As beats sync with bodies, dance floors–perhaps the most distilled expression of relevant culture—become gracious hosts to an unspoken community. Rhythm speaks, and speech submits. This coeval phenomenon rests in the hands of the DJ, of course, and the temptation of the authoritarian identity is never more atone’s reach. However, London-born DJ and producer Siobhan Bell chooses to approach the dance floor with a “flow, never force” a mentality that has led the DJ to not only find community in music but deal from the decks at some of the world’s most popping parties, as well as DJ sets for superstars WizKid and Burna Boy.
Siobhan’s ear attunes to Europe’s underground music scene and credits East London culture as the genesis of her auditory passion. She recalls her early days playing at the NikeTown store when she epitomized “putting in the work” to fine-tune her mixing skills.“That was like six hours every Sunday to mix,” Siobhan laughs, “Imagine having to mix six hours of music. But for me, it was also learning how to play everything. I would play jungle, dance, reggae, garage, grime, R&B—literally everything. That’s the magic of being from Europe. We have so many different genres of music that are played.”
Travel is key to the infusion of global sounds in Siobhan’s sets. On the road, she enjoys absorbing local sounds and training her ear to absorb new styles of music—a valuable asset when she puts on her producer hat. “When you listen to so much music, you learn to hear different sounds in songs. If someone sends me something, I can hear the sample, and I’ll be able to guess the sample or where it’s come from.” This journey into production motivates Siobhan to derive inspiration from artists she often integrates into her DJ sets—like Timbaland and The Neptunes—while also building a brand for herself in the production space, like Metro Boomin. “They started off as regular producers putting up music,” Siobhan says of the heavy hitters she’s observed. “They helped form the space for artist-producers. Of course, they feature a lot of artists, but the way they’re changing producers to be the face of music, that’s the route I’m trying to take.”
In streamlining her new endeavor, Siobhan splits her time between London and Los Angeles, limiting her travels as much as she can in order to clock hours in the studio and nurture slow community. She acknowledges the importance of slowing down to focus, even when life demands you spring forward. “I really want to put in the work,” she says the Spring season ahead, before global dance floors go full throttle summer mode, “so when I do release something, it makes sense for my journey and just for me as well. I don’t like to rush things.”
Before we sign off, I ask Siobhan to help me settle a great Los Angeles debate. I ask, “Does LA dance?” to which the artist replies, “I wouldn’t say LA doesn’t dance. LA is such a pocketed place, it’s got so many scenes—a great underground scene. I’m really good at finding the vibes... but, there is a little bit of truth to it... that LA doesn’t dance.”