Interviews Music

One Track Mind: DJ Sabrina The Teenage DJ

The queen of nostalgic dance music waxes lyrical about a track from The Avalanches timeless debut

The premise of One Track Mind is pretty simple: I ask artists to pick one track that means a lot to them – either something they’ve discovered recently, something that’s been with them for years, or one that reminds them of a specific time in their life or career – and tell me what makes it so special to them. I get to talk to the artists I love, and they get to talk about the artists they love. Love all round!

DJ Sabrina The Teenage DJ is a London-based electronic music producer. Named after the TV series that pretty much every child of the 90s will be familiar with, her music is deeply evocative, mixing samples from TV, film and music with lo-fi beats and a huge amount of affection for her source material. As Amaya Garcia put in in their fantastic profile for Bandcamp Daily, DJ Sabrina creates music in which listeners can “revel in the intensity of falling in love, experiencing heartbreak, weathering deep crushes, and dancing their worries away in the warm glow of the dancefloor.” Released last month, her latest single Under Your Spell perfectly encapsulates this joyously singular sound, and would be a perfect jumping off point for anyone looking to get stuck into her expansive back catalogue.

For her One Track Mind selection, DJ Sabrina has chosen a song from an act that shares both her penchant for sampling, and her ability to hammer our emotional button, The Avalanches.

DJ Sabrina The Teenage DJ on The Avalanches – Live At Dominoes

“It’s no secret this song means so much to me, the most incredible ending (penultimate but yeh) to the most incredible album. A blueprint of punk-house (Daft Punk’s Homework being the other) with never a moment left to settle, always something new to hear (listen for the offset lead vocal at 3:05).

“I hate to try to describe genres, much less the variety of them, but this covers a fairly broad spectrum in its not-quite-6-minute glory, so many moments of “what were you thinking with that?”, “how did you even come up with that?”, an epic work that deserves to be listened to as part of the whole album rather than isolation to fully prepare you for its enormity.

“A triumph of atmospheric ambiance, punchy yet organic beats and unlikely funk and 80’s electro-pop riffs, it’s hard to pin down one particular concept of what Dominoes represents, nor what the original creator(s) had in mind. Nothing stays in one place for long (tonally or spatially) and drums switch between 4-to-the-floor rock and pounding sampled house effortlessly. Speaking of samples, a wonder of contemporary (20 years ago of course, but still a definition of modernity) and classic sampling, the more established tradition of, say, 60’s orchestras and 70’s funk interwoven with French house 12” grooves and synths.

“If you get bored by most music, you’ll have no trouble with Dominoes, and if you want to hear one of the greatest foundations for fully sampled not-quite-but-almost-house music, you can do no better than giving this a listen. Actually, give it a few listens in a row, you’ll probably hear something you didn’t the other times.”

DJ Sabrina The Teenage DJ – Under Your Spell is out now