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Anne Savage Interview - Anne Savage talks to us

2006-03-29 11:06

South African clubbers love Anne and with good reason. Her playlist includes some of the most driving and varied sounds of dance music. Anne's appearance on BBC's Faking It helped garner the episode a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Award and this is only the tip of the iceberg. Lamese Abrahams got talking to her.

Lamese Abrahams, for MWEB: You've headlined major tours in South Africa over the past couple of years . How have your previous trips been?

Anne Savage: I always have an amazing time and try to have a bit of a holiday as well. I've played in clubs with a capacity of 1000 people and I've also played massive arenas for 33 000 people. The crowds in South Africa are always mental and up for it.

MWEB: What is the scene like over in the UK and US? Some people say that dance is dying in Britain...

Anne: I play in the US about once a month and the dance scene is really taking off big time. It went through a dip about two years ago but at the moment it's really pumping. The UK dance scene is not dying - there are so many clubs! We do go through phases where the scene dips a little bit but when you compare it to other countries, we still have one of the biggest dance scenes in the world. At the moment I am preparing for Global Gathering, which is sold-out. Creamfields and all the other clubs that I play at are really packed... but maybe I'm just lucky...

MWEB: How would you describe your sound?

My main-room sound is energetic and uplifting. I try to keep it pumping and I'm trying to encompass different styles. So, you'll find me not just playing hard house but sounds from across the board.

MWEB: What are your general musical influences?

I came from a rock background and played guitar in a band so punk has influenced me quite a bit. Joy Division, New Order and Front242 were the first bands that influenced me.

MWEB: Do you prefer vinyl or CDs?

I have a love affair with vinyl but in order to stay ahead and fresh I have to play CDs. The sound quality is good but it hasn't got the same amount of soul as putting a vinyl on the turntable. But with CDs you can make a track in a day and play it in a club the same night, so I have to incorporate it.

MWEB: Tell us your most embarrassing DJing moment?

There's been quite a few actually. At one gig the turntables where suspended right in the front of the stage with steel wires. I was wearing high-heeled shoes, I lost my balance and when I tried to steady myself by grabbing hold of the turntables, they swung out and I fell off the stage and onto the floor. I really hurt myself but didn't want anyone to see that and got up. Still in shock I got back up behind the turntables and thought that taking my shoes off would be for the best but then I accidentally pulled out the power plug and all the music went off. That was along time ago and fortunately nothing has happened like that again.

MWEB: There are not many female DJs in the South African dance scene. Can you offer three tips on how to make it as a female DJ in the business?

Technically you have to be good - if not better - than the guys. Also, don't try and be too pushy with promoters... and get a really good mix together on CD with a picture. You don't have to be beautiful - rather have a strong image. Self-promotion is very important, so hand out CDs as often as you can. Make sure you give the guys a good run for their money and don't ever feel out of place. It's good not think of it as a boys' club and its good to know that all the female DJs look out for each other. So, just go for it!

MWEB: A lot of people look at female DJs as a novelty. What are your thoughts?

Years ago when I first started it was like that but now many of top DJs in the scene are female such as myself and Lisa Lashes. The novelty has gone a bit but it's definitely still like that in the US. When I travel to Los Angeles there are so many female DJs and they are not very good. The DJs that are in it just for the fame and to look pretty will hopefully disappear. The DJs that are in it for the right reasons will stand the test of time. You have to do it because you love music and love playing, not just for the glory.

MWEB: When and how did you move into production?

Production is something that I always wanted to do. It was a natural progression because I played in a band; I am classically trained and also write music. In 1996 I used to be part of a trance act called Destiny Angel. A friend of mine heard me play and asked if I wanted to do a track in the studio. I learned as I went along but I often use an engineer and work from home. Many times is just quicker to use an engineer. To be able to make records that I like to play out is the biggest buzz of all.

MWEB: When working with an engineer do you find it hard to communicate how you want the song to sound?

I've worked with so many engineers and you know within the first hour whether you are going to click or not. I've had some painful studio experiences where I've been there for two days and nothing has happened but now, after 10 years of producing, I've got a few guys that I know are going to deliver the goods - it's trial and error really. Often you need to get on the same wavelength and then you are on your way.

MWEB: What do you use in your home studio?

I can't keep up with all the technology... to be honest that's why I use an engineer. Cubase and Reason are the programs I use on my Mac. I use software most of the time.

MWEB: Can we expect anything from you and Lisa Lashes - Tidy Girls?

Lisa and I have been working separately on our own projects. There's nothing planned at the moment but Tidy Trax are always asking us about these things. Hopefully in the future we'll get back together and do something.

MWEB: You were involved with BBCs Faking It. A girl on the show managed to convince a group of judges she was a DJ after a month practicing with you. What was this experience like?

It was absolutely terrifying! She had never been to a nightclub before and she had no clue what dance music sounded like. At that point we didn't think that we were going to pull it off. It helped that she was musically trained and had rhythm, so she just had to practise day and night. She managed to pull it off in the end, but it was one of the most emotional journeys that I've been on in my life.

MWEB: Are you still in touch with Faking It's Sian Evans?

Yes, she's still DJing in a bar in Belfast, Northern Ireland. She's also still playing her cello.

MWEB:Can you tell me a bit about the BBC series 'Choice World Clubbing'?

It's a holiday programme for clubbers. The BBC flew me over to Melbourne, Australia and I presented the show and spoke about clubs and what else you could do. I did something similar for MTV as well.

MWEB: Career highlights?

Presenting on Radio 1 to 2.2 million listeners was a highlight and also the first time I played a main-room set in 1993.

MWEB: If someone decided to make movie about your life, which actress would you like to play the part of you?

I would like Juliette Lewis to play me...

MWEB: If the BBC asked you to do another instalment of 'Faking It' and you could choose any celebrity to teach how to play, who would that be?

Sean Bean (Troy, National Treasure) - only because I fancy the pants off him and I would like to get to know him!

TOUR details
5th August - DCM, Johannesburg
6th August - Dockside, Cape Town
7th August - 9 Yards, Port Elizabeth

Anne Savage is more than a sexy and talented DJ; as a person, she explodes with music knowledge, experience and attitude. We caught up with the one half of the Tidy Girls duo to chat about life and her South African tour.
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