Ahead of the bank holiday weekend, we speak to Saoirse who makes her Riverside debut this year at the MasterMix stage
With not long to go until the sixth edition of Electric Frog + Pressure Riverside Festival in Glasgow, the weekend is again shaping up to be one of the biggest dates for electronic music in Scotland. Set on the grounds of the Zaha Hadid designed Riverside Museum, the festival is co-curated by electronic icons Slam and features a massive lineup with big names such as Jackmaster and Sven Väth hosting their own stages. For the first time, the actual museum will be open to festival goers with an indoor stage setup so folk can party amongst some unique objects.
Although DJ Saoirse Ryan was named one of Mixmag's Top 20 Breakthrough DJs just last year, the Dublin born native certainly isn't new to the scene. She's been spinning records since she was 14 when she spiritedly bought her first set of decks in exchange for a block of hash. 'My mother was throwing free parties, like raves and stuff on the beach and I was listening to the likes of Orbital, Leftfield, the Prodigy from around the age of 10 or 11 so it was kind of in my blood from a very early age.'
After a job at a record store in her home city, a couple of seasons in Ibiza, and an inevitable move to London, her record bag decidedly grew and so too did the number of bookings. With all this behind her she finds it funny being named as a breakthrough DJ. 'I've been playing records for 15 years, so for me, it doesn't feel like it. I guess it feels like a breakthrough, but it doesn't feel like something new.'
Last year was the biggest year yet for Saoirse, having played at the likes of fabric and Love International. Booking Riverside is now another highlight to add to the DJ's list. 'I'm not used to playing on those massive stages with such big names. There are names on that bill that I've been going to since I was 18. It's daunting to be on a line-up such as that and I'm really appreciative of Jack [Jackmaster] and the Riverside guys for inviting me.'
When asked what gems she might bust out from her record collection for her Riverside set she replies playfully, 'If I tell you about those, then I'd have to kill you.' She laughs and continues, more seriously, 'So often I just dip into the collection and find something I got when I was 19 and I think "oh my god I think I could get away with playing this now". There's definitely a lot of stuff in there that's 25/30 years old, I'd say that 60% of what I play is pre-2000. I try to be unpredictable… and catch people off-guard.'
Saoirse is under no illusion about what a Glaswegian audience will want from her, 'I am very aware of how the Glaswegians like to party so I think it will be quite a fun set, it's during the day, and a lot of people don't want to be too serious – so I'll throw in some absolute vibes there.'
As one of the many stellar DJs, who happen to be female, on the Riverside lineup this year, and with it being a pertinent issue thanks to campaigns from Keychange, we ask Saoirse what she thinks about the progress to make festival line-ups more gender balanced. 'There are so many females who are just as good, there is no real excuse to not have more women on a lineup. It's about balance – it's not about reaching a quota – so what's wrong with proactively making sure there is a balance to the lineups?
'Women get portrayed in a certain way and it's annoying because it's deeply rooted in the physical sense and what a person looks like rather than the music they play. We don't like being compared because we are not a genre.'
So is she looking forward to playing at Riverside? 'Absolutely "Taps aff" and all that. I have a feeling even if it's snowing the tops will still be coming off at Riverside.'
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