Sandra Collins | The "Trance Goddess" gets personal
by Jason and Sabrina Weil
This interview with Sandra Collins took place at Plush in Buckhead on May 19, 1999. As she followed us to a couch, she carefully balances a full shotglass.
Lunar: Do you want to do that before or after the interview?
Sandra: [laughs] During!
Lunar: First of all, why don't you tell us a little bit about how you got started djing?
Sandra: [affecting a high-pitched, little-old-lady screech] Well, in 1954... [dropping the sound affect] No...in 1987 I was going out with this guy, and he was a dj, and he had turntables and had a day job...so when he went to work I would start making my own tapes because I wasn't pleased with all these track selections of other people's tapes. So eventually I got good. I didn't really have a plan to become a dj until I got good and I thought, Hey, I hate 9-to-5 jobs so I'm gonna be a dj. But I know I was supposed to be doing this because when I was around 10 years old, I was bringing records to dance teachers, and I was bringing records to the skating rink and having them play my 12 inches. Then I started making pause mix tapes. In 1985-1986 I used to pause my cheap tape recorder at a point where I thought it would mix good into the next song, which took a long time, but now I realize that I was supposed to be a dj. It worked out the way it should have been.
Lunar: Have you always liked trance or did you play something else before?
Sandra: When I first started djing, I was playing acid house, and I played like new beat, and I played a little bit of techno...but I always liked the melodic sound as far as I can remember. And when trance started becoming big, I started hearing melodic sounds and all of a sudden it was everywhere and I was so excited. I'm like, oh my god, it's that pretty sound that I have always liked. So, since about '92 I've been playing trance.
Lunar: How did you get hooked up with Twilo [where she has a residency]?
Sandra: Ummmmm. I don't know. It just kinda happened. I was in L.A., and I decided I was moving to New York, and I didn't even think about it. I almost felt like a robot and when I got to New York, I was like, shit...I actually did this all by myself. And I remember my manager telling me there was an open slot at Twilo for somebody, that they wanted someone to start at Twilo and build up to be one of their big resident dj's. When I heard her telling me about it, I just blew it off like, yeah whatever! And when I got there I was like, wow, I'm that person! So I guess that is how it got started.
Lunar: It's a great residency!
Sandra: Yeah, it's amazing. What a great sound system and a great venue.
Lunar: We're going to make it up there soon!
Sandra: Oh, it's amazing. Come for a Sasha and Digweed night!
Lunar: We want to ask you about your Web site [www.sandracollins.com]...what do you think about the advent of technology and people using the Internet to promote their music? We noticed that you have RealAudio samples of some of your tracks on the site. How do you feel about that?
Sandra: You know what? I have two outlooks on it. I like it and I hate it. I think it is great because you can sit at home and get these things, and it gives a lot more people the opportunity to be exposed to it, but at the same time it can make people lazy and nobody goes out anymore to the clubs. I haven't actually seen a dramatic change in the numbers at the clubs from it, but generally when I think about it, I don't like it for the fact that people can just sit at home and get [the music]...and maybe it will take away from the sales or the numbers at the clubs. But at the same time I like it, because I can look around and find stuff I want to hear.
Lunar: Do you find that it helps you to put a track out there as far as getting your name out?
Sandra: Oh, definitely. I've been djing for 12 years. You can get so far in djing, but if you put out a really great track, that's what carries you, honestly. I definitely think it helps.
Lunar: Do you enjoy doing that [producing] more or is it just a different aspect?
Sandra: It's just a different aspect. I really love djing, and I really love making tracks. You know, hearing the music that I dj all the time and going, oh, I really want to make something like this or that...putting all my ideas together and adding to what I hear out in the clubs is great. Until I'm in my wheelchair, I'm going to be djing.
Lunar: Where do you see yourself going with your music in the next few years?
Sandra: I can't answer that. I don't know. It's just that [she pauses, distracted by the dj that is playing] this song is a good song I have no idea.
Lunar: You haven't played Atlanta that much, have you?
Sandra: No, this is my third time.
Lunar: You'll be back in August.
Sandra: I will?
Lunar: Yeah, you'll be playing with Christopher Lawrence [and Dimitri from Amsterdam].
Sandra: Are you serious? [Christopher] is one of my great, best friends. Honestly, his wife is my best friend and he's my second best friend, so playing Atlanta with him will be amazing. I had no idea I was coming back.
Lunar: We're really looking forward to that. So, are you playing any of your tracks tonight?
Sandra: It's funny, because on the plane ride over I was thinking I might just do that. I have my new track with me. It's not going to be released until the end of the month and I never ever play my songs ever, and I thought, you know what, I should play my new track. So maybe yeah....
Lunar: Why don't you play your own tracks?
Sandra: I don't know...my music is just...it's personal.
Lunar: Well, I love "Red."
Sandra: I heard that "Red" was pretty big in Atlanta.
Lunar: Any new mix cd's or anything else coming up?
Sandra: My new track is coming out at the end of the month, and I should have had a couple of mix cd's out, but [more] is definitely in the works.
Lunar: Any other big plans for this year that you want people to know about?
Sandra: [making a menacing face] Yes, but I would have to kill you if I told you.
Lunar: Any plans for New Year's?
Sandra: I think I'm going to hide far, far away in a small little nothing. No, I don't want to work on the millennium. I would really like to go to a small little island in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of friends and have a good time.
Lunar: Go to Aruba! And we keep hearing about Australia as the place to be this year.
Sandra: Sydney. Sydney. That was an option, but it's becoming too much of a big thing, and I think I'll watch it on TV.
Lunar: Oh, I heard that you were born into a famous showbiz family...
Sandra: Yeah, my father was a famous comedian. He worked alongside Milton Berle and George Burns, Lucille Ball, Bob Hope...and my mom was a model. She did covers and all kinds of stuff. She was an actress, he was a singer, she had a band. So I grew up around...Milton Berle is my godfather.
Sandra: I don't want to sound like...I've never actually mentioned any of this in any interview before ever. But my parents both actually passed away. My father died when I was five, and my mother died when I was 19. But I grew up like that. I didn't want to be in acting...the music business was for me. My mother was totally into the music business 'cause she had her own band. It was kinda cool because when I was in first grade, my mom performed at my grade school. I think it was first or second grade, in the auditorium, like the little Friday afternoon things that happened. My mom's band performed, and it was kinda cool.
Lunar: How do you feel about being a role model to so many women dj's?
Sandra: I like it because I trust myself that I can be a good role model because I'm...nice. 'Cause I'm honest, I make people feel at ease when talking to me. I'm not a bitch. It's better than some bitch being a role model to everyone.
Lunar: Is there anything else you would like Lunar Magazine readers to know about you?
Sandra: That I'm not short with dark hair. I'm tall with blonde hair! The guy that picked me up from the airport...I walked right passed him because somebody told him that I had dark hair and that I was short!
Well, let it be known that not only is Sandra tall and blonde, but she is wonderful to get to know. She's got personality. She's got talent. She likes a good stiff drink. She'll surely be playing in a city near you soon. Don't miss it.
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