DJ Spotlight: Sammy Rawal
Sammy Rawal is not only one of the founders of the legendary Yes Yes Y’all party (they just turned 10!); he’s a fiercely talented producer and director and a fiery DJ, able to read and rock a room like no other in the city. His demure demeanour might throw you off, but trust us: there’s a party happening in his head at all times. Crystals, reflections, movements, jittering beats, and all that. Sammy made a mix just for us and answered a few questions along the way.
How did you come up with or get your DJ name? (haha)
INTERESTING STORY actually… well, no it’s not. I just use my regular name when I DJ. I kinda wish it was Phat32 though.
Is DJing something you’ve always dreamed of doing?
I think as a teenager it was. I’ve always had a huge love for music and a knack for being able to read a vibe in a room. The older I get the harder it is for me though – I’m a pretty introverted person and would much prefer chilling with a small group of friends to being in a loud club till 3 a.m.
How did you come into it?
I was a bad teen who probably should have been sent to one of those Jenny Jones bad-kid bootcamps. When I was around 16, I was really into sneaking out all night and going to raves. That was definitely my first introduction to DJing. I was also really into hip hop and rap growing up, so that definitely helped pique my curiosity. When I moved to Toronto, I started going to Hump Day Bump [legendary Wednesday-night parties at the Gladstone back in the day] and started to take DJing more seriously.
How did you take that first step or become brave enough to start playing?
The first time I “DJed” out was when I was still at Ryerson. There was this annual year-end party that I somehow got to DJ. I was so nervous and was supposed to play a back-to-back set with a friend but got so drunk and ended up falling asleep in the DJ booth before even playing. We called ourselves DIAMOND KRILLZ… why?? So cringe. My real, real first time playing out was at Hump Day Bump and I DJed with Will Munro. He was so encouraging and supportive, even though I couldn’t mix for shit back then.
We’re already big fans of your sets, but tell us why this city needs a DJ like you?
I honestly don’t know if the city does need another DJ like me. There are so many talented DJs in Toronto who play similar stuff to me. I do think that sometimes people just assume I only play hip hop or dancehall, but in actuality, I’m into all sorts of different music.
As a person of colour, have you faced challenges as a DJ in TO related to this?
One situation definitely comes to mind: a few years ago at Pride, we [Yes Yes Y’all] were heckled by a group of white bear dudes who barraged us with racist insults and kept yelling at us to “go to a cultural stage.” On the odd occasion I’ll be DJing and some white person will take it upon themselves to come up to notify me that this is in fact a gay party and I should play “gay” music. At times like that I always make up new verses to Sagat’s “Fuk Dat” (if you know you know).
DJ pet peeve?
Shitty requests. Well, all requests, actually. People holding their phones up to my face. When the CDJs aren’t linked – shitty sound.
Dream DJ to open or close for?
I dunno. Maybe a childhood idol like Goldie or something.
Dream location? (This can be anywhere on planet earth, including at the top of a mountain if you want.)
The catacombs in Paris? Or Göbekli Tepe.
A bootleg of “Shake and Pop” by Green Velvet.
Other DJs in the city that you love?
Tamika, Lissa Monet, the freak bitches at Yohomo… the list goes on.
Strangest place you've ever played?
I played a set on a Queen streetcar as it drove through the city for a NXNE showcase a few years ago . That was pretty wild.