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The house DJ celebrating a Supa 20 years in the business

MASTER: DJ Supa D is celebrating two decades at the top of his game later this month; inset, in action last month (photo: Instagram)

BY HIS own admission, shying away from the bright lights of fame and social networking notoriety has meant Supa D’s status as a premier contributor to the house music DJing scene in the UK is still open to debate.

Those who were raving to the signature mixes thrown down by Supa back in the day would never dare to question the Londoner’s assertion that he is among the best to ever do it.

But in an industry that is all about who is hot now, the 36-year-old does understand that many people might be wondering where he has been and why the heat he experienced as an up and coming DJ didn’t manifest into a full blown firestorm.

A coy but confident Supa D sat down with The Voice's Entertainment editor Joel Campbell to explain why not being at the forefront of every picture and video on Instagram and Snapchat didn’t mean that he was no longer relevant.

“Nothing’s changed, I still see myself the same way I did 10, 12 years ago,” he enthused. “If anything I have moved with the times a bit. I still play UK funky house, but I play a lot of afro house now, soulful house, that’s my main thing I like to play now as well as the 2006 old school classics.”

If you don’t know how much of a hold Supa D had on the UK funky house and garage scene in the early part of this century, Google him – there is bound to be a mixtape floating about somewhere.

Explaining how he found a love for spinning tracks in the first place, he said: “My dad was a sound man and I grew up around that sort of thing. I started collecting music myself when I was about 13 years old, and when I finished school I started working at a record shop in Hackney called Wired For Sound.

"From there I started doing a radio show on Mission FM, which at the time was a big pirate radio station with the likes of Heartless Crew on it. I was with the Bachelor crew at the time and we built up a name by playing at Mission FM events and from there I never looked back really, just kept on grinding.”

Supa has been grinding for 20 years. Two decades in any field is a long time, and to still be relevant says a lot about his core audience and the quality of his output. But in an age when DJs are household names, can he consider himself to be ‘hot’, or are his best years behind him?

“Nah, I’m still hot,” he told me with a wry smile etched across his face. He continued: “I think a lot more people would be aware of me if I hadn’t had a brief two- year hiatus from doing what I love during 2011 to the beginning of 2013.

“I won’t elaborate on why I was away – that’s personal, and if people know, then they know. But what I will say is when I resurfaced I was still getting bookings every week, still out here doing my thing, just maybe not being as loud about it as I was previously.”

He added: “I was playing the catch up role – things had changed. Everyone was shuffling and they weren’t really doing that before. There was a transition and it seemed there was a younger audience gravitating to the music. There was a lot more love for deep-tech music.

“I had heard about the direction things were going in, but when you’re in it, it can leave you scratching your head.”

Supa says, after having a think about where he was heading as a DJ, it was an easy decision to return to his roots and keep it soulful. Looking forward, however, there are other strings to his bow that he wants to develop.

“My thing to focus on now is production,” he said. “Myself and DJ Pioneer have a studio and we’re focused on getting some production credits to my name. I want to work with artists and release instrumentals. I want to build that up because when you do that, everything gets bigger.

“I’ve done a few bits already – nothing major. I am a bit of a perfectionist, so if I put anything out, it has to be proper.”

Answering the question on what he thought 20 years in the game would like, he said candidly: “It’s hard to say what I thought it would look like or where I thought I would be, but I am the sort of person that doesn’t like to give up. I keep going and DJing was my passion, basically. I don’t think I will ever stop.”

After so long in the game most people would forgive Supa for simply being in it for the money – after all, a job like his is good work that many would chop your hand off for. But he says the love for what he does hasn’t diminished. Like anything, there are good days and bad, but for the most part, he wouldn’t change a thing.

Looking forward to marking 20 years in the business he said every Voice reader should get their hands on a ticket for his celebratory event at a secret venue later this month.

He said: “I’m going to have people from my era and scene on the bill. “People like Pioneer, Kismet and Seth Kombo. There are going to be a load of hosts and I am going to be doing a old skool garage set and I might even do an old skool jungle set, too. It’s going to be about me. Favourite tracks, best mixes. So come down.”

Housupa DJ Supa D’s Birthday and 20 Years in the Industry’ takes place on April 20 from 10pm to 5am at a secret London location. Keep your eyes peeled for more details.

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