We caught up with Sam Hall aka international DJ Goldierocks over a Rum Punch - and tried not to get serious festival envy.
We’re at Burning Man in the middle of the Nevada desert.. high up on a dusty sofa on a scaffold looking out over the sunset, admiring all the incredible art installations and wild moon childs loving life. They’ll be a stacked up sound system rumbling away in the distance... maybe Carl Cox or Daft Punk doing a secret set. Rum & cokes in stainless steel cups, that we clip to carabiners round our belts after. Life is good.
I love DJing & broadcasting, it makes my soul sing! The travel, the adventure, the high adrenalin performances night after night and sharing life-affirming music with people around the world - making that connection. It’s just glorious.
But yes after a decade of relentless touring & being ‘on’ constantly: last year I felt really burnt out. Too much juggling, too much hustle, I’d lost my sense of creativity and playfulness. I just felt like a rat on a wheel, going through the motions. Who gets into the music industry for that?! Life is supposed to feel wild and free!
I just decided enough was enough - this wasn’t real living. I researched & experimented with a range of coping mechanisms, pillars of self-care you could call them, that transformed the way I felt about the world and my place in it. The most impactful being sound therapy or gong baths. I think it’s such an incredible tool for helping you meditate more deeply and effectively and it’s in those deep meditative states, you can begin to process and release blocks and ultimately heal. I qualified as a mediation teacher last year and created my new outlet IO Project. So these days my approach to life is far more balanced - a beautiful harmonizing blend between mindfulness and wellbeing as IO Project and then debauchery and silliness as Goldierocks. You can have both.
It’s always festival bars. Especially the fabulous pop up secret ones - in treehouses, or backstage crew bars, surreptitious gypsy caravans. Not the ones with a mile-long queue serving lukewarm beer in paper cups!
I remember feeling so blissfully happy to be sat in a vintage bumper car in the middle of the mud at a bar in Shangri La at Glastonbury (the naughty corner). The sun was coming up on the Sunday morning, we were cold and tired, but the Chemical Brothers were doing a secret DJ set and I was wearing a long fur coat and peacock feather headdress & Elton john style star sunglasses and we were sipping on the most perfectly crafted Piquante de la Casa’s (tequila, lime, chili peppers) and it just felt SO cool! A flash of sophistication amongst the feral crazy : )
El Floridita in Havana. I’ve spent a huge amount of time in Cuba DJing & broadcasting out there and I’m besotted. It feels like stepping back in time - to a romantic world, full of heady nights of dancing, drinking and feeling alive. Like anything could happen. Floridata’s invented the daiquiri - my ultimate fave. Icey, rummy, tart limes... I’m such a rum obsessive. If there’s one thing I’m snobby about it’s my rum. Hemmingway used to drink in there and it hasn’t changed since the 30s. All red velvet seats, the waiters in tails, air thick with cigar smoke and a Cuban live band in the corner.
Like I said rum is my thing. I’d happily sip on a Mount Gay Aged XO rum neat (my wedding cake was infused with Mount Gay Black Barrel!). I’m also a sucker for just a classic glass of Champagne (British vineyard Hambledon is my current fave) or a super dry rose if I’m in Monaco. Magnums of rose have been my lockdown staple to keep things a little fun! I get them from Jascots wine supplier who normally supplies wine to Michelin star restaurants but have been doing home delivery during lockdown. If I’m in a party bar - you know, sweaty basement club in Dalston or Soho, NY, then I love a good Margarita. They remind me of partying at SXSW in Texas, watching bands all day under the hot deep south sun and dancing all night in cowboy boots fuelled only by BBQ brisket and Margaritas.
If I’m on my hols and don’t tell anyone... I just love a Rum Punch! Fruity, sweet, maybe with a cherry, a flower and a bit of pineapple hanging off the side, tastes a bit like Um Bongo.. goes down verrrry easy. Especially when enjoyed while sitting in a hot tub.
Making sloe gin has been my new lockdown hobby (I’m too impatient for sourdough and the cat pooped on my attempts at growing carrots). I’ve made about 10 litres of the stuff! So I’ll let you know how that turns out. But I just love OTO CBD bitters. It’s great if, like me, you’ve been hitting the sauce a bit harder during these surreal times and want that feeling of switching off but without the booze. Perfect in a mocktail. I have it in home-made peach ice tea or with a Seedlip (alcohol-free spirit) & Fever Tree tonic. Just makes you feel zen. CBD is such a magic cure-all. I can’t recommend it enough - my secret weapon when life leaves you feeling a little frazzled.
I just love London! If you’re doing a night out in Soho you can walk everywhere and there’s a gluttony of fun and eclectic bars, always buzzing and spilling out onto the streets. Forza’s rooftop bar in Peckham in such a secret cracker. What a view! Better than the London Eye, oozing with arty South East London charm and authentic Italian food.
For day time drinking (eek) I love the bar at the top of the national portrait gallery. It's a real hidden gem. That’s a cracking meeting spot. Also Scarfes bar at the Rosewood Hotel for dates - full of leather-clad cosy corners & exceptional cocktails. Feels like stepping back in time to a golden film star era. The Grill Room at Café Royale is so decadent & opulent - all clad in gold with mirrored ceilings. Oscar Wilde used to hang out there smoking opium & I won a dance-off in there with Jude Law! Anything can happen and often does...
We got married in Taormina, Sicily and the Italians just do bar culture SO well! So many delicious, rich aperitivo snacks & candlelit loungey tables. The Belmond is incredible for watching the sunset over Mount Etna - with an Aperol Spritz of course. Then strolling through the gas lamp lit, cobbled streets, it feels like you’re starring in La Dolce Vita. So achingly romantic. Everyone drinking and listening to buskers and gobbling down gelato.
BOTH. Very much both!
I’m always the one doing the music, so I never make the drinks.. but Champagne Cocktails feel so fancy and special are so easy and quick to do. I love an ‘Iron Lady’- gin, lemon, elderflower & bubbles or a Kir Royal.
Faust potions! Magic tubes of botanicals and vitamins you take before bed and then when you wake and they WORK! Plus sleep, greasy carbs and tankards of Ribena... and if possible a swim in the sea! I find sleep, sun and saltwater cures most ills from hangovers to heartbreak.
Both Djing and sound mediation (or gong baths) - they’re about release. They’re about helping people let the f**k go and relaxing and feeling good in their own minds and bodies. With the hope that happier people become better humans and better humans are more connected to & conscientious about the world around them. Release, creativity and connection - that’s what I love about my work.
You can take the girl out of the rave, but you can’t take the rave out of the girl... I’ll always love a good dance and a giggle. It’s just my nature. I’ll be dancing on the table tops in my gold platforms in my 80’s. I definitely feel most comfortable and myself when dripping in sequins, wearing a vintage Cuban heel and some sort of jaunty hat, normally pirate-related. I probably feel not getting enough sleep more as I get older, but simply start the party earlier and try and be tucked up before sunrise!
Some elements of lockdown I’ve really enjoyed.. being able to slow down, has made me feel so much more creative and calm within my own head. I’ve really cherished feeling rested and healthy and vibrant in the morning. Being still highlights what really matters to you as an individual and your true loves and passions. But I do miss an adventure... the joy of exploration and heading out on a trip or a night out when you don’t know what’s going to happen somewhere you’ve never been before! I’m going to head out to Ibiza before the summer is over to embrace my inner hippie & do a little dancing under the stars...
I’m really into Two Birds sprits at the mo.. an independent distillery that make fabulous flavoured gins, really fun petite bottles so perfect size for taking on picnics. The grapefruit and pomegranate one is my fave. We are currently renovating a 1920s house by the river, so after a long dusty day.. we stick our feet in the cool water and treat ourselves to a sundowner and talk to the ducks.
I had a bonkers busy summer of festivals and international DJ dates booked but that all got cancelled because of the bastard Covid 19 crisis. So! I’ve been writing a book about my party adventures around the world and also focussing on my mediation teaching under the moniker of IO Project. We’ve been hosting free virtual gong bath sessions, to help give people such much needed headspace (give us a follow @IOProjectHQ ) & am planning several social distanced pop up events and retreats around the UK for the autumn. All unique locations, giving the experience a special twist. It’s good to have balance.