siobhan bell is the girl with cherryade hair
Starting her career in music PR, London-based DJ Siobhan Bell quickly realised she belonged behind the decks rather than behind a desk. Building a reputation for 90s/early 2000s R&B DJ sets and fun mixes that bring a new sound to familiar songs, Bell...
Photography Ekua King
What are some of your favourite mixes right now?
I love the Nosaj Thing mix of Little Dragons' song "Klapp Klapp" featuring Future. The vocals from Yukimi, the bass in the production as well as Future's syrupy auto-tune verse all seem to mesh perfectly.
Personal soundtrack to summer 2014?
It's not actually a new song, but Big Pimpin by Jay Z will never get old to me. It's such a summer-time-vibes anthem and creates that summer time feeling. I always receive the same excited energy when I play that song which it probably got in the clubs when it dropped back in 2001.
You've been DJing since 2011, how do you think your sound/style has developed since then?
I think I just got a little braver. I love R&B from the 90s and early 2000s and when I first started DJing I played what I thought people would enjoy - I didn't really investigate different sounds. I went to New York last winter and my friend NYCSPELL introduced me to the more remixy, Jersey Club and Vogue style from producers and DJs like DJ Sliink, DJ Uniique, Mike Gip, Nadus, Brenmar and so on. I loved how they made and experimented with songs so I mixed R&B into that Jersey Club sound to create the kind of style I DJ in today.
Does what you play differ depending on the type of event you get booked for?
Not really - I feel like a lot of fashion DJs play it safe with commercial and house. I played Jersey Club, Trap and Future R&B at The British Fashion Council, The Hospital Club and Joseph Turvey LFW show and they loved it! I also play that at events like the Been Trill x Harvey Nichols launch, Trapstar events, Lazy Oaf, Nasir Mazhar x Skepta party and Topshop. I love being able to spread and introduce the music I appreciate to a new audience.
Does being a DJ come with a lot of responsibility?
It definitely does - from what you play to the overall vibe during your set. If you're paying £10 to get into a party you're expecting it to deliver. I feel like it's my responsibility to share my knowledge of music with the crowd. I like to play music that I've found on my travels rather than just repeat music that they probably listen to at home or in their cars. I also like to create a little bit of nostalgia during my sets.
You travel often but said that you tend to get very homesick. What is it about London that you love?
London is just home. When I go out in clubs in America after being there for a few months I really miss hearing stuff like Grime. I grew up on Grime, Garage and Jungle - that sound is exclusively British. When I'm away I'll often drop a few Grime tunes into my set to feel a little more at home.
The music you play matches your own identity and aesthetic, reminiscent of the late 90s/ early 2000s and a little bit experimental. How important is image as a DJ?
I wasn't really interested in 'my aesthetic' in the beginning. I was way more interested in doing a good set - then I realised I was playing to an audience and it's important for people to enjoy you visually also. Now I like to experiment with my style in a way that feels natural to me but people can also enjoy and relate to.
Your party Cherryade is held monthly in Dalston and in June you launched Cherryade Hair, a range of Mermaid coloured hair extensions. Where did that idea come from and how is it going?
I had the same jet black hair for a while and wanted to switch it up. There are amazing companies like BLEACH which I love and I wish I could go to but my hair is so sensitive - if I put bleach in it all my hair would literally drop out! I wanted an alternative way to wear coloured hair and I didn't know where I could get pre-made hair extensions with these cool colours, so Cherryade Hair was born and people kind of went crazy for it! I'd be on Dalston High Street or in Peckham getting my nails done and everyone would ask where I did my hair. I set up the online store which is very basic but people have been picking up on it. I've had customers and press already which I didn't expect to happen so quickly! I like that it's happening so naturally.
What have you got planned for the rest of the summer?
I just got new management/booking agent and we're working on some really exciting projects. I recently joined NTS and I'm doing a show called PDA with Mischa Mafia and doing Dimensions festival with them in August. I played at Lovebox for Work It and I'm looking forward to doing Outlook festival for the first time! Things kind of happen so fast and randomly for me so I can't really predict the rest of my summer but I know it'll be fun!
Text Zeyna Sy
Photography Ekua King