Interview | DJ Sabrina The Teenage DJ
Updated: Jan 8
The mysterious DJ/Producer, DJ Sabrina The Teenage DJ talked with me over email about the future of the traditional album format, what her live show might look like, why she wouldn't make a radio edit for her songs, if she believes Daft Punk are really broken up, and more!
1) I caught one of your recent Twitch sets and there were a series of colorful visuals bleeding together. Is this a glimpse of what a live DJ Sabrina The Teenage DJ live show would look like?
It might actually! Stock imagery interspersed with video effects and fun graphics, but with the flexibility to cue elements as needed live for a more unique experience each time.
2) You seem to be interested in taking advantage of the limitless nature of digital music. Your latest album 'Charmed' was over 3 hours long. Can an album or any kind of music release overstay its welcome in terms of runtime?
I don't think so, no-one is expected to listen to the whole album in one sitting any more than they're expected to listen to the tracks in that order... especially since I always release a Singles version with each track separated! Album lengths and track listings can be performance art, like anything I guess, hehe.
3) What are some of your favorite albums that have a similar extensive runtime to your work?
Prince's 1999 is surprisingly long for it's time, especially when CD's were barely even available mainstream. Sign 'O' The Times was another long release and Lovesexy didn't even have track separation on the North American release. Genesis's The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway is actually only 30 seconds shorter than Enchanted and We Can't Dance is a minute longer than 1999, all of these albums a big inspiration to me in some way.
4) A number of your songs reprise each other which makes works like 'Charmed' a deeper musical experience than standard album. Was this your intention?
Yes, I kinda personify songs, instruments, samples, sort of like synesthesia but the track, the chords, the sound, whatever takes on it's own unique identity and character. I like other tracks to feel like they're somehow related to each other and I also like to get a bit more mileage out of the same idea, lol! The pentalogy of albums has a story to it and there's a lot of hidden messages and meanings in each album that play into the concept.
5) In your opinion, what is the future of the album?
All means of creative expression or commercial packaging (both radically opposed, yet inexplicable entwined) have fashionable eras and as with any fashion, come in and out of popularity. When a method of delivery or expression becomes unfashionable in commerce, may it thrive in the underground and vice versa. iTunes singles were more popular in mainstream than Walmart store CD's, then Bandcamp came and showed us how the album could be cool again. Artists used to offer pre orders for digital releases (one of the most archaic and illogical ideas that ever was leftover from the boomer days of music releasing) and now Beyoncé and Eminem have zero-day album releases. Maybe 3 hour albums will become the norm?
6) You played Bass on the "Witchkraft" album. How much live instrumentation to do incorporate into your music compared to samples and electronic production techniques?
...and the track Spellbound and Ambition! Not too much as I find it more fun to match samples or work with synth sounds if possible, but I'll grab a guitar if I want a certain vibe...
7) Has anyone from radio asked for an edit of your songs for airplay? Would you ever agree to do something like that?
Haha, me on the radio? Nah, no-one's ever asked and I think I would get frustrated trying to make a radio edit of one of my songs; even my fadeouts are deliberately designed to land a certain way and have a certain energy to them, I can't imagine how hard it would be to tear down the structure of a track just so it's... shorter?
8) As a Daft Punk fan, do you believe they are really broken up? Or do you believe they'll reunite a few for times for a farewell album and festival dates?
I don't think you can keep a good Frenchman down, they've always worked on projects individually and have been making music for so many years I doubt they'd know how to stop cold (if they even have). They've said in interviews that each of their albums were successively worse than the last so maybe they just wanted to stop while they were above a personal threshold of quality?
9) You've been inspired by 90s FM radio mixes. Any specific DJs/radio shows?
Does it get any better than Afrika Islam's Zulu Beats Radio Show (80's, but still)? So many, it's hard to pick but I loved the general vibe of those analog shows even more than the DJ's or shows themselves in a lot of cases, it almost sounded like they weren't even sure what was going on, but all this amazing music was playing...
10) What do you have planned for 2021?
Here's the story straight from the album press release: After working herself into a non-mortal magical obliteration, she passed 'twix the planes of mortal and magic, her soul carried away from her body, spirit to The Other Realm. As her close friends and family mourn her demise, they each ask themselves what they learned from her existence, their favorite qualities of hers and, most importantly... will she rise again?
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