Updated: Apr 22
We're so excited to continue our Brighton Mixtapes Series. Since the success of our beloved Berlin Mixtapes Series, which has featured awesome guests so far, we are on a mission to showcase more of the exciting talent that is right on our doorstep.
Next up we welcome the amazing Sarah AKA Miss Monument who is well known for her versatile sets and playlists, and is as comfortable tearing up floors with the latest breaks and bass, as she is pumping out hardcore and techno.
This cross over of genres has crafted a fluid techno style of her own, with key tribal influences creating a hypnotic journey on the dance floor, which has been gaining momentum over the past few years across the techno specific dance floors of her adopted home town of Brighton (Size, Sonic Alchemy), the clubs of London (Stay Up Forever, Rebel Alliance, Fold, etc), and many festivals around the UK and the world (including regular sets at Glastonbury and Boomtown).
Sarah has been hosting a monthly show on Brighton's very own 1BTN radio station for over a year now, constantly searching for fresh new beats, building core followers to her sound. We caught up with Sarah to find out more.
Hi Sarah, how are you and what have you been up to these past couple of weeks?
Hey! It’s been a busy few weeks, mainly just constantly searching through music and compiling multiple playlists such as one for this mixtape plus for my radio show on 1BTN last week. I also played over the Easter weekend for Stompaphunk, so enjoyed going down that rabbit hole with my music and I’ve got a couple of recorded radio show requests coming up alongside other projects. Basically my time recently has turned 100% music focused.
How long have you been DJing?
I bought my decks in the summer of 2005 – and started from that day onwards, so 18 years.
What inspired you to start DJing?
I never intended to be a DJ initially – I’m just one of those people who likes to know how things work and will always give something a try. I definitely wouldn’t have thought I'd be standing on a stage confidently in front of a crowd within the first year of starting!
I spent years on a dance floor first, I just loved the freedom of the rave. I then linked up with a group of mates out in Berkshire who were involved in pirate radio, and all of a sudden I’m in an environment where I can actually watch behind the scenes, and in usual Sarah style, I announced I'd like to have a go at that.
So my mate helped me get a set of technics off eBay, I didn’t own a single record at the time, and the rest is history.
You started your DJing career in the Breaks scene. What is it about Breakbeat that got you hooked?
I actually started DJing electro initially, and played a lot round East London for parties called Dirt mainly out of a warehouse in Whitechapel in 2005. About a year in I discovered bass and that’s when the core breakbeat sound took over me, and my music and gigging diverted away into the breaks scene. The electro I played was still on an electro breaks tip – so I guess there must have always been something about that broken beat that I enjoyed mixing in to and associated with, the slight swing and funk element, and the harmonics you can play around with.
You performed with some of the biggest names in the Breaks scene, are there any standout moments that you can share with us?
Quite quickly the big breaks guys gave me some amazing opportunities – Deekline and Stanton Warriors started booking me at their parties and helped me become a named DJ almost instantly. All of those guys were pretty awe inspiring to me at the time.
A stand out moment though has to be when I was supporting and playing just before the Scratch Perverts for the first time, who I’d rated for years so it was a big gig for me, and it was also my first time playing exposed on a stage rather than behind a decks stand in a corner. I was nervous even though I filled up the room from the start of my set – and halfway through I did what us DJ’s all dread, and pressed the wrong CD so cut the music to total silence. It could have totally crushed my confidence and been the end of me, but I just remember freezing, looking up and seeing the expectant faces of the crowd – and I just dropped the next track which resulted in an amazing cheer, at an even higher level, and I could see the crowd were all behind me. I knew at that point I’d be okay wherever I go with my music.
Your DJ career has taken you globe trotting, where are some of the coolest places you've played?
I have been very lucky to have played all over the world - but it’s a close call between travelling to Colombia in 2014 with the London acid techno crew, where I did 3 years running in the jungle for Acid Resistance parties. We had to travel on a little boat by moonlight to get to the jungle and once there, there’s only one boat in and out a day so you’re basically stranded - it's pretty hardcore.
But I reckon China in 2006 in Shenzhen was probably the most life changing, where I'd actually only been DJing about 14 months and I flew out there to a life size poster of me, a packed club, and a typhoon which had killed 4 people in the immediate vicinity throughout the night while I was playing in the club. Two girls came up to me after my set who had ignored all severe travel warnings (I nearly didn’t make it myself), and had travelled on a train for 2 hours to come and see “the female DJ from England”. That will always stay with me.
You have written a guide about Music Royalties. Can you tell us more about that and how did you get into that side of music? When I got my decks I was a bit of a high flying exec in the business world, a Chartered Accountant in a very Corporate Board level environment. When I got back from China I resigned instantly on day one – there was no doubt in my mind, I could no longer be involved in the corporate rat race, and there was more to life that I needed to experience. It took me another few years of contracting to extract myself fully but eventually I was a full time skint musician and I couldn’t have been happier!
It was only through spending time with musicians that I became confused as to why artists weren’t earning the money I would have expected, so I took it upon myself to figure out the whole royalty system and ended up becoming a music royalty specialist, simplifying it as much as possible and putting it into a book 'UK Music Royalties – Made Easy'. This was the start of my business Sonic Efficiency which is focused on maximising the income of independent artists and record labels. To find out more about Sarah's work and how she can help, check out her website here - www.sonicefficiency.com
What do you think are some of the biggest challenges facing record labels regarding royalties?
A lot of the challenge comes down to being able to access easy to follow information regarding what royalties exist for labels, and also who is responsible for setting up what’s needed so that both a label and a performer on a release can get access to these royalties. Most people focus on PRS and publishing when I mention royalties, but there is a total independent income stream called PPL, which is based around the copyright in the master recording, and these royalties are specifically for the label and the performer on the recorded audio, whenever that track is broadcast. There’s millions in unclaimed PPL money to tap into and it's actually free to join, so there is no excuse to not be signed up and get paid!
Do you think setting up a record label nowadays is still worthwhile and do you have any advice for any aspiring label owners?
Anyone can now self release their own music, which of course is great for people wanting their music out there without a label, but this has also caused issues for people searching for quality music, as there is less quality control and this means you have to search much harder as what is available is now massively diluted. It’s pretty straight forward to set up a digital label and the old model isn’t needed for this to happen – in fact things are so much more transparent in the digital world, it makes it much easier to account for sales, and also for royalties for artists on the releases. Social media is key in this day and age, and that in itself can be a full time job and even something as simple as how a track is defined by genre can directly affect how well the track or the label does, as this affects the charting positions and accessibility to the right audiences on platforms such as Beatport etc. And of course, those PPL royalties need to be sorted.
You currently have a radio show on Brighton station 1BTN. Tell us more about your show? I’ve been doing a monthly show on 1BTN for about 18 months now, it’s gone so quick already! I love doing my show – even though they had to convince me over a few months to join. I had done years of pirate radio previously, so I know the level of commitment needed. I’ve never looked back since I joined 1BTN. I love the wider scope the radio has given me. I can allow the tunes to breathe more than I would if I was dance floor focused. I take massive playlists of recent stuff I’ve downloaded – often that very same afternoon - most of which I’ve never played in full before – and do the shows totally blind. It keeps it exciting for me, and it clearly works and adds to the fluid style I think I’m now known for.
What sort of music can people expect?
My music mainly spans breaks and techno but basically if I like the vibe of the track and it fits, then I’m playing it and making it work! And that’s why it can range from electro to breaks to techno to jackin’ house to dub or jungle.
Where was your first gig and how did it go?
I played pirate radio first for about a month or two before I played my first gig out. My old mate Andy SUOSU invited me into his weekly Friday night show on Point Blank FM in July of 2005, literally 2 weeks after I’d bought my decks and he’d heard me play round mine. My hands shook so much for the first few months trying to put the stylus on the record I was so scared! He still has my very first show recorded and often threatens me with putting it out in public again but after that first show he asked me back the next week and we continued for over a year before I then moved onto Flex FM, so I can’t have been all that bad! ;-)
Where was your first gig in Brighton?
I used to come down to Brighton regularly, starting about 8 years ago and would play mainly at the Funky Buddha (now the Waterbear) for my mate Zoe Pounder who always put on great techno nights in there called Brighton 303. From that point onwards it was always the focus to relocate myself down here.
You regularly play at some of the UK's best known festivals. Which festivals do you love the most and will you be back in festival land this year?
I love festivals – all of them! I guess my favourites have to be Boomtown and Glastonbury but I also can't ignore the more boutique smaller festivals which I love, such as Illusive and Balter. My first year at Glastonbury was 9 years ago on The Temple stage, and after my set the artist Liaison contacted Boomtown and told them they needed to check me out, which they did and so I got booked at Boomtown that same year. And I’ve played at both regularly since. I can't wait for festival season - it all kicks off in a few weeks with The Beat Goes On festival, which is in a secret location in the sand dunes in Wales somewhere.
You have played for us and partied at Berlin-Brighton and hang out with the crew a lot. What is it about the night that is special to you?
I’m very receptive to energies, and from the first time I met the Berlin crew, I’ve been so welcomed and really synced in with the outlook and vibe of everyone involved in the parties – from the crew to the crowd. And then once on that Berlin dance floor (either in front or behind the decks) there’s no denying the techno journeys that are brought together to define the sound of the Berlin nights. A family of like-minded, smiling souls.
Where's your favourite place to just kick back and chill in Brighton?
Of course it has to be the beach in the summer, or one of the many local pubs with an open fire in the winter and a massive glass of red.
And equally, where's your favourite place to let loose?
I always joke I have more than one home down here, based on the amount of time I spend in my favourite places! Pub wise you will generally find me either in Shortts bar, or Block bar both down St James Street and then I’ll most likely move onto the Waterbear club and finish off as the sun comes up at Volks!
Which other DJs or producers are you liking right now?
I’ve always loved Meat Katie – his mix of techno and breaks has obviously always appealed to me, and he's a lovely bloke at the same time. Bicep have clearly cleaned the floor right now with a new fresh sound. Techno wise I'm enjoying following upcoming artists such as Alna from East London.
What are your go-to labels?
I don’t have go-to labels as such. I search for music each month for my radio show and I just go through lists of tunes / promos and whatever jumps out at me I’ll pull into a playlist. Everything’s included in my search. Of course I'm aware of those that I navigate towards more, but there are far too many to start listing here.
You have compiled our latest Brighton Mixtapes Series Episode 019 - Tell us more about your mix.
For this mix I decided to go through my past 1BTN radio shows, and pull out those tunes that have stood out for me – so most of these tunes are within the past year old – and it just varies across the electro, dub, breaks, techno spectrum. I then just went on a freestyle and what you have is the result.
What else can we expect from you soon? What's next on the horizon for DJ gigs, where can people see you next?
I've started refreshing my royalty book and I hope to take that out on the road more and spread the awareness of music royalties to those who need it.
Music wise, I’ve just had a great Saturday down Shortts bar where I take my turntables and bags of records and take over the Saturday evening, and invite along a guest DJ – last weekend with Dr George from Kane FM was awesome and the next one is booked in July and I already have a few ideas of who to invite down next.
I’ve got a few mixes to record for a few different projects and stations over the next couple of weeks, as well as a couple of extra tricks up my sleeve – and I guess all will be revealed when the time is right. I’m getting gig bookings coming through regularly now, ranging from clubs, festivals, to secret mansion parties… my diary is starting to look very healthy on that front! It's not a bad life!
Exciting stuff! It's been an absolute pleasure as always talking with you Sarah. Next up here's the Quickfire Round:
Favourite Colour: Blue
What do you put on your chips? Vinegar
Apple or Android: Android
Pioneer or Denon: Pioneer
Rekordbox or Serato: Rekordbox
Can you juggle?: Nope
Weirdest/Coolest item of clothing: Monster Feet Slippers (weird not cool lol)
First record ever bought: Ha ha Toni Basil - Hey Micky
Favourite place to hang out in Brighton: Beach
Best club: The Waterbear and the Volks
Where does the best roast in Brighton: Haus on the Hill
Best place for food in Brighton: The Greys
Coffee or Tea: Tea
Favourite Beer or cocktail: Negroni
Favourite Track right now: Jay Carder- Eva's Stoned
View on Seagulls: Street dogs with wings
Favourite seafood: Tuna
Favourite word: Onomatopoeia
3 words to describe your mix: Fluid Monumental Vibes
1) Nolan, Markus Saarländer - Flames (Framewerk Electro Breaks Mix) - Capital Heaven
2) Tony Waller - Radio Plays (Alternative Mix) - Nothing But
3) Sllash & Doppe - Bekaboo (Extended Mix) - Neighborhood Music
4) Demuir, DJ Sneak - Good Ol Days (feat. DJ Sneak) - Purveyor Underground
5) Stanton Warriors - Beat Goes On (Skapes Remix) - Punks
6) Rodas - Psycho - Eve Records
7) Dub Pistols - Killa Sound (Skapes Remix) - Sunday Best Recordings
8) Meat Katie, Dopamine - Candyman (Sons Of Slough Remix) - Lowering The Tone
9) 23 Psi - The Music Ain't Over (Charlie Kane's Acid Overdrive Mix) - SP23
10) On/Off - Modul - Hypnostate
11) Brothers Of Funk - How We Do (Mizzo Remix) - ElectroBreakz
12) John Baptiste - Elysian (Meat Katie Remix) - ElectroBreakz
13) Mizzo - Miami Bass - Ileven Eleven
14) Snare Diego - Orbital Groove - Slap It Records
15) A*S*Y*S - The Acid - Fe Chrome
16) Alien Rave - Dark Matter - Alien Rave Beats
17) Digital Base, Andy Vibes - Another Decade - Old Skool Records
18) Leeroy Thornhill, Rasco - Beat Crew - Elektroshok Records
19) Si-Dog, Bradley Drop - 808 - DogEatDog
20) Stanton Warriors - Somali Funk - Punks
21) Neils Reno - Mark 85 - Scander
22) Freestylers, Jiro, GreenFlamez - Elastic Mind (Freestylers Remix) - Toast & Jam Recordings