The Dutch electronic music scene is flooded with talented artists. In recent years, Sanja has become an active member of the Amsterdam scene primarily as a resident of the renowned SlapFunk collective. Her charisma and sophisticated music opened doors to clubs such as CDV and Thuishaven, as well as festivals like Into The Woods, BPM and many others.
She'll soon perform a debut Slovenian gig which will happen on 14th February at Klub K4 in Ljubljana. We decided to invite her to a lovely chat about her career, her plans and much more.
Hi, Sanja. Let’s start this interview with the New Year celebration. Have you entered the new decade in style or were you enjoying a laidback evening?
New years was a fun misty ride. I played a few times during the night and ended up on our New Years Day venture with SlapFunk and VBX.
How did Sanja end up being a DJ? Was that something that you wanted to become since young days or did it happen in a more spontaneous way?
It developed gradually. I was always doing something related to music, from dancing and studying Musicology to working behind the scenes. I guess you can say all these paths have come together now. My way of connecting with people has always been through music, it has been the one continuing interest in my life. Everything I do is somehow music related. With all the hours spent in discovering music and new sounds, this was a perfect output.
You currently live in Amsterdam. What’s the clubbing scene there? Do you go raving as well or do you only go out on nights where you play?
Yes, I just moved to Amsterdam a couple of months ago. The clubbing scene is quite big in Amsterdam as in many parts of Holland. I’m actually from the eastern part of Holland, from a smaller town called Nijmegen, this is where I discovered house music for the first time in this well-known venue called Doornroosje. The scene in Nijmegen was also very vibrant back then. Holland is also loaded with festivals in summertime and has one of the biggest scenes in electronic music around the world. You can see the importance very well during Amsterdam Dance Event, where the whole clubbing scene comes together for a whole week filled with events, talks, and meetings.
As for my party mode, most of the time I’m playing during the weekends, so there is not much time left for raving. In my spare time, I like to spend it in the studio.
You’ve been a part of the SlapFunk Records family for a while now. How did this collaboration start and what does it mean to you?
We are a family. I think it was about 3 years ago when I made a mix that got into the hands of Samuel Deep. It appealed to him and he wanted to share it as a Slapcast on Soundcloud, that’s how it all started. We share this pure connection through music and as time past by we found out we had many similarities in the way we perceive music and ideas. I’ve developed experience in Marketing from working behind the scenes, so know I’m also responsible for all the content we do Marketing
wise. Sometimes things just feel like coming home, so did this. I feel I have a safe space to grow and express myself. For me, it’s important to have that.
The electronic music scene is still mainly male-driven industry but we can see that female DJs are taking the world by storm in the last couple of years. How do you see this never-ending debate?
I don’t participate in this debate. I speak for a lot of women in the music industry when I say that this is one of the most frequently asked questions. In 2011 I graduated Musicology with a thesis on the meaning of gender in the electronic music industry, but I didn’t expect that this theme would keep coming back. I’m very aware of the fact that female DJ's are a minority in the scene, and that it's changing now, but that’s a reflection of the society in general.
Everything in life needs time to change properly, so does this.
In the current scene, there aren’t that many artists that are solely DJs but you’re one of them. Are you interested in producing as well or do you purely see yourself as a DJ?
I am actually producing, but choose not to release anything just yet. The same way I’ve taken the time to invest in collecting and explore all kinds of music before starting dj’ing. I’m approaching producing the same way, I guess. I think it’s better to not rush this process and release just for the sake of releasing. There is already so much out there. It’s important to take the time to create before presenting.
We really like your music selection which can span from house, deep, tech, and all the way to techno and even some break-beat. How would you describe your style? What is the most important thing when you’re digging for new records?
I never know what I’ll end up when I start digging, but I’m searching for a kind of energy within a track that fits me. Maybe my taste it’s broad in style, but for me, my picks always have the same kind of spirit in it. The choices I make are always very personal.
Sometimes I can dig for hours and maybe only find a handful of records that I like, sometimes I feel like I’ve stepped into a goldmine, and it’s a digging feast. It’s a fun and intense game, and even before I was a dj, I was always making playlists, sharing finds with other like-minded friends, etc.
You’ll soon have your first gig in Slovenia. What do you know about the country and the Klub K4?
Well, every summer when we traveled to Bosnia for the summer holidays, Ljubjana was one of the cities we always drove past. From what I remember, it’s a beautiful city. I’ve visited Bled before and it was dazzling, and I’ve always felt a Yugo connection with our neighbor Yugo countries. Klub K4 is a club I’ve been following for a while now, so I’m very happy to play there on the 14th.
You do have some Balkan background and if we’re not mistaken, this will be your first gig at the Ex-Yu territory. Can you tell us a bit about that?
I’m very much looking forward to this, it’s going to be a special one. Since I started exploring the scene, I was always looking for similar scenes in the Balkan to connect with, because I was curious about what my roots were up to. So, when you guys invited me over, I was a happy gall. I guess speaking about music in my native language makes it more interesting for me, it’s a new way of connecting to my roots.
What do you expect from 2020? Did you set some goals that you’d like to share with us?
2020 is going to be a very exciting year for me. Next to the fact that I have some really cool gigs up ahead, like the Awakenings Festival that just got announced, I’m also working behind the scenes to launch an open-minded festival in Nijmegen. This is a year that a lot of input will become output. And of course, now that my studio is set up again, I can’t wait to dive in and spend some good quality hours in there.