As the surreal and unprecedented global phenomenon of self-quarantine sweeps across the globe, Highsnobiety Soundsystem looks to the game-changers and party-makers of our world, the DJs, to bring us some cheer in this bizarre Covid-19 world. Tune in for original mixes and good conversations straight out of self-isolation.
Siobhan Bell’s upward trajectory has had her rising from the East London club scene to gracing the decks at international fashion weeks. For fashion’s favorite DJ, the party never stops; It took a global pandemic to slow her down.
Without nights out and with the world in turmoil, we caught up with Bell to discuss what it’s like to be on the creative frontlines of a pandemic, and how she’s embracing the temporary stillness after what feels like nonstop jet-setting.
Although she’s taking a break from clubs right now (as we all are), Siobhan still took the time to serve up some tunes with a Highsnobiety Soundsystem mix. Hear it, and read our interview with the DJ below.
Coping with lockdown
“For me, the first couple of weeks were a bit difficult just because I’m used to being on a plane or traveling or working. Mostly every day I’ve got an agenda. Yeah, it was a bit hard. Also, it’s the first time I’m living on my own. I’ve done this quarantine by myself, which I thought was going to be really challenging, but actually, it gave me a new insight to some things that I had been putting off. I had the chance to work on projects that I had half done and even down to like decorating my house. Just small things. I feel as well, when you’re constantly on the go you can go off course. I think this time has just helped me to stop, think and go over some things.
In the beginning it was hard, but now I feel really good. It’s actually been a really amazing time to just be.”
Her quarantine routine
“The first week, I was catching up on many years of lost sleep. I was doing that every day. Then I inserted things that I wasn’t doing because I was on the go. Like even down to cooking, or I woke up in the morning and changed my whole room around. I wake up at 10 and do some meditations and affirmations for myself. I’ll switch my phone off and just be in my own head space. I have a big wardrobe room, so that’s been a bit crazy sorting through all my clothes.”
How music is different in a pandemic
“For music, you don’t have to be outside. You can hear music anywhere. I feel like now, because everyone’s in their home, everyone’s paying attention. Before this music was a little bit polluted – not in a bad way – but because music is so fast and releases are fast, it’s so hard for people to digest what’s going on.
Even as a DJ, I felt like I didn’t really know what music to play or I was falling behind. Because this album just dropped and there are like 30 tracks on it, for example, I haven’t had time to take it all in. I feel like now people are really taking in music, and even musicians and DJs at home are using this time to listen to new music and really sit down and learn their craft. To fall back in love with what they’re doing, that has happened to me.”
Her creative process
“The way I DJ is I listen to sounds, I break down a beat. That’s why production for me is really key, because I really listen to a beat and the instruments. As a DJ I’m very aware of what works, that’s what helps me to blend songs. It is a bit of a process because I’m literally my own worst critic if it’s not right. But yeah, once I get it right, the music speaks. It’s quite easy to do — well, not easy, but it comes naturally.”
Creating a throwback mix
“I’ve been in a space where I’ve just been re-learning myself and getting back into my groove. R&B was how I even got into DJing, just because of the love of music. It was nice to revisit that and dig up old tunes. People who follow me know that I play newer music, I especially love music that has a lot of samples. With this work, I wanted it to link in a sort of way, to show that I do have this musical knowledge of 2000s music.”
Her favorite track on the mix
“It has to be the opening song, Snoop Dogg’s “What’s My Name Part II.” It reminds me of a time in my life when I was younger and I used to love Bow Wow. I definitely had a poster of Lil’ Bow Wow and Lil’ Romeo in my room. I even remember the issue, because it was like a battle. On one side it had Bow Wow and the other side it had Lil’ Romeo. I’d be like, ‘Okay, today I will do Bow Wow and maybe another day, I’ll do Lil’ Romeo.’”
Life after quarantine
“I still see people posting and being online and it’s like, we’ve been given this opportunity. When will we ever get a time where the world just stops? Use it. I had to learn that in this time, because at first I was always going on Instagram, then I thought to myself, I need to tune out sometimes. That’s what I’m going to take away from this moment: it’s okay to tune out.”
1. Snoop Dogg – “Whats My Name Part II”
2. Busta Rhymes – “Light Your Ass on Fire” (feat. Pharrell)
3. Destiny’s Child – “Bug-a-Boo”
4. Cassie – “Long Way 2 Go”
5. Britney Spears – “Slave 4 U”
6. Missy Elliot – “She’s a Bitch”
7. Lil’ Kim – “Jump off”
8. Juelz Santana – “Whistle Song”
9. Lil Zane – “Callin’ Me” (feat. 112)
10. Busta Ryhmes – “Touch It”
11. JAY-Z – “Best of Me” (feat. Mya)
12. Big Pun ft joe – “Still Not a Player” (feat. Joe)
13. TLC – “No Scrubs”
14. Clipse – “When Was the Last Time”
15. Q-Tip – “Vibrant Thing”
16. Mya – “Case of the Ex”
17. Mystikal – “Shake Your Ass”
18. Jennifer Lopez – “Love Don’t Cost a Thing”
19. Jagged Edge – “Where the Party at” (feat. Nelly)
20. Eve – “Who’s That Girl”
21. Lil’ Mo – “4ever” (feat. Fabolous)
22. Fat joe – “Lean Back”
23. Swizz Beatz – “Money in the Bank”
24. Truth Hurts – “Addictive” (feat. Rakim)
25. Ja Rule – “Always on Time” (feat. Ashanti)