Up next on Toolroom, we’ve got Liverpool born & bred DJ, Producer and selector ESSEL who recently made her label debut with the infectiously groovy ‘Love Vibration’. Sophia (aka ESSEL) has been on our radar for a while now, having been a part of our #WeAreListening platform which we created to help tackle the major issues of gender inequality and diversity within the Dance Music Industry.
We wanted to find out more about the emerging artist as she has been making some serious waves in the Dance Music scene lately. From her HUGE Love & Other release ‘Runnin’ which has racked up an astonishing 1.2 Million streams on Spotify alone, it’s no wonder the word on everyone’s lips… So we reached out to Sophia to ask the need-to-know questions ?
ESSEL – Runnin’
Hey ESSEL! Welcome to the #ToolroomFamily and congratulations on your debut release ‘Love Vibration’! How are you and where in the world are you right now?
Thanks so much it’s great to part of such a pioneer label in the music industry and to have the support from the family behind me – I am in Liverpool UK home of the world famous Liverpool football club… we don’t mention the blues only the Tory’s like them.
Talk to us a bit about the record itself, what was the inspiration behind the record musically and what is the meaning behind the lyrics?
Yeah so this track is a personal fav of mine, I connected with this on a deeper emotional level vs most of my others simply due to the lyrics. They’re literally about finally letting people in to support and help you like letting yourself be vulnerable rather than trying to take on the world and seclude yourself you know what I mean? And how good it feels to be able to do that finally after so long and so much struggle, you’re now in a new chapter in your life all because you decided to let people in.
ESSEL – Love Vibration
Tell us a bit about your musical background, where are you from, what music influenced you.
So I’m from Liverpool obviously, musically I was influenced by the House scene in Italy, I have family there so was introduced at a young age to the rave scene in Bari (south of Italy) which literally blew my mind I think I was like 13 when I went to my first rave there.
My mum was a singer and she’d dance around the house with me while the pair of us would scream Classics from M People and Shania Twain. Me mum would be like go on “Soph show everyone what you can do” and I’m not guna lie, I was really shit at singing but my mum was like next level fan of mine so couldn’t keep the fans waiting and in turn I’m now here today due to the overwhelming support from my mum and the rave scene from Italy! ?
How did you first get into music? Has it always been a passion of your or was it something that developed later in life for you? Is anyone else in your family musical at all?
I actually danced for like 10 years about 6 days a week, this led to dance comps where I would select music and then learn to splice the tracks together in order to get a seamless mix for the comps, after I left dancing I got recruited to be a singer on a cruise ship and after this is when I got the urge to buy some decks. Absolutely could not beat match for shit but I learned by locking myself in the room for like 17 hours a day just standing there bouncing away to bangin’ tunes!
My uncle got me a computer and gave me the book for Ableton one day and told me to learn it, I of course ignored the book didn’t read the manual and spent the next 5 years learning the hard way with no help or advice from a single soul and I wouldn’t change it for the world because I can honestly say – I make my own music and I’ve mastered my own art (ish) I mean my music feels good to me like.
Growing up in Liverpool, were there any clubs/events/record shops etc. that you used to frequent?
HMV was the one – I’d save up my money for this just to buy albums like Ministry of Sound compilations, Ibiza classics, Robbie Rivera, like I have I genuine CD collection from Missy Elliot to Mariah Carey to ultimate NRG. Literally explains me as a person lol…
What are your 5 all-time favourite House Records?
N-Joi – Anthem
Da Hool – Meet Her At The Love Parade
Livin’ Joy – Dreamer
Dusky – Careless
Green Velvet – Bigger Than Prince
An amazing selection of tunes right there! So, who are the Artists/DJ’s/Producers we should be keeping our eyes on for 2022?
Well me of course – I haven’t been DJing due to a back injury but I plan on taking main stage in All Festivals in 2022 alongside AmyElle, DaniCW and my girl Maxinne!
AmyElle – Feel The Heat
ESSEL & DaniCW – My Love
Maxinne & Hayla – I Need You
To wrap things up, what are your future plans for 2022? Do you have any more releases or collaborations pencilled in that you’d like to mention? Any potential gigs or any cool events coming up that you want to shout about?
Theres talk about touring with a well known event for 2022 but won’t say anything just yet… Music wise, there will be releases with Sonny Fodera’s label Solotoko, Love & Other and few others which I’m yet to share with everyone!