(Extended Mix): SOS Music

Starting out as a radio show and event series before graduating to collective and record label, LA-based SOS (Sisters of Sound) Music have cemented themselves as champions of inclusivity. Irked by the imbalanced state of electronic music, co-founders Maddy Maia and Tottie have spent the last few years providing a platform for emerging female, non-binary and gender minority talent to shine. 

Whilst starting a club-focused label in the middle of a pandemic may seem like an impossible task, the pair have managed to make their vision flourish. With two weighty, well-received compilations and a North American tour under their belts, SOS Music is proving to be a formidable force in the quest to level the playing field. 

Separated by Covid, the pair recorded a mix each culminating in an eight hour exploration into their musical personalities. Maddie starts off by delving into ambient, experimental and leftfield sounds, underpinned by the inclusive ethos of the label, before Tottie takes us on an eclectic journey through her most memorable musical moments.

(Extended Mix) is a new charitable series that celebrates all-night specialists and more simple, carbon-friendly lineups. Instead of paying on the door for this extended experience, we invite listeners to donate to the DJ directly while their gigs are cancelled, or to a chosen charity. SOS Music have chosen to pair their mix with Downtown Women’s Center, a local Los Angeles charity that focuses on empowering and serving women who are homeless or have faced homelessness.

First off, how was lockdown? What was the biggest challenge and more positive outcome you’ve experienced through extended time at home? 

Maddy: As we enter a third year of chaos and volatility in the music industry, it hasn’t felt particularly easy – and I’m one of the lucky ones! One of the things I truly miss is a deep human connection with other artists – it’s really all I’ve known growing up as an A&R. Some of the artists we’ve signed over the last couple of years I have never met, and not having that intimacy, particularly when it comes to working with creatives, feels unnatural.

It was actually a difficult decision for Tottie and I to start a label so club-focused in the middle of a pandemic, but ultimately we wanted to give more of a platform to non-commercial artists that had lost a huge chunk of their livelihoods when shows stopped, in any way we could. Both of us are still fairly new to Los Angeles, and community was something we wanted to develop, and give back.

Despite all the challenges of navigating such a tumultuous climate, SOS has really felt like a huge light at the end of the pandemic’s tunnel and in some ways has really kept us going. We give artists complete artistic freedom, and see it as an alternative to institutions increasingly dictated by algorithms. I also think had it not been for the pandemic, we would not have had time to give the label the launch and energy it deserves, or start to make music again, so for that I’m truly thankful.

Tottie: The shutdown of our world has been chaotic, full of grief, anxiety and fearfulness. It’s crazy to still be here and going through another explosive variant. One of the biggest challenges for me was the lack of interaction with people, particularly in the first year. At that time I was curating events and special projects for dublab. I was there everyday at the studio interacting with all our DJs. It was rough losing that.

Switching up my role to a virtual space was also challenging, but I am also incredibly grateful and lucky to have continued to work and be able to support the music community in different ways and push myself in other directions – one of them being SOS Music.

Whilst it was pretty daunting to start a label in 2020, it was refreshing to do things in a different trajectory than we would have done had we not been in a pandemic. One memory that I will forever treasure was filming our  “virtual” album release, with some of the LA based artists on the first compilation – SOS Music Vol 1. It truly was grounding, intimate and different! 

Thanks for recording an extended mix for us. How did you find the recording process?

Tottie: Thanks for having us, we hope you enjoy our extended mix. Due to covid logistics, we ended up recording our parts in seperate countries. Maddy’s is the first four hours, and mine is in the second. We both really enjoyed preparing and recording this mix, it came at a perfect time of reflection at the end of 2021. I recorded over the holidays when my brain was finally clear from work distractions but also still on a mega high following our mini North America tour to celebrate the release of SOS Music Vol 2. Mid afternoon to early evening – I could have played on for hours longer. Both of us digging deep into our head spaces.

Playing at home is always a joy, I love playing for hours on end, the wall and I got very connected during the pandemic haha. I’m also very fortunate to have really chill neighbors and good windows, so I can blast it :), my house is often the go to for a late night get together so I’m very comfortable playing in this space. It’s my sanctuary. My setup at home is simple yet effective, good speakers, 1 turntable, 2 CDJs and an American audio mixer that looks like it would be shit but sounds great. 

Maddy: Lottie and I were separated during the holidays, so both recorded at home. I usually find home mix recordings very challenging. We have been fortunate to have the Los Angeles DUBLAB studio as a local escape during the bleakest parts of lockdown; I’m not a natural homebody and spend enough time in my studio working on production and A&R as it is. And though I like playing long sets on the dance floor to physical, sweaty bodies, an extended mix from home intimidated me as I was worried it wouldn’t catch an authentic energy. But I was surprised at how easy this mix was to record. I ended up doing it on one long, cold Los Angeles Sunday afternoon, sitting in my studio with a cup of hot tea, and the tracks flowed out very easily, with much less planning than I anticipated. 

It took on a life of it’s own – a little more reflective and a little less melodic than my typical DJ sets – mirroring our first SOS release in some ways which was darker and more aggressive. I think I harbored some real Omicron energy! There was so much music from so many genres I wanted to include to really portray the eclecticism of what SOS is all about, but in the end I went with it. Letting go of planning was part of the fun and something I’ve really been trying to do more of since COVID. There was something very intimate about it. Just myself, in an entirely non-glamorous setting, reflecting on the music I love and the label Tottie and I have created. It ended up being a very cathartic process to start the year.

It took on a life of it’s own – a little more reflective and a little less melodic than my typical DJ sets – mirroring our first SOS release in some ways which was darker and more aggressive. I think I harbored some real Omicron energy! There was so much music from so many genres I wanted to include to really portray the eclecticism of what SOS is all about, but in the end I went with it. Letting go of planning was part of the fun and something I’ve really been trying to do more of since COVID. There was something very intimate about it. Just myself, in an entirely non-glamorous setting, reflecting on the music I love and the label Tottie and I have created. It ended up being a very cathartic process to start the year.

How did you approach the mix? Did you have an idea in mind beforehand? Was there much pre-planning or did you just trust your instincts?

Maddy: It was important that this mix was a true sonic journey for Tottie and I, incorporating favourite tracks from the last couple of years, as well as SOS alumni. This label is about providing a platform for these artists, not just in our releases, but in everything we do. There are so many new and under the radar artists that we wanted to celebrate, so it meant a lot that some of those were included. I also wanted to include music that I love which I don’t get to play out as often as I’d like: ambient, more experimental sounds, disparate beats, leftfield and techno.

Because we were separated we wanted to take the mix and tell our own stories, both of us including a bit of our personalities in there. The mix is in two sections. My mixes and DJ sets are often comprised entirely of female and non-binary productions – but I didn’t want as many limitations this time around; SOS really is about inclusivity at the end of the day. And a wonderful thing about this mix is that it ended up being composed of mostly female artists anyway, without having to consciously try.

Tottie: I approached it really thinking about where my ears have traveled in music over the last few years, the artists and labels I have come across, as well as spaces and places that have had an impact on me musically. There were key moments and memories, tracks that gave me goosebumps that I wanted to include in this mix. I started writing little memory notes of things that took place mostly in the last few years since moving to LA, starting SOS Music, the stand out moments, radio shows, interactions (IRL or virtual) all through a music lens. Doing that in itself was really fun and got my music memory juices flowing. I had a general idea of how I was going to start and where I wanted to get to, tracks that had to make it in. 

The beginning of my section, which follows Maddy’s, was always going to be calming, cleansing from what has come before, then moves into more hypnotic percussion, ambient perreo, Arabic trap, jazz, new beat, more eclectic and upbeat for the first hour and half, lots of records I collected and haven’t played in a while or haven’t made it onto my radio shows or into mixes. The last couple of hours are of course direction – > house and moves into more high tempo breaks and club music. It always feels amazing playing so much music in one sitting, I felt very blissed out at the end. 

Could you talk us through a couple standouts from the set?

Tottie: This is hard, so I have narrowed it down to 4, 1x stand out an hour haha. 

1. Turbo Sonidero’s ‘Vuela Vuela’ – a cumbia cover of Voyage Voyage by Desireless. It’s a track my dad would play me when I was little. Turbo Sonidero is so rad, hes based in LA, and his labels promote new and up-and-coming cumbia producers from Mexico. 

2. Sovereign State – ‘Rising Poem’ – I’m really excited about Chicago-based Miki Miyoshi aka Sovereign State. She just released her fourth EP Keep It Moving which I picked up just before Christmas from 606 Records in Chicago and it’s fire. Would love to release her music on SOS. 

3. Moor Mother’s ‘The Myth Hold Weight’ – her poetry and music is so powerful, I am a huge fan of her work.

4. DJ Swisha & OSSX – ‘Luvli Dae’. On repeat the last few weeks since it came out beginning of December. I really love this collaboration and I’m excited to hear more from Jersey duo OSSX this year. 

Want to also shout out other artists who I love that are included: Paramida, C Love, Laurel Halo, Olive T, Urulu, Baldo, DJ Holographic, LCY, Stefan Ringer, Paula Tape, Chico Sonido, Dust-e-1, and so many moreeeeeee – peep the track list! 

Maddy: So many! From an SOS perspective, there’s a stunning track called ‘A Journey’ by Japanese/ London producer and synth extraordinaire Hinako Omiri. An exclusive edit from producer + label head Baby T aka B Traits, who features on SOS Volume 2. The incredibly powerful ‘Intro’ to Tygapaw’s 2020 record ‘GET FREE’ featuring Mandy Harris Williams that had to be in there. Tygapaw absolutely destroyed our NYC record release party at Good Room in December – their set was insane.

There’s also a glorious new work from LA-based producer, sound artist, film maker and SOS alumni Lara Sarkissian. Plus some classics from Lisbon based Violet who features on Volume 1, NYC techno queen and new friend Julia Govor, and plenty from pioneer rRoxymore, who also featured on our first compilation.

One of my favourite tracks of 2020 (which we also had the pleasure of releasing) is ‘Possedee’ by LA-based producer C.Love. It’s permeated all my sets since I first heard it. There’s also most definitely a nod to the current Ninja Tune roster, with artists like Elkka, Anz, Julianna Barwick, and my favourite track to play out right now, the Floorplan remix of my girl TSHA.

Where’s been your favourite place to play an all-night set, and why?

Maddy: After our recent SOS record release party, I am desperate to play all night at Good Room (well, the Bad Room in fact). Tottie and I played back to back for the closing Bad Room set alongside Julia Govor, Regularfantasy, Lauren Flax, Tygapaw & Rose Kourts, and it was the most special night I’ve had in a long time. Everyone’s energy was just insane – the artists, the dancefloor, the Good Room staff – it was such an uplifting night and everyone went the extra mile with their sets. As SOS was birthed in the pandemic, finally taking the label into the live space meant just that bit more. 

Tottie: Goodroom / Badroom NYC –  amazing soundsystem, wonderful staff, that club is such a good vibe. Obstanhof – one of the funnest and most glamorous queer parties in LA – fav gig of 2019. Also really loved playing. Looking forward to more all night sets for SOS Music dusk till dawn would be great in the coming year – the longer the better for me 🙂 

Who are some of your favourite all-night specialists, and why? 

Tottie: Paramida, C Love, Masha Mar, Alison Swing, Dave Aju, Magic Touch, Chaos in the CBD,  Colored Craig, DJ Swisha, Geology, DJ Kerri, CC:DISCO!, Saoirse, Barbie Bertisch, Regularfantasy, Lara Sarkissian, Bored Lord – all masterminds blending genres in ways that blow my mind. 

Maddy: One thing I’m hoping will change in the next few years is more all night sets from women. It’s amazing seeing increasingly diverse line ups all over the world, but more work needs to be done to ensure they are at the top of the bill, rather than token support somewhere lower on the line ups.

By celebrating DJs with a penchant for all-night sets, the (Extended Mix) series hopes to encourage a more stripped back, carbon-friendly approach to lineup curation. Reducing our footprint as a globalised underground community is a massive challenge as we try to rebuild the scene after Covid-19 lockdown, and we hope progression can be forged through sharing our challenges and experiences. Are there any thoughts you’d like to add to the discussion?

Maddy: Whilst I wholeheartedly support the ethics of all night sets for obvious reasons (Ninja Tune’s commitment to sustainability, Music Declares Emergency etc, has been a large part of how I have operated in the workplace for a while now) I think another thing to celebrate about it is a commitment to the Art.

We are living in a world so unbelievably saturated in content, instant gratification, playlists and short term, viral hits. Where every social media post, tik tok video, track release or merch drop is sort of amalgamated into one ‘moment’, and then it’s gone, and we move on to the next without even blinking. Where 50,000 new songs get uploaded to Spotify daily. It’s disposable, and sometimes I feel like I’m drowning!

This series not only encourages sustainability, but also might help us to all slow down, to return to a love of music and the journey it can take us on in its purest form. To allow us to stop scrolling and remember why we became music fans in the first place.

Tottie: We are part of an environmentally unstable industry, and at the same time trying to bounce back after two years of global pandemic, it’s messy. People are very eager to get back to pre-pandemic life and that really shouldn’t be the goal. We can’t deny that more than ever we have to face up to the climate crisis and we definitely need to be working together to make an impact.

Heels and Souls interview for the extended mix also mentioned this report “Last Night a DJ Took a Flight” which everyone working as a touring artist should read. The results are hard hitting and it’s clear the steps we need to take – climate conscious touring routes, be done with exclusivity clauses, book more local talent. Do we need another destination festival attracting mass audiences? Probably not! As we come out of the pandemic – it’s our jobs, including Maddy and I’s, to be curating a smarter climate-focused industry. As I am writing, I’m reading that Australia had its hottest day on record at 50.7C. 

Tell us a bit more about your chosen charity – what work do they do and why is it so important to you? 

The Downtown Women’s Center is a local Los Angeles charity and one close to our hearts. They do amazing grass roots work, overseeing 119 units of permanent housing across greater Los Angeles, and help more than 5,000 Angelo women annually. It’s such an explicit problem here, and so prevalent, but I have so much respect for what this organization are doing to not only eliminate immediate dangers for vulnerable women and children, but also help them longer term with veterans of the program. It’s not just immediate relief, there is a deep commitment there.

Photo Credit: Miguel Diaz 

Section 1 – Maddy Maia
Ana roxanne – untitled 
ANNA – another dream 
Julianna Barwick – Inspirit 
Yu Su- Xiu 
Hinako Omori – A journey 
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith – Mt Baker 
IVVVO – Broke Over Me Like a Rainstorm 
Helena Hauff – Thalassa 
Tygapaw – Get Free Intro (feat. Mandy Harris)
Lara Sarkissian – faith drama & the flute 
Roxa Terenzi & D Tiffany – Melting Ladies 
rRoxymore – multiplicity 
박혜진 Park Hye Jin – Can You (Galcher Lustwerk re-work)
rRoxymore – price of highest consciousness 
Elkka – morning fuzz 
Maara – open up coconut 
Machine Woman – i can mend your broken heart 
Yu Su – watermelon woman 
Comfy Bella – Tell Me
Whodat – Grit 
Kelly Lee Owens – Bird (prins thomas diskomiks edit)
C. Love – possedee 
Julia Govor and Rashid Ajami- A Regret (felipe valenzuela remix)
Masha Mar – Doris Day 
DJ Minx – Dequindre cut 
Infiniti & Juan atkins – walking on water (thomas from remix)
박혜진 Park Hye Jin – sex with me (defg)
rRoxymore – forward flamingo 
Octo Octa – River 
WK7 – Rhythm 1 
Mr G – how deep (original mix) 
Violet – togetherness 
Shanti Celeste – Iinfinitas 
D. Tiffany – the cosmic cafe 
Jennifer Loveless – a1 out/under 
Baby t – Coercive Control – ruff mix / exclusive 
Loraine James – Simple Stuff 
Anz – Real Enough to Feel Good 
Elkka – harmonies frequencies 
Uncle Knows – Attitude 
Robert Hood – Externus Oblique (re-plant)
TSHA – Power (Floor Plan remix)
Matisa – selling of all, the brain!
Juliet Mendoza – soul rhythm 
Maya Janes Coles – keep it moving 
Maruwa – this is for the racers 
Tygapaw – Magenta Riddim 
Julia Govor – Winter Mute
박혜진 Park Hye Jin – Never Die 

Section 2 – Tottie
Unknown – Love Beat
Paul Brändle – “Homecoming”
Don Cherry – Brown Rice 
Cafe Ale – Chinatown Russian Telephone 
C.love – Deux Femora 
Takis – Paris Istanbul (Remix) 
Aisha Kandisha’s Jarring Effects – A Muey A Muey 
Tonton du bled (Guido Minisky Acid Arab Edit)
Chico Sonido – Posición Traviesa (Lotus Flower) 
Turbo Sonidero – Vuela Vuela 
Sadluci – Yallah 
Jaubi – Straight Path 
Lady Blackbird – Fix It 
The Midnight Hour, Ali Shasheed Muhammad and Adrian Young – Jazz is Dead (Georgia Anne Muldrow Geemix) 
Damon Locks – Black Monumental Ensemble – Movement and You 
Colloboh – Reasons 
Loui$ – Pink Footpath 
Stuart Skrazzo – Censored 
Child of Aruba – Promises 
Beats Workin – Sure Beats Workin’ (El Sonido Casa Balearico)
Daniele Baldelli & DJ Rocca – Talorypo (Warehouse Preservation Society Remix)
Yves Simon – Au Pays Des Merveilles De Juliet 
Paula Tape – Aqua Congas (Project Pablo Remix) 
Unknown Mobile – Looping Truths and expectations 
Ex-Terrestrial – Water Walk (Priori Rezone) 
Dust-e-1 – U & Me 
Guy Contact – Maya Bay 
Project Pablo – Toes Unstepped 
Sasha Nevolin – Someone 
Sueño Latino – Sueño Latino (Dub Version By Cutmaster-G)
Waterpark – Speedline connect 
Violet – Yangon 
Unknown Mobile – Trip Leader 
Perel – Die Dimension (Marcus Woeful Ambient Mix) 
Paula Tape & Volantis – Octavia Dimension (Elias Mazian Remix) 
Planet Love – Flowers 
Laurel Halo – Public Art 
Moor Mother – The Myth Hold Weight 
Sovereign State – Rising Poem 
Will DiMaggio – Stepping w/ Friends 
Faff – Ooh la la feat Meg 
Yohei S – Eastern Rankin 
Stefan Ringer – Mechanical Monster 
DJ Swisha & OSSX – Luvil Dae 🙂
Urulu – Transworld 
Olive T – Birdin In Space (Martyn Bootyspoon’s Out To Lunch Mix) 
Paramida – Dream Ritual 
LCY – shhh
Baldo – Spatial Delivery (Youandewan Remix)
DJ Holographic – Parallel Shifting 
Eden Burns – Big Bark Manifesto 
LCY – Milan 
Roza Terenzi & D Tiffany – Melting Ladies 
U.S.U.R.A – Open Your Mind (Classic Mix)

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