With her beaming smile, a flick of eyeliner and a strong coffee in hand, there's no stopping local DJ SAMMIE in her tracks. Blessing ears throughout the country with her infectious sets, the DJ and producer has made waves locally playing and mixing the likes of Rhythm & Vines, Hidden Valley and That Weekend.
Following her recent single, Detached, SAMMIE's sights are set on refining her sound as a DJ and producer and showing no signs of slowing down any time soon.
We teamed up with Samsung, in celebration of the new Galaxy S22 Ultra, to scope out the best up-and-coming Kiwi music acts. Here, we sit down with the homegrown talent SAMMIE to chat about her creative process, passion and career pinch-me moments.
Where did your journey in music begin?
I danced from a very young age and always knew I wanted to do something in music. I first dabbled in DJing while bartending at a club in Wellington, got hooked and haven't stopped since.
What's your earliest memory of music? Was there a moment you knew that's what you want to do?
I know this sounds cliché, but I was one of those kids who loved music from the get-go. I'd put on so many concerts for my poor friends and spent hours listening to every 90s R&B song I could—namely Aaliyah, Missy Elliott and Ashanti.
Who or what inspires your work and creative direction?
The 90s and 00s era of house music is easily my biggest musical influence. Ministry of Sound was a staple in dance class—it always gives me a hit of nostalgia, which I aim to recreate in my music. I also lean into Hip Hop and R&B music, especially when writing melodies for my lyrics and I'm naturally drawn to deeper, more bass-heavy sounds.
When putting sets together, coming across rad producers making new and interesting music helps broaden my sound too.
How has the local music culture influenced your style?
My style and sound have been on a real journey for the last few years. The underground scene has taken off in NZ, which coming from a Club DJ background, is just so exciting—there was always so much music I wanted to play but felt like it wouldn't be well received. The recent boom means I can be way more out there and take more risks with my set and experiment on production.
Can you give us a quick wrap of the overarching concept behind your sets?
I play a mix of sub-genres—in the most basic of terms, they fall under house, but specifically are a blend of breakbeat house, acid house and techno. I take the crowd through a bit of a journey between genres—so play and plan around how I would want to listen to the tracks. When you see the DJ loving their set, it translates to a crowd.
Can you give us a snapshot of what a typical day looks like for you?
A typical day for me involves hunting for new music, preparing music for upcoming sets and working on production and writing. It's a pretty intensive process, so the days tend to disappear quickly.
Can you walk us through your creative process?
When I sit down to start a new track, I typically try to find a core sound to base my project on—whether it's a big lead bass or a synth. If I'm stuck, I'll usually listen to a few tracks I'm playing in my sets to try and spark some inspiration.
What has been your biggest career pinch-me moment so far?
There have been so many unforgettable moments it's hard to choose one... probably releasing music is something I never saw myself being brave enough to do—I've released a few singles now, including the latest 'Detached' just last month, which is pretty surreal.
Being lucky enough to DJ internationally is also a highlight—including the Maldives, Rarotonga and Fiji. But locally, playing at Rhythm and Vines will always hold that special place in my heart. The atmosphere of playing to that crowd is magic—it feels like home. The whole journey is pretty much a pinch-me moment.
You're often playing a slew of awesome gigs; what's your secret when bringing them to life?
Caffeine and naps. I'm extremely fortunate to have amazing friends like TETO and WAJA in the DJ scene, so we often try to make it out to see each other play. Or, get ready together and hype each other up before heading to our gigs.
I prepare for every show ahead of time. Each one has its own vibe depending on the time I'm playing and the other artists on the lineup, so line up the music I think will be best received. Of course, I make changes on the fly every time, but it's nice to have a few tracks in mind that I want to include.
Being comfortable to adapt at any moment is just as important as being prepared. It's key to fun when playing—stage presence can make or break the experience.
What's next for you? Anything exciting in the works?
I have so many ideas that I can't wait to bring to life—I'll be releasing a lot more music and have collaborations with other Kiwi producers in the works, which I can't wait to share.
Ultimately, I would love to spend time playing shows overseas, experience next-level dance music culture worldwide and rep NZ along the way.
Want to catch SAMMIE's next gig? Keep an eye out on her Instagram and TikTok to be first to know about upcoming sets and singles. While you're at it, be sure to catch every moment of your next night out with the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra—featuring the game-changing nightography camera.
Featured image captured on the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra