Dirty Saffi Interview ahead of Alien Safari 21 Years
Al Shanka from Dirty Saffi, much like the music he makes, is a colourful character. You’ll realise that one minute into reading this interview.
Our motto from the beginning was music ‘direct from the dancefloor’ and I hope we’ve kept true to that.”
Not one to mince his words, yet affable and gracious at the same time, aside from his kickass music, it’s no wonder Alien Safari have decided to bring him back for an occasion as special as their 21st birthday party.
Alongside AJJA, Tortured Brain and legendary French DJ, St. Pierre we’re in for one helluva psychedelic ride come the beginning of December.
Here’s what Al has to say…
People were really excited when Dirty Saffi was announced for the Alien Safari 21 Year party. I know you’ve played here a few times, including an Alien Safari back in 2011. Is this a good country to perform in?
Dirty Saffi: Yeah, it’s a much better country for events than most South Africans realise.
Here you have everything, the technology, the space, the weather, the laws and people for really good events; most event organisers in Europe would kill for some of the access you guys have.
You also played Mozamboogy in Mozambique back in 2015. That must have been a nice holiday…
Dirty Saffi: It was super great and you know you could really feel it when you crossed the border; on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere you go to this little hut for passport control, it really felt like we were going back in time a few decades 🙂
I’ve been to a few beaches, but the one in Mozamboogy is really up there with the best (it kicks Anjuna’s arse!!)
we are not in it for the money, but with friends like these and all the fun experiences that go with it, what more do you need?”
Most music producers hate admin and are pretty slack at it. Isn’t running a record label (Bom Shanka Music) a pain in the ass? Wouldn’t you rather just be jetting around the world to exotic destinations playing music all the time?
Dirty Saffi: Erm yes I would!!
But luckily for me a lot of the admin work is done by someone slightly more logical than me!!! You have to remember as well we (me and Richie Psymmetrix) didn’t start Bom Shanka because we wanted to run a label.
The simple truth is that we had (as Psymmetrix) been on and dropped from 3 labels before setting up Bom Shanka.
We were starting to freak out a bit wondering why no label would have us, so we just decided to have a go at it ourselves.
Our motto from the beginning was music ‘direct from the dancefloor’ and I hope we’ve kept true to that. And these days I try to keep the label run like a family, an artist heavy leftfield family of freaks 🙂
Well, well done for consistently releasing cutting edge psychedelic trance music. It’s a tough business running an underground dance music label with not a lot of financial reward. What’s the upside?
Dirty Saffi: Fun, friends and travel.
They are without a doubt the 3 main upsides to this lifestyle. For sure we are not in it for the money, but with friends like these and all the fun experiences that go with it, what more do you need?
I started to travel the world as a teenager and I feel so blessed and happy to be able to continue doing it in that spirit in some way. There are downsides to this career, financial instability and general instability being the two main ones, but the positives far outweigh the negatives, apart from when you have to leave the dancefloor and go to the airport right after a gig feeling tired and smelly.
I read that you bought your first computer to make music in 2003.
But you also mentioned that this was not your first time making music. Care to elaborate?
Dirty Saffi: I’ve been making music (if that’s what you can call it) since my early teens. I slowly bought a second hand drum kit bit by bit and spent hours every day pounding beats! That evolved into a shit band with my mates and later on I was a drum carrying hippie (yes one of those!)
I’ll really never forget the first time I was at a doof in NSW and I heard psy-trance on acid.”
What do you think of all the cookie-cutter trance that dominates the Beatport charts?
Dirty Saffi: There’s lots of super shit indikit trance but the reality is if people like it and it works on the dancefloor then where’s the issue?
There is a problem with the ‘psy-trance’ section on Beatport not being anything like psy-trance, but there is a simple solution to that…just don’t bother with Beatport, it sucks!
They charge more than other sites, and give a lower % to the artists/labels than ALL the other digital distributors.
What I’m really saying is just leave that music to the people that like it, and we can continue making, releasing, playing music that really does try to lift us to a higher place, how’s that?
So how did you stumble across psychedelic trance music and were you into any other dance music before (house, techno D n B etc) or are you one of those fellas who went from hard rock/metal to psy?
Dirty Saffi: Stumble is exactly the right word.
I was into the popular dance music that I had had access to in the ‘90’s, primarily house and garage and a bit of drum n bass, but to be honest I never really loved any of those genres I just loved the drugs 🙂
Then I’ll really never forget the first time I was at a doof in NSW and I heard psy-trance on acid.
That was it, hook line and sinker. I just fucking loved it! I remember finding the lead sound so interesting and it didn’t have vocals!!!
Wow man, awesome, 5 months later, and I was on Anjuna beach in Goa, and I’ve never really looked back.
Do you reckon the tempo of the music is a key factor to it being psychedelic? I.e. if we played a Dirty Saffi track at 135 bpm would it still be psychedelic?
Dirty Saffi: Music is the most subjective thing you can experience.
What one person feels during a piece of music is nothing like how another person experiences it. You can find slow music fast and fast music slow, the same piece of music can sound flat one day and sparkle with emotion the next.
So the point is forget bpms (unless you’re mixing 🙂 Bpm has nothing at all to do with a track sounding good/bad/psychedelic or whatever. It’s all in the ear of the beholder.
When people talk about Al from Dirty Saffi what do you reckon they say? ‘Big affable hippie’ or ‘drunken hooligan.’?
Dirty Saffi: Drunk hippie I guess.
Outside of psychedelic trance what other music floats your boat, electronic or conventional?
Dirty Saffi: We have a digital radio station here in UK called Radio 6 music.
It’s a BBC station and it just rocks. I’ve discovered lots of really interesting music from this station, artists like Kate Tempest or the killer Grime artist Giggs and lots of other types, but really I don’t listen too much to music.
I probably should do more but I find after working all day listening intently to particular sounds I just erm…. want to hear the football game!!
What one band or artist would people be surprised to know that you actually enjoy. [You can say ABBA if you like] ☺
Dirty Saffi: [Actually] my first musical memory is from when I was a toddler and I remember my mum hoovering the house with ABBA blasting out of the stereo, so I’ve been left with a fondness for abba, but let’s think… erm Supergrass, Parliament, actually I really like the White Stripes
Finally; name the first psy artist/DJ that you remember being a huge fan of when you first started partying in the scene.
Dirty Saffi: Dickster and Tristan innit 🙂
Catch Dirty Saffi at Alien Safari 21 Years of Magic on 2 Dec 2016.