Lizzie Dee – Sophisticated Sista
Lizzie Dee is a DJ you can experience in the flesh or listen to on Folkestone’s own community radio station, Academy FM Folkestone. Lizzie has a huge love of music but only started DJing in her 40s. She wanted to share, not only her love of music, but inspirational women in music to anyone who will listen. Her music is funky, soul with some gospel thrown in. Folkelife met up with Lizzie to find out more.
“I’ve always loved music, and have always been that friend in the corner at parties sorting out the cds and records. It was only when I saw a friend running a festival that I thought I could have a go at being a DJ. She was working at the charity where I was, and said she’d have to leave because she couldn’t do both the charity work and run a festival. I said that I’d love to DJ and so she gave me a slot! The rest as they say… well, it snowballed from that moment on really. I saved up and got my own decks and started to do lots of gigs and parties. Everyone can play a few records, but it takes something to read the room and put on the right next track to keep everyone dancing. It’s about getting and keeping the right vibe for the people you’re playing to.”
Reading the room
“I’ve been gigging around for a number of years and then I got invited onto a radio show on Academy FM. Nathan Atkins is a friend and he said ‘you know, you could do this, have your own show…’ and that’s when I got really excited!
“All this time I’ve been working out what it is I really like to play. Having the radio show – Sophisticated Sista – has really helped fine-tune my choices. It completely consumes me. I’m always coming up with ideas of what to play, and what themes to have. But it’s not just about playing music that I love, I want to help tell a story about the people behind what you’re hearing.”
motown and northern soul
“I’ve grown up with my mum and my aunties playing loads of Motown which has really influenced my musical taste. Space Bar and Kitchen then asked me to do a Northern Soul night and so that had a lot of soul music in. I really love Gospel music but that’s not always the sort of thing you can put on at a gig. However, it has worked on the radio show. It’s a different type of space, and people are listening in a different way. That allows me to experiment and show a few more genres that I’d like to play. I think if you really love something, and that enthusiasm goes into what you do, then people also pick up on that and enjoy it too.”
“Sophisticated Sista started off as a night in Folkestone where I was trying to sum up the music that I’m into. It’s old school Hip Hop, Reggae, funk music but with a female vibe to it. I’m really interested in female vocalists and this was something I wanted to bring out in my show. It means a lot to me that people had faith in me and what I can do. I really think that if you want something, and you work at it, this is a place where people will support you to do what you want to do.
“Having started the radio show I realised that ‘just gigging’ isn’t really what I want to spend my time doing. I want to make content, and that content becomes a historical document. I approached Big Crown Records in New York. They’re run by two guys, one’s a record producer and the other is a DJ. They have about 20-30 acts on their label from all around the world, not just the USA. I wanted to interview them and they were really up for it. That show is on my Soundcloud and it gets loads of listens from people around the world. That’s what I want to do, create content that takes people on a journey with particular artists.”
what’s going on?
“When Marvin Gaye released his album What’s Going On? 50 years ago, people don’t realise just how groundbreaking it was. Up until that point Marvin was known for singing ballads. Nobody wanted him to release this album because it was really controversial. Even his wife said ‘don’t do it!’ He was talking about police brutality, and Christianity, abuse and drug addiction. It’s an incredible album and really worth listening to. Behind Marvin Gaye though was the powerhouse of a woman called Tammi Terrell, and I really want to focus on her when I talk about this album. I want to highlight the role she had to play in encouraging Marvin and getting this music published.”
collaborating with other djs
“The show also gives me the chance to work with other DJs and collaborate together. There a so many people in Folkestone who have such talent, I can learn from many different people. Dolly Doo Wop is someone I love talking to, and I’m hoping she’ll be on the show soon. Hannah Rev came on; she knows so much about house music, which I know nothing about, so that was really great to learn from her. I also do love playing in Folkestone, on the Harbour Arm and around the town. It’s great to be a part of this space where I feel I can really grow in my music and there are people here who will support me in that. Thanks!”