TiD&B Interview: DJ StrifePosted by Lady V on Friday, January 20th, 2012
If there’s one artist that knows the New York drum and bass scene inside out, it’s DJ Strife. Starting out as a teen, promoting for major events across the East Coast including Park Rave Madness in the mid 90s, her journey through to becoming an established and respected selector today, has been nothing but intertwined with that of our favoured genre in the Big Apple.
Fresh from dropping a brand new studio mix ‘Red’ online earlier this week, we caught up with NYC’s first lady of D&B to talk more about the tunes she’s currently digging, her beloved home city, as well as her soft spot for British football team Manchester United…
TiD&B: For those who may not be familiar with your sound or had a chance to check out one of your sets, how would you describe your vibe?
Strife: Honestly, I play a lot for the girls! People are always complaining that there are too many dudes at parties and not enough women, so I definitely think I bring all the girls to the dancefloor. I play liquid, soulful vibes, hip-hop influenced D&B with a dash of hardness…my goal is always to have people dancing and moving.
TiD&B: You’re part of the Natural Selection crew in NYC…
Strife: Yes, it’s a monthly drum and bass event, which I’m a resident at. We focus on the more soulful, melodic styles of drum & bass, but always dancefloor friendly, which can range all across the genre. We’re a dedicated crew bringing top notch events to New York.
TiD&B: You actually started out working as a promoter, before turning to the decks and learning to DJ – what encouraged you to pursue that avenue? Was it a natural progression?
Strife: Yes, absolutely! I knew my place was meant to be behind the decks; controlling the beats, taking the crowds on a journey and with the right music and vibe, creating an amazing night they’d never forget.
For me, being a promoter just wasn’t enough of the limelight. Promoters should actually get more of the credit when they put on a great night, but it’s the DJ who the crowd remembers.
TiD&B: So are you now a full time DJ?
Strife: Nope, but full time in the music business. I originally studied audio engineering, but after a while, knew I wanted to work more on the business side of the industry. I’m now the senior digital marketing manager for the #1 independent distributor in the US and I love it!
TiD&B: Having been involved in the drum and bass scene in New York since the mid 90s, you’ve witnessed it’s development; with sub genres flourishing, different names becoming popular – where is at now?
Strife: It’s still alive and kicking. We always have our ups and downs, but I know it will never die here – and that’s definitely down to the amazing amount of people who have always and still love the music. There are some seriously dedicated people who are still interested in spreading this sound here, feeling the love when drum & bass pumps through a nice system.
TiD&B: Would you say this is representative of the sound across the US too?
Strife: I think NY is a pretty good place and a staple for landmark drum & bass events around the country. I’ve played in some cities that only have events on once in a while and ravers have to travel a good distance to get there as well, so I feel really lucky that we have a healthy scene here. People need to remember that when they compare us to the UK, we are extremely more spread out, as well as the mainstream of our country not embracing electronic music as much as Europe do.
TiD&B: Flying to Europe for gigs and having many friends in the UK too, you’re very much also in the know of what’s happening D&B-wise over here…is it hugely different to what you experience in the US?
Strife: We have niche cities here and a lot of our DJs and producers are spread out all over the place , whilst in the UK and Europe, there’s a plethora of artists all crammed into a few big cities. The other difference is that electronic music starts getting instilled in the youth in the UK way earlier than in the US – there are a lot more younger kids hitting up parties there, but here a lot of places are 21+ entry only…It’s all about the kids though – they are always so excited and vibrant when it comes to the music and I love it!
TiD&B: Where are the coolest places to hang out in NYC? If we were visiting for 24hours and you were our guide, where would we go?
Strife: Gosh there’s so many, where do I start!? Ha…Well I particularly like this rooftop bar/garden called 230-Fifth. You take an elevator up to the top and it’s all heated outdoors with an amazing view of the Empire State building – it’s a bit upper class but a cool spot nonetheless. My favorite area to hang out in regularly though would have to be Alphabet City or the Lower East Side, there are lots of cool bars like Zum Schneider, Porch, Sullivan Room (classic club staple)…and gotta hit my favorite pizza spot, Solo Pizza on Ave B!
TiD&B: What tunes are you feeling at the moment – can you give us a top 5?
Strife: Anything by S.P.Y – that guy is on fire! But here goes…
1. Wretch 32 feat. Etta Bond ‘Forgiveness’ (S.P.Y remix) – I always love some hip-hop/R&B influenced D&B.
2. Random Movement ‘Dirt Dobber’ – Another smooth classic here, Random Movement can’t do much wrong
3. Philth ‘Obsession’ – This tune reminds me of straight up 90s techstep biz, heavy!
4. S.P.Y. & Ill Skilz ‘Tomorrow Like Today’ – Anything with vocals, I’m in! I’m feeling the sort of half step vibe here.
5. Random Movement & Ben Soundscape ‘Many Things’ – This just reminds me of happy times, vibin’ on the beach somewhere.
TiD&B: Finally, we can’t not talk about a certain football team, which we know you dig, quite a lot! You’re a serious Man U fan right?
Strife: Ah yes…well I’m pretty much an anglophile and I’m over in London at least once a year. A few years back I had a gig in Leeds and invited some of my mates from Manchester to come down and they did and then took me to a Man United match the next day. Talk about intense! Over 70,000 people screaming and chanting and it wasn’t even a big match on, I was definitely hooked! I try to go to a match of some sort every time I’m over in the UK. There’s nothing like a live match, I would definitely have a seasons ticket if I lived there…I watch 3 hours of Sky Sports every day, I think I must have been a footballer or something in another life!
Wretch 32 feat. Etta Bond ‘Forgiveness’ (S.P.Y remix) (Ministry of Sound)
S.P.Y ‘Sabotage’ (Sun & Bass)
Chase & Status feat. Sub Focus & Takura ’Flashing Lights’ ( S.P.Y remix) (Mercury)
S.P.Y ‘Seconds to Midnight’ (Hospital Records)
FD feat. Collette Warren ‘Want You’ (dub)
Dub Phizix & Skeptical feat. Strategy ‘Marka’ (Exit)
Kodo ‘The Jackal’ (Ingredients)
Rhianna ‘Rude Boy’ (dRamatic & dbAudio remix) (bootleg)
Random Movement & Ben Soundscape ‘Many Things’ (Intrigue)
S.P.Y. & IllSkilz ‘Tomorrow Like Today’ (dub)
Philth ‘Obsession’ (Peer Pressure)
Adelle ‘Rollin In The Deep’ (George Young remix) (dub)
Serum & Northern Lights ‘Watch Out’ (Shogun Audio)
David Boomah & Serum ‘Why They Wanna’ (V Records)
Pennygiles ‘Momentary Switch’ (dub)
Strife & Harduro feat. Collette Warren ‘Keep Forgettin’ (dub)