Born Cheating is a Dublin-raised, London-based DJ who’s the brains behind Tiff’s Joints, a label built in his image to revere dance music with a strong musicality and human element. One of the original members of Touching Bass, Sean’s a regular fixture on their NTS shows and London parties. Elsewhere, he’s one of the regular spinners at jazz community Church of Sound and has notched up a number of highbrow Boiler Room sessions, interviewing Joe Davis and Temitope Kogbe .
As part of a series profiling the 2018 recruits for Dimensions Festival’s DJ Directory, we speak to Sean about what’s moving and motivating them, alongside a first listen to a new mix. For more info on the Directory DJs check our archive.
What’s been your musical upbringing, self-taught, schooled or otherwise?
Well, I’ve had music lessons in various forms since about the age of five but DJing is largely self-taught.
Can you think back to a key moment that made you want to take music seriously?
Not specifically. I’ve wanted music to be the main focus of my life since I was really young.
Rather than focusing on a specific sound, are there a key principle or philosophy that drives you as a DJ?
Just finding records I’ve never heard before that excite me and then sharing them with other people. I like to the think the music I play has a strong human element that hopefully people recognise in some way. I love a good chord progression regardless of genre so I guess there’s that too haha. I’ve been hoarding music since I was about 11 so its just part of life now.
Have there been any people or collectives who have empowered you or helped you find your feet as a DJ?
Touching Bass here in London and Sim Simma in Dublin have always supported me so definitely them. Two of my favourite parties as well. Dimensions have also been really supportive the past year or so. My friend who got me into DJing at school (shout out Bentley the Rhythm Child – still one of Dublin’s finest) showed me the ropes and was a big influence in terms of not being confined by genre/tempo/era.
What’s the biggest challenge you face as a DJ?
Being as good as the DJs I look up to. Apart from that, getting shows can be a bit of a challenge sometimes but really my focus is being happy with my progression both technically and artistically. At the end of the day, DJing is really just a lot of fun and I guess the ultimate challenge is to get as good as possible and to try and make sure it remains really fun along the way.
And what’s your biggest source of optimism or inner strength?
Dunno. The people around me and music itself probably.
What’s your greatest musical achievement to date?
Probably starting Tiff’s Joints which is the label I run. I hope to be able to spend more time on it in the future.
What goals have you set yourself this year?
Play more shows, get better at piano, navigate life in a somewhat smooth manner, get regular haircuts.
What’s your favourite party to dance at?
Touching Bass for sure. It’s a great crowd (maybe even the perfect crowd some of the time) with a lot of very keen dancers, some of which are insanely good. It’s got a very open minded music policy and counts a really lovely bunch of people as regulars. Sim Simma in Dublin is great too. They sometimes have dance classes before their parties so serious dancers are guaranteed. Also have a lot of fun dancing at the Tiff’s Jaunts parties we occasionally throw.
What’s your perfect party to play at?
Open minded people that want to dance and enjoy a variety of different music. A good sound system helps. A good mix of friends and strangers is also a bonus.
Where do you get your inspiration from outside of music?
I’m fairly limited in my interests. I don’t like a huge amount of things apart from music. Most of the people that inspire me are probably people I know. Having said that, I’m inspired by anyone or anything that is executed to the highest possible standard…anyone who has dedicated years to a very specific craft or skill. I’m inspired by passionate people I suppose.
You started Tiff’s Joints in 2016 and your first three releases have been hard to put in the shame-shaped box. Would you say there’s a common philosophy that runs through them, that’s indicative of how you run the label?
Thank you! At the moment, the philosophy or goal is to put out dance music that is really musical and has a strong human element to it. I want to hear a lot of the artist’s personality in the music. At the end of the day, the music I put out is music I love. It’s just me running the label with the help of my friend Brian who does the artwork/design so it really just represents my individual taste.
Much planned with the label in 2018?
More 12” releases! The last year or so of my life made me put the label on the back burner, married with the extensive delays the third release suffered it means it’s been almost a year between releases which isn’t ideal. Hopefully there’ll also be a non-dancefloor focused EP out in the next 12 months as well.
What’s your involvement with Touching Bass, other than their official “dreamy Irish movie star”? How important have they been in your development as a DJ?
Hahaha. I’ve been somewhat involved with Touching Bass since the first party Errol did back in 2015. I basically help out wherever I can. It’s a group of people with a pretty wide range of different skills and talents. As well as DJing at the parties, I’ve been taking care of recording the amazing Speaking in Sound series which aims to explore the legacy of black-oriented music in the UK. My current day job is coming to an end so I hope to be able to do even more with TB this year. They’ve been really important in my development as a DJ as it’s given me an opportunity to play to some of the best crowds I’ve ever played to, alongside some other amazing DJs and artists. Most importantly, it’s allowed me to meet some very special people.
We hear you dabble in hip-hop mash-ups of Brazilian classics. Any new blends dropping soon?
Haha no plans for any more of that kind of thing. The reception to the last one was great and far bigger than I ever expected considering I didn’t even put it up on Soundcloud. I’m hesitant to do more because I don’t want people to know me for that kind of thing. Not trying to be the next 2manydjs…
Anything else coming up this year for you that you’re excited about?
More releases on Tiff’s Joints, throwing more parties, getting piano lessons. Dimensions Festival of course. I’m just generally excited about the state of music at the moment.
And finally, turning back the clock, what advice would you give to your younger self before you started pursuing music properly?
Do you and get more piano lessons.