AISHA on Soma Records, Lunacy and Scotland's electronic scene
With a string of gigs lined up this month, Glasgow-based DJ and producer Rosie Shannon, aka AISHA, tells us about her role at Soma Records and her musical career so far
Scotland’s dance music community may be small, but it’s certainly supportive, and the scene’s tight-knit, close community feel is often credited for allowing those within it to blossom.
“People forget how small a scene it actually is, but at least it's thriving… and a lot of it thriving is from independent, small, even one person labels or event companies,” says Rosie Shannon, aka Glasgow-based DJ and producer AISHA. Shannon currently juggles a full-time position as Production and Distribution Manager at Soma Records with DJing and producing her own tracks in her spare time.
Since joining the Soma family in 2015 as an intern, Shannon quickly rose up the ranks and became a full-time employee at the Glasgow-based label, run by DJ duo Slam, just a few months later. In 2018, she took charge of reviving the label’s Soma Skool event after spotting a poster for one of the previous events next to her desk and hopes to build upon its continuing success, eventually expanding it into an ADE-style music conference and festival.
“I feel like I can really just let my brain run wild and get the best people that I am inspired by from all over the world to come together for [Soma Skool],” she says. “I'm just going to make it more diverse and more open year on year, because that is what the scene is all about really, and giving a platform to people that deserve to be heard where they might not usually have a platform like that.”
Shannon herself first learned to produce music at Soma Skool’s Shoogle Studios production courses, so the event is particularly close to her heart. “I had come out of a really shitty relationship and I just felt a bit lost, and I didn't have any confidence at all,” she says. “Then once I first bought my decks and I started going to this Soma Skool thing I felt like I was figuring out who I was… I think producing was a really good way to build up my confidence again, same with DJing.”
Soon after she started putting her own tracks up on SoundCloud, several Scottish labels including Huntleys + Palmers, Hilltown Disco and of course Soma picked up and released Shannon’s tracks, with further releases due out this year on London-based label Rodeo and new Glasgow imprint Avoidance. But when it came to DJing, Shannon went about things the hard way.
“I actually could only play vinyl for the first few months when I started DJing,” she says. The reason being that her DJ career began at Glasgow club night Lunacy, who, at the time, only supplied vinyl decks and where she remains a resident. “It's basically all my best friends and my cousin who run the Lunacy nights, so I think it was a natural progression,” she says.
“Doing vinyl first I think makes you want to find out more about what your sound is and what your favourite tunes are… I think playing on vinyl kind of helped me figure out exactly what sound it was that I wanted to be playing,” she adds. Having such a solid grounding as a DJ and producer doesn’t mean she’s completely devoid of any pre-set nerves though.
“I still freak out every time before I go out and do a set,” says Shannon, her passion still clearly very much ignited and showing no signs of fading any time soon. “If you didn't have those kind of nerves, it would just get boring.”