Q&A with Phoebe d’Abo the inspiring DJ featured in the Always Campaign
Phoebe d’Abo is a popular and much-in-demand DJ, songwriter and music producer who was cast to feature in an Always Campaign that celebrates female uniqueness and feminity.
Here at Mark Summers we cast our net far and wide to find and recruit her. We really enjoyed getting to know what makes her tick in this Q and A:
1. What is your background, where are you from? City girl, or country bumpkin?
I’m a true Londoner, born in Hammersmith and raised in Streatham. These days I base myself between my home city and Ibiza, Spain. I’m 50% city girl and 50% beach bum!
2. How did you first find your passion for music & DJ-ing?
My earliest memory of enjoying music was listening to Salt n Pepa with my sister in the back of my Auntie’s car. I was probably about 3. My parents always had an enormous and hugely diverse record collection. As a family, we all share a slightly obsessive, encyclopaedic knowledge of music.
I first discovered dance music when I was 10, I guess through my older sister. I remember being over the moon when I got the Ministry Of Sound Ibiza Annual for Christmas in 2000- little did I know that a few years down the line, I’d be an official DJ for MOS and living on the White Isle!
It was a few years later- after my first trip to Ibiza and experiencing one of Roger Sanchez’ marathon sets at Pacha- that I made it my mission to learn to mix.
3. Did you train? Or learn on the job? Did you have any mentors?
I learnt the basics of mixing on vinyl ten years ago at a studio called Subbass in London. Most of what I’ve learnt, however, has been on the job- entertaining a crowd is completely different to playing to an empty room. DJing is an art that takes many years to master; I’m learning new tricks all the time.
4. How did you hear about the Always commercial?
I was told about the casting via Facebook- two of my friends who I trained professionally with at Cambridge Performing Arts tagged me in a post that was looking to cast a female DJ for a commercial.
Though the world of auditioning isn’t entirely new thanks to my arts background, I hadn’t been to a casting in over five years since deciding to make my DJ career my one, full-time priority. The fact the brand wanted a ‘real’, working DJ appealed to me!
5. Was it a lengthy casting experience?
The process took about a month. The funny thing is I almost talked myself out of going to the first casting call after seeing a dress code of ‘bare legs’ and ‘short shorts’- I translated this as ‘long’ and ‘leggy’- I’m only 5’2″! I’d convinced myself the commercial must be for a women’s razor! I was afraid of wasting people’s time by turning up.
To cut a long story short, curiosity got the better of me- and I’m glad it did. The process involved a number of Transatlantic Skype calls in front of a camera and talking about life as a DJ. Landing the job was a dream come true.
6. How did you feel about the product?
Always have created some really powerful campaigns in recent years. More than just a sales pitch, they’re commercials with a positive message of female empowerment; they promote self-belief and confidence in young women.
Let’s face it, the subject of periods is never going to be cool, but amazingly I’ve heard from a number of girls who’ve been inspired by seeing a ‘real’ female DJ on TV to follow their heart and pursue a career in dance music. I think that is pretty cool!
“More than just a sales pitch, there commercials have a positive message of female empowerment; they promote self-belief and confidence in young women.”
7. How was the actual experience of filming?
I’d imagined filming to be a lot more gruelling than it turned out to be. Being interviewed made me quite nervous, but because I also got to DJ- and that’s when I feel at my most happy and confident- I was bopping along to tunes in the sun all day.
8. What was the hair prep & wardrobe?
Prior to the shoot, the creative team had researched my personal style and had put together mood boards of my key looks. I was amazed! When I arrived for my first fitting, I couldn’t believe the sheer volume of clothes and shoes brought in, just for me…
It took two long days of fittings before the team were able to come to a near unanimous decision on my outfit. There was a lot of getting dressed and undressed, thousands of photographs taken, a lot of scrutiny and a lot of uncertainty. I was sent to the nail salon no fewer than three separate times as the colour kept smudging.
Make-up was kept fresh and natural and my hair was given a cute festival braid and some beach-style waves. The outfit we finally settled on consisted of my own pale pink denim shorts and a tiered fringe top, which I’ve since had over a hundred people getting in touch to ask me where it’s from (it’s Zara in case you’re wondering).
9. Where did you shoot and what was best part of that?
Everything was shot in Lisbon. It was my first visit to Portugal so that in itself was exciting.
The main part of the shoot took place on a stunning hotel rooftop with a bar overlooking the city. It was the end of May so we had the most glorious weather. When I first saw the set, I was so overwhelmed, I nearly cried.
I got to DJ all afternoon to at least a hundred very enthusiastic extras, right through to sunset which was a very special moment. It was like a proper party- without the alcohol.
10. Was there anything that particularly surprised you?
I found it hilarious that on the call sheet with a list of ‘who’s who’, I was referred to as the ‘Hero’. I certainly felt like one all week!
Everybody I encountered was so incredibly kind. I was constantly asked if I needed food, water, rest, toilet breaks, shade etc. After we wrapped, one of the ladies from wardrobe sat me down and proceeded to clean and massage my feet with a cleansing wipe and told me that on future shoots I must learn to be more demanding. Next time!
11. Where are you hoping & planning to go from here?
My summer diary is looking busier than ever. Over the winter months I’ve been working on a lot of original music- the feedback I’ve had from labels so far has been really positive so I’m really hoping to share plenty of new material soon.
I’ll be back in Ibiza for my residency with the world-renowned sunset bar, Cafe Mambo from May – October. I will also be playing some festivals and events in the Middle East, Russia, the US and Europe over the next few months.
I’d love to play some more overseas festivals. I think my dream gig would be at Burning Man in Nevada. Eventually I’d like to settle permanently in Ibiza and adopt lots of rescue animals, but for now, I’m happy zipping round the world playing my favourite tunes!
Thank you Phoebe for being such an excellent example of dynamic and inspiring womanhood.
You can keep up with Phoebe on all her Social Networking accounts: Twitter @PhoebedAbo, INSTA @phoebedabo, Facebook- Phoebe d’Abo , Soundcloud: Phoebe d’Abo