Lost in music with Sean Scanlan
Speaking to one of Essex’s grooviest DJs, MITA’s Drew-Alexandra O’Keeffe talks with Sean Scanlan about his journey into the music industry and the soul purposes of bringing funky sounds to the people.
A smile fills the screen of a cracked iPhone 7 as a facetime call to Essex DJ, Sean Scanlan is answered. In true social distancing style, both Scanlan and I are getting ready to have a chat from our sofas about the success of his soulful DJing career, as well as pointing out how the job is all about the music and creating good vibes.
Blessing music fans with the sounds of funk, soul and disco house from Chelmsford, England to Mallorca, Spain, Scanlan also produces three radio shows a week. You can find him on Mi-House radio with Ministry of Sound legend Gareth Cooke every Monday, Radio One Mallorca on Wednesdays, and on Data Transmission Radio every other Saturday afternoon.
“It’s quite nice to have my own show because a lot of radio stations like to tell you what to play, whereas I can play what I want to play and educate people that way. There is just so much good music out there and so many great labels”.
He often features his own groovy tracks, remixed by Yam Who? (Andy Williams) and Jaegerossa (Phil Rose) of Midnight Riot Record label, such as Daydreaming featuring Elysha West and Sunrays featuring Toni Sea, which have both made it onto the Traxsource soul, funk and disco chart topping at No. 2 and No.12. These are also featured on compilation albums such as Disco made me do it and Love will fix it, which can be found on Spotify. Sean has another track coming out with Midnight Riot Records in a few months with what he says has “more disco vibes, more strings and more brass”.
Chasing childhood dreams
Sean adjusts his white earphones in his current home in Essex, while he starts to share where it all started for him in the music industry.
“I went to my first disco when I was about six years old, and I was just like ‘I wanna do that’, I’ve always been into sound and lighting”.
The excitement of this memory triggers the evident passion Scanlan has for the music scene and continues to reveal how he was always eager to help out with school productions as well as being seen hanging around the DJ at weekly discos, to which he eventually started doing warm ups for.
“I got into clubs in 1999, I was about 15 when I worked in Zeus in Chelmsford and then sort of went around and did a bit in Colchester, Clacton and Basildon”.
Straight away, Scanlan takes my interest being so young and involved in the 90s club scene. He sighs happily at the thought of what ultimately helped shape his childhood and passion for music.
All you need is music
“When Hedkandi came around I absolutely fell in love with it, I think I’ve got every album. Mark Doyle really supported my last two tracks on his radio shows and live streams and that’s kind of a goal for me to be supported by Mark.”
With the support of big names in the industry it can be hard to keep wholesome, however, Scanlan clarifies how this isn’t hard for him, explaining his purposes for doing what he does.
“I have a general love for music and educating people about what’s around, I want to play it for them. Playing to a crowd, you can cure them if they’ve had a terrible week and let them get lost in the music for six or seven hours, it makes you forget about everything that’s going on in the real world.”
The lifestyle of a DJ can be very strenuous on the health and wellbeing of the individual, attending crazy parties and working endless hours isn’t uncommon, but for Sean, the reckless side of DJing isn’t needed, all he craves is the music.
“A lot for people get into it for the wrong things like the drink, the drugs, the girls but for me its just turn up and play. I don’t drink and never really have done because I am always driving. People come up to me and ask how you can play a set and not be on anything, and I just tell them it’s all about the music.”
Show us what we’re missing
Sean lived and worked in Mallorca for five years where his initial monthly Friday sets at the Key West bar turned weekly, to eventually being offered the role of manager. During this time, he could also be seen in Watford or bringing the tracks to London’s very own Ministry of Sound. Currently, you’re more likely to hear Scanlan on one of his radio shows or see him mesmerising the crowds down in Leigh-on-Sea, as well as at other good mood fuelled events.
“I do try and steer clear of the more commercial clubs because other wise I do get a lot of ‘oh can you play this’ and It’s difficult to try and explain to a customer that, even though I know they all have their favourite songs, they’ve probably listened to those tracks probably five or six times while getting ready, and then they want to come to the club and hear it again. But for me, that is not why I got into DJing, it’s more like, I’ve found this record, and I like it and I want to play it to you”.
When asking Scanlan what his all-time favourite track and artist is, he starts laughing and takes a deep breath at what is presumably a tough question to answer for such an experienced DJ.
“My favourite song, I’d have to say is At night by Shakedown, I’ve got all the remixes of that, my favourite probably being the Kid Crème remix and very close to that would be the jazz n groove remix. My favourite artist would have to be Fatboy Slim, he’s probably one of the reasons I got into DJing, definitely”
Sean Scanlan can be found on Spotify and Soundcloud, as well as on his weekly various radio shows, as mentioned previously. Be sure to catch him next time he shares one of his extra groovy sets and tracks, you don’t want to miss out on the soulful vibes that Scanlan brings.
Words by Drew-Alexandra O’Keeffe