Ahead of her gig at D-CAF, we sit down with golden-haired DJ and radio personality Goldierocks to talk Shaabi music, hippos, and crowd surfing...
The Selector, her curated weekly radio show of the best of eclectic British underground tunes from Garage to Electro, blasts out from speakers in 44 different countries worldwide. She's performed at almost every big festival under the sun from Glastonbury to Creamfields, spun in venues as far flung as Soviet bunkers in Kazakhstan and warehouses in Shanghai. She's performed at the MTV Music Video Awards, the London Paralympic Games and presented The Brits. She's performed exclusively for the likes of Madonna, Giorgio Armani, Richard Branson and she's been touted as "the most influential woman in Pop". Despite all that Samantha Hall AKA Goldierocks, doesn't give off even the slightest bit of selfdom. You don't get that far in life without having the attitude of an Energizer Bunny and the fluffiness of one too. Before her gig at D-CAF where she'll follow Egyptian Shaabi legends Oka & Ortega on stage at The Greek Campus we sit down at a ping pong table to discuss growing up on bass in Jamaica, listening to Foals with hippos in Malawi, and reincarnation...
So is this your first time in Egypt?
Second time; I came in 2012 as well which was a pretty tense time. The party we were supposed to do was cancelled for security reasons last minute so we ended up doing it in the gardens of the British Council office which was quite safe. But it still went on, people were still really in to it, but not necessarily what I anticipated Egypt's scene was going to be like...
What do you think of Egypt so far?
I have only been to Cairo. I have only seen that, but it’s a big crazy city and I love big crazy cities! Everyone’s wicked. Everyone is really friendly and really passionate, I like that and people have an opinion everything which I think is good. I want to hear more contemporary Egyptian music… The only music that I really had is the old school classic kind of Egyptian stuff
Do you know much about the Shaabi scene in Egypt?
Not really, I was played some stuff of a phone earlier… I was like ‘this is cool! I need to take some of these tracks home!’ How fun would that be, incorporating that stuff into my sets or have them remixed.
Okay, how much does Goldie rock on a scale from 1 to 10?
Errr… 11! Haha, or about 2 on a bad day.
Can you smell… what Goldierocks is cooking…
I like to surprise people so you might think I’m making spaghetti bolognaise but then I come out with chocolate fondue …You know what I’m saying…? I’m crazy!
Okay, so explain the name…
Ah an ex-boyfriend thought if it - basically I used to have a really long hair so it was a play on Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
So how did you end up being booked for D-CAF?
So I present this globally syndicated British radio show called ‘The Selector’, a two hour cross genre show all about promoting underground music. Presenting an alternative to people. We launched in Cairo on Nile FM back in 2012 and now we’re on Radio Cairo 95.4FM, Fridays from 5.00-7.00pm and on Saturdays from 4.00-6.00pm.
We’re funded by the British Council, so they send me all around the world to promote the show and meet local musicians and local DJs, especially women working in media and music and just to have a massive cultural exchange.
You’ve played around the world in so many countries with so many different performers - have any of them stood out?
One of my favourite festivals in the world is called Lake of Stars and it’s in Malawi in Southern Africa. It’s amazing - it’s set around Lake Malawi, you’re partying on the sand, under a full moon, palm trees everywhere, there’s hippos in the lake, and it’s just amazing. I saw Foals play there a couple of years ago and that was just so electric. It was not the kind of band you'd expect to see there.
So going back a bit, why did you start DJing?
I never set out to be a DJ but I was just obsessed with the way live performance made me feel. That energy when everyone is in one space sharing a moment together... It doesn’t matter what’s happening at home, you’re just all celebrating life… Like that exciting tinting feeling that you get when you’re outside the club and it’s like boom boom boom…
I felt like I had to be involved with that but I didn’t know how, so I started working in record labels and I worked for radio stations and then I was a music journalist and basically I started a club night which was about exposing new DJs and underground bands. We needed a DJ and didn’t have any money so I said I will DJ between bands and then I got spotted and started getting booked and played at the MTV European Music Video Awards and I was like oh my god what’s happening, and all of a sudden I’m a DJ!
On that note, according to your Wikipedia page you are well known for your dramatic stage presence. What is it you do on stage that gives you dramatic stage presence?
When I’ve got energy I’m quite theatrical - I actually did a degree in theater. I just like giving people a show. People have parted with their money, they’ve chosen to come, so let’s all party together. I think if I’m having a good time then so will everybody else. So… I climb off stuff and I jump off stuff and sometimes I go crowd surfing.
In fact I DJed the Isle of White festival a couple of years ago and went crowd surfing and the security panicked, grabbed my legs and wrenched me back over the barrier. My knees hit the barrier and I was on crutches for the whole summer. I didn’t want to cancel all my festival shows, so I ended up getting wheeled on stage and just sit on the deck and DJ haha, so I do give it my all.
Have you ever sacrificed any animals on stage?
Umm, let’s think. Not willingly or knowingly… I have damaged myself on stage, done lots of mental things, broken stuff, spilt stuff, been sick but yeah… no animal sacrifices - yet! When in Cairo...
So what kind of music did you listen to while growing up?
I spent a lot of my teenage years in Jamaica so it was about bass-y dance-hall sounds, really heavy beats. And I grew up in the countryside back in the UK which was all about Punk Rock, so it was really eclectic and left me very open musically. When I DJ I play House, Electro, Moombahton, Drum n’ Bass, Jungle, whatever as long as it’s fresh and exciting and it all fits.
So tell us about your meteoric rise to popularity…
I think the key is perseverance, really hard work, and finding a unique selling point in that I don’t just do one thing, I do lots of things. I’m not the best technical DJ in the universe, I’m never going to have four vinyl tracks going at the same time and I don’t really scratch but I think it’s the passion - people just love coming to the parties because they’re fun. And The Selector has been key as well.
You don’t have a face for radio…
Ha! You don’t have to be a minger to work on the radio…
We thought that was a pre-requisite. Do you produce as well?
I do mix types and I’ve done remixes in my time but it’s something that I made a very conscious decision about. I’m not a musician, I’m a curator. I’d rather focus on the radio and do it really well. When I started The Selector we were only in six countries and now we’re in 44. That speaks for itself.
Most memorable gig so far?
DJing the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games in London 2012. Just the sheer scale of the thing. It was in the Olympic arena, in front of 85,000 people, the Queen was there, televised around the world to millions. To be asked to represent your country doing something like that is a huge moment for me.
Do you have any crazy stories from your exclusive celebrity gigs?
Can you tell them…
Nope! Don’t kiss and tell haha.
What happens when we die?
I believed very much in the power of recycled energy and karma. Energy never dies so what happens ultimately, who knows, but it’s kind of like you don’t go away.
What do you think you were in a past-life?
You know I’ve always been obsessed with Egyptology! Maybe something to do with cats. Some kind of sexy Egyptian cat
For more on Goldierocks visit her website here