Introducing… Emma Sound Sista

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Bold, stylish, ground-breaking… I’ve being trying to find the words that best describe Emma’s choice of music when spinning, yet the unpredictable character of Emma Sound Sista has finally convinced me: fixating her sound under any category or classification would completely alter the meaning of her work. Yes. With Emma, music becomes a revolution, a change, and a step for emancipation. A pioneer of female roots in NYC, Emma reminds us of the need to let intuition and creativity lead us through a world of radical innovation.

Name: Dayan Silva a.k.a Emma sound sista

Age: 29 years old

Roots: Colombia

Where do you live now: Bushwick, Brooklyn

Day job: Spanish Tutor, babysitter, student (video arts and technology)

Where were you and what were you doing 5 years ago? 5 years ago I was starting my D.J experience, still illegal in this country, dreaming of touring around to show my archives of music.

Current obsessions/addictions: Vandalising vandalism which is a project of street sticker archiving. Also to achieve an all-female artists DJ set, and some other projects that will come out with time.

Best recent meal: Tamal made by my grandmother in Colombia.

Movie that best represents your life: A Zed & Two Noughts

Last book you read: Behold a pale horse by William Cooper

When did you start DJing and why? I started about 5 years ago. I was a music researcher for many years. But 5 years ago I had the opportunity to start DJing when Pedro Erazo was DJing at Mehanata and became part of Gogol Bordello. Of course he started touring and they needed someone to cover Thursdays. Joro Boro was the DJ at Mehanata on Saturdays and Fridays–he helped me at the very beginning. Very soon after I started DJing at Mehanata, they moved to Maia and eventually to the new location. And that is how I started.

How do you define your sound? Unpredictable, irreverent, full of rage and roots flavor.

How did you come up with your DJ name? Emancipation is a term that makes me think of all the minorities and their dreams of freedom. Being the only female DJ at Mehanata at that time, and having to deal with such MALE personalities as the owner and other DJs, emancipation really inspired me. I also admire a lot of Emmas in history like Emma Goldman (Anarchist, activist from the Lower East Side), Emma Ariza, etc.

What constitutes a bad or good listening audience? The great thing about Mehanata was that people really came craving for new sounds, and not only new of new but also the new old, results of extensive research. Music that could be new for all of us but in reality it was made many years ago. That is a great crowd–the one that loves music and responds with their bodies to any rhythm. A bad audience is a closed-minded audience who wants to listen to radio hits and commercial music. The kind of people that come up to the DJ with the easiest requests (Michael Jackson, Madonna, Justin Timberlake, etc). I recommend [that] these people open their minds because there are many, many artists in the world, not only with a great sound but with a great message for everyone; not only the “shake your butt “or “fun fun fun” or “drink until you die” type of lyrics. Music is the weapon of the future; we need to pay attention to it and use it to our own benefit.

Have you spun in in other cities? Yes, I had the opportunity to spin in Bogota, Bucaramanga, Santa Marta, Caracas, Washington D.C.

Where do you hang out when not DJing? I like to hang out in Colombia. But a great place to hang out in Brooklyn is Asterisk, also Good Bye Blue Monday. In Manhattan, I really love my Mehanata, and there I like to check out Uproot Andy and DJ Dubta. I also enjoy DJ gravy’s music.

2009 music predictions… who and what’s coming up in the Latin music scene? I can tell you that the scene is growing in NYC, a lot of youngsters are cumming out with new ideas and new old sounds. I can mention El Extra, Uproot Andy (he is Canadian but his sound is extremely Latino), Chicholina Sound Machine, Chasqui Hi Fi, Digital Jah, Kurohata. From Colombia, I could also name some bands that are coming down strong like Brigada de Control Ideologico with the participation of Circus Freak Chino Watts from la Mera Makia, also Skartel, Skampida, Dub Killer Combo, Alerta, Bomba stereo. From Venezuela, Circo Vulcano and the singular flavor of Chonto Music. From Ecuador I know that Guanaco sound system is working really hard and from Miami our Brother Ephniko is also Hip-Hopping the truth out of music. For the rest of the world, I am sure that many new and explosive things are coming out but for now I can tell you that these are the new bombexplosions for me.

Song that gets people dancing every time: “Fuego” by BombaStereo,

Guilty pleasures: Dub, Punk, Cumbia. (toda la puta vida igual de La Polla Records).

Laptop vs. vinyl? I am a C.D Selector./DJ. I wouldn’t call a laptop DJ a DJ, it’s more of a selector. Vinyl DJs are the masters. But you know, if you have the music in tapes and want to rock it that way why not? but the lap top is aghghg! I don’t know. Sometimes I have to do it with my laptop and I feel like such a slacker.

How do you discover new music? I have to get in a ‘very tired of all my music’ mood. Then Crazy words start comming out of my brain and great music starts appearing. Also my oldest music research mates Esteban Rivera (former keyboardist from skampida, Diego Medina, Pedro Erazo (Dj Dubta), Joro Boro, Uproot Andy, MAgu (GUitar player from Circo Vulcano, Papa Shanti, Desorden Publico), Deeder Zaman (frormer MC from Asian Dub Foundation), Juan Pablo Varela (Pulsar/ Dirty Salsa) DJ KArim, DJ Negro pesimo, Chonto Music, and last but not least Cristobal Miranda (Chicholina’s and Digital Jah’s Drummer),

Current projects? Digital Jah, Kurohata, Emma sound sista (voces de arriba voces de abajo), Vandalising Vandalism, GLOBALSONORO the new radio station that we started with Pedro Erazo and Esteban Rivera with the objective of having programs with all our Dj friends.

Other places where you have DJ’d and artists with whom you have shared your stage? I had the opportunity to tour around Colombia with DJ Karim (Bogota, Bucaramanga, Santa Marta) . In Mehanata I had the chance to spin with Uproot Andy, Joro Boro, Dj Dubta. In Caracas I shared with Chonto Music and Magu. I had the opprtunity to share with DJ Prototype from Venezuela in a Drum and Bass event called Break Side, I also had the chance to share with Fulana de trax, Colectivo afrolatina, Dj Imisor, Maquina para hacer musica y Brigada de Control Ideologico. Places such as Nublu, Museo del Barrio and Queens museum as well as Local Project, Asterisk, Papa B studios, Knitting factory, etc, hard to remember all of them.

Biggest challenges? Spinning in a party with a trance techno crowd, but I ended up making them dance. How? I do not know, but they ended up asking for more cumbia.

Plans for the future? Travel a lot, get my Video Art and Technology degree. Have more exhibitions and go touring with Kurohata and Digital Jah, as well as making the internet radio station GLOBALSONORO grow. And finishing my album Voces de arriba voces de abajo as Emma Sound Sista newest project.

What makes someone a “cosmopolatino”? Someone who even without being Latin is into latin flava and someone who operates in the city.

Anything else you’d like to add? I would love to recommend the readers to research a little bit on all the new music names, also to support the Local scene and to express themselves and use music and art as a peace weapon.

Much alegría y sabor de la Emma Sound for everyone.