The Adventures of SUAT and his Roving Rave
The Adventures of SUAT and his Roving RaveJuly 6, 2021
The roving DJ SUAT has been chased, harassed, almost arrested, and nearly killed, but he’s loving every minute of it. We hear how it all began.
Anywhere can be a dance floor if you try hard enough. That’s the mentality that drives UK DJ Zach Sabri, better known as SUAT — the roving DJ who brings the rave to the public.
It was in 2017 when SUAT first started hitting the decks out on the streets. With guerilla-style tactics and a mission to make random passersby stop for an impromptu dance party, SUAT began making a name for himself via his recorded performances and live streams.
He brought decks and speakers to the UK Houses of Parliament during a Brexit rally in 2018. The cops shut him down, but his efforts landed him on national news. With no permits and the determination to not ask for permission, his behind-the-decks antics have nearly landed him in jail, but also provided some blissful moments with strangers. And with his rapidly growing online fanbase, SUAT continues to take his performances to the next level — playing on kayaks, in the woods, and all types of wild locales.
Beatport has teamed up with the tireless DJ to create a new monthly live stream series called LINK UP with SUAT — a show where SUAT hits the town with his Denon Prime 4 to take requests, dance with strangers, and show off the tremendous power of Beatport LINK.
In using Beatport LINK with his mobile setup, SUAT has Beatport’s entire catalogue at his fingertips while roaming the streets, ensuring that he never runs out of tunes to play and can find new tracks on the fly no matter where he goes. Find out more about Beatport LINK here.
We caught up with SUAT to learn more about how he first started DJing, his best and worst encounters on the street, the gear and technology that makes his portable rave possible, and how Beatport LINK has given him the ability to instantly access a world of music on the fly.
Welcome, Zach! Thanks for taking the time with us. How has your 2021 been so far?
2021 has been great for me. Last year was hard to compete with because of how much I grew but there’s some new partnerships and crazy collaborations lined up that I never would have dreamed of. I’m also really looking forward to shutting down the clubs and creating innovative content for my worldwide audience.
You first started doing pop-up street raves in 2017. How did you first come up with the idea, and when did you first become passionate about DJing?
I looked at the market and noticed every other DJ doing the same bedroom sets. I wanted to find a way to make my content more engaging and relatable. I started doing live content, using the microphone, and DJing in relatable places to connect with music lovers on a deeper level. Since 2017 this has been the ethos for my project and allowed me to build such a broad, loyal fanbase.
I’ve always had a passion for music, dubstep and drum & bass growing up. However, it wasn’t until I dropped out of studying Bioengineering at uni that I even considered DJing. I was in a dark place, and it’s cliché, but the DJing ‘found me’. Since then I have been obsessed, not just about creating smooth, crowd-shaking mixes, but about entertaining — making people laugh AND interact with me.
How has your mobile setup evolved over the years? Before hitting the streets for a livestream, what gear and essentials do you pack to make it all work?
There have been many iterations to the steppin’ rig. There are also many different versions for each purpose. The main one for the large DJ controller was made initially from my desktop and some tarpaulin. I hung it around my neck and was in absolute agony for about 4 live streams. Simply put, the physics didn’t work.
Now we are at a point where it has eight tops and four subwoofers, and I can outrun security guards. I might add I’ve lost a bit of weight to allow for such nimbleness.
The checklist is extensive but the essentials are: USB full of CHUNKERS, microphone, battery, decks, speakers, rig, and lifting harness.
How is your knee holding up? What happened to it?
Funny story — I hurt it playing tennis. Nonetheless, we are back from injury and ready to rock!
Tell us more about your wardrobe. How would you describe the SUAT aesthetic?
I would describe the SUAT aesthetic as loud and crazy. In a world of content, you need to stand out and be visually eye-catching. This is a consistent theme in all my live streams. ‘What is going to stop someone scrolling?’ A cat riding a neon llama eating some pizza.
How has Beatport LINK revolutionized your ability to play out wherever you go?
Beatport LINK has allowed me to explore the catalogue in a way I never imagined possible. I can use keywords from the public to pull up any track, remotely and on the move. It allows me to be creative and play tracks I would never even discover usually. The versatility is incomparable, and I don’t know why any DJ wouldn’t get a subscription, to be fair.
What is your favorite thing about Beatport LINK?
Being able to take people’s (SHIT) song requests, on the move, completely remotely without the need for a USB.
Since you never ask permission to play wherever you roam, what have been some of the best and worst encounters you’ve had with random passers-by?
BEST – Being stopped by armed police at Buckingham Palace and reciting the law to them. They couldn’t do anything once I turned my music off… they preceded to watch the stream from their police car — I gave them a shout out: ‘OINK OINK’.
WORST – being nearly choked to death by a group of hooded youths in Manchester. It quickly turned very sketchy and I’m not the best fighter with 35kg on my waist.
You had a few issues with the police at the end of your last LINK UP session, and you’ve had to deal with the authorities shutting you down in the past. How does that usually go? What’s the best strategy to win them over and stay out of trouble (if any)?
It usually goes well, quite a few police officers are actually fans. The best strategy is to know the law and explain the purpose — making people smile and uniting music lovers. Often once you mute the speakers they can’t give you a reason to not be there. Just be kind and approachable and get ready to run if you have to.
With travel restrictions starting to relax more, what would be your dream location to go do a LINK UP /w SUAT session?
Machu Picchu! Taking music to places that have never been danced before is an ultimate dream of mine, and it’s made better when I know I can get ANY track from the Beatport catalogue in case I forget my USB.
What are you most looking forward to this Summer, and what can SUAT fans look forward to seeing from you in the future?
There are going to be a few streams I know will BREAK THE INTERNET this summer. I don’t want to give much away. However there are loads of opportunities for the fans to get involved: Secret sessions, steppin’ silent discos, UK club tour, beach cleans and SO MUCH MORE… this really is just the beginning.