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Meet DJ Sandy Duperval – Flygirl Interview

Posted by Mandy Randhawa on June 27, 2018

Sandy Duperval: Soul, House, and Everything In-Between

Every DJ has a unique story, but Sandy Duperval’s is particularly interesting. From vocal training with Cissy Houston (yes, Whitney’s mom) to coming out as queer, to evolving her style to blend genres unexpectedly (like DJing + live vocals!), Sandy’s path to bringing her art worldwide has been nothing short of friggin cool.

(And we can’t wait to welcome her to Flygirl’s Pride weekend this August!)

Get to meet Sandy

Flygirl: Your style is wide-ranging, to say the least! You went from singing gospel, to jazz music, and now you’re a DJ. What was that evolution like, and what sparked the changes?

Sandy: I was a gospel singer with a very promising future but I was going through all kinds of self-doubt and emotional distress. I knew I was different but I was scared. Being gay was unacceptable. To be honest, I felt cursed and it took years for me to come to terms with my sexuality but I refused to live a lie.

Flygirl: And that carried over into music?

Sandy: Yes—the one aspect of my life that I had never doubted was that I wanted to make music. With my grandmother’s full support, I decided to pursue jazz. It’s so rich and playful and such a wonderful style to master. I could relate to jazz in ways I didn’t relate to classical.

I started out as a hip hop DJ—I LOVED hip hop in the 90s and early 2000s. I went to see David Morales at Stereo, I didn’t know what to expect. I was following a friend who told me he was the best DJ she’d ever heard. His vocals-driven, high-energy, uplifting tracks made me fall in love with house music. I was like… WHAT IS THAT???

Flygirl: Wow. Do you remember the song you were listening to when this happened?

Sandy: There was a particular song that touched me deeply, Barbara Tucker, Most Precious Love. Shortly after, I moved to Germany for a musical and started going to clubs where they were playing tech house, techno, deep house, euro-dance and I knew then, I was falling for electronic music.

Flygirl: Electronic music is so popular today—you’ve got teens dancing to it, EDM is on the radio, and some DJs are huge celebrities—how do you see electronic music as an artist and how do you try to incorporate your own spin to it?

Sandy: I know right! EDM got totally crazy and for most part in a beautiful way. EDM has sparked curiosity in people who used to think house music was techno. What I love most about it is its diversity and freedom. EDM is just a term associated with a movement that started with house music—which comes from disco.

I think it’s cool that hip hop heads can find electronic remixes of classic hip hop tracks and enjoy them (when the remix is good of course lol).

My style is narrowed down to house, tech house, tribal with a touch of soul and a pop of colourful surprises. Music is freedom, EDM included, there really is everything for everyone to take or leave behind. What matters to me most in any trend is that it keeps people dancing their problems away. We live in a crazy word abd the dance floor should be like a good therapy session.

Flygirl: What was the hardest thing you’ve had to overcome in your career?

Sandy: That’s a great question. I would say first, coming out as a lesbian. It may seem like something that I shouldn’t have anything to do with my career, but trust me it’s closed a lot of doors but also opened some of the biggest, most life-changing ones.

Being a female DJ, yes it it’s still a thing. I guess we can thank the “button pressers” hot-looking females who make it very hard to be taken seriously. The good part is that it motivates women to keep practicing the skills that are required to be a legitimate killer DJ.

Flygirl: You learned to sing from Whitney Houston’s mom. What was that like?

Sandy: In the gospel world, Cissy Houston is LEGEND! When I was about 13, I worked with a producer from the refugee camp who got me signed under Diane Johnson Records. (DJ Records, what a coincidence right???) I got to work with her and Ali Ollie Woodson (from the Temptations) on a 2nd gospel album which unfortunately wasn’t released due to the company shutting down.

Flygirl: Favourite club you’ve played in and why?

Sandy: Ah man! That is another hard one, there are so many! I LOVE playing at Circus Afterhours, I love that they trust me and give me the freedom to play some of the underground music I don’t get to play on the regular. I also have to say that one of the most impressive rooms I’ve ever played at is New City Gas, even though strictly speaking it’s not a club.

Flygirl: Nice. Okay last one! What are you most excited about? Doesn’t have to be music-related!

Sandy: Releasing my next single! I wrote hundreds of songs that I didn’t get to release yet but I wrote myself a song that I can’t wait to share with the world and I hope it will help others who have suffered from depression and anxiety. This is a new beginning for me. (And a well deserved one!)

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