Interview / Sophie Lloyd / Classic Music Company –  By The Insider

Interview conducted by our favourite four-to-the-floor expert, The Insider.

Girl-about-London-and-Brighton-town Sophie Lloyd is a shining light in the UK music scene. A producer and DJ, she has earned her stripes over the last 20 years, spinning her joyful disco sets in some of the world’s finest clubs and at some of planet’s most high profile festivals.  In 2018 Sophie released the massive  smash hit, Calling Out, on Classic Records, which propelled her even further into the limelight. Here Sophie talks about how it all started – with pirate radio and pause-button mixtapes – being a single mum, and what’s it been like to be a woman in this business we call house music.

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Thanks for talking the time to talk. Where are you today and what are you up to?

My pleasure – thanks for reaching out! Actually, today I’ve been painting my rave shed whilst listening to promos, prepping for the weekend ahead – it’s a big one as it’s a bank holiday and I’m doing Brixton Disco Festival and Horsemeat Disco.

Where are you from and where are you based these days?

London originally – now based on the south coast in Brighton. I was a lockdown statistic and moved to the sea mid COVID!

When you’re not behind the decks, or in the studio, what fills up your life?

My daughter – I’m a single mum to a 7-year old, so that’s quite a lot! It’s very much about juggling.

You’ve been DJing for over 15 years now. When did you first start dabbling with records?

More like 20 years now…I began at Uni and my first paycheck I spent on a pair of Technics. 

What got you into playing around with music?

Pirate radio stations. I mean we all made our own cassette tapes right? I spent hours in my bedroom as a young teen absolutely glued to the radio making my own mix tapes…the music I heard on the pirates was like nothing I’d heard before, and it really excited me – so I guess I caught the bug early. I never thought I’d end up being a DJ though. 

Can you remember a few of the first records you bought?

Of course! DON’T LAUGH! The first ever record I bought was a 7” of Bonnie Tyler, Holding Out for A Hero, from Woolworths with my pocket money (laughs)… and Irene Cara, Fame. I’m not sure what came next but the first dance music records I bought were Urban Shakedown’s Some Justice and Liquid’s Sweet Harmony. I didn’t buy many dance records because they were so expensive and I was a student, so I began buying old disco records at boot fairs – I was a student in Brighton, and I began to realise where all the samples had been lifted from for the current dance records of the time. It was a good education. 

Where did you used to shop for records?

I was TERRIFIED of entering record shops. The first records I bought, I literally stood outside the shop in Crawley for about an hour before plucking the courage up to go in. Record shops rarely had girls in at the time, so it was very intimidating – especially for 15-year old me!  All the old record shops in Brighton – Urban, Rounder, etc. are sadly gone now – but I do remember meeting someone who is still a close friend at a record shop and singing the hook from Jeff Mills` The Bells. I’m glad I embarrassed myself as that record was absolutely worth it and I ended up walking out with the Katmoda E.P. in my hand. As I mentioned before I couldn’t afford to buy new dance records, so it was mainly the boot fair. All the diggers were there too – Nick the Record, Matt from RadioSlave, Joel Martin from Quiet Village…


Where were you first gigs? What kind of vibe were you going for?

My first gigs were for whoever I could convince to let me play records.. so in pubs, birthday parties, back rooms of clubs…I played disco records which I still have and play to this day – occasionally, as it’s hard to find places to play vinyl these days.

Who were the artists you were into that inspired you initially?

There were no specific artists, just a love of music. My palate was so broad, and I became obsessed with dance music after I discovered the pirates. I was really inspired by the first wave of female DJs, Lottie, Smokin Jo, Paulette, Lisa Loud, Nancy Noise, Tula, DJ Rap, Chemistry and Storm…in a very male dominated club scene.

What clubs and parties were you into in London in your clubbing days?

Ha! Too many, this will be a long, long list! I began going clubbing in about 1996 – Club UK, Soundshaft, Ministry, the Satellite Club in Vauxhall, and the Zap in Brighton…lots of raves in fields, and on the beaches under cliffs and on the Downs. I moved properly to London in 2000 just as the Shoreditch scene was exploding – Mulletover, Machine, Secretsundaze, Bodyrockers, Return to New York, etc. There were loads of parties and we went out Thursday through to Sunday, so not much sleep was involved, but many friendships were forged and so many of the DJs then, who were playing at small parties in East London, are now worldwide headliners.

When did you get into production?

I was encouraged to get into music production by a mate of mine, the producer Jagz Kooner, who pointed me in the direction of engineer, Darren Morris, who I still work withnow. That was about 12 years ago…

What was your first release?

My first release was an edit of Herb Alpert’s Rise, which Greg Wilson put out on his A&R Disco label. 

You’ve released on some great labels – for Greg Wilson, and Northern cornerstone, Paper Recordings. How did you first hook up with Defected? 

I sent Calling Out to Luke Solomon at Classic Music Company in 2017. It was still in a demo form… I was looking for a great gospel vocalist, then my mate Andy, who runs the label Midnight Riot, suggested to me that Dames Brown would be good to work with as he’d just worked with them and Amp Fiddler, he knew they would be a perfect fit. He put me in touch with Amp and magic was made. Interesting fact – if you happen to watch the video of Calling Out, Amp has a cameo on it playing the keys in St Pancreas station. 

Luke Solomon. Has he been a great support to you? 

Luke has been so amazing to work with, and I see him as a bit of a mentor, as well as a DJ hero of mine. It’s crazy to think that I used to listen to his DJ sets on Girls FM in the `90s and obviously attended the Classic parties as a punter over the years – so to be playing at them now as a DJ representing the Classic label – I still have to pinch myself. Luke has just done a remix for my new single, Sweet Love, with Amy Douglas, and wow, it’s an absolute pumper. 

What was it like to get remixed by Danny Krivit? 

I was in the kitchen with my daughter – then two years old – and I got a text with a video attached from Simon Dunmore saying he was in 718 Club in NYC and that Danny was playing 7” of Calling Out. A few minutes later I got a text from Luke Solomon saying Danny had asked if he could remix it. I mean DANNY KRIVIT ASKED TO REMIX MY RECORD?!?! IS THIS REAL?!? I literally burst into tears and my daughter started freaking out, and I had to explain to her that mummy was crying happy tears. Honestly – that was such a huge moment of unbelievable joy… and the remix he delivered – well it’s the version I always play, it’s wonderful.

Could you feel that Calling Out was big when you were making it?

I knew it was an earworm, and a special record, but it takes so many factors for a record to break. It needs a combination of the right label, and tastemakers to pick it up and play it, but also a huge amount of luck and timing. 

What do you wish you knew before you started this journey? What would you tell a young Sophie about a life in music?

I’d tell a young me to not worry so much, and have more self-belief, and be more confident that I could make a career out of DJing. I wish I’d started producing earlier. 

What challenges have you faced over the years in the industry and do you feel  these challenges been specifically related to being a woman? 

To do this job you need the hide of a rhino and huge amounts of stamina. I’ve done this job for almost 20 years in various capacities, and I think that being a woman certainly helped, not hindered me, in the early years as I was working in corporate event DJing. It was a boys club in nightclubs and I rarely got a look in, – but as a DJ you need to earn your stripes! – but as a female I was chosen over men when working for brands, and I was able to forge a career as a DJ because of this. It helped me learn the most important parts of DJing which is learning to be egoless, the art of the warmup, and to learn a spectrum of musical knowledge across genres, not just sticking to one genre. Since the early 2000s of course, everything has changed – certainly in London anyway. 

You’ve been busy on the festival circuit – No 6, Bestival, Glitterbox, Secret Garden. This year you’ll be playing at The Wild Wood Disco Festival. Have you played the event before? 

I’ve played every year at Wildwood, apart from last year…It’s a great little festival, one of my favourites.

Who will you be hoping to catch on the line up? 

Bradley Zero, who I still for some reason have never heard play, also Dam Swindle, as I am huge fans of their productions. Optimo because their sets are always EPIC. 

Are you happy in tents?

I prefer a hotel (laughs)

What’s your festival survival tip? 

Baby wipes, a pocket torch and paracetamol.

You can catch Sophie Lloyd as part of the star-studded line-up at the Wild Wood Disco Festival, taking place at The Woodland Glade, Horseheath Racecourse, in Linton, Cambridgeshire, between the 16th and 18th of June. You can find more details, and purchase tickets, here.

Wildwood photographs by Charlotte Robinson @ Wearehereandnow.

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