Norway’s Sandra Minter is one of the few and female mixologists to advocate for vinyl record performances. breaking beyond the BOUNDARY into the global scene in less than a year.
Throughout the 2000s, the ease of a laptop vs. a crate heavily encouraged a global switch to cdjs, turntables designed for compact discs. And yet, the vintage feeling and master sound of vinyl, dubbed liquid wax, is no rivalry for compact discs. Furthermore, it’s a craft in and of its own.
“Beatmatching,” explains Minter, “is more thrilling on vinyl even though more things can go wrong between transitions.” She’s referring to the skill of song transition via ear, not by a computerized cue that many programs now offer. “I didn’t embrace my creative art until last year, spending nearly every night mastering the art of mixing,” she remembers. “So when it came to upgrading my Traktor equipment series, sticking with vinyl was a no brainer.” Furthermore, learning from the same progression of pioneer DJs past results in obtaining a required music production skill.
In the ’90s, there wasn’t much feminine influence within the dance music industry, but that didn’t stop Minter from embracing the electronic genre, while most of her classmates were into boy bands. By middle school, enamored by the melancholic basslines, Minter recalls the first musical hooks:
“I would sit on the bus and press my cheap headset up against the window, making the bass sound heavier. Thus my passion is for basslines rather than a genre. My greatest appetites in life come from using my hands and senses.”
Fast forward to the present, Minter is headstrong on mastering mixing before taking the plunge into producing as her LP collection continues to grow. Additionally, Minter’s boyfriend operates a record store, supplementing her skills, and introducing traditional and innovative sounds.
Out of the limitless dance records, one album and its label stood out from her collection. “It was 2009 when I first heard Sirens of the Sea Remixed from Above & Beyond,” she recollects. “I fully understood the genius this trio was; they are so much more than the music they make.”
Minter takes a trip down memory lane to 2015 when Above & Beyond performed in Oslo. “I was standing front row middle the entire set. I was in my world, dancing when the guards waved me over the fence.” As with every Above & Beyond live set, a selection for an audience member(s) to join the group on stage and “push the button” or press play for short.
“So there’s Tony McGuiness on one knee in front of me with open arms, being devoured by my 178 cm long hug. Jono Grant was in my ear, shouting, “nice shirt!” referring to my pink custom made with the Anjuna logo in front and “dream on little dreamer” on the back. Of course, this is one of my favorite nights.” The embracement was dubbed “the revenge of the nerds” by a local journalist.
Above & Beyond are Britain’s top trance producers recently celebrating their 400th radio show episode online. With over twenty years of music-making, their label Anjunabeats is also a haven for global listeners to connect. Moved by the Anjunafamily, Minter applied to perform on the label’s Twitch channel, an Anjunabeats effort to keep the music community connected during COVID.
“The applications for the show could have been about anything beyond music,” Minter explains. “For me, it was between making Fårikål (lamb and cabbage stew) or deep-house stew. Luckily I chose the lather, and a few months later, I was on the air.” Her CPU crashed during her virtual set, but the sound remained on, and the listeners were encouraging. “I tried to hold my cat,” she laughs, “so the frozen screens all over the globe would have a still-photo of me and Squeek.”
Despite the setback, the exhilaration of performing music is a motivation tool even as clubs are closed. “Norway is a very conservative country, and for someone that has placed herself outside the box, it can be frustrating.” Unlike major cities, Oslo is a bit tight, and introducing a new sound can be risky and lead to loss of gigs. “We have a long way to go, but I do see some event planners taking more risks.” With the virtual experience under her belt, she’s gained the freedom to explore her collection and mix for a global audience. “I’m in for the people that love the music, whether it’s one person or two hundred. As Above & Beyond would say, “Dream On Little Dreamer.”
Photo by: Ole Christensen