Photography by Andi Cristea
Amidst the saturated soundscape of London, it’s been impossible to miss the names of Peckham-based disco queens, Raw Silk. Comprised of Grace George and Steph Smith, they have been on a fast-track journey towards dominating London’s disco scene.
Their prowess behind the decks is nothing short of brilliance, enough to turn the heads of reputable party mainstays, Percolate, and gaining a residency with them for the past few months. They have also shared the stage with the likes of Horse Meat Disco, Krywald and Farrer and more.
Luckily, I bumped into them after their impressive set at El Dorado Festival. After a few merry drinks and dad-like dancing, I asked them a few questions on what they’re all about and what we can expect to see in the future.
How did you two meet and what was it that inspired you guys to begin Raw Silk?
We met on a ‘blind-date’ in Melbourne through some mutual friends and spent a glorious year exploring and partying in the city together. It was Melbourne that inspired us to begin RAW SILK because we wanted to create a party that was as loose and free spirited as those we had experienced. We think that we achieved this at our monthly party at the Nines in Peckham and now hope to bring this to our DJ sets.
What’s your approach when DJing together? Are you the type to plan your sets or do you prefer a more free-style approach?
In the past we have tried to plan some of our sets but have quickly come to realise that we work best using a more free style approach. Sometimes when leading up to a gig, if we’re unable to meet and go through our records, we make joint playlists on Spotify or Youtube to get an idea of the direction we’d like the music to go in but we generally just go with the vibe of the crowd and each other. The element of surprise and slight competition when playing b2b is what we think keeps our sets fresh and exciting.
For anyone that hasn’t seen you DJ out yet, what can we expect from a Raw Silk set?
Freaky, kooky and all things tasty! We try not to play the same set twice and always keep it light hearted and fun. We like to play a mix of rare, groovy gems and dance floor bangers. Nothing too serious despite taking our love for music very seriously...
What were your musical upbringings that influenced you to pursue DJing?
Grace: I’ve been through a million phases, 13 YO hardcore Nirvana fan with a shrine to Kurt Cobain in my room, followed swiftly by being a dying to be a backing dancer in early 2000’s Nelly videos, but my Mum named me after Grace Jones, so I’d say American soul & disco has been the biggest shaper.
Steph: Being a student in Leeds was the biggest influence for me. As well as studying DJing as part of my uni course, I think that the music scene and nightlife in general is one of the best in the country and it was here where I first went out to actually watch DJ’s play.
Have you got any standout moments from any of your shows?
Steph: Playing at SisBis in Liverpool was a stand out moment for me, there’s something about that crowd and atmosphere up north that doesn’t compare to anywhere else.
Grace: Agree with Steph, playing for the SisBis collective who not only raise money for a Merseyside Refugee party but who promote freeness and equality at all their parties was glorious. Check their fabulous parties here
It’s awesome to see more and more female DJs gaining the spotlight they deserve. Are there any that inspire you? Who would you say is your biggest DJ inspiration (male or female)?
Grace: Not to sound like a broken record, but the SisBis are big new influencers because their parties promote everything I think is positive about music. Equality, no judgement and dancing for a good cause, makes the whole DJ thing feel less narcissistic. Other than that Australian DJ’s CC Disco and J-Nett are fabulous, exceptional music taste, humble and happy to share their music choices, none of that old school nonsense of hiding records from people. Music is for sharing! CC Disco has an amazing show on Aussie radio station PBS called Smoke & Mirrors.
Steph: All female DJ’s inspire me because I know that it’s a constant battle to prove ourselves and gain respect (as well as having to deal with men fiddling with the mixer!) If i was to pick out some names then Jayda G, Debonair and Haai are big inspirations for me, as well as my old friend Grainger and Palms Trax.
How did you guys come to get involved with Percolate?
We were asked by London record collective Love Glove to play at their night which was an after party for Percolate hosting Crazy P at the Roundhouse. This was actually our first gig DJing together outside of the Nines and the first time we had considered Raw Silk as a DJ duo rather than just a club night. It was here that Percolate first noticed us and we’ve been warming up their dance floors ever since!
Where’s your favourite place to buy records?
Grace: I love Pure Vinyl in Brixton because the owner Claudia is friendly, welcoming and always has great soul, jazz, hip-hop, rocky stuff. I like exploring new shops so whenever I go somewhere new, try and buy records there. There is a great shop aptly named “Really Good Records” in Plymouth which has a TON of stock and “Wow & Flutter” in Hastings which I picked up lots of new wave & synth-pop stuff in recently. And obviously the shop I work in, The BBE Store in London Fields.
Steph: One of my favourite things to do is sit on the comfortable green sofa in the BBE store whilst Grace puts on new records thats shes found or songs she thinks i’ll like. It’s very handy having a best mate that works in such a great record institution and the added bonus of the cinema setting with restaurant and bar attached makes the BBE store my favourite place to buy records in London.
I know it’s a hard question, but what would you say is your go-to record and why?
Grace: For the past 6 months it’s been John Morales’ edit of Level 42’s “Mind on You.” Such a groove! Recently also been loving Irakere’s “Chekere Son,” a mad Latin stomper that makes me (and hopefully others) go INSANE!
Steph: My go to record changes regularly, at the moment it’s Christopher Cross’ ‘Ride Like the Wind’ the Joey Negro edit.’ It’s the perfect balance of cheesy and ‘booty’ to get a dance floor going at any point during a set.
What do you both hope to achieve by the end of the year? Any big plans?
Grace: Would love to be invited to play outside of the UK, just to learn & share and explore new musical worlds constantly. And to repay the favour to others too!
Steph: I just want to play up north more!