Laughs- A picture of the London based duo that make Senzala, Jonni Santos(right) and Sam Holland(left).
'We’re only interested in making timeless music, that will still sound fresh for years to come!'
‘There’s keen,there’s very keen,then there’s Senzala'-were the words of Richy Ahmed shortly after signing them to his new label Four-Thirty-Two. Prior to meeting each other in 2011 the pair of them produced individually, which may be the reason as to why their sound is so unique. Having spent several years digging through wax and immersing themselves in London's clubbing scene, Senzala are now well on their way to becoming established producers. In anticipation of a busy summer in the studio we talked exclusively to the London based duo. They told us the story of how they went from being ravers, to being taken on by Four-Thirty-Two(Richy Ahmed's label). It is an intoxicating tale of; Fake ID's, pirate radio stations and a lot of seriously hard work!
1.Tell us a bit about yourselves and how you ended up getting into music
Jonni: When I started secondary school I used to DJ grime and two-step garage for MC’s round the area, which was round the time when Wiley’s eskimo dance started. I will never forget my first set of decks, which were the 2 KAM belt drive turntables, accompanied by the KAM mixer and a shit load of wax! We went on quite a few pirate radio stations and I DJ’d at loads of illegal parties, however dance music started for me when i was 16, trying to get into Fabric with fake ID. If you were into dance music and from London, then it was the only place to be! The scene was very different to anything I'd ever been part of and I quickly fell in love with it, those special nights were confirmation for me that DJ'ing and producing was what I wanted to do.
Sam: I started playing piano from the age of 10 and studied music at school so had a fairly musical upbringing. As I grew up my music taste developed and I started listening to electronic music. I think I was about 18 when I first went to Fabric in London, much like Jonni it changed everything for me. From then on I went to Fabric every weekend and this gave me the influence to start making music.
Jonni on Fabric: If you were into dance music and from London, then it was the only place to be!
Photo courtesy of Fabric London.
2) What are both your earliest memories of music
Jonni: Despite being born in London, I am of South American descent. I lived in Brazil when I was younger, which was a breeding ground for my passion of all things music. My mum was constantly playing some Brazilian percussive music, whilst dancing and smiling! I guess she is the main person to thank for my love of music.
Sam: I grew up listening to my mums records, she was and still is really into late 70s/80s groove and disco,so it was always on in my house as a kid. Artists like Chaka Khan, Chic, Earth, Wind & Fire were played a lot. One track that really takes me back though is Donna Summer - I Feel Love. I always hear various edits of this record still played today and it goes off!
3) You guys are signed to Richy Ahmed’s label Four Thirty-Two, can you tell us a bit about how he got you on board?
Jonni(Laughs):Richy’s always said ‘there’s keen, then there’s very keen,then there’s Senzala’ - Long story cut short we didn’t stop sending him music until he had no choice but to sign us, even today we still send him everything we produce. We think it is so important to get his thoughts and opinions and we view him as our older brother in the scene.
Sam:When Richy told us about his plans to start Four Thirty-Two, he wanted us to be a part of it. At the time he had already heard Agora and signed it immediately. After that, we got working on All For You, then the final track we sent him was Phase - which wrapped up the EP with a banging remix from Richy and our boy Jansons!
4) What is the best piece of advice that someone has given you regarding music?
Jonni:As the new kids on the block, Richy has always been a mentor to us and given us a lot of advice during our early days – the best piece of advice he’s given us was to just make music for ourselves and not for a label.
Sam:Artists get wrapped up in changing their sound to suit a label, meaning they never find their true sound. We’ve made a real effort in playing the long game; sticking to our guns and ensuring the music is a reflection of us. We’re only interested in making timeless music, that will still sound fresh for years to come!
.Father Figure: Richy Ahmed(Above) has been Senzala's mentor since their early days.
5) What type of music do you guys listen to for inspiration when you are producing music?
Jonni:Our main inspiration is the sound pumping out of the DC10 terrace on a Monday. We’ve been going to Ibiza, every year, for as long as we can remember. The terrace always gives us plenty of ammunition for when we get back in the studio in London.
Sam:We also spend a lot of time digging through wax across all London record stores, especially the second hand ones. This where a lot of our ideas for new tracks stem from.
6) Is there anything you guys have coming up that we can look forward to?
Jonni:We’ve been working relentlessly in the studio the past few months; we’ve got an EP coming out on Pets Recordings in September,as well as a release on a VA for Pets in January 2018 alongside some wicked artists.
Sam:We’re also working on our follow up EP for Four Thirty Two and most recently Jonny White (Art Department) played one of our tunes in the main room at DC10.
Written and edited by: Josh Crowe