FEATURE INTERVIEW: ANNE SAVAGE
From her beginnings in illegal raves at the height of early 90’s to Radio 1 and TV presenting for MTV to become a bestselling producer, Anne Savage, AKA Dumb Blonde, is one of the world’s leading ladies in dance music with a career that spans over two decades. Anne jetted in on Saturday, November the 28th, to headline an Ear Candy night at ‘The Venue, Kildare Town and I had the pleasure to sit down with her on behalf of Retro Electro Radio and Zone Magazine and interview her.
Anne thanks very much for the interview, let’s start at the start, how did you actually get into DJ-ing?
I was influenced by my older brothers and sisters, they were into Northern Soul and some alternative stuff, also I used to listen to a lot of punk and my sister used to do mail order records and she used to make me buy them. From that, I kind of developed my own taste in music and started going out clubbing. My first DJ residency was actually at a club in Accrington, Lancashire called the Curfew Club, prior to dance music, well not house music as we know it, the DJ was going on holiday for two weeks and as he knew I was a fanatic he asked if I’d like to do it. I got loads of encouragement from the crowd, mainly girls saying it was great to see a girl, DJ. After that first experience, I was just obsessed, like I would go and watch DJ’s at pubs and just stare at them the whole night and wouldn’t dance. Then there was the Acid House explosion and I started going out as a raver and again, I was always the one chin-stroking in the corner and just looking at the DJ. Eventually, I got my own decks and used to stay up all night playing the same two records until I could mix them together.
And which two records were they?
Pennies from Heaven – Inner City, The Cutter “Blow, a quite obscure one and yeah this was the early 90’s.
And forgive me for my ignorance, were they similar tempo songs, was there a reason why you picked those two?
I can’t actually remember what the BPM’s were. I don’t know if you ever tried to mix really early 90’s tunes. It’s really hard and a real test, anyway I persevered and then I just told everyone I was a DJ and blagged, just like most DJ’s did I think. I started because I just absolutely loved the music, got the technical skills and annoyed everyone till I got a gig. Something I find when I am interviewing DJ’s is that they generally have a nerdy encyclopedic knowledge of music, and that obsession got them into wanting to become a DJ. Definitely, I am and I can hear just like the kick drum from the start of the tune and know exactly where it’s come from. I’ve got that brain now, it’s really weird. It’s like, I don’t know what you’d call it, a photographic memory but yeah I’ve got a good ear and I am a massive nerd. I can tell you where all the samples are from, from every tune, you back to the 70’s and before that.
You cut your teeth at Angels in Burnley, Lancashire back in 93/94 alongside Carl Cox and Joey Beltram, what was that experience like?
Yeah! it was good because I started working at that club doing the lights, the cloakroom, the flyer run and it was a real family kind of experience. The resident, Paul Taylor who is a legend himself, really taught me how to warm up properly, he used to take the records out of my bag and said don’t play that. I had to do the first 2 hours, I got paid 25 quid which was quite a lot if you think about it and by the time I got to finish the night; I had done my training and yes I was thrown in at the deep end with Carl Cox and Joey Beltram, it was a massive learning curve.
” I’ve started a harder duo with a friend of mine in Aberdeen called ‘Savaged based DJ’s’. We’re going to be making some music, it’s not hard style but it’s not hard house, still harder edged. “
Sink or Swim kind of thing?
Yeah! 100% and you knew they were masters but I was like a sponge at the time and learning different mixing techniques. And so learning you can drop techno and house together, for instance, Carl Cox taught me that and he used to DJ with no headphones. The guy is a genius and he is still my hero if you can’t tell.
Sounds like that place seems to have paved the way for setting up your own label?
I used to have my own tape business, this is showing my age, and I used to have my own tape run and I used to sell tapes for Cream, all the big clubs in the North and that’s how I actually got to meet people and that’s how I started getting other gigs through that, so yeah I was doing flyers, I was doing tapes and the dance music industry, in general, I just wanted to be in.
You were discovered there at Angels and you went on to play at the legendary Arc gigs with Laurent Garnier, Tony De Vit etc, can you let us know a little about that?
Yeah! I was spotted while I was playing at Angels by the promoter of Arc and I was made resident there, I was just fortunate to be at the right place at the right time really. He just came along, from there it was a springboard and I got my first agent and it was just a really special time at the time, to play with Sasha and Garnier who were heroes of mine.
Speaking of events and raves, you had 12 consecutive years DJ-ing in Ibiza, which was your particular favorites?
I used to play for Judge Jules at Judgement Sunday which was absolutely brilliant. I used to play at Privilege and you had to queue at the time and that’s a different level as it’s 10,000 people.
Words By Jason Collins