INTERVIEW: DJ and producer Sigala on the early years, influences, and upcoming tour & homecoming gig
Having played to massive crowds at festivals across the UK and Europe over the summer including Radio 1’s Big Weekend, SW4 Festival and Sziget Festival, BRIT-nominated Norwich DJ, producer, and artist Sigala is set to play his homecoming gig at the UEA on the 19th February as part of his world tour. He’s gone a long way from the days when I knew him at school.
Sigala isn’t shy of collaborating with a diverse range of both emerging and established talents to create worldwide, dance-floor smashes. Bruce Fielder has risen from bedroom producer in rural Norfolk to dominating the UK music scene with his trademark blend of house-inspired dance-pop as Sigala in a few short years. I had a good chat with my old schoolmate about how it all began, what to expect from the Norwich gig and
Katie: Can you define your musical style?
Sigala: Yeah I’d say my style is influenced by house music and disco, incorporation of live instruments and electronic sounds coming together to make a positive uplifting experience for all.
What was the first spark that got you going musically?
Sigala: Probably my parents, they bought me a keyboard for Christmas when I was about eight years old and I was obsessed with it, all the sounds it could make and everything. I started to get really good and they got me keyboard lessons and it all stemmed from there really I ended up being really passionate about playing piano and keys and that’s where everything came from.
Katie: Which music artists/acts are you inspired by?
Sigala: So many, I’d say Nile Rogers and the whole disco scene. When I was a teenager I got really into UK drum and bass and electronic music, people like Chase & Status, Engine Room, Sub Focus, that kind of stuff and then 90’s house music, so much to be honest, and lots of bands as well, like Foo Fighters and I used to listen to Motorhead and Metallica when I was younger. I don’t feel like you have to be inspired by a type of music that necessarily has to sound the same, it’s more the feeling it gives you which can be translated into lots of different things.
Katie: You played the UEA before and you’ve played Sundown a couple of times, and are you looking forward to playing in front of a home crowd again?
Sigala: Absolutely, I’m expecting my mum to bring literally everyone she knows so it’s guaranteed to sell out, which is great. The whole family is going to be there which is really nice as well because they love coming to see me perform and I love my home crowd and I love Norwich and every time I go back, it just feels like home for me and it’s really special and especially at the UEA, a place where I’ve been going to see bands for years and years, as a kid I used to dream of playing on that stage watching those bands and to come back and play is a really special gig for me.
Katie: What does performing live mean to you?
Sigala: It’s an opportunity to connect with people who listen to my music and for them to connect with me as well and it gives me the opportunity to give them something new, something fresh as well as the things they know, I can give it to them in a different way.
My favourite part about gigging is when the crowd sings along to something that I’ve made, that feeling never goes away, every new song I bring out that people sing along to I get that same feeling that’s my favourite part, having that sort of connection.
Katie: Do you have any rituals or routines you always do the day of / or right before going on stage?
Sigala: Yeah I usually listen to music in the dressing room but probably not what people would expect like System Of A Down or like really heavy rock music just to get us pumped which works really well, we just jump around the dressing room and get the heart racing and full of energy because there’s nothing worse than like going on stage and not having warmed up because then it takes you a while to get into it and you have to warm up on stage if you can do that beforehand you come on with a bang.
Katie: The last five years have been a whirlwind for you with your debut number one with ‘Easy Love’, a debut album and a UK tour, let’s not forget lots of prominent festival slots and gigs. How does it feel?
Sigala: It feels incredible. I have to sometimes pinch myself and look back and see where I started and how far I’ve come. It’s been an absolutely unreal five years. it’s been really tough as well, it’s been a whole change of lifestyle which I’ve had to adjust to, the touring is incredible but also incredibly tiring and exhausting but the longer I do it, the easier it gets and probably last year was probably my favourite year of my artist’s career because I’m just more used to it now and I can really enjoy it and I’m looking forward to this year being the same.
Katie: You’ve already worked with some big names in the music industry including Ella Eyre and Craig David. If you could collaborate with any contemporary music artist/act/producer that you haven’t already, who would you pick?
Sigala: I’d love to do something with Chris Martin from Coldplay to me he’s probably one of the best writers at the moment, he’s got such a unique voice and his music has a very similar feeling that you get from it and if we were to make something together it would be awesome.
Katie: How did a Norwich lad go from creating music for fun to producing massive anthems? What was the turning point?
Sigala: The turning point for me was a lot of hard work, a lot of sacrifices. There were a good few years of being absolutely skint and barely being able to pay my rent but believing that there was some light at the end of the tunnel and not giving up. There was a bit of luck and meeting the right people who could guide me in the right way and once I had that first song that did really well, not getting complacent or not getting too overwhelmed and focusing on the next piece of music and always trying to make better music.
Katie: We have a lot of talent here in Norwich and places like Access Creative College provide an environment to nurture creative talent. Would you go back and mentor teach?
For sure yeah, I’ve done a few talks recently. I find them really interesting and I love being able to help people and talk to people who remind me where I was where I started and be able to answer some of their questions and help them out, guide them. I think it’s something I definitely had more of when I was in that place. That’s definitely something I’d be into.
Katie: I’m here with my colleague Ian Johnson who remembers you from way back when you were in Circus.
Sigala: Oh really? Wow (laughs). Yeah, that was from High School.
Ian: But actually Katie just said she thinks she remembers your first song!
Katie: So Ian was asking me about you at school and I mentioned the classmate song, remember that?
Sigala: Oh, that was a banger (everyone laughs) I dunno, if anyone has still got it but I have. I’m saving it for the next album. Honestly, I think that was my first taste of fame was making that song, everyone had it as their ringtones in high school and I was like, oh my God, I’m actually quite good at this, maybe I should do this.
Full UK tour dates:
Sunday 9th February – Barrowland Ballroom Glasgow (SOLD OUT)
Wednesday 12th February – Olympia Theatre, Dublin
Thursday 13th February – Limelight, Belfast
Saturday 15th February – Manchester Academy, Manchester
Sunday 16th February – O2 Academy, Newcastle
Wednesday 19th February – UEA, Norwich
Thursday 20th February – The Roundhouse, London
Friday 21st February – The Great Hall, Cardiff
Saturday 22nd February – Rock City, Nottingham
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