How I Built my Career in Music
It’s so fun to nerd out and chat about my experiences in nightlife a bit, though I am usually the person asking the questions!!! I DJ as SAMANTHA, and run HUB16 STUDIOS in Dalston, East London where we nurture talent across the underground music scenes working with DJs and Artists from beginner to pro. We do this through 1:1 technical training, workshops and artist development sessions. We share resources and do a lot behind the scenes helping emerging talent, primarily LGBTQIA+ babes, navigate the wild music industry whilst building sustainable careers in nightlife. Our tutors are world touring artists like A.G and Laila Sakini and some of Hub clients are on your airwaves and soundtracking your night out. I also do event programming which is one of my favourite things; when the music flows, the dancers are out and the crowd comes together, it’s totally magic. Nothing like it.
I was already DJing and set up Hub with a couple of other artists in 2014 (after a few late Tuesdays running drop-in DJ workshops in my old flat). In fact, my real “work experience” started when I was about five. Our neighbour set up vinyl decks every Friday for a bit and I was OBSESSED with dancing right next to the speakers, going nuts to every record and totally devastated when the sound was cut (I am still this way haha).
A walkman and boombox later, I was fully hooked on music; Radio was a free bus ticket to the rest of the world and we would record over and over on our battered cassettes. Later I started helping out on the free party scene - dance, garage, breaks & Jungle were everywhere and Massive Attack were on MTV. I didn’t know how but I knew I wanted my job to be something in music.
It was a hustle. There were no studio spaces you could book by the hour…you had to figure out how to get access to equipment through gigs, pals and pirate radio, and somehow develop your craft. I was more shy so started flyering, carrying vinyl for DJs, sneaking into clubs, going to afterparties and generally being a club kid slowly making connections and cluelessly building the foundations for a legit career in music. It was the late 90s and I was being paid in baggies and guestlist.
There can be a tendency to get drawn in so many different directions when you’re fresh in music; chasing down every promise of work and taking risks. I do wish I’d had a mentor at a chill space like Hub to talk to me about getting credited properly and skilling up earlier… I don't have anything tangible from the early days except NSFW clubbing stories! Thankfully there are way more supportive opportunities for emerging talent in 2022 which is awesome to see and parts of the industry are slowly evolving and is somewhat more accessible for marginalised folks down to a network of crews all over the world - and more locally: Sable Radio, B.A.D, PDA, BBZ, Pxssy Palace, No Signal, Cousins, B.O.S.S, Intervention, Saffron, Fly Girl, Daytimers, Superfoxx, Sisu, Rhythm Sister, Boko Boko, Ladies Music Pub, 2%, NTS, and HUB16 too - and so many others in every city all challenging the status quo for representation across nightlife. And it’s working.
On working a traditional J-O-B
I have worked 9-5 full time twice and both times I was bored within weeks - just not for me (now I know it’s down to how my brain is wired)! I need a flexible schedule, dynamic opportunities and little oversight to really be in my flow zone - connecting through music and helping others transform their careers is my natural sauce - as well as running afterparties lol! Have done more than 10 years of temping and odd jobs before building my own business - best decision I ever made🤞