Playback with DJ Sele Sell
What inspired you to start DJ’ing?
I always wanted to DJ, but when I was younger I was afraid of sucking at something so important to me. It was also very expensive to start a vinyl collection and get equipment. My brother-in-law is an amazing DJ and the more I watched him play the more I wanted to do it, but I wasn’t very vocal about it. My friends Morgan and Kenny kept encouraging me to do it; they thought it would be a good outlet for me that was totally different than my day job. I love finding the perfect verse over a tight beat, seeing people enjoy themselves and sharing a sense of community. I love the way music brings people together on a dance floor.
What is it about music you love so much?
Everybody can connect over music. It is a great equalizer. There are so many songs that remind me of a specific moment in my life, or something I was going through, and those songs are a part of who I’ve become today. Music also expresses emotions in a way that I don’t have the ability to express through words.
What’s your first memory of truly loving a hip-hop song?
My earliest memory is when Young MC came out with Bust A Move. Our family had just bought our first CD player. My brother convinced me that we should buy our dad the CD for Father’s Day – he hated Stone Cold Rhyming but my brother and I loved that song and listened to it constantly, dancing around the living room. I was eight years old, and I never stopped listening to hip-hop after that. By the time I was thirteen, hip-hop was a constant part of my life – and when Common released I Used to Love H.E.R. I felt like I had died and gone to heaven. That song is still my all-time favourite.
Who’s your favourite artist and why?
Common. He can tell the most amazing stories and make you feel that you were right there. He can evoke so much emotion through words. His music came out at a time that people were rapping about selling drugs, or money, cars and women. He was part of the conscious hip-hop movement and it was so refreshing.
Who are your influences?
Anyone who has the passion to express themselves creatively. Artists who weren’t afraid to make music that no one else was making. I love A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, The Roots – they were about making music and expressing themselves and having fun with it – not about the stereotypical rap subjects. They also incorporated more musicality into hip-hop that opened it up to more people. Tribe brought jazz into hip-hop – people call Q-Tip the Charlie Parker of hip-hop – and I still love that sound. It is so fresh and I just start bopping my head and tapping my toes without even realizing it.
What can we expect at the Beatbox (aka Maclab) on September 22?
Hopefully, you’ll see everyone having a good time, enjoying each other, dancing, and socializing. You’ll definitely hear some hip-hop! Also probably some soul, funk, pop, and some house. There’ll be some visual surprises. And of course, you’ll see Kenny and I doing what we love and having fun.
Why Wayback Playback?
We’re holding it right after the Bboyizm performance – Bboying is one of the four elements of hip-hop (along with MC’ing, graffiti, and DJ’ing). So we thought it would be fun to tie it together. Hip-hop really took off in the 80’s and 90’s so we’ll be playing a lot of music from that time. Block parties and DJ’s and dancing were a huge part of hip-hop, so hopefully we can re-create that atmosphere and everyone will enjoy it.
Do you DJ to watch other people dance?
Ya, I’m hoping I can pick up some new moves.
For one last question – if someone asked you to play Hello by Lionel Richie would you play it?
If the timing was right and it didn’t ruin the flow of the set, I might. After all, it’s him I’m looking for. Or, if it’s later you might have to settle for All Night Long.