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gal-dem in conversation with Sarah Farina

08 May 2016

This September, gal-dem will be heading over to Croatia to cover Outlook Festival. In the run up to and during the festival, we’ll be speaking to a range of artists and DJs from all over world who will be playing at this festival. Launched in 2008, Outlook prides its bill on hosting all sorts of bass-related acts – ranging from hip-hop, to techno, to grime – playing on sound system stages erected in Pula, Croatia.

One of the acts on the bill who is all-encompassing of the sound of Outlook is Berlin-based DJ Sarah Farina. gal-dem caught up with her over email to find out how she navigates through a male-heavy sound system subculture.

gal-dem: Tell us about yourself.

Sarah Farina: I’m Sarah Farina from Berlin, part of the music collective “Through My Speakers” and I’ve got a deep love for sharing music with our world.

You call your style of music RainbowBass. Why is that?

Because the music I listen to and play has so many different colours and you realise it’s all connected to each other – like the colours in a rainbow. The message of RainbowBass is that it’s all one. And that’s a beautiful thing to me. All the grooves, BPMs & energy levels.

You’ve built up a name for yourself over the last five years as being a music tastemaker in Berlin. How do you draw your broad music taste into a consistent set?

I put my current favourite tracks with some classics that I love into one music pool and try to create a musical journey that is accessible for music nerds but also for people who may have never heard this kind of music before. When I have enough time in a DJ set I love to play every BPM. From house to garage,  garage to grime,  grime to dubstep and so on.  All the genres speak for themselves and I like opening up different music universes to people. And hopefully by the end of my set, the listener understands that it’s all one, like we are.

You started up a collective and label called “Through My Speakers”. How did that come about and what’s the ethos behind this movement?

We’re a group of friends who share the same love for the same music. For us it’s about connecting people, music education, having a good time and making the world a better place by doing positive things, sharing music, supporting each other and breaking boundaries.

It’s not often we see a woman of colour at the forefront of bass music – especially as a DJ. Have you had any testing moments during your career because of this?

I have very open minded, emotional intelligent people around me where gender or skin colour is not an issue. I’ve met many like-minded people in the sound system culture and subculture. Of course I’ve had some testing moments but those were very rare and haven’t happened in a very long time. Sometimes people like to put others into their pre-shaped boxes as we all know.

My advice is to keep your head up and keep on going. I overcome those things by not taking sh*t too serious and not losing my focus on my passion and on the people I trust who support me.

Where has been your favourite gig so far?

My favourite gig so far was in Dubai hosted by the lovely 264 Cru at the start of the year. The night felt like world peace happened for a couple of hours – there was such a positive energy in the room and the crowd was magical. There were people from all over the world, there in unity.  I don’t think I’ve ever felt so connected to a crowd.  The whole stay was so inspiring too because the 264 Cru are a wonderful group of friends who are really dedicated in bringing subculture music to Dubai and I respect that a lot.

Your love for UK bass is undeniable. From grime to jungle, you’re affiliated with Hyperdub, Young Echo, Deep Medi and such labels. Who are some of your favourite UK DJs and producers right now?

ETCH – one of my favourite producers and DJs right now. 

Addison Groove – I heard him in Berlin a couple of months ago and he blew my mind (as always). 

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Anina (Happy Skull) from Bristol who played one of the best DJ sets I’ve heard in a long time, and Ivy Lab who have been killing lately with their hip-hop infused jungle productions.

Producer and DJ Nidia Minaj who is part of the Principe fam from Lisbon – she is not from the UK but I highly recommend her and her crew.

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Festival line-ups are still extremely male-heavy. Do you think it has progressed at all in the last five years since you started?

Yes a little bit, but we all still need to become more conscious regarding gender, skin colour and other things. When we realise what’s wrong we can start working on this extreme imbalance. And we have to work on it together to have a healthier balance in the world in general. I hope one day it won’t be something special to have mixed balanced line-ups.

What are you looking forward to most about Outlook Festival?

Meeting friends, music lovers and getting to know new music while enjoying the sun in Croatia!

Stay up to date with Sarah Farina by following her on Twitter and on Facebook.