Brighton resident Seamus Haji is a world famous DJ who’s playing at Brighton Pride this weekend and wishes he could travel back in time to hear some legendary 80s.
Where are you from originally?
London. I grew up in Camberwell just a mile away from Ministry of Sound. I spent some magical times there and even danced to Larry Levan when he played in ’92. I’d be watching the likes of Tony Humphries, Frankie Knuckles and Todd Terry and the way they played records and tracks from the reel to reel, adding delay effects. The UK residents CJ Mackintosh and Jazzy M were also masters in that club too. I learnt a lot watching and listening to those DJs and by 1995 I was playing there too!
And where do you live now?
Brighton. Moved here with my wife and kids in 2002 around the time we set up Big Love records, as we wanted to bring our children up by the sea. Unfortunately we split a few years ago so I now live alone, with my records!
What do you love about Brighton and why?
I love being by the sea. I love London but it can feel claustrophobic at times. Brighton is a very liberal minded city. I’m not sure there’s anywhere else like it in the UK. You can be who you want to be here. Acceptance and tolerance are key.
What was the first gay venue you visited?
Heaven in 1990. I was working at Red Records in Soho and some guys I worked with were responsible for bringing David Morales over for his first ever UK gig at Heaven. David was already a superstar from his DJing legacy in New York but also his productions and remixes around the world. He was also a bit of a gay icon. Good looking, muscular, tattooed, tanned, Latino who played topless. He’s a very technical DJ so I was just fascinated watching him play. It was a brilliant night!
Favourite club/bar/venue in Brighton and why?
I Love MONO as it’s a proper, literally underground club with a Funktion One sound system. It’s intimate too, only holds 200 and you’re close to the crowd in the DJ booth which I prefer. It reminds me of the old Gardening Club in Covent Garden which was one of the best underground London clubs for me. I held a Re-Loved night at MONO recently which was ace. Lovely staff there too.
You have played at Brighton Pride many times, what is it that makes it so special?
It’s a special occasion that brings people from all walks of life together plus playing to around 8,000 people in your home town is quite a buzz. My kids have been coming with me since our youngest was around 11 years old so it’s the one time they get to see what Daddy does in front of a lot of people. Everybody is there to have a good time and there is a feeling of love in the air!
What is your guilty pleasure and why?
At the moment First Dates the TV show. I don’t normally watch reality TV shows, but First Dates is quite cute and funny.
An original Keith Haring print bought in NYC many years ago. I’ve been a fan of his since the early 80s.
Best gift you’ve ever received and why?
Signet ring bought by my wife for my 40th birthday.
What has been the highlight of your career so far and why?
Too many to mention but my remix of Bootyluv’s Boogie 2Nite peaking at number two in the UK pop charts springs to mind. It really helped boost my career as a DJ and producer globally.
If you could go back in time which year would you choose and why?
Late 70s to early 80s to experience the soul/jazz funk scene in the UK. I’d also like to nip over to the New York to experience Larry Levan at the Paradise Garage and then Chicago to see Frankie Knuckles at The Warehouse and Ron Hardy at The Music Box.
What’s the best party you’ve ever been to and what made it so good?
Magic Sessions at the Winter Music Conference in Miami in 2000. It was hot, I was in love and the music was from DJs Louie Vega, Tony Humphries and Tedd Patterson was excellent.
Who is your LGBT hero and why?
Keith Haring. Love his work and work ethos and his message for me was all about universal love, self-expression, tolerance and acceptance. He did so much for the LGBT community and beyond. He wasn’t building barriers… he was knocking them down. When he was affected by AIDS in the 80s it was a new epidemic that caused mass hysteria and panic. He helped to spread awareness and in turn offered support to those also affected.
Where in the world would you like to visit before you die and why?
A road trip to the Grand Canyon is on my bucket list for sure. I’d also love to go to Iceland to see the Northern Lights which by all accounts are amazing.
What is one thing you wish you knew when you were younger?
I wished I’d learnt how to play piano and musical theory at school. I had no idea then what I’d being today of course but in hindsight those skills would have been very helpful for me to learn for FREE!