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Last Night a DJ Saved My Life
by Christina Li on Apr 07, 2009
As founder of Dub Mission, one of the most successful and long-running Sunday night parties in San Francisco, DJ Sep has truly blazed the way for women DJs here in the Bay Area and nationwide. Spinning all forms of reggae, dancehall and the like, she has truly raised awareness culturally and musically about dub music. With a list of accomplishments, it’s no wonder she has gained the respect and love of many DJs. Taking time to speak with SF Station, the humble and gracious DJ Sep shares her thoughts.
SF Station (SFS): What got you into DJing?
DJ Sep (S): I’ve always been into music. A friend of mine was a DJ at a local college station KUSF so I started volunteering there. Sometime later I got my own show, and a few years after that, I started DJing in clubs. It continues to be great fun and an education.
SFS: You spin all forms of music, but are most recognized for dub music. Why dub?
S: Probably because it’s the type of music I’m most passionate about and because of how long Dub Mission has been around. I find it the most incredibly versatile form of music. A dub song can be hard-charging or soulful, danceable or heady, and still be a dub song. It can have memorable lyrics and be notable for its sound and effects as well.
SFS: What do you think the cultural significance is about the dub music style?
S: Dub has, without a doubt, influenced all forms of electronic music. Hip hop, drum n’bass, techno, house, trance -- to name a few -- all owe a debt to dub, whether the producer working in a particular genre knows it or not. Dub is the mother of hip hop because Jamaicans were the first to chant/rap over dubs of records at dances. Dub was a studio production style so it has influenced almost anyone who has sat behind a mixing desk to produce or reproduce/remix a song. To me, they invented the remix as we know it today.
SFS: Tell us a little about Dub Mission and what inspired you to start this successful Sunday night party.
S: I didn’t know anything about doing a club party when I started Dub Mission. It grew out of love for this kind of music and a passion for sharing it in a club setting because it hasn’t been heard much in Bay Area clubs until then. Luckily I also had a group of people, my resident DJs: Vinnie Esparza, J Boogie, Maneesh the Twister and Ludichris, who shared this passion and were willing to help me spread the dub virus week after week, and a club owner, ¬Dennis Ring at Elbo Room,¬ who was willing to give us the opportunity to grow the party. It took a long time to get it to this point.
SFS: Who are some of your influences?
S: Because I love and spin different forms of music, I respect and admire a lot of artists, especially those who continue to do their work despite how long they’ve been around, and how hard it has sometimes been for them. In dub, I was very influenced by Adrian Sherwood and his On-U label and I still admire him because he has never stopped doing what he does. But I also think of Diamanda Galas, Iggy pop, Patti Smith, The Clash, and Lee Perry to name only a few, not because I love everything they’ve done, but because at their best, they put their heart and soul into what they produced, and that’s a great gift to anyone who cares to listen.
SFS: Do you do this full time?
S: Yes. Finding and listening to songs, putting sets together, putting mixes together, putting remixes together, booking, managing and promoting Dub Mission……it all seems to take all day. I have no idea why!
SFS: How have you seen the dub scene change in San Francisco?
S: It has become more and more recognized over time, which is very gratifying. And there are more local producers working in dub and dubstep and that’s great as well.
SFS: And finally, do you live by any mantras to keep you going day by day?
S: I remember why I started doing it in the first place. I also have a lot more to learn and do, so it’s not hard to keep going.
Come check out Dub Mission and the lovely DJ Sep at Dub Mission this Sunday for J-boogie’s release party! For more info on Sep and Dub Mission, check out www.myspace.com/djsepmusic and http://www.dubmissionsf.com.
by Christina Li on Apr 07, 2009
Photo credit: Kelly Edwards