In this series we shine a light on the people that make the wheels turn behind the scenes in London’s music underground. From venue owners and agents, to record label managers and bouncers, we chat to these individuals about their tastes and motivations.
Soraya is the founder behind online blog and mix series Truants, a platform that showcases unique voices around the world, run by a collective of globally dispersed writers. Alongside this her day-to-day job as a senior AR manager for Native Instruments sees her sharing tech tips and gear with aspiring artists across europe.
We meet Soraya in Dalston, she has kindly let us come round to her flat. She is at home dog sitting for a friend and amid a touch of home remodelling she has set up the front room for us to sit and chat. She offers us drinks and then we chill, discussing yoga, Mall Grab and the music community in the local area. We slowly move into the questions...
Most Iconic London Venue?
The right thing to say here is Plastic People, but my formative clubbing years were in Amsterdam and Berlin and I’ve only been a handful of times. As someone who started clubbing in Amsterdam, Trouw has been massively important to me.
Last gig you went to?
James Blake at the O2. It was stripped back and so pure. He doesn’t need to do a lot to put on a fantastic show. Everyone in attendance commented on how healthy he looked, he was glowing! He’s always been a steady favourite of mine and Assume Form was everything I hoped for and more.
Last DJ set that really impressed you?
We’re so lucky to be able to see a good DJ in London every weekend, I’m impressed every weekend. In terms of a recent experience I’ll have to say Violet at Lente Kabinet, and Philip Jondo who played right after her.
Last meal you really enjoyed?
ROVI in Soho. The shrimp crumpet topped with kohlrabi is unlike anything I’ve ever had.
Last record you bought?
Pollen Pt. 1 by Metrist on Timedance.
Best bit about working in music?
Being able to elevate artists in my role at Native Instruments and to give them the access to knowledge they need to develop both technically and creatively. My favourite thing about working at Truants is being able to do what I want, talk about the music I want, and getting to spend lots of time with my dear friends through it. I love the whole team to bits.
Toughest challenge about working in music?
The hardest part is always being in it. I find it hard to figure out where my job starts and where it ends, it can get a bit muddled. It can be tricky to find that balance, and before you know it instead of enjoying the music front left you are by the bar talking about work or Truants. It can be a double-edged sword, and I try find that balance by doing other things like running and watching football, or just playing records at home to myself.
What was the first break in your career?
I don’t think I ever really had a break, it’s always been a gradual thing for me. The one thing that has always given me opportunities is Truants. The first music gig I ever landed was working for BNR way back when. Berlin was bubbling at the time as well so I feel like I was there at the right time. But honestly, I owe everything I’ve ever done in music to Truants and the incredibly team of volunteers who inspire me on the daily.
Best headline act you have seen?
Last time you stayed in a club until the lights came on?
A few weeks ago after Queens Yard, there was an amazing after party where I saw Tasha B2B Blasha & Allatt, then watched the sun come up during Harri & Domenic. Earlier that day I saw Kiara Scuro, Sofay and Pangaea play across different clubs in Hackney and everyone was amazing.
Best place to eat before you go out with friends?
My second home. House of Momo. Nepalese food made with love.
Photo credit: adam__adam__adam
Person that you have worked with that you found most inspiring?
Two people I would like to name. TJ Hertz (Objekt) is one and Sindhuja Shyam is the other. We all met on music message boards but we all have in common that we work at Native Instruments at different points, and obviously Sindhuja plays a big part in Truants. Both have an incredible work ethic and to see them go through their careers is inspiring. Can’t wait to see where they’re heading.
Any labels that you are enjoying at the moment?
Illian Tape, Born Free and Timedance.
Last thing you shazamed?
Di Melo - A.E.I.O.U. (Dub Version)
Photo credit: adam__adam__adam
Anything exciting going on professionally at the moment?
Personally I’m excited to go back to DJing after a hiatus that lasted longer than intended. I recently played at the NAFF party at Corsica Studios alongside an amazing lineup consisting of Tijana T, Jenny Cheng and Nite Fleit - much love to Rosy Morris for making that happen. I’ll also be playing Konx-Om-Pax’s launch party at Rye Wax next week (June 14), and Atlas Festival in Marrakech at the end of the Summer.
Any advice for anyone who is looking to start working in music?
Before you do something for free or cheap, ask yourself why you’re doing it. Could you be spending this time and effort working on your own platform instead? We need to get rid of this mentality where it’s accepted to do things for exposure. Invest your time in you, don’t give it away.