- Feel-good chunkers.
- Sally Caithness, the Berlin-based DJ and producer better known as Sally C, is one of those artists who was set to blow up before the pandemic struck. Her big moment may now, touch wood, be on the horizon. She's loved for her unapologetically rambunctious DJing, a style grounded in what she and her peers affectionately call "chunkers," no-nonsense house and techno bombs from the '90s and beyond. (Still unsure what constitutes a "chunker"? See this homecoming set at Belfast's AVA Festival in 2019.)
During the endless downtime of the past 15 months, Caithness kept digging and fine-tuning her DJing while also diving head-first into production. Out now, her debut EP is also the first on her new label, which she calls—what else—Big Saldo's Chunkers.
A handful of new tracks from the second Big Saldo's Chunkers EP are premiered on RA.784. At over 100 minutes long and packed full of sizzling bangers by the likes of K-Hand, Overmono and Fatboy Slim, the mix was tailor-made for what will hopefully still be a summer of celebration. "I wanted to make something that would make people feel good," she told RA. "Music has been a huge source of joy and therapy during this shit time."
What have you been up to recently?
I've recently started a monthly radio show on Refuge Worldwide here in Berlin that airs on the last Thursday of every month. It's been really nice to share music in this way. It's something I've wanted to do for a long time so finding records for it every month is an absolute joy. I've been working on new music, enjoying the ever so slight taste of freedom that's re-entered the world in the last while and generally just chugging along. Sometimes I do absolutely nothing and I've learned to be OK with that.
How and where was the mix recorded?
The mix was recorded in my studio in Berlin with two CDJs and a Xone:96. My setup and equipment used to be in my bedroom but I've recently moved apartments so it's really nice to have my work space separate. My records were always plastered over the floor—it was a mess. I wanted to record only on CDJs for this mix. I really only learned how to use them properly in the last few years. I always had a weird complex about only playing vinyl so I never delved into the technical abilities CDJs have. I learnt how to mix with records and was hesitant to use CDJs, but I've realised they are actually class. You can do so much more with them and take your sets to another level by utilising them properly. It's good to know them both inside out.
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
I wanted to make something that would make people feel good. Music has been a huge source of joy and therapy during this shit time. It's really got me and I'm sure many others through. The tracks cover nine years of digging, from pockets of my favourite music from when I first started collecting, through to sounds I'm addicted to today. It's predominantly records from the '90s. I am and always will be obsessed with this era and I love creating sounds between now and then in mixes. I had a bit of an identity crisis a couple of years ago as I was touring a lot and I wasn't sure whether if I played harder music would I still be me and found myself questioning the sound I was projecting. Just before the pandemic I was really realising I can play whatever I want as long as it makes the crowd and me feel good and it's presented in a cohesive way. I guess the mix is a testament to that; it's a lot of different sounds but executed in exactly the way I want and a true expression of my musical character. It was the most enjoyable and rewarding process selecting tracks for the mix. I felt like I was doing job interviews with the chosen tracks for hours and then chose the crème de la crème and what is really me. I poured a lot of love into this mix and the energy is Big Saldo through and through.
Your mix features lots of '90s records—what's your relationship with that era/where does your obsession come from? Was that the first dance music you got into?
I have a strong addiction to records from this era. When I'm digging, the date the record was released is the first thing I look for. If it's anywhere between '88 '98 then it's most likely going to be good. I've stuck with that process for ten years and it's served me pretty well, there was just so much good music made during this time period. The sound is exactly what my ears want to hear, I'm always chasing that and the way it makes me feel. The weird vocals, the sheer simplicity of a track that never gets boring as it always has this particular sound.
The first dance music I actually got into was from CDs my brother sent over. Fabriclive.18 blasting in my ears and burnt CDs from Roni Size, DJ Yoda, Scratch Perverts, etc. I was around 15 and loved this mad sound but my obsession with '90s electronic music began a few years later, the first record I ever bought was Terrence Parker's "Your Love," so it got me off to a good start. For me the quality of music from this time is unparalleled, an absolute sea of greatness that not much can compare to. Maybe I'm stuck in the '90s, but I'm ok with that.
What can we expect from the next few releases on your label?
Big Saldo's Chunkers launched last year and it felt good to provide my first released productions from my own creative outlet. It started as a solo project but I have some exciting plans incoming. The next release is coming out soon, bear with me and the five thousand other labels patiently waiting for their shiny test pressings from the extremely backed-up pressing plants due to COVID-19 and Brexit. It's not the simplest time to run a label of course, but the next release is another original three-track EP from me then the third will be a collaboration with one of my favourite artists, which I still can't believe is happening. It will be blissful when things resume back to "normal" so there can be a nice flow of releases, but for now look out for BSC002. The tracks are all in this mix oi oi.
What are you up to next?
It's looking like things are slowly moving back to some sort of normality. I have a bunch of gigs coming up. First one back is in London at Night Tales back-to-back with Cromby on July 3rd; this will be pure bliss. The next release on my label, Big Saldo's Chunkers, is en route! Looking forward to it finally coming out but all three tracks can be heard in this mix for the first time. It's been really class to have more time to focus on production, but I can't wait to be back pounding chunkers through big soundsystems.
Rebecca B - Oddworld [Forthcoming Zissou Records, 2021]
Xpansions 95 - Move Your Body (Koolworld Productions Mix) [Arista, 1995]
Wave - Enjoy Life (Afro Dub) [Eightball Records, 1992]
Allen St. - The Song (Op's Factory Mix) [Allen Street NYC, 1992]
Nightmares On Wax - Alive (Original B-Boy Mix) [Nucleus, 1994]
Dizzy & Jado - Shake It Fast (Dizzy_s Remix) [Double Down Recordings, 2001]
Sally C - Give It To Me [Forthcoming Big Saldo's Chunkers, 2021]
Sally C - Unreleased
The D.O.C. - Portrait Of A Masterpiece (House Mix) [Atlantic, 1990]
Mix Masters - How Low Can U Touch Me (Fast Eddie's Boomin' Mix) [DJ International Records, 1990]
The K. A. Posse - Dig This (Tyree Mix) [DJ International Records, 1989]
K-Hand - Street Knowledge [Open, 1995]
Night In Brooklyn (Original Mix) - DJ Brad Smith [Cresent Records, 1997]
Jay Relf - Full Tilt (Full On Plexus Mix) [Entity Records, 1992]
Anoesis - Heavy Water [D*Fusion Records, 1994; Reissue Forthcoming Spray Records, 2022]
Sally C - Nasty [Forthcoming Big Saldo's Chunkers, 2021]
Fatboy Slim - Punk To Funk (Original Mix) [Skint, 1996]
MTF - It Moves (S'n'S Hard And Long Dub) [Deal Records, 1996]
Spray - Unreleased
X-Connection - Watch Them Dogs (Original Mix) [X-Trax, 1995]
Sally C - Downtown [Forthcoming Big Saldo's Chunkers, 2021]
Dance 2 Trance - We Came In Peace (John Digweed Edit) [Azuli Records, 2005]
Overmono - If You Ever [Forthcoming Fabric Presents Overmono, 2021]
Doc Daneeka feat. Ratcatcher - Walk On In [Numbers, 2013]
Plush Management Inc. - Monica Likes To Dance [Forthcoming Plush Records Inc. 2021]
The Duty Freedom - Chronic Durations [SNC RECS, 2021]
Detroit's Filthiest - Round and Round [Moveltraxx, 2018]
Outro - Rebecca B - Oddworld
Photo: Albina Maks