave party, sometimes a bit of dubstep/grime too. The second time we did it, there were a lot of people who came to go out and didn’t have any idea what the music would be, but the vibe was amazing and people were really into it. I remember thinking, ‘This is amazing. We need to do this more!’ It was proof that if you put it out there for people to hear it, it has a great chance to blow up again and have a new crowd come to it. You just need to put it out there for people to find.
Yeah! It also entices the younger and older heads. Do you have a strong older raver community in Finland like we do in the UK?
In Helsinki there are for sure. Dizzy is a great example – he invests so much in this and is still pushing the sound forward both here in Finland and around the world. Massive big up to him.
He is the reason we linked! Any other big ups to integral people?
Oh too many! Sorry to anyone I forget but obviously to the whole Finnish scene especially in Helsinki – keep doing what you do. But to anyone who keeps putting this music out there in Finland. And to everyone I’ve met in the UK, of course. To Mantra and Double O for my debut set and all their support, to Sweetpea who has been a very good friend, helping me connect with people and let me bunk on her couch and took me raving when I visited UK. Plesulix too, I’m so happy that I have made friends abroad in such a little time. Of course Highlander, J Dessar, Tim Reaper, Dwarde, Coco Bryce (he is basically in the UK all the time anyway),… I’m nervous I will forget someone! To anyone who has taken me up in open arms and supported me and been friendly, a very big big up to you.
What’s coming up?
Junglist Respect / K Feet on 10” and an EP on Subb1996. A tune on two different compilation EPs on Straight Up Breakbeat. So Soft / Crush On You release on Myor plus another two tunes on Myor. A four track EP on Future Retro London. The Only Boy I Ever Loved / When It Rains 10” on Racked Records. A split EP with J Dessar on Jordan Dessars imprint Equal People Records and a four-track EP on Lobster Theremin.
1 MORE MIX 001: DJ SOFA
4am kru & Phoebe White – What Is Jungle Settle down and Fd – What Is Real (dub) Lavery – Lave Somebody Else Human Being – The Box Opened (Bedroom In Space) DJ Sofa – Ready Set Go (dub) DJ Sappo – Hold It DJ Sofa & Infekto – Lost My Head (dub) Humb – No Chill (Eminence Remix) Congo Natty – Police In Helicopter Origin Unknown – Truly One DJ Sofa – Panic At The Disco (dub) Kid Lib – Jungle Days And Nights Dwarde & Tim Reaper – Swamps Marshes Coco Bryce – Equivalence (dub) DJ Sofa – So Soft (dub) Donnie Murdo – Mice ’N’ Easy (dub) In-Side – Soul Boy DJ Sofa – Puffa (dub) DJ Sofa – ??? (dub)
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