Nigerian psychedelic funk. Algerian folk. Eclectic R&B instrumentals. One play on a mix from DJ and record collector SNO and the formidable sounds of the African continent floods your ears and moves your bones.
Hailed from the sparse township of Bophelong in South Africa in the apartheid era, SNO, born Selina Nongaliphe Oliphant, has always seen music as a beacon of strength and hope to the marginalised – and it’s evident in her sun-soaked samples and selects.
Now based in Manchester and with her own regular slot on NTS Radio, SNO has been making waves around the world with her propulsive festival slots at Dimensions Festival, Houghton Festival to name a few, having played alongside legends of the likes of Gilles Peterson, Mr Scruff, and loads more. She’s definitely one to watch at the moment.
We caught up with one of the most exciting DJs on the scene right now…
Where did SNO come from?
Those are my initials for all my names – Selina Nongaliphe Oliphant.
I read that your uncle sold a lifetime’s worth of vinyl and then you took up DJing, is that true?
No, I did not take up DJing after my uncle sold his records, DJing happened by complete chance. I never planned to be a DJ at all, in fact, just before this whole DJing thing started, my friend was searching for courses regarding music programming for radio. I have always just liked to collect and listen to music.
Who did you listen to growing up?
Hugh Masekela, Brenda Fassie, Letta Mbulu, Caiphus Semenya, Chicco Twala and Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Sankomota.
You were born in South Africa, how did this affect your musical influences? How is the musical environment different to Manchester?
I was born around the time when apartheid was the order of the day and music was the only way we could find ourselves in that turmoil. Music meant more than music, it was done for survival at times. I learnt so much in that time, emotionally and musically. The local artists at the time were invested in the struggle and you can feel that in the music. Jazz, Soul, Funk were there order of the day. Our own bubblegum music was nicely sandwiched between international artist with aplomb. Music in South Africa was produced mostly in the sun, like Jamaica. The vibe is quite flowery but music in England is produced in the basement because of the rainy and dark weather, thats reflected in the music. I love both outcomes. they are both expressions.
How would you categorise your music?
I can’t really categorise the music I play because I don’t stick to one category.
Do you prefer smaller venues or the festival atmosphere?
What’s your favourite festival, and why?
Beat-Herder. Beat-Herder is really a festival for music and nothing else. Sometimes at festivals you struggle to find a floor that works but at Beat-Herder, music is always on point.
How do you want people to feel after they’ve listened to your music?
I want people to be so immersed in the music I play that they forget their worries just for a little bit, I just want to bring happiness and calm for a moment. Everything has to be driven by love. Love has to be the message.
Favourite song right now?
All of them. Haaa! I don’t really have a favourite, all of the tunes I am listening to now are my favourites. If I had to choose, it would be Nayanka Bell – If You Came To Go.
What’s next for you? What are you excited about?
I have been fortunate to be included in a few festivals like Dimensions Festival, We Out Here, The Hills Festival and of course Meadows in the Mountains. I am also excited that I now have a regular slot on NTS Radio and looking forward to building that. Myself and Cervo are also looking forward to having distinguished guests at our night Banana Hill throughout the year.