Sassy J takes us on a ‘Quest’ traversing a colourful landscape of warm grooves and intriguing rhythms.

Sassy J has built a remarkable catalogue of work over the last 20 years via her various creative exploits as a DJ, curator, promoter, DIY designer and illustrator. As a DJ, the multi-talented artist operates with a heartfelt passion for distinct grooves and warm sounds, which has made her a firm favourite at household institutions like Dekmantel, Rush Hour and Rainbow Disco Club. Beyond DJing, one of her passions is sewing one-off pieces of clothing that marry many different textures and styles in compelling ways. This isn’t only a solid analogy for her approach to mixing records but also stands central in her other creations, from her acclaimed ‘Patchwork’ events that have seen the likes of Theo Parrish, Sun Ra and Moodymann to the compilation she curated for Rush Hour last year, which weaved together dance music inspired by soul, jazz and funk that has shaped her.

We caught up with her to see how the recent year has affected her approach and perspective. Whilst describing the mix, she said ‘It’s a reflection of what I felt within the last year: The dense dynamic of different moods. Facing the turmoil around. Navigating and taking action. The quest to the omni-potential that is you and surrounds us’.

Hi Judith, how’s life in Switzerland right now? We get the impression things are a little more relaxed there than the rest of Europe. Is that the case and how have you experienced these strange last 12 months?

I am well, thank you. Days are longer and spring is here. I appreciate we have less heavy regulations as some of our neighbour countries. Talking to friends in the UK, France or US I am thankful for having a bit more freedom. Our schools were only shut in the beginning. I am lucky to work as a teacher and have a plan B to get me through so I was able to not get too isolated – working with the children always lifts me up. The last twelve months were a challenge, but also a gift. I had to learn to not be able to plan, to focus on the moment, to take it slow and take it day by day. To trust and not worry.

In terms of your creative output, we’d be interested to know how the pandemic has affected you? From what we can see, you’ve been keeping pretty busy with regular podcasts, including a series for national radio, textile pieces, art and more. Are we missing anything? And would you like to tell us a bit more about any of the above?

I had moments of just being and organizing my life and phases of diving into more intense creating. Last summer I did five mixes for the national radio – during the first week of July they played a 1h mix each evening. It was a great experience and an honor to be employed by the national radio – the first time in my life. I decided to dedicate each mix to an element, which I enjoyed a lot. I’ve recorded a mix for Music From Memory and Radio Shows / Mixes for Radio Raheem Milano, Run Dem Radio London, Dublab Los Angeles, Neroli x Kiosk Radio Brussels and now for Oddysee FM. Apart from that, I am working on a collaboration with the Museum Night in Bern. Hopefully it will take place in September this year.

We’ve heard from many in the scene that with the absence of gigs… both their listening habits and record curation has been changing or adapting to the new realities. How’s this been for you?

I still have the same broad approach as before. Searching for sounds and music that move me in the whole spectrum: 360°degrees and beyond.

Picture of Sassy J

Also how do you feel about the future of our scene… Do you think things will quickly revert back to the way it was before or do you think its going to take a long time to rebuild communities and spaces? In Amsterdam, we’re not hearing much enthusiasm for the spaces which are left and I wonder at this low point, its also sometimes the moment when beautiful new concepts come into existence to fill the void (almost a rebirth, as the old ways die). How’s things in Switzerland? And do you see yourself returning as a touring artist around the world, or do you think there will be a movement to events.

Everybody creating for the love of music will keep on doing what they do and why they started off. Maybe just in a different and new way, but still sticking to the essence. Regarding the future: people will always love music and want to share that. They will want to express themselves, create their world, step outside and share it in the dance. Feel the music on a heavy sound system. Share the experience. Nothing can replace that. Of course I will be happy to play records and reunite with people in other countries and on other continents again within the future. There will always be a way. We’ll make it work. We’ll always have music – nobody can take that away from us.

Finally, what can you tell us about the mix you’re recorded for us? Where would be best to experience it?

I was inspired by Carlos Niño & Jamael Dean’s „pleasewakeupalittlefaster, please…“ on Carlos Niño’s upcoming album on International Anthem. It triggered the journey, the story and eventually the title. Reading the tracklist can give you a hint of the content and story. It is called „The Quest“. A reflection of what I felt within the last year: The dense dynamic of different moods. Facing the turmoil around. Navigating and taking action. The quest to the omnipotential that is you and surrounds us. I propose either listening on headphones or a good sound system. Best listen to it in a moment where you have time and feel like diving into a listening experience. I hope I can lift you up and give you motivation, strength and wisdom for your journey.

Artwork that Sassy J made for her Oddysee mix

01. Interplanetary Prophets – Running Out Of Time (Planet Mu)
02. Carlos Nino & Friends (with Jamael Dean) – pleasewakeupalittlefaster, please… (International Anthem)
03. Oneness Of Juju – Liberation Dues (Black Fire)
04. Akujaka & ATS – Lock (MIDA02)
05. Molinaro – Ember (Apron)
06. Greg Beato – Gimmie Light (L.I.E.S.)
07. 4Hero – Eight (Talking Loud)
08. Phil Manzanera – Impossible Guitar (Theo Parrish ft. Duminie Deporres Remix) (LN-CC004)
09. Crash Course In Science – Flying Turns (Press Records)
10. Aybee – MT Mind
11. Dan Curtin – Matter Of Sound (Peacefrog)
12. K15 – Tiny Triumphs (ESC007)
13. Da One Away – The Mind (2000Black)
14. Bookworms – African Rhythms (L.I.E.S.)
15. The Abstract Eye – Kinda Dreamlike (Neroli)
16. Open House ft. Placid Angels – Aquatic (Carl Craig’s Save The World Mix) (Retroactive)
17. Lord & Dego – Beee Side Inside (2000Black)
18. JAB – Currents (JAB02)
19. Rufus & Chaka Khan – Destiny (ABC Records)
20. Mndsgn – Hope you feeling better (Stones Throw)
21. Javonntte – Outerbound (The Jazz Diaries)