Ahead of her show coming Tuesday 10.09.19 from 20h – 21h CET on wearevarious.com we asked Laila Sakini a few questions on life, interests, thoughts & of course music.

WAV: ‘Hey Laila, you live in London now. How does a ‘normal’ week look like in your life?’

Laila: ‘Hi, I’m in Melbourne actually. Back in London very soon though. A normal week here (Melbourne) involves about 1-2 DJ gigs per week, freelance writing work (I’m also a copywriter) and of course music production and also some sound design type things – I make playlists and have started composing sound for a video so these last few weeks have been pretty busy. I also curate a podcast series with artists from around the world, that sometimes requires a little bit of my attention.
I try to socialise once or twice a week, get out for walks in the Dandenong Ranges, but lately I’ve been pretty focused on work. Oh – I’ve also been watching a lot of docuseries, history movies and documentaries.’

WAV: ‘Besides music do you have other interests you’re passionate about? And do you think they are important to get the right inspiration / motivation?’

Laila: ‘Yes. I studied Criminal Justice and then Sociology alongside Media (Communications/Radio/Journalism) so I’m pretty interested in crime, history, politics, society. I try to keep up with a bit of the reading – journals and theory texts. 
I also worked as a freelance writer and then magazine editor on an art/music/fashion publication and I retain an interest in how media is behaving and write the odd editorial piece here and there.

Yes to the second question. I feel I often make wise ‘music’ decisions after a long time of reading or thinking about an issue.
So, for me, having outside interests and a critical thinking mindset ensures I’m interrogating my motivations/reasons behind my actions, within the industry, and practising in line with my personal ethics.
If I’m feeling disenchanted or discouraged by music it usually means I need to come up with a plan/new goal and try to keep my ‘whole self’ in check.’

WAV: ‘You have a monthly slot on NTS radio & play guest mixes on other stations like Red Light Radio and Rinse FM. How important are these for you and do you have an opinion on how online radio stations will evolve?’

Laila: ‘I don’t actually have a monthly slot I’ve just done quite a few guest shows over the past 4 years so I guess everyone assumes I’m an NTS resident. All the stations you’ve mentioned have been important – mostly NTS as I’ve done that more than any other station and playing in the London studio was my first entry into radio (outside of university).
Playing on the radio either live or pre-recording mixes has made me consider the radio medium more – as something separate from DJ-ing.
Of course it could have been used as an outlet to demonstrate my capacity to DJ (which could have been very lucrative) but I haven’t really utilised it in that way.

Radio got me thinking about sound outside of the DJ paradigm – so without the beat matching and the builds etc. DJ-ing and radio can be clustered together but it’s a different game. There’s so many mood routes, narrative development, playback options, an audience you can’t see but is larger than any crowd you’ll ever play to and a lot of freedom with regard to being cohesive vs eclectic etc. Knowing I have a show or mix on the horizon certainly sharpens my ear and helps me organise sounds while I’m searching through music – which all gets added to the library and certainly heaps with the DJ sets.

In terms of how online radio as a whole industry will evolve – I’m not sure, each station has a different MO. I imagine radio will continue to find new ways to be all of the things: credible, new, reliable, accessible, interesting, varied, ethical, profitable? We will see.’

WAV: ‘Your shows are quite diverse, from electronica to wave, drum ‘n bass to ambient. Has it always been like that?’

Laila: ’Yes. Well I’m always looking for what’s ‘new’ and I think that I’ve always been like that. I suppose the shows I’ve done are diverse but I feel there’s a common thread running between all of the sounds I play, I enjoy trying to persuade people to listen and connect things they may initially consider to be outside their world. If I can find some sort of thematic/melodic reason to put sounds together I’ll do it without giving too much thought to genre or era.’

WAV: ‘You were raised in Melbourne (Australia). Australia still has a good vibrant scene with artists like Andras, the Efficient Space label, Animals Dancing, Sleep D (Butter Sessions) & probably tons of others I forgot. Do you still visit the place (familywise or by touring) and do you still follow the current scene? Anybody you recommend we need to look up?’

Laila: ‘I’ve been back more than I anticipated I would. Yes I still follow and am proud to be from the scene – all the artists you’ve mentioned are from Melbourne – as I am.
I recommend looking up:

A Colourful Storm
Ying-Li Hooi and Tarquin Manek
Th Duo
Fab D
Mikey Young
Total Control
CS + Kreme
F ingers
Match Fixer
My Disco
….. probably more I’m forgetting

WAV: ‘When touring, do you make plans to visit local record stores or museums? Or you just go with the flow?’

Laila: ‘No I’ve never developed a well orchestrated tour in my whole life (even when I worked with an agent) but I really should as I’ve been getting alot of offers from far away places like Morocco, Lisbon, NYC, … so I will have to try and organise things a bit more going forward. Up until now it has often worked the other way around: I decide to visit a place and then I play there and visit local stores and galleries etc.

If it’s a short term trip for just a day I very much stick to the basics: coffee, meal, immediate wifi. If there’s an extra day I might try to visit friends or something but the night hours demanded by DJ-ing aren’t very conducive to day time activities like visiting galleries etc.’

WAV: ‘You recently did a mixtape on the Pure Physical / Tiny Teeny label. I saw that one was recorded in Brussels. You did live here also for a small period of time, no? Can you tell us a bit about that?’ 

Laila: The prospect of the UK closing its doors to us EU citizens made me consider what other options I had for living in Europe. I had some friends in Brussels and gigs in the city (Listen festival etc) and I secured a beautiful apartment in Forest/St Gilles really easily.
However I spent a lot of time traveling to London and really missed it. I think once London gets under your skin it’s hard to forget it. I’m pretty sure in the back of my mind I always wanted to end up living there again. So I got all my emergency Brexit paperwork sorted and I’ll be back again soon.

I’ll miss trying to speak French in Brussels – it’s a very liveable city in Europe. If you are a freelancer I would totally recommend it – the train gets you everywhere in a heartbeat.

Laila Sikini is a regular guest at NTS Radio & Rinse FM.

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