The Hypist: This is your third time playing Buku. How have you seen the festival evolve over the years outside of the always-amazing lineups?
DJ Soul Sister: The fact that people who don’t go to it are aware of it and talk about it so much now – and talk about going. Like, when it started, folks who weren’t into it were like, there’s some new festival, but I don’t know anyone playing there, so it can’t be a thing. And then you started hearing these stories about how it was sold out and attracting people from around the country, and just being this gigantic thing. So people outside of the Buku community really now consider it as a major player, and I love that the festival’s energy and programming are really powered by youth movements.
Does switching from playing the VIP S.S. Buku in 2013 and 2014 to playing the Back Alley this year affect the kind of set you’ll be playing?
Yes and no. No, because it will be the same music I love which is a range of rare groove, underground disco, old school funk, boogie, true school hip hop, fusion, Afrobeat, DC go-go, early 80s post-punk, and whatever I’m feeling like. Yes, because the stage will be much less mellow than the VIP boat, so I plan to cut up and really have some big fun. On the Back Alley Stage this year it’ll be a little more mysterious, cause it’s outdoors and the crew is really working hard to make sure that wind issues don’t affect my set, which is always done on 100% vinyl. Whereas playing on the VIP boat was indoors, so I didn’t have those issues. Anyway, the Buku crew is a great, hard-working one, so I have no worries. I love a challenge and I love some fun.
In addition to Buku, you also have a radio show and a killer party on Saturday nights at Hi-Ho Lounge, which I try to make it to as often as possible. Does this variety of platforms allow you to mix it up and experiment with new styles and songs, or do you try to bring the same party vibes to wherever you’re spinning?
Thanks for the kind words about my HUSTLE Saturdays party, which I’ll be celebrating 12 years of throwing this spring. I do the same thing on my Soul Power radio show on WWOZ FM that I do at my Saturday parties or any other sets I do – stay true to the music I love and feel the feeling. I’m probably more experimental in my live sets, but that’s only because I’m usually DJing for upwards of 2 or 3 or more hours, and that gives me an opportunity to stretch out – the music and the energy. I love both equally for different reasons, but most of all cause I’m sharing soulful sounds that I dig and think people will dig.
What is one of your favorite moments from previous years of Buku?
I don’t know if I have a favorite moment that I can recall, but I do remember the first year I was there I was walking across the field to get to my performance. And I stopped in my tracks cause I heard some music that sounded so good to me! I was asking folks, “Who is that?” It turned out to be Lettuce. Since then, I’ve gotten to know and work with several of their members, who I love. So I credit Buku with introducing me to not only some new music I wasn’t hip to before, but also some new friends.
Who are you most excited to see at Buku 2016?
Taylor Swift, Ke$ha, or Lana Del Rey? There’s no wrong answer.
I’m not well versed on any of ’em, but I’m gonna pick Lana Del Rey, cause I hear she loves soulful music, and I was once invited to open for one of her shows here in New Orleans. Had to decline, cause I was booked somewhere else – but it’s the thought that counts.
DJ Soul Sister plays the Back Alley stage at 4:30 on Friday at Buku Music + Art Project. Tickets are almost sold out so get them while you can here.