Captify’s special guest DJ, Sarah Helppi discusses the inspiration behind her Cannes playlist
From DJ Sarah Helppi, Captify’s special guest DJ for the past 2 years and Customer Marketing Director at eBay UK
Through a pandemic and a global uprising, people have found their own ways of coping and lifting their spirits. Mine is what it was 20 or 25 years ago – turning the music up really loud and shaking my tail! For as long as I can remember, house music has taken me to another place – usually a dance floor in my past where troubles were forgotten. My DJ style has always been led with powerful vocals after I discovered gay clubs in my late teens – the words in tracks helping me organise and express the running train of thoughts in my head.
Now is a good time to remind ourselves where house music came from. You’ll need to dial all the way back to Chicago in the 70’s. DJ Frankie Knuckles, who died suddenly in 2014, is thought to be the godfather of house, having evolved disco into its next era running parties at the gay club, The Warehouse. The rest is history.
This mix is a tribute to the incredible Black DJs, producers, vocalists, label owners that shaped house music as we know it today, including some of the artists that feature prominently in my collection.
We can’t be in Cannes this week, but I hope you enjoy this (and learn a little bit too).
My #CaptifyatCannes Tracklist – LISTEN HERE
1. Luke Solomon featuring Queen Rose & Amy Douglas – Light you up [accapella] – label: Classic Founded by Chicago house legend Derrick Carter, Classic has been releasing funky house music since 1995. This message is everything we need right now …
2. Frankie Knuckles, Director’s Cut & Eric Kupper – let’s stay home feat. Inaya Day (Tony Humphries “work & play” remix) – Inaya Day started singing in a church in Brooklyn and hasn’t stopped. She’s done some of the most powerful diva tracks in house music. This one is a bit softer. With Frankie, it’s one of my faves and one for lockdown for sure!
3. Seven Davis Jr – one (live mix). Another classic from Classic. Seven trained as a gospel and jazz singer then started DJing and producing tracks.
4. Girls of the internet – when u go (moblack remix) – Another one on classic (I told you it was a good label) – girls of the internet have no social media following and avoid most promotion, and instead focus on making deep beats on an entirely analog set of kit. Vocal by Seglilola Jolaosho. Delicious.
5. JT Donaldson feat Liv.e – stay inside – Liv.e keeps a low profile, but this is perfect for a rainy day.
6. Aly-Us – Follow Me. Aly-us is a 90s house music band from New Jersey – this track about bridging interracial divides was released in 1992 and is as needed now as it was then. You haven’t lived until you’ve heard it as the last track of the night, hugging strangers on the dance floor at 6am.
7. Inaya Day & Boris Dlugosch – Keep Pushin On How many gay men have I seen power walking through dancefloors to this vocal? Countless. It makes me feel fierce every time!
8. Homero Espinosa & Mark Farina featuring Ori Kawa It’s All Right – San Jose born Ori Kawa partners with west coast house boss Mark Farina on this funky, reassuring track.
9. Bluey Robinson, JT Donaldson, CPEN – Yo Body – London based Bluey Robinson started in the arts from a young age, playing young Simba in the Lion King’s west end show at age 12, performing a dance for Prince Charles and later appearing in Eastenders. Incredible talent. Watch this.
10. Blaze feat Palmer Brown – my beat (jazz mix) – One of the most sampled tracks in dance music “ask yourself, can you dance to my beat?” Blaze is a band that formed in the 80s out of a church choir group.
11. Matrix – Get out (Kerri Chandler remix) – Founder of MadHouse records, Kerri Chandler is one of the most prominent house music figures touring today. He played his first gig at age 13 with his father, also a DJ.
12. DJ Karizma & Spen – 4 the love – These two guys used to play Toronto a lot in my clubbing heyday. Solid deep, driving funky house sounds.
13. Mike Dunn – if I can’t get down – Mike Dunn was once signed to PDiddy’s label, but was dropped before any new music was released. He came back and released his most well-known track “Phreaky MF” – but only after his grandmother died because the lyrics are so graphic. Parental guidance warning on that one if you want to look it up.
14. Roy Davis Jr – About love (Solid Groove remix) – Once an A&R scout for the legend label Strictly Rhythm, Roy Davis Jr has been producing music since the 80s.
15. Roger Sanchez, Park & Sons feat Julie McKnight – This feeling (Low Steppa remix) – Julie’s voice echoed through my 20’s with Kings of Tomorrow on “Finally”.
16. Sophie Lloyd & Dames Brown – Calling out (Floorplan remix) – If your mood doesn’t improve after listening to this track, you might be dead. Remix by Detroit techno DJ Robert Hood’s house music alias Floorplan.
17. Illyus & Barrientos – Red – This thumper samples Missy Elliot’s “tweet”. I love a bit of Missy.
18. Fiorious – I’m not defeated (Honey Dijon’s fiercely furious dub) – Another timely one. This track became an instant anthem for the gay community when it was released. And if you’re not following Honey Dijon on Instagram are you even on social media? DJ. Producer. Model. Fashion Designer. Activist. I want to be her best friend.
19. Pirupa feat Mr V – we must be (the piano track) – A prodigy of Lil Louis Vega, Mr V closes my mix with this gentle but important reminder: We must be, all in this together // We must live to respect, one another… All you need to do is try, this is the plan, to make us unified.