For the next in our Off The Record mix series we invited DJ, radio host and music consultant Sam Don or known to his close friends and family, Sam Donnison. Sam is a DJ’s DJ, having proved himself and the world over as a man of many styles, tempo and moods. Having shared the airwaves with highly regarded talent like Danilo Plessow aka MCDE and constructed mind soothing mixes for podcasts like Mr Bongo its quite hard to pin point what direction Sam will go in a set. This also shows the sign of a true digger and if Off The Record knows anything its deep diggers. This digging helped Sam curate one of the most captivating compilation series’ to come out this year in our opinion; “For The Love Of You”, a journey through Lover’s Rock across two brilliant volumes on the ever amazing Athens Of The North. For this mix Sam has tapped into a deep dig of fun yet raw house numbers, stemming with vocals, hypnotic acid, heavenly kicks and cunning blends throughout. We had a quick sit down with Sam about the mix and what he has been up to lately.
This is Off The Record 36: Sam Don!
Hey Sam, thanks for joining us! Can you tell us about your mix and what the idea behind it was?
Thank you for having me. I recently got back from an Asian tour and I wanted the mix to capture the energy of that experience. As I often get booked to play quite a range of different parties, I recently questioned ‘what are the qualities of a dancefloor record that attract me to it in the first place?’ I concluded that whether it is a house, afro, disco record or something else, what I am drawn to is a feeling of release or euphoria. I hope this mix captures the feeling of such freedom!
Can you tell us a bit about how you usually approach recording a mix or a set?
I approach every mix and DJ set differently. I think that a lot is going through my head, but luckily this happens subconsciously nowadays and where I take a set is based completely on instinct. Because of this, I’m more up for experimenting in my sets than ever before, and this is why DJing feels exciting.
What’s your preferred method for finding new music—do you still enjoy digging around in dusty crates, or do you prefer to buy online?
I don’t have any one set method in finding new music. I love to immerse myself in sound and the stuff that resonates with me the most seems to stick. I’ve run alongside cars with my shazam open when I have heard a track I love and just have to know what it is! I still cherish going to record shops, whether at home in London, or whenever I travel. Those relationships you build with the staff that work in the shops, well it’s undeniable, and I enjoy that human interaction. I just don’t like to be rushed with it, and really get to spend time going in deep. In fact I was thinking I am overdue a proper Phonica session. I’m coming in on Friday!
You were the forefront in the curation of the “For The Love Of You” compilations on Athens Of The North. Can you tell us a little about this project and how it came to be?
Yes I curated both volumes. I think DJs have always been attracted to playing interesting cover versions, and reggae is one of those genres that has an almost endless supply of them. Digging around London and other parts of the UK and having access to those records, I was finding a LOT of versions, and trading them with people around the world. I really thought that there could be some more shine on the songs and this moment in British musical history and through trading with Euan at Athens of the North, he shared the same view. I had been compiling my favourites in my head for a long time already, so it didn’t take much thought to think of the tracks I really wanted to feature. The challenging thing was finding the people involved, which took the next 3 years and involved 100s of phone calls, emails and meetings in strange places. Unfortunately we got duped on a license by one of the artists involved and so there is a For The Love of You 2.1 being released before the end of the year with a new track – it’s hot.
What do you have up your sleeve for 2023?
I’m working on some things at the moment, which I can’t quite talk further about for now, but you’ll know about them as soon as I can say more. Apart from that, I’m looking forward to playing some Europe dates, and hopefully some more festivals towards Summer. Asia in later 2023 seems to be already being talked about. Coming up soon, I’m playing at what feels like a home venue, the Pickle Factory with Jamie 3:26 who is always great fun, for Planet Groove on January 20th.
Thanks Sam 🙂