Read PART 1: Exclusive Interview with Sway.
Psyked: Which DJs inspire you and do you have a favourite track right now?
Sway: Right now my favourite internationals are Dapanji, I will always have a soft spot for Dapanji. They actually defined the type of sound that I play now. Lyle Jensen (AKA: Archive from MMD records) gave me the Dapanji track. He said to me, “you have to listen to this!” And I was like, “who the hell is Dapanji?” The track was called show time. I played it and thought, “OMG this is the shit.” And from that single track, my sound has moved towards electro and techno, which I really love now. But because I also love electro, I’m really enjoying Blastoyz. I heard them live in Joburg. It was an amazing set, even a sing-along set which I think is important at the right time during a party. We all drive to work in our cars or drive to varsity or whatever, and we listen and sing to 5FM and other stations. So to say you can’t have vocals in psytrance, the music you love, doesn’t make sense to me. I grew up singing to music. White Noise has been one of my absolute champions for as long as I can remember. Itay Eliya (White Noise) is actually doing some really super things right now, he’s so versatile. I think he has even done a few movie/film scores, but I stand to be corrected. His music is just super epic. I also love Ultravoice, Vibe Tribe and Orca is still one of my favourite full-on artists. Last but not least, Azax Syndrom. That dude blew me away when he played here! I really can’t name just one or two.
Forever and a day, I will look up to Bruce. He is my yard stick because I know I’ll probably never be as good as he is, so I’m forced to keep pushing myself. Another DJ I look up to is Dave Mac. He really pumped the progressive for years. He kept saying, “it’s coming, it’s coming” and we kept saying, “don’t be stupid.” But somehow he knew it was.
One of the up and coming guys I have the utmost respect for is DJ Drang3D (aka Sirajuddin Kadri) because he also pushes and pushes the limit. I become inspired by DJs who are passionate about the scene. There are so many DJs out there who are riding their wave. I am looking for those guys who are making their wave. Those are the people that I want to play at our parties; DJs who love the scene and don’t only love being in the DJ box.
Psyked: As a DJ you guys put in an incredible amount of work, what is the most challenging aspect of your job? And have you ever made a really bad stuff up on a set? If so, how do you handle it?
Sway: When I played at The Side Show one Friday night for a Young N Underrated event, I was so nervous because I realized I was playing after Hyphen (he’s not a psy trance DJ). I nearly vomited #truereveal I was so nervous! I had an idea for a starting set which I should have practiced before but didn’t. It was such a f*ck up. Abby Chapel came out the office through the back and said to my friend Bianca, “what is she doing?!” I think some DJs never fuck it up but I am very spontaneous. I don’t believe in preparing a set and it has worked for me but it has also worked against me. Luckily I’ve never had such a big fuck up like jumping up and down in the DJ box and having my boob pop out or anything of that kind, which could be a disaster. So other than that, in hindsight the make up I did at Mystical Contact might have been a bit risqué but it was good fun.
Psyked: Speaking of which, I’ve seen you in face paint, tutu’s, corsets but what is the craziest thing you’ve ever worn to a party?
Sway: Mystical Contact was definitely my wildest outfit and when I started wearing corsets, it took people by surprise, I think. As a DJ I’d like to say, “yeah, the music is all it’s about” but it’s not. When you get up on a stage, you are bound by theatrical. It’s a stage. Regardless of whether you’re DJing, reading poetry, acting or doing acrobatics, you are there as a performer to entertain people and I don’t think you can just roll out of bed in PJ’s because that’s just boring (and embarrassing). I used to have really long mousy brown hair and one day I decided, that’s it, I’ve had it. I cut it and that was the day people stopped calling me Tune Raider. *laughs* I’d say the short, pink hair as well as the crazy bling makeup and outfits have definitely worked for my image. And I want to be different, that’s who I am. I’ve always been very eccentric.
At Mystical Contact, photo by: Logan L Photography.
Psyked: You’re known for swaying not only in the DJ booth but on the dancefloor too, how do you maintain a balance between your work and your play?
Sway: I have a T shirt that says “leave me alone, I’m dancing” which I wear most of the time. It saddens me that so few DJs/producers come just to party at events. I remember when you’d see DJs on the dancefloor at the parties they weren’t playing at. Until recently, it was difficult for me too because I have kids. But now my son’s 3 and my daughter’s 8, so they’re older and I can do it. The dancefloor is where you really connect with your fans. I think it’s important for them to see that you love the music that you play and you love the parties that you put on. It’s not just about fans coming to MY parties. If there’s a party with a rocking lineup, I will go to that party. For example, I was really amped that the Side Show brought down Cyberpunkers, and I will definitely check out R3hab because it’s electro and I feel like I haven’t been exposed to enough live electro from acts. You can’t really experience the music that other DJs are delivering if you’re not there jamming to it. And as someone who is going to construct the lineups that I want fans to go wild about, how would I know who to choose if I’m not on the dancefloor loving the music?
Dancing at the Soulstice Festival, photo by: Michael Yankelev.
Psyked: Is it tough to make time for your family and be a DJ? And do you feel that other members of society respect your profession or do you feel there is still an underlying stigma that trance parties are about drugs and hippies?
Sway: Ja, there’s definitely that stigma. I try to avoid telling people what type of music I play. But at my daughter’s school I’m the hero. The kids love it because of the pink hair and stuff but I think the moms don’t know how to respond to me. I don’t care actually. *laughs* Some of the mothers dig me and we get a long but I don’t really travel in those circles. I am too busy. In summer, it’s hard because I’m away when I’m doing my own parties. Often for a few days at a time. My kids understand. It’s been part of their lives from the start. They usually want to come and be part of it. When my son came with me to Mutha FM studio this year, he asked me, “is this where you dance Mommy?” So yes, it is hard and there is a stigma but after finding out what I do most parents go, “Oh my gosh, that’s actually quite awesome.” And it’s easier for them to find out after they’ve seen me with the pink hair.
Sway with Bruce.
Psyked: Earlier you mentioned Bruce, would you say he’s a mentor of yours? Is there anyone else who you really look up to in the community?
Bruce was my mentor for a long time but we play similar sounding music so we kind of became competitive. We’ll still ask each other for advice. I’ve recently discovered that there’s a lot to be learned from electro/house DJs and electric DJs. Bryan Farrow is my new favourite DJ. He’s really good with his equipment. He can DJ. He doesn’t just drop two beats on top of each other, he mixes. I’m also a big fan of Grimehouse and Hyphen. Both of those boys are unreal behind the decks. I want to take what I do behind the decks to the next level. I plan to steal from them *winks* so that as the style merges, I can come out of the gate with a bang. I’m not sure about “looking up” to anyone, ’cause I think you get to a point when that changes.
Psyked: Maybe they’re looking up to you?
Sway: It could be. But I have a huge amount of respect for the guys from Ultranoize and what they’re trying to achieve, as well as the way that they do things. They keep it really underground and true to their hearts, you know. It’s hard to stay smaller and true to your core genre, because everyone needs to evolve. But as a group, the Ultranoize boys are very close to my heart. I love them. I also look up to Dave Love from Enough Weapons. He runs a record label, I get a lot of advice from him, and Lyle Jensen. That’s why these people are my partners. I admire what they do and I value their input above all else.
Sway with Lyle (Archive) at MMD, photo by: Rachel Doyle Photography.
Psyked: Your Twitter handle is @lovedancesway, but it’s a bit more than that, it’s your manifesto. Can you tell me a bit about it?
Sway: It’s who I am and how I got to this point. I love, I dance, I sway and I encourage people to do the same but to keep it real and to do it their way. I love Twitter. I saw a tweet yesterday that said, “if you’re on the outside looking in, Twitter seems daunting but once you’re inside it’s like fucking Narnia.” Ain’t that the truth? Twitter is just a way to express yourself in quick bursts. I do have a lot to say. I talk all the time. My mother used to tell me that when I was a kid she only took in every fifth word I said to get the just of what I meant. My husband has learned to do that too.
I find that because human beings are voyeuristic by nature, they like to look into other peoples lives. Twitter is a way for people to get a window into your life and who you really are. And it’s a way of connecting with your fans and seeing another side of you. Music was, once upon a time, about artists coming and performing and fans then going and buying an album. Today artists put out two track EP’s so that people will listen to the music and people will come and watch them perform. That’s how they make their music now. It’s not about selling albums anymore. It’s about selling the person or selling the brand. I think that social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud and Instagram are just means for people to get to know the brand a bit better and to see parts of a DJ you can’t see in the DJ box. I can put things out there that people can learn about me that they otherwise wouldn’t. It does give people a different image. For example, I have this ongoing love affair with snails and I’m trying to find out where they go when it stops raining. No one can tell me though.
At Herbal Remedy, photo by: Logan L Photography.
Psyked: Any big plans for the future and for 2014?
Sway: Ground Zero is going to be a big one. Last year it was on the same date as Celestial Beings but this year it’ll be on the 15th of March. We’re also going to partner up with Disasterpeace Records on the 25th of March for a new event. That’s very exciting. I can’t share the scoop now but it’ll be something completely different and hopefully it will speak to a massive amount of people who love psy trance. Not just my style or progressive or dark psy or hard psy etc. Then maybe, I’ll make enough money to take my kids to Disney Land. I’ve been trying to do that for ten years, it’s my goal in life. I just wanna see their little faces light up. Anyone want to sponsor me?
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